Not sure it matters when or how the leader of the radical extremist US regime came to be radicalized, the fact is he did. Maybe since age 4 or 5, maybe by Roy Cohn, but it happened. Many TV talking heads are still not speaking as if Trump is a radical extremist troll. They cast about for other explanations: he’s “not normal,” he’s “disconnected from reality,” and so son. Some in the media say they are “news” people rather than “opinion” people, so they couldn’t possibly impute malignant motives to a person holding the “office of the presidency.” They are no more fair or objective than I am when I call the US government a radical extremist “regime.” They speak with forked tongues, that is their hesitation is surely caused by motivated reasoning–or else they are more gullible than I think (why do I think their tax bracket and that of their bosses has anything to do with anything?). Their reluctance is unscientific and not objective at all: a true empiricist approach would be to sift through interpretations for Trump’s behavior and then broadcast the most plausible, whatever they are. Reporters of all people ought to mistrust and verify always and everywhere–if your mother says x, check it out! It is long past time to pretend that we should give Trump the benefit of the doubt because surely he’s going to “pivot.”
Trump’s radical extremist trolling has now flapped the hard to flap British by retweeting far-right fake news from Britain First, and then had the nerve to tell Theresa May to mind her own business! “I alone can stir any and all pots.” And Sarah Sanders’ stated position is pure big lie: who cares if the videos are real, what matters is ein volk, ein reich, ein Trump. How we got here, whether it was was race or class or economic anxiety or Comey or Vlad or YOLO attitude, now how do we dig out? At least I hope there’s a way to dig out.
Why do I ever assume that Mitch McConnell speaks truth about anything? It’s a long learning process for some of us good gullible folks, but when Mitch said today that those awful Democrats should have dined with the president who had just insulted them, and that He, Mitch, would never ever have disrespected the president that way, even when it was Obama, I wondered, could he be fudging, just a little? Well…
Both sides are maneuvering, to be sure, to be able to blame somebody else if the US defaults and the government shuts down–but Mitch seems to be the leading lying Congressperson today. Not that he is likely to challenge the lying president in the biggest liar department.
Advice to Democrats: smile and emphasize that you are ready to negotiate without any preconditions. Do not assume that your viewers are paying any attention at all. Inform us anew every time. Trump has not yet tired of repeating his talking points, and to be a good communicator be willing to learn–in this way only–from the president. Remind us that the Republicans hold the majority and they own the outcomes on North Korea, taxes, health care, shifting of burdens, robots taking our jobs, China, identity theft scams, Wall Street abuses, everything.
Hello Republicans–in your minds you may be beleaguered suffering servants, and perhaps sometimes you are. But your political party is in charge, and will be judged as such. You don’t like snowflakes? Then don’t be one. Bless your hearts.
We don’t need people who are soft on crime in Washington, unless it was supposedly child abuse or rape, which I deny happened, also Roy Moore total denial 40 years ago and they were my voters anyway, I could grab them right now and they would still vote for me so women you totally have my permission to vote for Roy because women are very special but get real not as special as a big fat tax cut which the fake news says is for me total lie, plus Judge Moore not soft on borders either, unless you’re talking about the border between total moral depravity and decency, that’s a tough one, there are many pitfalls in life, it was 40 years ago and so I hereby grant official pardons to all my Trump voters especially those who trust me so much they forget all about their purity vows when they were 15 and vote for abusive Godly men who shoot people and grab people and totally deny everything, I just spoke with Mr. Putin, very strongly, not soft, no puppet no puppet, I totally deny, great Thanksgiving everybody.
Editor’s Note: President Trump said before last November’s election that his only chance to get into heaven was to get elected president. How’s that going for you? Also, “soft on crime” has nothing to do with “soft on KKK members who kill little black girls in church in Birmingham,” totally different rules there. And speaking of different rules, wake up MSM who say “we really didn’t see this coming today” (Trump’s permission structure for Roy Moore voters, that is)–who could possibly predict that our president would ever look leniently and permissively on a guy who wanted segregation legally enshrined in the Alabama state constitution in the 21st century and whose extreme patriarchal Dominionist Christianism outflanks Trump on the crazy–actually, I am shocked that our Trump didn’t slap Roy down by making clear that he alone gets dibs on all the 14-year-olds.
In the spirit of fairness, bipartisanship, and anti-moral-relativism, I am very ready to give up watching Al Franken in the upcoming PBS TV tribute to David Letterman. By the way, PBS, have you googled “David Letterman women” lately? I am also willing to do without Charlie Rose. And I can live without seeing Bill Clinton on TV again.
But what about the president? I feel I ought to be fair to both sides here and adopt a posture of bipartisan civility. And so I can reveal that I am absolutely willing to never see any trace of our 45th president on television ever again. Is that too much winning to ask? I admit that if Trump doesn’t kill us all, it might even be best for the long-term health of our democratic republic, and would probably serve us right, for all of us to have to get ourselves together to vote his enablers out next year and then vote him out in 2020. That is the least we can do. But if the president decides that we are unworthy of all the winning he is bringing, and wants to spare us his showers of blessings deliverance shtick, I’ll go along to get along.
The father of one of the three UCLA basketball players arrested for shoplifting in China did something dumb. He questioned whether Trump did anything to get his son out of a Chinese jail. LaVar Ball is a nitwit, and has been for quite a while. All three of the players thanked the president when they apologized on TV the other day.
Meanwhile, the president of our whole country, Donald J. Trump, responded to LaVar Ball today by saying “I should have left them in jail.” No, you shouldn’t have done that. And you shouldn’t stoop to the level you did, but you apparently can’t help yourself.
The bigger issue is that we have a president who can be played by foreign adversaries. Maybe that is not completely new. Maybe previous presidents were also taken advantage of. But this one is so transparently hungering for flattery all day every day that he makes China’s job and Russia’s job and Iran’s job and pretty much every foreign leader’s job much too easy. They ought to at least have to work a little in order to manipulate the United States government. Well, actually Russia seems to have done just that, over years if not decades, with Trump. And if and when Donald Trump and/or his family members are incarcerated, should we leave them in jail? Should we forgive and pardon them? Will they ever ask for our forgiveness?
As you know, Donald Trump acknowledged on August 11, 2016, that getting into the White House was “probably the only way I’m going to get into heaven.” So he thinks he has a shot. But according to sources close to G-d, his odds have fallen to 7,000,000,000 to 1. From 6,999,997,000 to 1, informed sources tell us. Not a big change, you may think, but eternal salvation and election and (so-called) predestination may be less immutable than heathens like Trump believe. He ought to think twice and three times before tweeting things that make his index finger fall off and his mouth fill up with lice and his nose with flies. It is unfortunate that we elected a president so morally (and probably financially) compromised) that he has absolutely no moral authority to say anything about anything. I suppose he tweeted an attack on Al Franken because if he couldn’t he would be implicitly admitting that stuff he’s done leaves him “jammed.” Trump does not like to feel jammed. Doesn’t mind jamming others, but just isn’t able to control himself when his own unsavory past really ought to make him stay quiet for a change.
I sure hope Trump’s past, and the many ways he is indebted and compromised, and the way he feels jammed, and his lack of impulse control, and his need to attack, won’t have any bad consequences for the United States and the world. Oops.
Senators Orrin Hatch and Sherrod Brown had some differences last night toward the end of the Senate Finance Committee’s approval of legislation to ease up on the tax code’s heavy burden on the 1% of the 1%. Senator Hatch did his very best imitation of Eugene Debs, socialist and presidential-candidate-from-prison-cell (he didn’t win 100 years ago, but you never know about 2020!). Debs said in federal court in 1918, “while there is a lower class, I am in it.” Hatch may well have come up from poverty. But he went off the rails somewhere. Orrin, I am not attacking your motives, but the damage you are doing right now is what matters. I don’t care how much integrity you think you have, it’s the nasty details of the bill that matter. It’s the favoritism you show toward your rich donors right now that matters. There is a reason more hands didn’t shoot up for Gary Cohn at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council: those CEO’s didn’t want themselves on video promising to hire more people when they know they are really just going to do stock buybacks and more automation. Your past struggles, Orrin, whatever they were, do not give you a free pass to shift more burdens onto struggling working people. Go home to Utah now if you don’t get that.
Why has our president suddenly gone silent? What topic could possibly have gotten him to be discreet and quiet for a change? OK, I give up, I just hope he goes quiet all the time on every topic and doesn’t sign any bills or issue any more threats or executive orders or anything troublesome at all. Remember, Mr. Trump, Matthew 15:11–it ain’t what goeth into the mouth that defileth thee, it’s the stuff that comes out of the mouth that does the damage.
Wow. Leader McConnell is really leading this time. The Senate Ethics Committee should investigate Al Franken, absolutely. But McConnell is not so partisan after all, since he has also demanded (in a parallel universe) immediate ethics investigations into the allegations of sexual misconduct made against President Trump, not to mention those against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. At least I think that’s what I read in my feed. I can’t imagine something I read could be unreliable. So, three cheers for Mitch McConnell, who was bipartisan-curious enough to say he’d trade one retroactive Bill Clinton resignation for one prospective (2021, let’s say) Thomas resignation. Seems fair swap to me, and I know Mitch is all about fairness.
In related news a Japanese rail company has apologized after its Tsukuba express train departed 20 seconds early.
That postcard tax form that President Trump kissed the other day is so cute. I am so confident that all the haters and fools will be proven wrong when the glorious freedom-loving Republicans pass their Tax Cuts And Jobs Act and I get to send the IRS a teeny tiny check next spring. I know Paul will be happy to take cute emojis on the endorsement line in lieu of more money because he loves my freedom even more than I love it myself. And Speaker Ryan doesn’t care about anybody except regular forgotten hard-working men and women, like the ones driving those autonomous vehicles into the new Foxconn factory in southeast Wisconsin where Speaker Ryan lives. Oh? There aren’t any truck drivers driving those autonomous vehicles? And Foxconn isn’t paying taxes? But who is going to pay for my Medicare and my cousin’s VA bills and my uncle’s disability? Well, I am sure a smart young fellow like Paul Ryan will figure it out, those charts sure looked very convincing and his eyes are very blue.
Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions spoke some truth yesterday in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. He remarked that while the Trump campaign was sometimes “brilliant,” it was also “a form of chaos every day from day one.” He did not say and hardly needed to say that the chaos has not yet stopped and is unlikely to stop so long as Trump is president. The chaos has taken a particularly ominous form: judicial integrity and independence are clearly unacceptable to our president. Corollary to that: Trump seems unable to either imagine or accept that we Americans are citizens, not his vassals or supplicants. The Fourteenth Amendment spoke of the “privileges and immunities” that everyone born in the United States possesses, but Trump has apparently either not heard of this part of the US Constitution or not accepted that it is more than “flotsam” (as Scalia flippantly and disgracefully claimed). Will the “system” work, that is, will legitimate moral and political authority be able to reestablish itself? That depends on hard choices being made by members of the legislative and judicial branches to check Trump’s abuses, and also on the capacity of principal players within the executive branch (Rod Rosenstein comes to mind) to act with integrity and compel Trump to acquiesce to their integrity or else fire them. And then the survival of our republic will depend on Congress and the people, very likely in public protests, to denounce and oppose Trump with enough force to restore just order from chaos.
One reality of chaos in 2017 America is that we all risk whiplash from Trump’s daily assertion that his personal will and whim must be obeyed. Our duty as citizens is to do our part to preserve, protect, and defend our Constitutional democracy and our republican, little r, form of government. Trump’s agenda is personal arbitrary rule. He claimed that he would put his business expertise and dealmaking excellence to work on behalf of the “forgotten men and women.” Well, the stock market is certainly up, so some have benefited (so far) but Trump’s focus and happiness and glee seems mostly about being head of a crime family, as far as I can tell. If I get arrested for shoplifting in China and he personally intervenes on my behalf (see the UCLA team members who returned to California today) I would owe him a personal thank you. Otherwise, I owe him no special loyalty and no thanks until he actually does his job as a public servant. My debt, like his, is to the principles and ideals of our “lively experiment,” as historian Sidney Mead put it. And as M.L. King wrote in his last book, “where do we go from here: chaos or community?” We are capable of better, capable of moving toward community, and there are some reasons for hope, but I expect our president (and his enablers, including foreign bots) will exploit every last opportunity to increase grievances and rub salt in wounds. It will be up to us to keep our sense of proportion and good will towards one another, and resist the false choices and poison chalices Trump will surely place before us.
President Trump’s former personal aide and bodyguard, Keith Schiller, is reported to have acknowledged that Trump was offered five Russian women in his Moscow hotel suite in 2013. But no collusion! Not today, anyway. Tomorrow, who knows where the story will go. Could Putin’s agents have failed to send blondes? Seems quite unlikely. Could Trump have been smart enough to tell Schiller, “they probably have cameras, I better take a hard pass?” Perhaps not in those exact words, but…
Oops, it’s actually Roy Moore who’s being asked to “step aside” if allegations in the Washington Post that he had a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl are “found to be true.” OK, then. Just wondering though if President Trump still presumed innocent of the allegations of twenty women? Trump: can’t live with him but hard to live without him, it seems.
Update: Trump’s former (long-time) bodyguard Keith Schiller has apparently testified that Russians offered to send women to Trump’s Moscow hotel in 2013, but that the offer was refused. Pardon me, could we replay the pussy-grabber video again. How different could 2013 Trump have been from 2005 Trump, really?
Today’s NY Times includes a story by Robert Pear, “Pace of Sign-Ups Under Affordable Care Act Blows Past Prior Years.” So far so good. But the first paragraph imputes motives that may not exist: “More than 600,000 people signed up last week for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, significantly beating the pace of prior years as consumers defied President Trump’s assertion that the marketplace was collapsing.”
Begging your pardon, but I did not sign up for ACA coverage this year (or ever) in order to defy the president. I am simply hoping to get the best healthcare coverage I can afford. I can’t speak for the other six hundred thousand plus people, but I suspect that many if not most are just doing what needs to be done.
I am happy to disagree with Trump, protest against Trump, maybe even agree with something he says or does, but “defy”? Does this mean that Trump is the royal and we “consumers” are the subjects? The last king my people defied was King George III. Does the NY Times have any better idea than President Trump that the national executive is a public servant and that our national greatness, such as it is, does not depend on royal prerogative? And furthermore, that dissent and disagreement are prerogatives of citizens in a constitutional democratic republic? And by the way, do we speak of giant corporations and billionaires as “defying” the president when they clamor for more loopholes, lower tax rates, more squiggly wriggly “pass-throughs”?
I do not agree with all of what John Calvin (1509-1564) had to say about God and predestination. But for anyone who accepts pretty much any version of Christian theism, it’s hard to find fault with Calvin’s clear and sensible affirmation (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1.17.9) that we ought not to interpret providence in such a way that we despise the “secondary causes” through which God acts in the world. (And it’s not only a Protestant-Puritan thing, Thomas Aquinas would have agreed with Calvin here.)
Should I be surprised that the Republican response to the latest mass slaughter closes the door against anything other than prayer. Prayer may indeed offer consolation in times of trial. Thoughts may send good karma in the direction of those suffering horribly in Texas. But for Speaker Paul Ryan to use “prayer works” as an excuse to do nothing is adding insult to injury. When Ryan turns aside any possibility of using legislation to reduce mass killings he is speaking as a fatalistic pagan, not a Christian. I want at least enough of a line of separation between church and state that neither Paul Ryan nor any other politician tries to excuse their lack of action by saying that prayer works. His job, and the president’s job, is to restrain evildoers, and pave roads. Mitch McConnell insulted our intelligence when he said that there is no “foolproof” legislative remedy. Of course, Senator. I am not expecting infallibility. How about a little honest and well-informed effort. Our murder rate is 50 times higher than the United Kingdom–and our president says it is not “a guns situation.” How about getting real about the secondary causes staring us in the face?
Magna Carta Article 40 states: “To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.” That affirmation continues to be part of English law almost 800 years later. One might expect true “conservatives” in the U.S. Congress to respect this ancient shout-out on behalf of liberty, but no. Congressman Chris Collins, Republican, uttered the GOP’s bottom line today when he said, “my donors are basically saying, “Get it done or don’t ever call me again.” So much for Paul Ryan’s slick subterfuges. Anyone who can read the plain meaning of words knows where the Republicans are coming from now.
Senator McConnell, as always, is correct when he says there is no “foolproof” solution for massacres like the one in Texas yesterday. But he is old enough to know that legislation is not an exact science. His commentary is true as far as it goes, but that’s not far at all. Fox News is emphasizing the message that “there are no answers, only lots of questions.” Is that really the kind of attitude that made our country as great as it is? Such a no-can-do-spirit.
President Trump says this was a mental health issue, “not a gun situation.” Could have fooled me. Sure the shooter was very disturbed and troubled. But are Americans really ten times or fifty times crazier that citizens of other countries? No, though some days it might seem that way. We are making choices. None foolproof, but some choices are more self-destructive than others.
Donald “L’Etat C’est Moi” Trump has now let us know just how frustrated he is by the separation of powers. He doesn’t seem to be bothered by unfaithfulness to any promise he has ever made, so why would the oath of office be any different? He would really like to be executioner as well as executive. That’s his idea of strong leadership. He has no feel at all for the checks and balances that have helped keep the United States of America a functioning republic. He has a sickeningly sensitive feeling for the best ways to rub salt in social and cultural and economic wounds, but no visible desire at all to promote social unity or healing.
Donald Trump is reported to have required non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements from his employees. At his inauguration as president, he uttered an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. He promised to become a public servant, that is. Now he tells us, openly, that he chafes at the restrictions. Non-disparagement clauses are apparently only for the little people, not for Trump. Since he has admitted that he really, really, wants to seize illegitimate and unconstitutional powers, we are face-to-face with the reality that protecting and defending the separation of powers is everybody’s business in this era of Trump. Most of us used to be reasonably confident that on a given day, we didn’t need to worry about our country sliding into banana republic status. But here we are.
Republican cowardice and petty feuding by Democrats are part of the landscape, sadly. Arguments over the size and shape and priorities of government will and must continue. But defending our Constitution against Trump’s assaults has to be the nonnegotiable top priority for all citizens, the priority from which all distractions are a clear and present danger. If Trump manages to fire Mueller, some say there would be a constitutional crisis. I would say it’s only a crisis if Congress and the courts fail to check Trump by reinstating Mueller in a truly independent position. We can still rely on the Constitution to defend against Trump, but the Constitution is no longer, if it ever was, a machine that runs by itself–it’s going to take people acting firmly, fairly, and consistently to restrain evildoers like him. There’s no need for and no use in panic, instead we need firm, fair, and consistently principled pushback.
Anyone who deserves to call themselves conservative cannot happy hearing a president stomp all over the separation of powers. If a president grasps at judicial power as well as executive power, and “conservatives” are silent, we are in trouble. We are in trouble.
There is nothing conservative about an American president calling for the death penalty against someone not yet convicted of a crime. If the legislative branch, out of a mix of cowardice, an overwhelming desire to please donors, and felt need to kowtow to a rabid base, does nothing to safeguard the “least dangerous” judicial branch, our constitutional republic will be badly wounded. If the president is allowed to derail Mueller’s investigation we do not have separation of powers anymore (of course I know Mueller is operating under Justice Department regulations, but there is no real separation, no check, no balance left, if he is removed and Congress doesn’t immediately restore him as independent counsel or equivalent). If we don’t have three branches of government we have lost the constitutional republic that “conservatives” claim to defend. If we do not preserve, protect, and defend our constitutional republic, it’s gone and not easily restored. There won’t be a gated community with gates strong enough to keep anybody safe.
Maybe Mr. Trump has a point–maybe our justice system is a travesty. If our justice system worked, maybe Donald J. Trump would not be walking free around the White House grounds and his golf courses. Maybe he would have been confined in a narrower space many years ago. Same goes for Paul Manafort and perhaps Tony Podesta too. Quite a few “society offenders,” as Gilbert & Sullivan put it, could well deserve to be confined or sent underground, but are not. (Also, the news out of Guantanamo is not funny, but is operatic.)
Does President Trump believe that our Constitution is a suicide pact? After September 11, 2001, “the Constitution is not a suicide pact” became a way of stressing that we wish to be an open society but not a defenseless one, and thus that some restrictions on our liberties are justified–exactly which ones was and is a subject of debate. Now Trump says we must be much tougher–but on what? on whom? He may be right that vetting should become more extreme, and refugee admission quotas reconsidered, but he failed to put Uzbekistan on any of his own travel ban lists. What’s up with that? When will he ever begin to accept accountability for any of the continuing American carnage? (Hannity and Lewandowski’s slips referring to President Hillary Clinton are revealing, no?) A month after 50 people dead and 500 shot in Las Vegas, is it too soon to draw conclusions and become “much tougher” on bump stocks at a minimum? Was that mass killing “terrorism”? Are we without any remedies against continued carnage like Las Vegas? Was the 2008 DC v. Heller Supreme Court ruling (which for the very first time individualized the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms and crossed out the “well-regulated militia” part) a joke, Mr. President? Was it soft on gun crime? Must the Constitution and the Bill of Rights be read as a suicide pact, Mr. Trump? The issues are complicated, for sure. And the consequences of sloppy word choices and ill-thought-out laws are far more deadly than in the day when “bear arms” meant muskets.