Saturday, August 26, 2017

Has Trump Derailed the Mueller investigation?

THE WORST THING about Trump pardoning the racist Arizona sheriff Arpaio is that his doing so may impede the special investigation being conducted by Robert Mueller to determine if Trump and his associates were in collusion with the Russians to distort the 2016 election. 

By pardoning the Arizona sheriff Trump has effectively signaled Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn and other apparent Russian-collusives that they don't need to trade information to Mueller in exchange for immunity. Trump's pardons can give them immunity. They don't even have to respond to Mueller's court-issued subpoenas or else face contempt of court charges. The sheriff was on his way to jail for defying a court order, and Trump's pardon spared him being jailed for contempt of court. Let's hope Mueller can make his case without the testimony of Trump's associates, accountants, etc.

Trump Imposes a Dictatorship? Charlottesville Proves "No!"

Here's a hilarious video from last year, making fun of Hitler, Trump and Ann Coulter.  Watch and then let's get down to the real news: Trump isn't going to succeed in making America a facist country.

Hitler Finds Out Trump Supports Amnesty

When a young woman has been senselessly murdered it may seem inappropriate to say that some good came out of the spectacle of facism and racism in Charlottesville that produced her murder.  Nevertheless, some good has emerged. Because of Charlottesville we now know almost certainly that Trump will not be able to impose a facist dictatorship on America. Until now, one had to wonder. He has made various moves that are standard with would-be dictators: denouncing the courts, attacking the media, conjuring a conspiracy of enemies against himself and his "base".

But Trump's reaction to Charlottesville sparked the reassurance we needed that we are safe from his facist leanings. His clumsy and stupid attempt to blame "all sides" for the events in Charlottesville and his initial refusal to denounce the parading Nazis and KKK brought a swift and highly significant reaction from many quarters. Key among these was the reaction of the business community and the military.

Several dozen corporate leaders walked off his presidential business commissions, making clear they could not be associated with him because of his failure to denounce Nazism and the KKK. Joining them in condemning Trump was the leadership of the U.S. military. As the New York Times noted, "The top officers of the Navy, the Marines, the Army, the Air Force and the National Guard had come out one by one after the violence in Charlottesville to say that racism, hatred and extremism had no place in the military, and ran counter to its most important values. Though they did not refer specifically to the commander in chief, the sharp contrast with some of Mr. Trump’s comments was as clear as it was unusual."  Trump Tries Out a New Line on Charlottesville: Echoing His ...

These two reactions establish that Trump is lacking what made Hitler's power grab successful. Hitler succeeded in taking over Germany mainly because he had the support of the industrialists and the military.  Since Charlotteseville we have seen that Trump and his rotten ideas don't have the support of either of these key groups. At least so far.

Is that likely to change? Probably not. For one thing, a Hitler-type dictatorship is not in the interest of either group. Nor are Trump's ill-thought-out policies. Hitler wrested control of Germany's army  from the military, invaded Russia over the miitary leaders' objections, and thus doomed Germany to defeat and devastation. Anyone can see that Trump-the-Show-Off would similarly be tempted to grab control of military action. Hasn't he said that he knows "more than the generals"? Hasn't he denounced specifics of their actions against ISIS? He's already a "buttinski". The top brass can see what he is. And thank heaven that three of them are in the White House, babysitting this infantile president.  The generals have Trump surrounded - The Washington Post

As for the business community, the big players favor international trade unhamperd by the restrictiveness Trump would impose. Boeing Aircraft for example depends very heavily on foreign sales. Many, many other companies do too. The harsh tariffs Trump favors would cause revengeful tariffs against us and be devastating to American business. They could produce a Second Great Depression. The business leaders who previously accepted Trump's appointments to his commission  probably thought little about these things at the time. After all, these commissions are essentially no more than a tip of the hat. They are nothing. Then suddenly Trump made the commission appointments into toxic waste by seemingly supporting Nazis and the KKK. What businesses can tolerate huge numbers of customers boycotting them because of Trump's repugnant statements?

Unlike the American public, both the military and the business community have pretty good memories. No one remembers our past wars as thoroughly as does our military. Prior wars are their textbooks. The leadership of the military knows very well, right to the core of their bones, how a Hitler-type egomanical dictator can destroy a military and its nation.

The business community is perhaps less savvy about history. At present, for example, it has forgotten that a middle-class which is living hand-to-mouth cannot supply growth to an economy nor perhaps even sustain what we have now, i.e. the rich getting ever richer and the middle class getting nothing of the prosperity it makes possible as workers and consumers. As in the game of Monopoly, once all the money is in one player's hands, the game is over. The core of capitalism is that money must move around. The activity this movement generates — the buying and selling, the jobs and producing — are what we actually mean when we speak of wealth.  Money locked away by a few people in trusts or luxury goods is an idle symbol, only its potential being of any value. We learned this hard lesson in 1929 and enacted regulations and laws to protect against it happening again as a Second Great Depression. But the business community and the likes of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton repealed much of the safeguards. The result was the George W crash of 2008 that the decisive action by President Obama kept from being the Second Great Depression.

But even if greed dims memory in the business community, Trump's anti-trade demagoguery may be enough to keep them from supporting any further grab he makes for dictatorial power.

I say "further grab" advisedly, for he has indeed made prior moves toward a dictatorship. His pardon of the execrable Sheriff Joe Arpaio is one such move. He has as good as announced he will pardon anybody who chooses to defy our courts and trample on people's civil rights. But let's back off on that. Trump's moves toward dictatorship are a subject for another time.

Meanwhile, apparently the military and possibly the business community stand between him and the role of a Hitler. As do the courts and the media. Even the Congressional GOP is turning against him. (More on that later too.) These forces should be enough to hold him in check even if he can rile up his base to take arms against the rest of us.

At least I sure hope they can block him from creating a Fourth Reicht right here.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Trump Slipping Further With His Voters; McConnell's Big Worry

Trump's wobblier voters are wobbling away.

Until this new poll, so-called reluctant Trump voters approved of Trump's job performance by 83%. He has lost the approval of 20% of them. That's a whopping loss!

This bad news for Trump fits what we saw last week: that he has lost a large amount of approval in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, the three key swing states that gave him the electoral college win by a three-state total of only 77,000 votes. He is now down to only 34, 35, and 36% approval in those three key states.

Trump is thus a one-term president unless, as a few voices yet wistfully murmur, he can reform who he is and save his presidency. On Tuesday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was reported as saying privately that he did not believe Trump can "save" his presidency.

McConnell probably isn't regretful about Trump's dire prospects. McConnell is probably a whole lot more worried about saving his Senate majority and thus his Senate leadership post. Trump this week gave McConnell more to worry about. Against all common sense and political basics, Trump expanded his attacks on several Republican senators who are up for re-election next year and facing a tough fight. He has gone after Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, even supporting Flake's GOP primary challenger. Trump has also been harsh on the embattled Nevada GOP senator Dean Keller.

Trump is shooting his own team members!

Doesn't Trump know that one and one make two and that the GOP has only a two-seat edge in the Senate? Trump is shoving the GOP Senate forces right to the edge of their majority. Nothing worse could happen to MConnell than losing his leadership post. It's obvious he loves being leader, smirking with his power. And he would be going down as a huge —  historically huge — loser, having failed to get repeal of Obamacare and having failed to get anything else done, including stronger conservative control of the Supreme Court. All McConnell's dreams and those of the GOP have been stymied by Trump. Trump's bullying about Obamacare alienated key Republican Senate votes. Now he threatens to destroy the rest of the legislative prospects of this GOP Congress.

How is Trump doing this? By threatening to shut down the government unless Congress votes him the billions he wants for his "beautiful wall" between the U.S. and Mexico. With Trump gumming up the Congressional works this fall with budget fighting, government shut downs, and maybe even a battle over the debt ceiling, McConnell and his fellow Congressional Republicans won't have a chance to enact any legislation. With next year an election year, the possibility of them getting anything substantive done is minuscule.

The complete GOP control over the government has evaporated under Donald Trump, turning into no control at all. Trump's out-of-control personality has infected the entire Washington scene. He has created chaos.

McConnell is in a very bad spot. All the D.C. Republicans are.

When you sup with the devil, use a long spoon.  The GOP sat down at the table with Trump, even crawled up into his lap, letting this outrageous and ignorant man be president. What's happening to the GOP now is richly deserved and totally predictable.

The devil has turned the table on them!  Where's their Alka-Selzer?

NOTE: Trump has just added another GOP senator to his attack list, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee who is another one up for re-election in 2018. Hey, Trump, two plus one is three, and three plus 48 is 51, giving the Senate majority to the Democrats! When are you going to shoot yourself in the other foot?

Monday, August 21, 2017

Did Trump Have Russian Help in the Primaries?

The penny has dropped.

Trump has likely been the Russians' candidate from Day One.

When was Day One? Could it have been — hold your breath! — as early as the GOP primaries? It was certainly earlier than the June 2016 meeting Donald Jr. had with the Russians to get "some dirt" from them on Hillary Clinton.

The penny dropped for me last Friday night when Rachel Maddow pointed out that Trump had given a list of five names to the editorial board of the Washington Post back when he was interviewed as a candidate, these five being his "foreign policy team". Maddow noted two things about these five men: (1) no one had ever heard of any of them, and (2) we now know that each of the five has a connection to the Russians.

The picture of the Russians owning the Trump folks keeps growing.* (See footnote)  The Russian collection of Trumpies apparently even reached far enough in his orbit to include those on his "foreign policy team". It was a wide circle and it began early. He had these five names before newspaper endorsements were made. Compare that with how slow he was to name staff after the election. Even now most of the upper posts at the State Department lack nominees.

Not only is virually everybody associated with Trump also associated with the Russians, but the Russians own Trump and his cohorts. We know from the investigations already made public that the Russians have bought Trump with huge loans when his repeated bankruptcies lost him access to credit in America. We also know the Russians bought Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manaford, with a huge fee for doing Russian dirty work in Ukrainian politics. And we know about Mike Flynn's pay-offs from the Russians. As for Donald Trump, Jr., he boasted several years ago that "85% of our earnings come from Russia." And Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, owes millions to the Russians.  All this is old news. To help facilitate some of these wheelings and dealings, a servor for Russia's biggest bank, one controlled by Putin, sat in the Manhattan Trump Tower that is home to Donald Trump. Pretty handy?

Everyone seems to assume that the Russian approach to Trump and his cohorts began in June 2016 with the "dangle" of some kind of trade for the dirt on Hillary Clinton. But why assume that was the actual beginning of the Russian presence? Looking back now, I see what struck me as odd about the reply emails from Kushner on the proposed June meeting: there was no expression of surprise.  Wouldn't you be a bit startled if you got an email from someone telling you that the Russians want to help you out with some important aspect of your life? I think I'd say   — and likely you would too —" The Russians? Why the Russians? Why me?" Especially concerning an American election! Who next? The Martians?

Donald Jr. just took it in stride. As did campaign manager Manaford and Trump son-in-law Kushner. Sure, the Russians. Of course, the Russians. Why not the Russians? Because, after all, they have been with us all along. 

When did the Russians decide to take over Trump and his campaign? I don't know, but I'll bet the farm it was before June 2016. Does it matter when they stepped in? Maybe. WAfter all, we need to know more about what they have done in our democratic politics, and the "when" may be an important clue as to the "what".  It certainly is a good thing that special prosecutor Robert Mueller is digging into Trump's earlier business history. We need to know when the Russian net closed around Trump and his minions so we can assess what that connection may have cost our election process.

Here's a question that no one has yet raised publicly: Did the Russian intrusion begin early enough to help Trump win the primaries?

Maybe the GOP could get more interested in the investigation of this mess if they began to suspect that they too had been victimized by Putin and his cohorts.

Oh, Lord, I'm 81 but I'm not ready to go! I want to see how this all turns out!

* Just when I finished this, the NY Times identified yet another Russian who was present at the June 2016 Trump campaign meeting. The article describes his background in computer hacking. Isn't it possible the Russians were offering the Trump people hacking services that were more than the just material previously hacked? Were they offering the on-going services of the Russian described in this article, the hacking manager himself, to get into the American election process? To get into our voting machines? Lobbyist at Trump Campaign Meeting Has a Web of Russian ...

The plot sickens!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Trump's Lost His Key Voters in the Three Swing States!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

You won't see this important news anywhere else today: Trump could not now get elected.  He has lost the key voters who made him president. The numbers have been published that point to this, but so far no one has connected the dots. Except you and me!

Trump won the electoral college last year by 77,000 votes in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan and thus became president even though he lost the national popular vote by 3 million.

Seven months into his presidency the present polls show he would not win those 77,000 votes today.

The three states — Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania — went for Trump last year by a vote in the high 40's. Now he is has severely alienated much of that vote, reducing his popularity by over ten points.

In Wisconsin, only 34% now approve of Trump's performance as president. 56% disapprove. Stunningly, 64% say he is an "embarassment".  Only 25% say they are "proud" of him. The numbers for Pennsylvania and Michigan are virtually the same as Wisconsin's. Together they mark Trump's failure to hold his key voters.

And don't overlook the "embarrassment" numbers. They are very important. Much of Trump's appeal was on a personal/identification basis. His voters forgave him all his campaign mis-steps and obvious lies because he seemingly "spoke" for them. It was his personal manner that was his strongest glue.

Not any more. They can't forgive him any more. He is embarrassing and thus embarrasses them. Can they come back to him? Well, if they don't like being embarrassed by their presidential choice, how can they trust that he won't embarrass them again and again? The difficult thing for presidents about character issues is that people who are alienated by character failures are very hard to win back. When George W hit a 34% low as "trustworthy", we knew he and his presidency were through. Once you don't trust someone, you go on not trusting them. Similarly, once nutty Uncle Fred embarrasses everybody at dinner with your boss by picking his nose, you aren't likely to ask Uncle Fred anywhere important again.

The above figures on the three key swing states are from the latest NBC/Marist poll, which was announced today on "Meet the Press". Trump's Approval Rating Stands Below 40 Percent in Three Key ...  Oddly enough, moderator Chuck Todd seemingly didn't grasp their import. He acknowledged the drop in Trump's numbers but didn't correlate them as compared with the 2016 result in the electoral college. He missed that Trump could not today win those three states and thus the presidency.

As of this writing, no one else has caught on. I am very happy to be the first to bring you this good news. I just wish that it had been true on November 8. But at least we know Trump is already a lame duck who can't get re-elected.

Now the question is when and how do we get rid of him without getting Pence. Remember that Pence's policies are as bad as Trump's and Pence knows how to get them enacted.

If my favorite old saying is correct maybe Pence will crash along with Trump. The old saying is "God takes care of dogs, drunks, and the American people." Maybe God can figure out how we get rid of both guys.

Somebody has to.

Friday, August 18, 2017

How (and Why) to Make Fun of Nazis

The anti-racist forces in Charlottesville fell into a trap last week by fighting with the Nazi/KKK. They created more martyrdom for those self-pitying whites and gave Trump the coloring to say both sides were to blame. This excellent article describes a much more effective way to combat racist nonsense through ridicule. Ridicule wounds these idiots far mre than blows do! And history tells us that non-violent methds more effectively and more quickly defeat the bad guys.

Read this and always remember it!

               Op-Ed Contributor How to Make Fun of Nazis  

Friday, July 28, 2017

Trump's Terrible Week of Defeat on Four Fronts

This week was payback time!

Two women GOP Senators and John McCain killed the Trump/GOP repeal of Obamacare last night and thereby repaid Trump's nastiness to women and his denigration of McCain's having been a prisoner in Vietnam.

Of course, payback was not the main reason they voted against Trump's last hope for a repeal of Obamacare. But undoubtedly revenge lent a nice personal flavor to their voting down a bill that would have taken away health insurance from 16 million Americans. It was also the nail in the coffin of all efforts to repeal OBabmacare.

Trump once said, "Who could have imagined health insurance was so complicated". Well, Mr. Trump, obviously you also couldn't imagine that a bully would not always get his way and not be able turn the presidency into a dictatorship.

But it wasn't just Trump's enemies who poked Trump in the eye this week. The entire Congressional GOP smacked him down. The GOP Senate and the GOP House passed a law imposing increased sanctions on Trump's beloved Putin-Russia. This law also killed Trump's power to lift the new and existing sanctions against Russia. It was a smart way to signal Russia that messing in our elections will not get them a president who can give them what they want. Au contraire, honey lamb! On his own, the U.S. president can't do much, especially if the Congress won't let him. He ain't lifting those sanctions now or ever!  He can't! Congress has forbidden it.

That was the whole point of our Revolution and our Constitution. No kings here! No dictators here! A federal government of limited powers, with those limited powers controlled even further by being divided among the three branches of government.

Trump has therefore achieved virtually nothing of his grand plans. He never could because they were either grossly inappropriate goals or he and his cohorts were clueless as to how government and politics work.


No lifting of sanctions on Russia.

No repeal of Obamacare.

No wall.

No massive tax break for the rich. (It died when the GOP in Congress failed to kill Obamacare and its Medicaid component, which was to be the source of the funding for the $700 billion tax break for the rich.)

No massive "round-up of illegal aliens".  (The actual "round-up" has been a thin and spotty thing. Most of the deported will be right back. They always are. I knew them in California. For centuries before the United States existed, their families have been going back and forth across what we declare to be our border. This land was their land for a long, long time.)

No leaving NAFTA nor the Iran deal.

No pulling out of NATO.

No massive influx of jobs.

No revival of the coal industry beyond a seasonal uptick.

No blocking of Muslims entering our country. (The lower courts blocked Trump's ban entirely; the Supreme Court then virtually gutted it and gave what was left some effect only for another 6 weeks.)

So what has Trump got? Nothing. Zip, zilch, goose egg, zero.

What will he get? Not much once the fall arrives because then the Congress will be pre-occupied with housekeeping stuff like the budget. And their budget will ignore Trump's proposed severe cuts because these GOP members of Congress don't want to upset more of their constituents by cutting PBS funding, parks, and other beloved federal programs that Trump has targeted.  Of course you know why Congress will be less Draconian in budget-cutting than Trump wants. Next year is an election year!  And the Congressional GOP is scared of losing the House and maybe the Senate. By an amazing factor of four the number of Democratic would-be-candidates currently beats the all-time record of either party for candidate sign-ups. These Democrats smell blood.

And it is red blood. Not blue blood.

Just to be fair, let's look for a moment at what Trump has lost these past six months. Namely the status of not being in jail.

Trump's bumbling allowed the Russian's meddling in our election to turn into a broad and formidable criminal investigation of Trump, his entourage, his family and all their financial dealings that may or may not involve the Russians. Looking into Trump's past, I find plenty of what looks like criminal liability and very suspicious dealings with the Russian government and other hoodlum governments. Because Trump's egomania led him to fire FBI Director James Comey, he brought on this investigation. Now, in trying to hound Jeff Sessions out of the AG's office so Trump can appoint someone to fire chief investigator Robert Mueller, Trump has so deeply offended Session's chums in the Senate that the GOP Senators made it clear this week that there will be no help from them in getting rid of Sessions or Mueller. Indeed, they plan to block any firing of Sessions or Mueller even if it takes legislation to do it.

In other words, the U.S. Senate Republicans have finally stood up on their hind legs and defied the would be dictator and bully boy.

Our government is still working as it was designed to. For a while we all wondered, didn't we? But it looks like we'll be okay.

Like the old saying goes, "God takes care of dogs, drunks, and the American people."

We sure keep Him busy these days.

Big P.S. I should have included a fifthTrump failure this week, namely his attempt to bar transgender people from the military by announcing such in a tweet. It was given short shrift by the military leadership. They sent him a letter telling him to resubmit the new policy in a formal manner and to have the Secretary of Defense send along the appropriate guidlines. (Guidelines are always a two-year job.) Meantime, the letter said, the military will continue to treat "all our personnel with respect." In effect, Trump was slapped across the face.