What Happens If …

There are a number of opinion writers I greatly respect, and Charles M. Blow is in the top ten.  Mr. Blow writes for the New York Times and his work is most always level-headed and thoughtful.  Amid the many calls for impeachment to remove Trump from office, cooler heads must sometimes prevail.  In Blow’s column from December 2nd he explains why removing Trump from office is not a likely scenario, but would be the beginning of a new nightmare.

What Happens If …

The possibilities ahead in the Russia investigation suggest we are not reaching the end of a nightmare, but rather entering one.

Charles BlowBy Charles M. Blow

I no longer think that anyone in America, including Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters, can afford to put off the consideration of the central question of this administration: What if Donald Trump or those closest to him were compromised by the Russians or colluded with them?

There have always been those of us on the left who viewed his presidency as compromised, asterisk-worthy if not wholly illegitimate, because of the Russian interference.

A crime had been committed by Russia and Trump cheered the crime and used the loot thereof to advance his candidacy. That is clear.

The Russians made repeated attempts to contact people in Trump’s orbit and in some cases were able to meet with members of the team, as evidenced by the Trump Tower meeting. That is clear.

Members of Trump’s team were extremely interested in and eager to accept any assistance that the Russians could provide. That is clear.

And since assuming office, Trump has openly attempted to obstruct justice and damage or impede the investigation into what the Russians did and whether anyone in his orbit was part of the crime. That too is clear.

But for the people who support and defend Trump, this has already been absorbed andabsolved. They may not like it, but they are willing to overlook it. Indeed, they are so attached to Trump that his fortunes and his fate have become synonymous with theirs. There is a spiritual linkage, a baleful bond, between the man and his minions.

But what happens if the evidence that the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, uncovers reveals a direct link between Trump and the Russians? How do Trump’s boosters respond?

Last week, when Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the timeline and the extent of Mr. Trump’s involvement in negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow, the political earth shifted.

If Trump was lying to or misleading the American people about his efforts to do business in Russia while running for president and the Russians knew — and presumably had evidence — that he wasn’t being completely honest and forthcoming, then he was compromised.

While it is by no means clear that the Russians ever used any information that they may have had to blackmail or otherwise pressure Trump, Cohen’s plea makes clear that they had the material to do just that.

This brings ever more clarity to Trump’s curious inclination to go soft on Russia condemnation, to take Russian President Vladimir Putin’s word over that of his own intelligence agencies, and to drag his feet in acknowledging that Russia attacked our election in 2016 and may continue to do so in the future.

How would Americans who support Trump now respond to evidence that Team Trump put their own personal and financial interests over the national interest? Would they break from their blind support and turn away from him and turn on him? How could they justify wearing the blinders for so long and countenancing so much? What language would they use to correct their complicity?

There is a precedent in the Nixon investigation. When the evidence of wrongdoing was clear and incontrovertible, people began to peel away, tails tucked and full of shame.

But that was a different time, one in which media wasn’t so fractured and partisan, before the advent of social media and our current dissociable mentalities.

Nixon had no propaganda arm. Trump has one. It’s called Fox News. There is little daylight between the network’s programming and the White House’s priorities. If Trump goes down, so too does Fox, in some measure. So the network has a vested interest in defending Trump until the bitter end, and that narrative-crafting could impede an otherwise natural and normal disaffection with Trump.

Furthermore, Trump does not strike me as a man amenable to contrition or one interested in the health and stability of the nation.

I expect Trump to admit nothing, even if faced with proof positive of his own misconduct. There is nothing in the record to convince me otherwise. He will call the truth a lie and vice versa.

I also don’t think that Trump would ever voluntarily leave office as Nixon did, even if he felt impeachment was imminent. I’m not even sure that he would willingly leave if he were impeached and the Senate moved to convict, a scenario that is hard to imagine at this point.

I don’t think any of this gets better, even as the evidence becomes clearer. I don’t believe that Trump’s supporters would reverse course in the same way that Nixon’s did. I don’t believe that the facts Mueller presents will be considered unassailable. I don’t believe Trump will go down without bringing the country down with him.

In short, I don’t believe we are reaching the end of a nightmare, but rather we are entering one. This will not get easier, but harder.

The country is about to enter the crucible. This test of our republic is without a true comparison. And we do not have a clear picture of how the test will resolve. But, I believe damage is certain.

Is ‘Rule of Law’ Dead?

Whether Trump’s firing of Jeff Sessions was warranted or ethical is not the question.  Whether Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General is constitutional is not the question, nor is the question whether Whitaker should recuse himself from the Mueller investigation. The question tonight is whether this nation has become one where ‘rule of law’ applies only to those without wealth & power?  I would begin by asking just what gives one single man, Mitch McConnell, the power of life and death over the Mueller investigation?

It’s funny how just the day before, Mitch McConnell wrote that OpEd piece promoting bipartisanship and bemoaning the fact that he didn’t believe democrats would be willing to reach across the aisle … not that Mitchell has ever once reached across that aisle.  But now, there is a bipartisan effort by Republican Senator Jeff Flake and Democratic Senator Chris Coons to pass legislation that would offer protection to the investigation that has been ongoing for a year-and-a-half, but McConnell has blocked that legislation.  Single handedly he stamped it “null and void”without consideration. 

“As you can imagine, I talk to the president fairly often, no indication that the Mueller investigation will not be allowed to finish, and it should be allowed to finish.  We know how the president feels about the Mueller investigation, but he’s never said, ‘I want to shut it down.’ … I think it’s in no danger, so I don’t think any legislation is necessary.”

I cry FOUL!  This legislation is very necessary and if Trump can get by with it, he will shut it down in a heartbeat.  Just listen to Trump’s latest rant against Mueller and the investigation …

“The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess. They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want. They are a disgrace to  our Nation and don’t care how many lives the [sic] ruin. These are Angry People,including the highly conflicted Bob Mueller, who worked for Obama for 8 years.They won’t even look at all of the bad acts and crimes on the other side. A TOTAL WITCH HUNT LIKE NO OTHER IN AMERICAN HISTORY!”

For the record, Bob Mueller is a registered republican, and a much-decorated former Marine who served in Vietnam and came home with a Purple Heart from being shot in the leg. 

“I consider myself exceptionally lucky to have made it out of Vietnam. There were many—many—who did not. And perhaps because I did survive Vietnam, I have always felt compelled to contribute.”

Trump mixed up his facts a bit … Mueller was Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for twelve years … eight under President George W. Bush, and four under President Barack Obama.

The only … the one and only thing that has kept Trump from taking action sooner was the fact that he cannot fire Mueller directly, Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General had recused himself, so he couldn’t fire him, and Rod Rosenstein is a man of integrity and wouldn’t fire him.  But now, with Whitaker in the position of Acting Attorney General, and Whitaker having licked Trump’s boots more than once already, echoing Trump’s rhetoric about the investigation being a ‘witch hunt’, the conclusion is obvious.  The only question is ‘when’?

There is no ‘witch hunt’, else Mueller would not have brought indictments against 32 people and 3 companies thus far, including Michael Cohen, Trump’s long-time attorney and ‘fixer’, and Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman. 

Even Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, another who has stayed in Congress far too long and is a Trump sycophant, has said that he would back the bill to safeguard the investigation.  Jeff Flake has, perhaps, used the most important leverage of any in saying that he would refuse to advance any judiciary nominees until or unless the bill is passed. McConnell really wants to get as many of Trump’s judicial nominees confirmed as possible in order to stay in Trump’s good graces, if in fact there is such a thing.

Mitch McConnell has been in the Senate since 1984 … thirty-four years, and at least 22 years longer than he should have been or would have been if limits of two or even three terms had been in place.  Unfortunately, there is no recall provision such that the people of Kentucky could vote to recall McConnell from the Senate.  However,  Under Article I, Section 5, clause 2, of the Constitution, a Member of Congress may be removed from office before the normal expiration of his or her constitutional term by an “expulsion” from the Senate (if a Senator) or from the House of Representatives (if a Representative) upon a formal vote on a resolution agreed to by two-thirds of the Members of that body present and voting.  Okay, so we all know that this is about as likely to happen as my cat growing wings, but it should.  If McConnell ever had a conscience or a soul, he has long since sold it downriver and he does no service to the people of his state nor to the people of this nation. 

If the Mueller investigation is halted, or if it is shackled in such a way as to render it pointless, then it will serve as proof that Trump and his minions are all considered to be above the law and have always been, for the crimes being investigated took place before Trump’s election … he was not president at the time he and his campaign staff conspired with the Russians to adversely affect the outcome of the 2016 election.  Trump’s lawyers would argue that you cannot indict a sitting president, so … does that mean that if it were discovered tomorrow that Trump had killed an entire family and buried their bodies somewhere under Mar-a-Lago, Trump could not be charged?

Rule of law is defined as …

“The authority and influence of law in society, especially when viewed as a constraint on individual and institutional behavior; the principle whereby all members of a society are considered equally subject to publicly disclosed legal codes and processes.”

The principle whereby all members of a society are considered equally subject …  ALL members.  Is Donald Trump above the law?  If he is, then he is not a member of this society, therefore cannot be a president, and instead is a dictator.  Can’t have it both ways, folks.  I have attempted to contact Mr. McConnell by phone and by email to let him know in no uncertain terms that We The People want this investigation to continue to its logical conclusion, that we want to know the results, and we want every single person who acted against the law to be held accountable by a court of law.  EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON.

The Morning After …

Donald Trump claimed that this election, the 2018 mid-term election, was all about him.  He was right, but not, perhaps, in the way he meant it.  The very narrow taking of a majority in the House of Representatives was all about Donald Trump … it was a referendum by democrats … a statement that said, “We have had enough.”

Contrary to what many predicted, it was not a sweep, there was no ‘blue wave’.  And in fact, at several points it looked rather dim, and I had even written a morning post based on the assumption that the GOP maintained their control over the House — it was a glum post and I was happy to send it to the trash about 2:00 a.m.!  There were some mega-disappointments, albeit not unexpected:  Andrew Gillum, Stacy Abrams and Beto O’Rourke.  At this writing, there is still a slight chance for Stacy Abrams, for the margin is narrow enough that a run-off election might be called for … we can hope, although I suspect the odds are slim.celebration.jpgNow, we’ve had a moment of relief … some, no doubt, celebrated with champagne and noisemakers … it’s time to take stock, time to take a sobering look at the reality.  The newly elected 116th Congress will not be seated until January 3rd, 2019 … nearly two full months from now.  Have you considered what might happen during that two-month period?

I have no inside information and speak only as a decades-long observer of the political scene, and a more recent observer of Trump-antics.  As such, it appears to me that the main thing Trump would like to see put to bed before he is actually held to account for his actions in two months, is the Robert Mueller investigation into possible criminal interactions between Trump, his campaign, and Russian manipulators during the 2016 presidential campaign.  I will not be surprised to see some staffing changes at the Department of Justice in the next two months.

Trump, in his usual fashion, started the ‘morning after’ with threats …

“If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!”

“They can play that game, but we can play better because we have a thing called the United States Senate and a lot of questionable things were done between leaks of classified information and many other elements that should not have taken place.”

Whoa … wait just a minute … you don’t own the Senate, and they don’t even work for you, Donnie boy! Would somebody please inform him that this is not junior high school???

And later, this …

“According to NBC News, Voters Nationwide Disapprove of the so-called Mueller Investigation (46%) more than they Approve (41%). You mean they are finally beginning to understand what a disgusting Witch Hunt, led by 17 Angry Democrats, is all about!”

Funny, isn’t it, that the mainstream media of which NBC News is a part is “the enemy of the people” and “fake news” until they report something that suits his purposes?

Is there no work for Trump to do … has he nothing better to do than play childish games?  Or is he simply petrified of what investigations into his tax returns and his business’ finances since he took office would reveal?

Another sobering thought is that the Senate seats gained by the republicans last night may make a democratic majority in the Senate improbable anytime before 2022 … another four years.  It is true that the majority in the House has given democrats an opportunity to insist on some oversight, will put an end to the free ride he has had thus far and hold him accountable for his actions.  However, the importance of the Senate should not be downplayed.  First, it is the Senate that confirms or denies Trump’s cabinet choices and, even more importantly, Supreme Court nominees.  If the republicans hold the majority in the Senate for another four years, it is almost a certainty that Trump will place three more justices on the Court, making 5 of the 9, Trump picks.  For life.

Second, it is the Senate that must come up with a two-thirds majority in order to convict and remove Trump from office if the House were to vote to impeach.  I keep hearing people say that once there is a democratic majority in the House, Trump will be impeached.  He might be, but he will remain in office just as Bill Clinton did.  The difference is … consider Trump’s temperament … you think he’s abominable now?  Imagine if he were to be impeached, and yet still remain in power.

It is not my intent to spoil the party here, but just to remember that while last night’s win was a positive step, it is not the end of Trump’s reign of idiocy.

Look The Other Way …

How, we ask ourselves, did a sexual predator with a volatile temper and no knowledge of how government works, become the president?  How is this possible in what was once among the freest nations on earth?  Quite simple … we all have preconceived notions of what we want, and if something stands in the way of achieving those goals, we simply … look the other way.

A nominee for Supreme Court justice refuses to answer questions, is caught lying during his confirmation hearings and then is accused of having sexually assaulted one or more girls during his early years.  The republicans have been ordered by Donald Trump to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, regardless.  What to do, what to do?  Look the other way.

The human race, as well as most other living creatures, is on a collision course with disaster unless we make some tough choices in the very near future.  Massive amounts of scientific research provide evidence that the burning of fossil fuels is contributing to making the planet Earth virtually unable to sustain life at some point in the future. But it’s inconvenient.  Coal miners might lose their jobs, people might have to make sacrifices such as driving cars less, turning the thermostat down in winter, staying home more.  What to do?  Look the other way.

The investigation into already-proven links between Trump, his family and his campaign workers to the Russians who interfered in the 2016 election that put Trump into office is in danger of being shackled or terminated by the very subject of the investigation, Donald Trump.  Trump is panicked and threatening to fire people who will likely provide the information that will ultimately see him impeached.  What should we do?  Look the other way.

You see signs that your neighbor is beating his wife, but you’ve been friends with the couple for years, your children play together, and it would be so inconvenient to confront him, or to contact law enforcement.  What to do?  Look the other way.

The man who is tasked with defending the Constitution, frequently challenges the freedom of the press by referring to them as the “enemy of the people”.  What to do?  Defend our press, or … Look the other way.

More than 500 immigrant children remain separated from their parents because of a heinous policy of Trump’s administration earlier this year. These children are treated as criminals, housed in detention centers that are kept out of the public view.  Children!  What to do?  Look the other way.

There are signs that the president of the nation is becoming more and more authoritarian, taking power that he was never intended to have, threatening and bullying members of Congress, leaders of the Justice Department and others who are tasked with the job of protecting and defending the Constitution.  Protest is time-consuming and risky.  What to do?  Look the other way.

People are dying because they cannot afford adequate healthcare, as the president signs executive orders and bullies Congress to undercut the protections under ACA.  What to do?  Look the other way.  People have lost their homes because the president revoked a policy that would have reduced the cost of mortgages for millions of home buyers.  That’s tough, but it doesn’t affect you, so just … Look the other way.

Trump reversed a rule that would ban gun sales to those deemed “mentally defective” by the government.  The NRA is dictating policy through ‘donations’ to congressional campaigns, and by direct intervention in some states’ gun laws.  The U.S. has the highest incidence of gun-related deaths in the world.  What to do?  Look the other way.

And the list goes on … and on …

Yes, folks, by all means look the other way and assume that “it will all work out in the long run, for it always has”.  Look the other way and believe that somebody else will step in and do something.  Look how well that worked for the Germans and the Italians in the 1930s. Nothing to see here, folks, just move along with your lives.  Go coach that soccer game, socialize with your friends, post pictures of your most recent meal on Facebook, take a vacation, post your selfies on Twitter, and don’t let any of this disturb your sleep at night … just go enjoy the heck out of your lives.  Never for a single minute think that you or I might be complicit in the undoing of the nation. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow …

Get Educated As To How Russian Trolls Operate In The USA To Suppress The Vote

There is a lot of talk these days about the Russian interference in our last (2016) election and that the intelligence community has already seen credible evidence that the Russians are also planning to inject their presence into our mid-terms in November. If you aren’t worried, you should be. But how, exactly, do the Russians influence the vote? That has been somewhat hazy to many, but friend Gronda has some clarification for us. Please take a few minutes to read this post and check out the short videos she includes. You won’t regret it! Thank you, Gronda, for all your hard work on this and for letting me share it!

Gronda Morin

1EarthUnited  who is a member of my blogging family has recently been taking on the personality of a Russian troll.

History:

Until relatively recently, she would comment on my posts with a point of view of a conservative with conspiracy theory leanings. This was okay with me as she was representing a point of view of peoples who I know and am fond of, except we rarely go down that route of discussing politics when we get together. She has consistently exhibited a strong antipathy towards the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to where she would refer to old conspiracy theories which have been debunked numerous times by credible fact-checking sites. Again, for me this was nothing new. She would use references that are rated high in fake content like WND, Horn news. (FOX TV, Infowars, Breitbart) are examples of right wing media outlets that are also rated high…

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Alternative Facts …

In the beginning … way back on January 20, 2017 … we were first introduced to a concept that would be the foundation for the Trump presidency:  Alternative Facts.  It first came about because the crowd at the inauguration was significantly smaller than that at Barack Obama’s first inauguration, eight years earlier.  Then-press secretary Sean Spicer, however, on orders from Trump, claimed that the crowd was the largest ever seen at any presidential inauguration.  The following Sunday on Meet the Press, Chuck Todd asked Kellyanne Conway why Spicer made that claim, saying, “It undermines the credibility of the entire White House press office on day one.”  Kellyanne’s response was …todd-conway.png

“Don’t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. You’re saying it’s a falsehood and they’re giving — Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that.”

Todd shot back …

“Alternative facts? Look, alternative facts are not facts, they’re falsehoods. What was the motive to have this ridiculous litigation of crowd size?”

And Kellyanne took offense …

“Your job is not to call things ridiculous that are said by our press secretary and our president. That’s not your job. Chuck, I mean, if we’re going to keep referring to our press secretary in those types of terms, I think that we’re going to have to rethink our relationship here.”

And thus began the Era of Alternative Facts.  Not a single day has gone by since that we have not been subjected to alternative facts, aka lies, from the administration, usually from Trump himself.  But this past week has been the crowning gem of alternative facts.  Let us look at a couple.

alt-facts-4Just yesterday, Trump was speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Kansas City, Missouri, and made this utterly ludicrous statement:

“Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening.”

Say what???alt-facts-2

“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. And if all others accepted the lie, which the party imposed, if all records told the same tale, then the lie passed into history and became the truth.”  – George Orwell, 1984

Ever since his disastrous, from my point of view, summit in Helsinki just over a week ago, Trump has had a great deal of trouble deciding whether he believes that Putin interfered in our 2016 election, and whether Putin is primed to interfere in our mid-terms this November.  He has changed his tune so many times that my head was spinning like the little girl on The Exorcist, so I finally just stopped even paying attention.  Bottom line is he knows damn good and well that Putin did everything he could to ensure that Hillary Clinton would not win in 2016.  It wasn’t that he liked Trump better, but he was afraid of Hillary, and he figured he could manipulate Trump.  But yesterday, Trump topped even his own record for ignorance.

“I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election. Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don’t want Trump!”

Tough on Russia?  When???  He’s on a short leash held by Russian President Vladimir Putin, has refused to speak a single critical word against Putin, and he’s tough???bullshitIf anybody believes a single word of that, I’ve got this lovely bridge in Brooklyn that I’ll sell cheap.  Just last week he told a reporter he doesn’t think Russia is still targeting the US and publicly doubting Russian interference on multiple occasions.

alt-facts-3A few days ago, in my spam folder I found an email from Trump.  Well, actually it was from a computer program authorized to solicit funds on behalf of Trump.  I have unsubscribed to this blasphemy so many times that I finally gave up.  Anyway, he talked about his favourite topic these days, the “witch hunt” and reminded me what a great job he is doing, then, right before asking for a campaign donation, he referred to himself as my “favourite president”.  After I returned from the bathroom being sick, I deleted the email.  Another very alternative fact.

I could understand his use of smoke & mirrors, gaslighting, lies, lies and more lies … er, excuse me – alternative facts – at this point, for he is deeply entangled in a web of lies & secrecy that Robert Mueller is close to exposing, and Trump is running scared.  Hence his threat to “shut down” the investigation. But … he started out lying on day #1!!!  Congressional leaders Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell make really sorry excuses for him, as if he were naught but a recalcitrant child.  But he is not a child … he is a 72-year-old man who by hook and by crook managed to land the highest office in the nation.

We laugh and joke about the term ‘alternative facts’, but the reality is that these lies are no joking matter, for they carry very real consequences for our country.  Why?  Because some 40% of the people in the nation believe them.  Trump could not care less what the rest of us think, so long as he can convince his base that we are the enemy.  But Trump tells his base, “Do not get your news from CNN, the New York Times, or The Washington Post.  Do not listen to the liberals, for they are only out to get us.  Believe only what I tell you to believe.”  And that is what they do.  Therein lies the danger.

trump-pinocchioTrump is a buffoon, an ignorant, under-educated fool.  But he holds the power and if there is one thing he seems to have a knack for, it is keeping his base hypnotized and believing that he is the answer to whatever problems they perceive.  Or rather, whatever problems he has told them they have.

There is no such thing as alternative facts.  Facts are irrefutable and not subject to interpretation.  Fact:  Trump’s inauguration crowd couldn’t hold a candle to Obama’s.  Fact:  Vladimir Putin admitted that he wanted Trump to win in 2016.  Fact:  Trump refused to hold Putin accountable for the election interference when the two met in Helsinki.  Fact:  Many from Trump’s campaign have already either pled guilty or been indicted for their dealings with Russia during the campaign.  Fact:  Trump has damaged our relationship with our allies.  Fact:  Trump’s tariffs will hurt U.S. citizens far more than they will help bring new jobs.  Fact:  Trump has chipped away at ACA to the point that we will all see a rise in health care costs, and millions will be unable to afford healthcare at all.  I have many more facts, but I shall stop here, for you get the picture, right?

The 40% who still love him because he tells them to are in for a very rude awakening. As I told a friend last night, I would like to say they will be getting what they deserve, but for the fact that the rest of us will suffer as well. This, even though we have spent the past year-and-a-half fighting tooth and nail, while the 40% sat in front of their television watching Fox News and scarfing down Lays potato chips and ice cream.  Bah humbug.

♪ Snippets, Snippets, I Got Snippets ♪ …

I came across a few tidbits, or snippets yesterday that I thought were deserving of a mention.  So, I am mentioning them.  The first involves one of my favourite people to snark about, former Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff Joe Arpaio!  Yep, folks ol’ Sheriff Joe is back in the news! He is reminiscent of that bad penny that just keeps turning up everywhere.  Or the paperclip that keeps turning up under my daughter’s desk and the vacuum finds it every bloomin’ time!


A Case of Hypocrisy?Arpaio-2You may remember that just a year ago, Sheriff Joe was convicted of Contempt of Court.  He never served a single hour of jail time, and then the month after his conviction, Donald Trump pardoned him.  Now, you might think, having dodged the bullet, so to speak, that ol’ Sheriff Joe would be thankful, cut his losses and slither silently back under the rock from whence he came, right?  Wrong.  Sheriff Joe is now running for the United States Senate, hoping to fill the seat that is being vacated by Jeff Flake.  But that isn’t what put him on Filosofa’s radar.  It was yesterday’s tweet that did it this time:arpaio tweetFirst, isn’t it ironic that the man who committed the crime and didn’t do so much as an hour’s time, can baldly make such a statement?  And second … those ‘tent cities’ were partly what got him in trouble in the first place, as he abused and mistreated his prisoners.  The good people of Arizona need to make damn sure that Mr. Arpaio does not win the election in November!


Sue!!!  Sue, sue, sue!!!

Okay, folks.  Donald Trump has been involved in nearly 6,000 lawsuits in his life, which equates to approximately 120 per year if he started suing and being sued at birth.  I’ve been involved in exactly one lawsuit in my entire life.  Anyway, apparently it is a trend, one of those things that … if something isn’t going quite the way you expected or wanted it to, why then … just sue somebody.  Things still won’t be going the way you expected or wished, but hey … at least you’ll have a bunch of money, right?

You all remember the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas last October?  The gunman, Stephen Paddock, opened fire from the window of a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel on the Las Vegas strip.  At the end of his shooting spree, 58 were left dead and 851 injured inside of a 15-minute period.  Stephen Paddock had not just one, but several semi-automatic weapons with bump stocks that allowed him to shoot at a rate similar to a fully automatic weapon.  But guns are not my point today.

MGM Resorts International, the hotel conglomerate that owns the Mandalay Bay, is suing more than 1,000 victims of the aforementioned massacre.  Stop just a minute now, and think about this.  The hotel where the gunman was a ‘guest’, and from where he perpetrated his heinous crime, is suing the dead and injured parties.  Huh?  Say what?  Why, you ask?

Because … some of the victims have filed a suit against MGM Resorts, a security firm hired to manage the festival, and other companies, alleging negligence.  A group of 450 victims filed the suit … that’s a bit less than the 1,000+ victims that MGM is suing, but they want to head any future lawsuits off at the pass, as well as putting the current ones to bed.

MGM is not seeking monetary damages from the victims, but is hoping a federal judge will dismiss any current or future lawsuits brought by victims against the company.  For the record, I think both lawsuits are wrong.  The guilty party was Mr. Paddock and he is dead.  The Mandalay Bay Hotel had no way to know what his intent was when he rented the room, so I see no reason for a lawsuit against MGM.  If I were among the victims and wanted to sue anybody, it would be the NRA for blocking all legislation that could have prevented this tragedy. Neither, however, do I see a reason for MGM to sue the victims … all of them.  It seems like pouring salt in the wound.  Frivolous lawsuits seem to be the trend of the day.  Not happy?  Fine, sue someone … you still won’t be happy, but you’ll have money.


The Blame Game Redux …

Donald Trump has attempted to blame nearly everyone for almost everything.  His favourite targets, though, have consistently remained Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  It has become obvious to those of us who are not mesmerized by Trump’s pathological lies that he is guilty as hell in conspiring with Putin & Co to affect the outcome of the 2016 election.  While Trump is not, in this writer’s opinion, particularly intelligent, even he is surely able to see that the people of this country are no longer buying his tall tales.  So, of course, he has to find somebody to blame.  Eenie meenie miney mo … who shall it be this time?  President Obama drew the short straw on Monday!  SURPRISE!!!  Not.

Trump accused President Obama of rigging the ongoing Russia investigation against him and instructing FBI agent Peter Strzok to carry out the task. He pulled this theory from the dark recesses of either his mind or his posterior during an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity Monday night, after having made a mockery of the nation he is purported to represent, in Helsinki.  Best guess?  He needed to distract attention from his own disastrous behaviour.  His theory doesn’t even deserve more than these two paragraphs.


Paint the Plane???  WHY???A-F-1This is a picture of the plane the president and his entourage fly on, known as Air Force One.   You may remember that Trump has ordered two replacement jets from Boeing at a cost to us of $3.9 billion.  Okay, the old ones are … old … 28 years old, so I get needing new ones.  While the cost sounds exorbitant to me, I am no expert, and frankly the cost of a new pair of shoes sounds exorbitant to me.  I am cheap.

But look at the picture again.  Not a bad looking plane, eh?  But it is too tame for Donald Trump.  When he was in Scotland, killing time until he could meet with Putin in Helsinki, Trump did an interview with Jeff Glor of CBS News.

“I said, ‘I wonder if we should use the same baby blue colors?’ And we’re not. You know what colors we’re using? Take a guess. Red, white and blue.”

The colour change isn’t likely, I suppose, to add to the cost, but knowing Trump, it will be garish and ugly, for he seems to like garish and ugly.  I imagine he has to change the colours because the current schema was good enough for President Obama.  But here’s the real kicker … the new version is scheduled to be completed by 2024, but Trump has pushed for that date to be pushed up to 2021 so that he might have a chance to ride it.  HAH!!!  If he’s still around in 2021, I will eat my socks!!!


wash-windowsAnd that concludes today’s roundup of snippets.  My street is being paved today, and the noise is driving me nuts, so I think I will wash windows or something productive to take my mind off the noise.  Have a great evening, folks!

 

TREASON!

I just love starting Monday in a haze of white-hot fury.  The Washington Post headline reads:

Putin Again Denies Russian Interference in the 2016 U.S. Election; Trump Calls Probe a ‘Disaster for Our Country’

It comes as no surprise that Putin denies interference … nobody with half a brain thought he would admit it, but no matter, for there is more than ample hard fact-based evidence that he did.  But for Trump to call the investigation a “disaster for our country”???  NO … NO NO NO NO NO!  The investigation is essential and the only thing that gives us hope we might get rid of the real disaster: Trump himself!  I am in a white hot fury over his asininity!

Putin:  … Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere in internal American affairs.

Trump:  There was no collusion. I didn’t know the president. There was nobody to collude with. There was no collusion with the campaign.bullshitNow what, exactly, do these two donkeys expect us to do at this point?  Do they expect that we will all say, “Oh, well, that solves it then.  Let’s stop the Mueller investigation and all other investigations and let Trump get on with his plan for mass destruction of the U.S.”

Somebody needs to take that ugly red tie and wrap it around his neck a few more times and pull tightly!

Trump:  Our relationship has never been worse than it is now. However, that changed, as of about four hours ago.

Why, Donnie?  What changed?  Did you offer him the keys to the Capitol and the White House?  Did you promise to change the name of the country to the United States of Russia?  And what did he offer you?  A lifetime sitting in the Oval Office with no need for another election ever? 

Frankly, if this isn’t a wake-up call to both Congress and Trump’s supporters, then we know that they have all been lobotomized.

Trump:  I think the probe has been a disaster for our country. It’s ridiculous what’s going on with the probe.

Well-respected former Director of the CIA, John Brennan, had this to say:

“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”

I repeat that question:  Where are you???  Some republicans in Congress absolutely must wake up and step up to the plate, for now there can be no doubt … not a shred of doubt … that Donald Trump is Putin’s asset.  There can be no doubt that deals have been made for our country to blindly support Russia’s agenda, whatever that agenda may be.  I can only wonder, with Trump’s past Russian connections, how many years this plan has been in the making?

Trump:  Much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people and all the Dems know how to do is resist and obstruct! This is why there is such hatred and dissension in our country — but at some point, it will heal!

The “hatred and dissension” in our country did not begin with Trump, but he has escalated it by a thousand percent, and continues to do so every time his fingers hit the keys on his twittering machine.  Donald Trump cannot heal the rift … the gulf … in this country, for he is the cause of it.  And no, folks, the media is NOT the enemy of the people … Donald Trump is the enemy of the people!  His state-media, Fox News is the enemy of the people, for they spread his lies and further widen the great divide.

I make no apologies, as I normally would, for this rant, for it is time We The People – all the people, including those who have been wearing blinders and earplugs for nearly 18 months now – wake up and see what is right under our very noses!  Donald Trump has no love for this country nor for its people.  He loves two things:  money and power.  And Vladimir Putin is promising him both.  Russia is not our friend and the free press is not our enemy.  There can no longer be any illusion that Trump can be reined in and eventually become the president of the people.  His goals are not ours.  The only solution, if we wish to continue as a relatively free nation, is to get Donald Trump out of the White House as quickly as possible.

Friend or Foe???

Friend: a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.

Foe: an enemy or opponent.syp-v-spy


Shouldn’t be too hard to tell the difference, should it?  Sure, sometimes we think somebody is a friend, only to learn later that they weren’t at all, but most of us are pretty fair judges of character and we don’t often make serious mistakes in choosing our friends.  Donald Trump is the exception to that rule.  But then, Donald  Trump is the exception to most every rule in the book, so why are we surprised?

On Saturday, Trump was interviewed by CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor in Scotland.  The full interview will be broadcast on Monday, but a few snippets have been released. Asked who he thinks is the biggest foe the U.S. has right now, he replied …

“Well I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now you wouldn’t think of the European Union but they’re a foe.”

President of the European Union Donald Tusk had a good comeback: “America and the EU are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news.”

I imagine Trump considers Canada and Mexico among the other foes. Lest you fall into the trap of believing a single word this man says, allow me to clarify.  The European Union and the countries that comprise it are our allies – our friends.  The UK is also our friend and ally. North Korea, China and Russia are not.  They are foes.  They are our antagonists.  They do not seek an alliance where both sides stand to gain.  Russia, in particular, has a goal, an endgame in mind whereby Russia dominates a large portion of the globe, and because of the ignorance of Donald Trump, Russia – specifically Vladimir Putin – views the United States as a pawn in their game.

Typically, a president has many advisors, each an expert in his or her field, and the smart president will listen to those advisors, process the information they are given, then make what seems the best decision at the moment.  By ‘best decision’, I mean that which will keep the world safest, and benefit the citizens of the U.S.  That style of leadership went out the window the day Trump took office and because of it, the world becomes a little less safe every day.

In the past week, Trump has been rude & crude – his trademark – to the Queen of England, to Prime Minister Theresa May, and to German Chancellor Angela Merkel – all are leaders of nations that are our friends, our allies.  On the flip side of that, he has praised DPRK leader Kim Jong-un, saying, “He’s very smart, great personality, he’s funny and tough, good negotiator.”

And, of course, he is meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin tomorrow, just three days after indictments were handed down for 12 of Putin’s henchmen who are accused of having acted as agents to sway the 2016 election in favour of Trump.  Many things are concerning about his meeting with Putin, not the least of which is his insistence that the meeting take place without advisors, staff, note-takers or other witnesses.  This is highly unorthodox and should not be allowed.  Presidential conversations are a matter of record – documented.  Period. One might speculate that Trump has an agenda for the meeting that is not in the best interest of the U.S.  Yep … one might just speculate that …

Trump is very angry over the indictments of the 12 Russians on Friday … angry, but not at Putin, not at Russia … no, he is angry with his own people, angry with Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein.  He says he may ask Putin about the data theft conducted by the 12, but will absolutely not ask for their extradition to the U.S.  Ask yourself “WHY?”

Trump claims the data theft was solely the fault of the Democratic National Committee (DNC):

“I think the DNC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be hacked. They had bad defenses and they were able to be hacked.”

Oh yes, I forgot … the democrats are also a foe.  And it was all Obama’s fault for letting it happen.  Barack Obama is also a foe.

The world should be concerned about the Trump-Putin meeting without credible witnesses or documenters.  Trump says he has low expectations for the meeting, but that nothing bad will come of it.  Sorry, folks, this man’s ‘word’ has about as much value as the rotten milk in my refrigerator.  He cannot even tell the difference between a friend and a foe, and in truth, the U.S. may not have many friends left after the past week.  Think about it.

Protest ahead of Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki

Protesters in Helsinki, Finland, ahead of Putin-Trump ‘summit’

Sinclair + Trump = State-Run Media

You may remember that back in April I wrote a post titled Freedom of the Press … Abused!!!. The subject of that post was Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner of 193 television stations nationwide.  Sinclair struck a deal with the Trump campaign in 2016 that granted them extended access to Trump in exchange for running all his speeches without commentary.  Sinclair stations lean toward conservative ideologies as it is and have come under fire before for biased news reporting.  When I wrote in April, it was because Sinclair had come onto the radar for what Dan Rather referred to as “an assault on our democracy”.  They were sending scripted ‘must-run’ segments.  The one in April was about ‘fake news’ and implied that Sinclair stations were the only ones not biased.  How can that be true when they are tied to Trump?

Once again Sinclair is back in the news, this time because of controversy surrounding a ‘must run’ editorial by Boris Epshteyn, Chief Political Analyst at Sinclair, that each station is being forced to air (I am so glad I do not watch television!!!). This latest segment blames the media for ‘overreacting’ to the separations of immigrant children from their parents.  OVERREACTING???  Excuse me, Sinclair Broadcast Group, but there can be no reaction too strong to the horror, the abomination of 2,300 children taken from their parents for no reason!  Freedom of the press … remember that???  That is where the press is free to report the news as it sees fit.  Not to be dictated to by a corporate giant who is in bed with Donald Trump!

I am including both a clip of the forced segment, as  well as the written transcript:

“Our immigration system is undeniably broken and the discourse around this topic is toxic.

A perfect illustration of these facts is the recent firestorm surrounding President Trump’s decision to enforce a “zero tolerance” policy and prosecute all adults illegally crossing our borders.

Many members of the media and opponents of the president have seized on this issue and have worked overtime to make it seem as if those who are tough on immigration are monsters. Let’s be honest, while some of the concern is real, a lot of it is politically driven by the liberals in politics and the media.

Some have even gone as far as comparing American immigration policies to the Holocaust.

It should go without saying that keeping children in a shelter is not equal to the Nazi slaughter of 6 million Jews and millions of others.

President Trump has correctly decided to step in and sign an executive order that will stop the separation of children from their families at the border. The president is working to show that it is possible to balance humanity with security for our borders.

Here’s the bottom line: the view that border security and humane treatment of families are mutually exclusive is wrong. That narrative is also incredibly harmful to finding a comprehensive solution to the problem of illegal immigration.

President Trump did the right thing by addressing the separation of families from their children on his own, but it is shameful that members of Congress continue to drag their feet on addressing all of the many holes in our immigration laws.”

Toeing the party line, isn’t he?  Of course, he fails to mention a few dozen facts, but guess what else he failed to mention?  Epshteyn is a former Trump advisor who is part of the investigation by Robert Mueller and his team into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia.  Ahem.  Epshteyn is a Russian-born republican strategist who resigned from a White House communications job under Trump after only two months. He confirmed that he has been contacted for information for the House investigation, but little is known about his suspected campaign activities.

Freedom of the Press.  Most people never realize what a tenuous thing it is, how easily it can be undermined, shattered.  Sinclair, along with Fox News, has essentially become state-run media. My personal recommendation here is to boycott all Sinclair stations completely.  Unsure which stations are owned by Sinclair?  Check it out here.  If nearly 200 stations nationwide can make false claims, eschew facts, and convince their viewers of the lie that is being promoted by none other than Donald Trump, America’s #1 liar-in-chief, then freedom of the press is in grave danger. And make no mistake, folks, without freedom of the press … well, The Washington Post logo says it best …Democracy dies in darkness