Friday, July 21, 2017

Trump Pardon Himself for Russian Crimes? His Question, Not Mine

A brief look at a wonderful turn of events. I can't do more than a few paragraphs because of hip pain when sitting at the computer. (New hip in 39 days!)

Trump apparently wants to know about his pardoning powers in connection with his crimes in the Russian matters, including his power to pardon himself  (And we thought he was incapable of thinking ahead!)

"Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the [Russian] probe, according to one of the sources. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves."  Trump’s lawyers explore pardoning powers and ways to undercut Russia investigation

This seems to indicate Trump has given up hope of getting rid of the Russian investigation. It also helps explain his belated rage at the head of the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions, who Trump seemingly thought would take control of the Russian investigation and subvert it to Trump's will. Instead Sessions ducked the play and recused himself, thus opening the door to the Justice Department appointing a special counsel, Robert Mueller. 

Now Trump has to give thought to what reading material he would like to take with him for all the long years in prison that some of his crimes make him eligible for. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act alone offers him a 2o-year stay, free of charge, at a federal prison.  

And — no — his free-of-charge accomodations won't be wearing the Trump Hotel brand.

* For a reminder of some of Trump's pre-presidency crimes, check out this year's best piece of reporting on Trump to date: Donald Trump's Worst Deal | The New Yorker

 What if Trump now pardons family members, etc., in order to thwart the Russia investigation? That could be obstruction of justice.  Op-Ed Contributors If Trump Pardons, It Could Be a Crime

Monday, July 17, 2017

Trump Spiraling Down in Polls

Here's some happy news for summer. I'm officially on a break but couldn't pass up posting these stories. Read 'em and cheer!

Poll finds Trump’s standing weakened since springtime

Americans generally view Trump’s presidency as below average 

Trump on Attack as Russia Revelations Appear to Take Toll  (Here's a NY Times quoteregarding the poll reported in the aboveWashington Poast story.
"...[T]here is evidence that the drumbeat of Russia revelations is taking a toll on the president. A poll published Sunday showed that Mr. Trump’s approval ratings have eroded further in recent weeks, dropping to a level never before seen for a president during his first six months in officeStill, there is evidence that the drumbeat of Russia revelations is taking a toll on the president. A poll published Sunday showed that Mr. Trump’s approval ratings have eroded further in recent weeks, dropping to a level never before seen for a president during his first six months in office."

Is Trump's Approval Rating the House GOP's 2018 Ceiling ...

Support for Trump grows more tepid and opposition is increasingly inflamed  (A real wowser!)

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Russians Are Taking Trump Down, Plus "Putin on the Ritz"

Shortly after the election, I said that the Russians would be Trump's undoing, causing either his impeachment or imprisonment. And it's happening. Here's a summary of the latest "Made in Russia" Trump troubles. The irony is, of course, that the Russians really want him to stay on as president and do their bidding. Ain't going to happen, Putin! The snowball is rolling!

Here's an excellent summary of the legal issues raised by the June 2016 meeting with the Russian lawyer that included Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, plus a growing list of other Russians who are being revealed on a daily basis as meeting attendees. The Criminal Implications of the E-mails How Trump, Jr.,’s correspondence raises questions of possible campaign-finance violations. By Jeffrey Toobin.

As a super bonus the above article includes a link to what will likely put Trump et al in the hoosegow for about 20 years each. It's about a Trump family building project that seems to have broken a half dozen serious federal laws, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which just by itself carries a penalty of 20 years. Here's the link in case you miss it in reading the article: Adam Davidson’s story. Outstanding piece of reporting.

With this for your summer reading I leave you for several weeks on a summer break to get a hip replacement. At 81 some parts are wearing out. Any prayers, good wishes, good vibes or candles will be appreciated. 

And here's a video to make you smile a while. Enjoy!
Putin on the Ritz

Take care of everything while I'm gone, and remember that this is the 100th anniversary of the Radio Flyer. Kids still pull the little red wagon. So life is good!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Trump Has Lost the Presidency

Maybe it looks like Trump can get away with anything. 

He lies. 
He knows nothing about government and doesn't even care about it.
He is cruel and rude.
He flip-flops on issues.
He boasts and brags and twitters irresponsibly.
He admires Putin, America's enemy.

Yet he is still in the White House, and his popular support, though dwindling, is only doing so rather slowly.

Don't be fooled. Trump has already paid a huge price for his nutsy narcissism and determined ignorance.

The price? He has lost the presidency. 

The presidency is more than a title. It is power. But Trump has lost all the power of the presidency. He is now only a figurehead. A cardboard cutout in the Oval Office. 

Further, he has squandered the GOP's chance to run the government with both the Congress and presidency in their control, something that hasn't been available to the GOP for a long, long time. But what's the point of the GOP having "control" of the White House? There is no power in the White House. A wheel has come off the tricycle. It ain't going anywhere. They are in control of a non-operable government.

Trump has smashed the GOP hopes and wiped himself off the presidential map just by being Trump. For six months he has been a disgusting near-psycho clown act. We all know all about him now and what to expect. We can all see him clearly now. He's a nothing. In these six months he has squandered all his credibility. In the world of politics, he is now toast.

Politics is generally despised, mostly because neither the media nor the public understands it very well. And also because it's essentially a hard-fought battle of different groups to get what they want. It's definitely a contact sport. But it has its rules, and he who doesn't follow them is out. 

Rule number one: You have to be reliable. If you say something to another politician or officeholder, it has to be true. Gerald Ford was picked by the Congress to replace Nixon because everyone in Congress knew they could trust him. As a key member of the House Armed Services Committee, he always told other representatives the accurate truth about everything to do with weapons, etc. 

Being reliable also means knowing your policy position and staying with it until something identifiable and credible changes it. I have to be able to count on your vote. That's what politics is all about. Getting votes for what each of us wants. If I can't count on you to stay with me or stay against me, then I won't ever bother with you. You're nothing.

Being reliable also means making sense. If no one can understand what you're saying or thinking, why bother with you? You're a pennyweight.

Being reliable also means being informed. Really informed. Not being fed fiction by Fox or fairy tales by the Net. It's why you have to have good staff. They make sure you know what's what.

Trump has none of these characteristics of reliability. He's a sink hole of unreliabiity. Further he lacks another of the key traits of reliability: being cool. For example, reliable people don't undercut their buddies. Trump has repeatedly made the health care reform effort harder for his GOP buddies by shooting off his mouth, messing in, even allowing one of his PACS to run an ad campaign against the imperiled GOP senator from Nevada, thus not only endangering this man's re-election but threatening Mitch McConnell's woefully thin margin in the Senate.

And a reliable person knows when to keep his mouth shut. Trump instead tells our security secrets to the Russians. 

As a politician Trump is a disaster. Yes, as a showman he won all those primaries, but he can't function in the real business of politics: getting things done. 

As a president, Trump has ceased to exist. For example, he has no leadership power in his own party. He is so toothless a tiger that no GOP senators are afraid of him and therefore — at least this far — he can't commandeer their votes for the GOP health care plan. If this legislation fails, other major parts of the GOP agenda crumble. Goodby, huge tax cuts for the rich because the cutting of Medicaid won't provide the offset for the cuts. And without a president to be cowboy, who will herd the votes on infrastructure when Rand Paul and other never-spend-a nickel senators refuse to go along?

Internationally, Trump as an American president has also ceased to exist. He did this entirely by himself. By pulling out of, or bad mouthing, the big trade deals, the mutual protection pacts, and the climate agreements, he announced loud and clear that he was picking up his marbles and going home, taking America off the stage for now. I imagine most of the world leaders were delighted to see him go. He is not a pleasant person — even literally pushing them out of his way to get to the front of a photo – and now they will have a chance at running things without the USA. In fact, America's absence for a while might have some good effects, especially re North Korea, oddly enough. But that's for another time.

Trump just doesn't matter any more politically. He's an empty suit and a big tie. That's all. He doesn't have to be impeached. He has impeached himself in a manner of speaking, i.e. removed himself from office.

He also lost power in another way. He and his advisor Steve Bannon are supposedly set on destroying the executive branch. At least they say so. Trump's failure to fill hundreds of executive positions has indeed crippled the executive branch they hate. But this is like cutting off one of your own hands. He has actually diminished the power of the presidency. He has diminshed his own power. He can't get his orders carried out. 

His flurry of ill-conceived and badly written executive orders has also reduced his power. Because they led to NOTHING! Most ended in court. Others made little sense and sit now in a file somewhere. No one up and down the chain of government will ever take this man seriously again.

I could go on. How his committee to investigate voter registration all across the nation has become a laughing stock, with most of the states saying "Go to hell" when asked for their records. And it being so transparent that he is still trying to prove he won the popular vote!  
George W was fine with his status of being president even though having lost the popular vote. Who would have ever thought there could be a president who would make George W look wise? 

Well, there isn't. Because Trump is not really a president. The other players have benched him. He's out of the game. 

In fact, he just might as well go to the showers and then head for home. 

His presidency is over. 

P.S. And he is stupid. Too stupid to be president. Too stupid to breathe. Get this, just published this evening: Trump minimizes hacking allegations, seeks to ‘move forward’ with Russia.  

Lawmakers bewildered by Trump’s suggestion of forming a ‘Cyber Security unit’ with Russia  This is like asking John Wilkes Boothe to be sure to stop by Lincoln's box at the theater.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Trump Is Going Down

Trump's disapproval numbers are going up, while his approval ratings are going down, as a New York Times columnist points out in the following short article. Even Trump's base is  eroding. 

I offer the following short article because it is clearly written on the topic of numbers, a factor which is vital in politics but often made obtuse or boring. Here all is clear and compelling. 

The writer is David Leonhardt in the NY Times of June 30. This short piece is actually an introduction to a group of articles he collected under the "Browser" section of the Times. His opener is, however, better than anything in his roundup. Unfortunately the Times provides no links for his excellent introductory pieces, so I offer it here in full. Read and cheer!
These numbers possible foreshadow the future of your country and your own future. Now let's get busy and translate these numbers into defeat of the GOP in next year's elections. With a push from us at the local level, Trump's bad numbers can sink all Republican boats, and by taking back the Senate the Democrats can block Trump's appointment of a Supreme Court Justice to replace Justice Kennedy, thus preventing an arch-conservative court for your lifetime and that of your children.

 "President Trump’s latest explosion of meanness has, yet again, left many people disconsolate about the state of the country. Many are especially demoralized that Trump doesn’t seem to lose any popular support despite his erratic behavior.
His supporters, as Ric Steinberger of Incline Village, Nev., writes in a letter in today’s Times, “still tell pollsters that Mr. Trump is their voice.”
Is that accurate? Yes and no.
It’s true that Trump continues to draw the support of about 40 percent of American adults. But his approval ratings have fallen since he became president.
His current approval rating of 39.9 percent is down from 42 percent two months ago (on his 100th day in office) and from about 45 percent on Inauguration Day, according to FiveThirtyEight’s poll average. And his disapproval rating has risen even more than his approval rating has dropped: by 13 points, to 54 percent.
Not only that, but the intensity of support for Trump — among those who continue to back him — has waned. Fewer say they “strongly approve,” and more say they “somewhat approve.” Trump’s base seems to be shrinking, as Nate Silver has written. Fewer Americans also find Trump believable than when he took office.
The polls aren’t the only place you can see this dynamic. One of the reasons the Senate health care bill has collapsed — for now, at least — is that Republican senators feel no need to do what their president wants. He isn’t popular enough to fear.
I too despair at watching my president stoop to schoolyard nastiness. And I too wish that more of my fellow citizens, from both parties, would reject this sort of behavior. But you shouldn’t worry that Trump is beyond all of the normal rules of politics.
He isn’t. His lack of results and his behavior as president matter. Despite our highly polarized country, he is ever so slowly losing the faith of people who once supported him."
Remember, there are more of us than there are of Trump and his troops! Now let's go do it! Start organizing now for next year. Hurrah for 2018!

Friday, June 30, 2017

The GOP Plan To Achieve GOP Defeat in 2018, 2020

 I don't get it.

The GOP is constructing a complete failure for themselves in the coming elections. It's a genius of a plan if their intention is to wipe their party out. 

I just don't get why they are apparently deliberately plotting their own electoral suicide. But first, let's look at what that suicide plan is.

The centerpiece of their plan is their latest health insurance bill, which cuts a huge amount out of Medicaid so as to give that money to the rich as a tax cut. 

So guess who depends heavily on Medicaid? Seniors. The same seniors who always vote and mostly vote Republican. Without the senior vote, the GOP is toast.

Many of these same seniors are in nursing homes, their residency paid for by Medicaid. They are the same seniors who need other vital care that's not covered by Medicare but is covered by Medicaid, e.g. dentures, hearing aids, eyeglasses.

How can the GOP hang onto these voters when it takes away their nursing homes and other vital medical needs? As the GOP pushes the grandmas out of the nursing homes and over the cliff in their wheelchairs, those grannies will be angrily shaking their fists at the GOP as they go flying over the edge. 

But wait! There's even more ingenious election idiocy from the GOP. 

Everybody knows the GOP can't win the White House without certain states in the electoral college, such as Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and — as of 2016 — Michigan and Wisconsin. Now get this. The GOP's  health insurance reform plan whacks 22 million people off their present insurance under Obamacare. And guess where most of these people live.

Unbelievably the biggest hits will be taken in those same states that control the electoral college outcome! Most of those key states will have their uninsured rate near-double or more! 

Take a look at this excellent depiction of what will happen: 
Which states would be hit hardest by Obamacare repealPennsylvania, for example, will have 1,221,000 more uninsured.  That's a  a 197% increase. Michigan: 1,014,000, also a 197% increase. And so on down the list.

Besides the Rust Belt states, look at what what happens to Kentucky and West Virginia! They get hit the hardest. Harder than 48 other states! Kentucky has its uninsured people increase by 231%! That makes it second only to West Virginia in loss of health care for its people. 

And guess which state Senator Mitch McConnell represents. 


This is a strange way to "represent" a state, isn't it?

These people who will be kicked off their health insurance are in effect being murdered. When reckless disregard becomes too egregious it changes from gross negligence to murder because the intent to kill can be presumed from the high degree of disregard of the inflicted danger. 

Do we know people die from lack of medical care? Yes, we do. Can we predict the elderly will die if kicked out of nursing homes? 

Well, duh!

In 2009 Harvard estimated that 45,000 people died each year for lack of health insurance in the years following the Clinton failure to enact coverage. These dead included a family friend whose life could have been saved if he had had insurance.  He was only in his 40's. We didn't know his plight or would have helped. He was too proud to ask, I guess. New study finds 45,000 deaths annually linked to lack of ...

Then Obamacare came along and began to save people, not just from death, but from unneccesary, untreated pain and suffering. 

People could get help.

And now a majority of Americans like Obamacare, according to polls. More than half of Americans approve of Obamacare now, Gallup ...

By contrast, the GOP health insurance bill to replace Obamacare has polled this past week at approval rates of 12%, 16%, and 17%. In fact, if you add the low approval rate of the GOP bill to Trump's low approval rate, even the combined total is less than the approval rate for Obamacare standing alone.

I worked for 30 years in politics to help people. Much of this work was in running campaigns. In fact, I may have been the first woman to ever run a Congressional campaign. We lost that one, though we did get some benefits for the people, e.g. a hundred housing units for farmworkers who were living in hovels and a federal law to prohibit  mass arrest and detention without due process. Pretty good stuff. Still, we didn't win the election. 

But we didn't engineer our own loss like these Republicans are apparently now doing. We fought like hell to win even in a district that was "unwinnable" according to the registration numbers. 

So I don't get it. 

Why are the Republicans setting themselves up to lose the White House and the House of Representatives? Instead of going for broke like we did a half-century ago, they are breaking all hope of winning.

Am I missing something here? 

They can't all be as nutsy as the ostensible head of their party. Is there actually some dark, hidden goal in their apparent craziness?

Anyway, Happy Fourth of July! And don't worry. The Great Experiment will go on! Neither Trump nor the ruthlessness of Mitch McConnell's GOP will destroy this country. As Lincoln said, America is the last best hope of humankind. 

It shall not perish from the earth. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Why Democrats Won't Now Work With GOP on Health Insurance

Sen. Mitch McConnell is trying to scare his stubborn fellow senators into geting on board with his version of a bill to repeal/replace Obamacare. His threat is that if they don't give him enough GOP votes he'll just have to work with the Democrats to pass his bill.  McConnell warns Trump, GOP on health bill failure - POLITICO

Big problem, Mitch: the Democrats aren't interested in working on your bill. After it dies and has been dragged away, they'll work with the GOP on fresh new ground. 

Sounds harsh? No, it's just sensible. The Democrats have at least two and a half good reasons to take a hands-off position regarding your bill.

First, you don't mean what you say. They know that you are just using the threat of Democratic participation to coerce reluctant GOP senators into voting your way. These hold-out GOP senators are indeed afraid of Democratic participation. In the states of these recalcitrant senators and many of the other GOP senators, co-operating with Democrats is heresy. Senators who work with Democrats are toast at election time. That's a political climate you have helped father. Let's hope it now bites you on the you-know-what. So yours is an empty threat. You won't risk losing even more  votes, those already on-board. Thus you are actually inviting the Democrats to a party that isn't going to happen, and the Democrats won't accept being shark bait in your duplicitous strong-arming of your ranks.

The second reason the Democrats want no part in tinkering with your very bad bill, Senator M, is that you and the Democrats can never agree on the issue most central to this bill: drastically cutting Medicaid. Be honest! You GOP don't actually want to reform health insurance but instead, under the guise of halth insurance reform, you want to cut Medicaid funding for elderly in nursing homes and for the poor in order to finance a big gift to the rich. 

Under your conniving the  $710 billion cut to Medicaid over 10 years is to be used to pay for a similar amount of tax cut for the rich. Further, this cut to Medicaid has to come before the tax measure. reform. Under Senate procedural rules, the money to balance your huge tax gift to the rich has to be ready and waiting, already identified, in order for your so-called tax reform bill to pass the Senate on a simple majority rather than a super-majority that would necessitate some Democratic votes. There are no Democrats conservative enough to vote for that tax gift to the rich. Therefore you are stuck with trying to get the Medicaid money now with just a simple majority vote. 

(The LA Times says nearly $800 billion. Other media today have other amounts. "[T]he bill reduces Medicaid funding by almost $800 billion over 10 years compared with what would have been spent under Obamacare."  Is Mitch McConnell trying to tank Trumpcare? - LA Times)

As for what's happening right now, there are no Democrats who will go along with your $710 billion cut to Medicaid. Democrats don't do what even Trump has called "mean" things. As the old saying goes, Democrats care about people; the GOP cares about money. The likelihood of some middle ground on this one doesn't come to mind. Heck, the  GOP can't find a middle ground on it among themselves so as to get a couple of more GOP votes!

So why should the Democrats enter into a hopeless "bipartisan" effort with you, Senator McC, that will go nowhere, plus give you a chance to blame the Democrats for the failure?

And now the one-half a reason the Democrats won't work to help save your bill:  The polls.

Yesterday four major polls reported American approval of the GOP bill has gone down through the crust of the earth.  12%, 16%, 17%, 24%. Even a majority of GOP hate the bill. Even a majority of Trump supporters hate it.

Why would anyone want to get involved in that? Especially when there's the hopeless stalemate about cutting Medicaid.

And get this straight, McConnell: bad polls or not for the bill,  Democrats are not throwing 22 million people off their health insurance and cutting life-and-death aid to our old and our poor. Not now. Not ever. 

That's not a raving liberal's point of view. The low polls I cited above show that almost all Americans oppose throwing the poor and the elderly over the cliff. Good for the American people!

In those poll numbers is the proof that America is truly great again!

Just like it always was.