Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Trump's Wrong! Here's Heartland America on the Rise!

Here's the real America — heartland America — getting great again without Donald Trump and his hate-filled ideas. Read this and be encouraged. America is still America. Innovative, community-based, full of initiative. As the longshoreman/philosopher Eric Hoffman said 50 years ago, "You can put a group of Americans on the side of a mountain and they would form a successful community."

From Thomas Friedman in the NY Times: Opinion | A Road Trip Through Rusting and Rising America


     

















               Thomas L. Friedman A Road Trip Through Rusting and Rising America   

Monday, May 22, 2017

Dumb and Dumber: Flynn and Trump Share Today's Spotlight

Let's start with Donald Trump.

Today he hit the bottom of the "dumbness" barrel. He stood in front of TV cameras in Israel and emphatically proclaimed to the world that he had NOT mentioned the name of Israel when telling the Russians about the spy secrets he knew.  He didn't, he emphasized, identify Israel as his source.

Well, nobody official had yet revealed that the source was Israel. So far it's only been "leaked".

Until Trump shot off his big mouth in front of those TV cameras in Israel.

Now it's official: the USA will betray its spy allies at the drop of a hat. Or even without the drop of a hat. And then acknowledge doing so.

Israel's leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, looked stunned for the flicker of a moment. He probably had already figured out that Trump is a dumb bunny, but the depth of the dumbness was still startling. He seemed unable to look at Trump, as if afraid he'd break out in a guffaw.

One of Israeli's big shots had just finished an on-camera interview, explaining to someone at CNN that Israel still is a best buddy with the US in sharing intelligence. As one who is repeating Israel's official stance, he can say that, but it doesn't mean his espionage service or that of any other country will feel comfortable hereafter sharing with us. Probably they will need assurances that Trump will never see their stuff or know where it came from.

In other words, don't let the three-year-old carry the lighted kerosene lamp.

***********

Now for Michael Flynn as the other half of Dumb and Dumber.

Except he is dumb in the old sense of going silent. In fact, — unlike Trump — he is playing it smart by shutting up. Today his attorneys informed the Senate Intelligence Committee that Flynn is invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and will not conform to their subpoena for his records.

Flynn is probably waiting for an offer of immunity from the FBI in exchange for becoming an informant. The Senate Committee could offer him immunity but it might not cover as broad a reach of naughtiness as the FBI is turning up.

Alternatively, the Senate Committee might not offer him anything. The FBI has probably asked the House and Senate investigating committees to refrain from providing immunity to any of the participants in the Trump & Co/Russian affair.  Why make the FBI's job harder?

So Michael Flynn is smart to dumb up until the FBI makes him an offer he can't refuse. And if the FBI doesn't want to bargain with him, he will at least have avoided convicting himself out of his own mouth.

Which is something his former boss — Donald Trump — has never learned. Trump went on camera and identified Israel as his source. He went on camera only a week ago and told Lester Holt he fired Comey because he wanted to stop the FBI investigation. He brags on a bus to a casual acquaintance about sexually assaulting women. He is a serial confessor of bad acts!

Maybe he'll make a real confession to the Pope?  (Don't hold your breath.)

In the ranking implied by the words "dumb and dumber", clearly one of the Flynn/Trump duo is stupider.

Can you figure out which one?









































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Friday, May 19, 2017

Mueller's Probe MUST Block Some Public Knowing

Don't be alarmed when you hear that there is a downside to Robert Mueller's being named to investigate Trump.

The appointment of Mueller as special counsel is a huge step forward, though it comes at a bit of a price. Because Mueller is conducting a criminal prosecution, complete with a grand jury, we will not know all that his investigation uncovers unless such results in an indictment. Grand jury proceedings are secret and kept under wraps.

Further, those Mueller may call as witnesses, or who think they may be called,  have to be careful not to give testimony in other forums, such as a Congressional hearing, that can be used against them. Therefore, witnesses in front of any Congressional committees will be tight-lipped.

Also keep in mind that any evidence that gets made public from Mueller's investigation has to have been part of a scenario which has met the high bar of being adequte evidence for a criminal prosecution. This is a much higher test than that used in impeachment proceedings, the latter being a political procedure and not a criminal one. 

We will therefore possibly end up knowing a somewhat limited amount about the shenanigans of Trump and Co. (Or it could be a lot.)

But the alternative to Mueller's investigation was worse. It was extremely clear that the GOP-controlled investigative committees were going nowhere and doing it slowly. Further, Trump was actively influencing them. (Remember Rep. Devlin Nunes playing hide and seek in the dark on the White House grounds?) 

In fact, just before Mueller was appointed, House Speaker Paul Ryan and other hot-shot GOP were demanding that the just-fired FBI chief, James Comey, produce his notes memorializing Trump pressuring him to drop the investigation of Michael Flynn. The GOP was trying to switch from Trump to Comey the burden of being a bad guy who can't be believed on just his word. 

It certainly hasn't looked like the GOP was going to do anything meaningful about Trump.

By contrast, with Mueller in place, we at least have the prospect that someone may be criminally prosecuted. 

But is that what we want? Sort of. But don't we really want the whole truth a lot more? 

We want to know what the Russians did to our election process in 2016 and whether they had help from Trump's campaign. We also want to know what Trump's puzzling bond wih Putin actually consists of, i.e. has he been engaged in any treasonous-leaning relationship with Russia. Have any in his circle? With other countries, such as Turkey and Iran? Are his financial affairs wrapped into Russia, Azerbaijan or other countries inappropriately? Has he been money-laundering or even violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act? (Donald Trump's Worst Deal - The New Yorker)

There's more. But how much of this comes within the category of criminal? Something can be very bad but not be a crime. And not all crimes can be prosecuted because there may not be sufficient evidence.

The insufficient evidence of a crime is nevertheless evidence of a kind. It can still be adequate for impeachment. It can still be adequate for political punishment at the polls. 

The problem is that maybe we will never know about it. Mueller has to shield all evidence and witnesses that do not make up a prosecutable crime. 

Conceivably, Trump & Co. may get away with a lot, as far as Mueller's investigation goes. 

But the alternative was that Trump & Co were going to get away with everything. And also be free in the interim to destroy our democracy.

Can the GOP-run Congressional committees yet redeem themselves by having meaningful hearings so we can hear this other evidence? 

But why would they want to do anything any more? Things are fine for them now. Trump is now Mueller's problem, not theirs. They can smile and say, "It's all being taken care of."

Meantime Karma will likely get 'em anyway! Because Trump will go on being Trump and likely make more problems for the GOP Congress folks. They dined with the Devil and didn't use a long enough spoon. Now they are stuck with him.

Donald Trump is the gift that never stops giving. He will yet generate more than the GOP Congress can put a lid on. He's just too stupid to know what terrible jeopardy he is in now that hard-headed Mueller is running an investigation.

Just possibly Trump should be getting measured for a new suit. "You want that in stripes or in orange, Mr.Trump?"

______ 
NOTE: Keep in mind that other investigations and lawsuits are going on that may get into things Mueller doesn't. There are private suits against Trump and investigations by other federal agencies. Almost all of these are focussed on money questions and his investments. Most likely involve transactions on paper and are thus larely free of witnesses taking the Fifth.These suits and investigations may continue unabated and bear fruit, answering things Mueller doesn't. I'll write about them when I finish getting info on them. Meantime, smile. It ain't over till it's over! This horse has legs!

   


Fun Time! Trump's Traveling So Let's Have Some Laughs While We Can....



Here's a present for you. The nicest I could give anyone. Comedy is our answer to life and its weirdness.

Enjoy these fun clips while Trump is winging along in Air Force One and out of our hair for a while. (I shouldn't have mentioned hair?)

saturday-night-live-trump-spicer-baldwin.html

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Special Counsel Means Trump Has Seven Choices


A sigh of relief: we have a Special Counselor, a man of good repute, to investigate Trump and Co. But what now from Trump? Will he do one or more of the following?

1. He can stay calm and try to show he is fit for the job, exuding quiet confidence that the Special Counsel's investigation will exonerate him and his campaign.

2. He can note the likelihood that his taxes and other financial secrets will be made public and therefore choose to resign because (a) he really isn't rich and doesn't want people to know the truth, or (b) he's been money laundering for Russia, et al, or (c) he did prohibited business with Iran's military (SEE: Donald Trump's Worst Deal - The New Yorker), or (d) all of the foregoing.

3. He could panic and shoot himself in yet another foot with yet another wild violation of the Constitution or an outrageous idiocy.

4. He could sink below panic into his normal obtuse arrogance and ignorance and continue screwing up America at home and abroad.

5. He could play the poor-me pathetic dictator and rouse his troops to violence against "the elites", (Trump Calls Himself the Victim of a ‘Witch Hunt’) calling himself the victim of the elites, i.e. people who know how to hold a fork and can read without moving their lips.

6. To retaliate against the grown-ups now moving in on him, he could launch a nuclear war just to "show them".

7. He may try to fire the Special Counselor.  (Soon I'll wrote about why he can't in reality.)

Well, what do you think he'll do?

I wonder what odds Vegas would give on these alternative scenarios.

In any event, welcome aboard, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, our new Special Counselor. The ship of state sure has needed you!



Monday, May 15, 2017

I Was Wrong About Trump. HE'S A DANGEROUS TRAITOR!

(Note: White House officials are now denying this happened. But can we ever trust them again? And who will our allies and our intelligence sources believe? The wording of the denial is the same non-denial/denial word game the Nixon White House played. Analysis The White House isn’t denying that Trump gave Russia classified information — not really )


So help me God, I started this post this morning before we knew about Trump giving classified information to the Russians. I used the same title, i.e. "I Was Wrong About Trump", referring to posts a couple of weeks ago:Why We No Longer Need Impeach Trump Nor Want To  and I'm Happy! Trump Is Just An Ignorant, Frightened M...

Now I have to admit I was wrong, and now add: "HE'S A DANGEROUS TRAITOR."

My text had originally begun with the following, "Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) appeared Friday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and spoke the essential truth: 'I think we ought to get to the bottom line here. President Trump is dangerous'.” Opinion The amateurish autocrat E.J Dionne Washington Post. 5-15-17. He was talking about Trump destroying our government.

We are beyond that now. We are beyond the danger Trump poses to our constitutional democracy and the rule of law. He is now endangering our national security and our safety.

His disclosures to the Russians in the Oval Office last week have destroyed one of our key secret sources of intelligence in the Middle East which was focused on ISIS, so important a source as to have warned us about bombs being put in laptops to be carried on planes.

He has also destroyed the confidence of all our sources of intelligence because they see now that can't trust us to keep our president's big mouth shut. He even gave the Russians the city in Syria where our source is located, that being sufficient information for Russia to figure out who our source is.

God help that poor agent, if he or she isn't already dead and the Russians perceive a threat to their Syria agenda.

If the GOP Senators don't take action now about Trump, they too are traitors.

If you think I am being melodramatic and if you have any aging relatives who worked in intelligence, ask them about this incident.

Here's the Washington Post story that just was published revealing Trump's act of treason: Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian diplomats


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Why Trump Must Be Impeached

The article linked below says it all far better than I can. It is by the nation's leading authority on the Constitution, Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School.

I would only add two things.
(1) As long as the GOP in Congress think they can get their agenda done with Trump, they will keep him in power. They will also not dump him if he is still popular with the GOP voters. Last week 85% of GOP voters viewed him favorably. This was prior to his firing Comey. Though his rating with Independents is slipping, it's the GOP voters in next year's primaries who are of concern to incumbent GOP Congress members up for re-election. If GOP voters continue to like Trump, GOP candidates will be scared to go against him.

(2) Trump should also be impeached for his stupidity. As I pointed out in my two previous postings, he has been stupid and ignorant enough to blatantly commit obstruction of justice and then own up to it even after his staff hasd concocted a cover story that might have saved him. We can't have this stupid, ignorant egomaniac as president.

Please read this piece: Trump must be impeached. Here’s why.

Trump, the World's Dumbest Man, Shoots Self in Both Feet

“In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.’ ”  Donald Trump in Lester Holt NBC interview 

With the enemy Donald Trump has, he doesn't need any friends. Because they can't do him any good. He is his enemy, his own worst enemy. Against him, his friends are powerless.

This past week, in the wake of his firing FBI Director James Comey, Trump's staff gallantly tried to protect him from legal repercussions, but he defied them and walked right into culpability for an impeachable offense and possibly jail time for the crime of obstruction of justice.

Immediately after the firing, the staff repeatedly told the media that Trump fired Comey because of a Department of Justice recommendation. This reason could negate a charge of obstruction of justice by showing Trump's motive had nothing to do with protecting himself from Comey's increasingly heated investigation of possible Trump campaign/Russian collusion in interfering in the 2016 election.

But ever the willful egotist, Trump defied his staff's protective efforts and went on NBC with Lester Holt to announce most forcefully that, all on his own, he had decided to fire Comey. President Trump's Full Interview With Lester Holt: Firing Of ...   In the very same sentence, he said it was  because he "told myself" that the Russian story was a fake and had gone on too long. (Also see  Comey’s firing shows White House problems go far beyond communications strategy)

Well, there you are. In referring to the Russian investigation Trump has enunciated a criminal motive for obstruction of justice. Out of the mouth of the idiot...

Help yourself, you folks on the coming impeachment panel in the House and you federal criminal prosecutors. Trump is serving up the case against himself. Smile and help yourselves to all you need.

He did the same thing and scuttled his own defense of the Muslim ban.  The courts used his prior anti-Muslim remarks to decide that the ban was unconstitutional. Because he actually voiced his anti-Muslim sentiment he provided a clear picture of his real intent.

Trump didn't understand why he kept losing his Muslim ban case in federal court. Nor does he understand that he just blew his best defense against obstruction of justice. He can't understand that he has to keep his mouth shut.

Someone in the White House apparently tried to explain the rudiments to him of the importance of motive in an obstruction case. Thus that odd sentence in Trump's letter firing Comey, i.e. Trump's claim that Comey had three times told him that he was not under FBI investigation. That looks like a rather feeble and awkward attempt to preclude the motive required for obstruction of justice. From that sentence, supposedly Trump knew he had nothing personal to fear from the investigation.

Is that peculiar sentence enough? Is it enough even now when Trump himself has publicly stated that ending the Russian investigation was his actual motive?

To believe Trump, a judge in this case would likely have to see some proof that Comey had given this reassurance to Trump. Then she'd have to consider whether Trump's asking three times was evidence that assurances weren't enough to preclude his having personal motive. She'd also have to wonder if he realized, or perhaps was told, at any point, that today's focus of an investigation can change tomorrow.  A judge wouldd also look at the fact he's bragging about having brought in "a very big team of the very, very best attorneys" to advise him. Even if they are not actually the very, very best, wouldn't they at least have told him that he can't rely on an investigation continuing to exclude him.

And what's a judge to think of Trump's asking Comey if the latter was loyal to him. What is it he fears that requires him to have Comey's "loyalty"? Is he afraid of the Russian investigation and this still has a motive to obstruct it?  And hasn't he made things even worse by tweeting that Comey had better be careful of what he now says because of what Trump may have taped of their conversations.

Whoa, Nellie! Isn't that intimidation of a potential witness?

We can never truly know what's in a person's mind regarding motive so — up to a point — the law allows us to infer motive from words and actions.  Frankly, I don't think there's a very big jump here to infer that Trump was scared to death by what Comey was doing and wanted it stopped and/or Comey gone.

If the issue goes to a House committee drafting articles of impeachment, the test of what constitutes sufficient evidence of motive is whatever the committee members say it is. The bar for proof is lower in the House than in a court because an impeachment proceeding is a political one, not a criminal one.

Anyway, it appears that Trump and his big mouth have caused him to shoot himself in one foot (the Muslim ban case) and then in the other foot (the firing of Comey).

Why does Trump do such stupid stuff? Because he can't help playing to his base. He thinks they want him to be the Lone Ranger who shot down Comey all on his own, not someone merely enforcing a recommendation from a department head. That'd be like the Lone Ranger taking orders from Tonto.

And Trump's right about the needs of his base. That's exactly the strong-man I-don't-need-no-stinkin'-badges persona that his deluded base wants. They feel helpless in a world wheeling out of their control. No more high-wage laboring jobs. No more white male supremacy. They can't even openly express disdain for groups they disdain.  Political correctness, equality, international trade, robots taking jobs. How do they fight such stuff?

They hire the Lone Ranger.

But this isn't the Old West. And Trump sure ain't no Lone Ranger.

In fact, Trump is just plain Lone. Tonto long ago went to college and then started his own techie company.

As soon as the GOP perceives big losses coming in the 2018 election, Donald Trump will be even more Lone. He will be so lone, that he will be a Hopalong Cassidy. Yeah, hopping along right out of the presidency by impeachement or loss of a second term in 2020 or being handcuffed and off to prison.

Hi Ho Silver for sure! Even "big fella" will have deserted Lone.

One more thing. Tonto made it big in tech, is now a Democrat, and contributes to political campaigns and environmental efforts. He's very happy and doesn't miss Lone at all.  His grandchildren have no idea what he's talking about regarding the "bad old days", but being Native American they have too much respect for their elders to discourage his speaking to them about anything, even about cow-catchers on steam trains. They consider it an honor. They are glad, however, that he didn't wear a mask in the old days.

Giddyup!










Friday, May 12, 2017

What Trump Is Hiding



Whatever Trump is hiding must be serious because he has taken enormous risks to cover it up. In firing Comey, he committed an act inarguably punishable by impeachment. Firing the official investigating you is patently an obstruction of justice. The first article of impeachment againt Nixon was obstruction of justice.

There may be other, earlier acts by Trump to obstruct justice in the matters now under investigation, but this one was right out in front of God and everybody. It was brazen, to say the least. It was also crudely done in haste in an amazing whirl of White House confusion, with no coherent White House version of what it was all about. To everyone's astonishment Trump has even contradicted his own spokes-people as to whether he was following the recommendations of the Justice Department leadership or just following his own whim.

Ironically, if he wanted to create a furor that has legs he has certainly done it! But as some commentator has said, to avoid a scandal a bigshot may risk a furor.

This could become more than a furor, however.  Trump has actually chosen to risk prison, since obstruction of justice is also a jailable offense.

What's he hiding? It could be one of four things:

1. Treasonable collusion with the Russians to tip the election or do other anti-American acts.

2. More ordinary criminal acts like money-laundering. (Why is there a servor in Trump Towers connected to a Russian bank? Why has the Senate asked the Criminal Investigation Unit of the Treasury to investigate Trump's financial doings?)

4. Violating heavy duty laws against organized crime, e.g. (RICO) or doing business with overseas wrong-doers (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act).

3. Not being rich. This is not a crime, except in Trump's own propaganda about himself. If the investigation went after his money ties to Russian, his tax returns would likely become public especially now that his attormeys are claiming to have read them and that they include no Trump businesses in Russia. (Naive attorneys! Never heard of frontmen corporations?)

There's a fourth thing that may be motivating Trump's awkward, pathetically crude attempt to hide the truth. It may be that he's just too stupid to act other than he is acting. In other words, he isn't really hiding a crime nor hiding the fact he isn't rich. He's just an idiot who doesn't understand obstruction of justice, who genuinely doesn't understand that a president is not above the law and, most, of all does not understand that Donald Trump is not above the law. He may have fired Comey simply because the investigation into Russian interference in our election raises a spectre that Trump did not actually win the presidency fair and square. Trump wants that inference gone! He HAS to be seen as the big winner of the election. His ego requires that. So he wants the investigation ended.

Keep this in mind: the recurring theme in Trump's blatherings is his chest-beating about having won the presidency. He can't get over it. Winning is everything to him, and winning the presidency appears to have genuinely surprised him. More than that, it confirms this very insecure man's hype about how wonderful he is. He can start to believe his own propaganda.

No one must take this blue blanket of security away from him. He needs it. Desperately. He refers to it over and over. By contrast I can't recall any prior president publicly boasting of his win. Weirdly, Trump is still harping on it almost seven months after election day. (The day after I posted this the NY Times did a piece on this obsession of Trump's. Trump Still Seethes Over Lack of Credit for Election Win)

Whether he is now acting out of stupidity or in a deliberate cover-up, it is bizarre that this desperate need to cling to his "win" might have driven him to do the very thing which actually can cause him to lose the presidency.  In firing Comey he has done something which is in and of itself an impeachable act. It would likely be a lot harder to make out a convictable charge on any treasonous aspects of his conduct vis-vis the Russians or to prove the "mens rea" (guilty mind or intent) of money-laundering. But obstruction of justice is pretty simple as an impeachment offense. While a criminal court would demand evidence of mens rea, the impeachment process doesn't have such standards. An impeachable offense is what a majority of each house of Congress says it is, and so is the standard of proof.

Nor does the underlying act being covered up have to be a serious offense criminal offense. Recall that Bill Clinton was charged with obstruction of justice in the impeachment proceedings against him on the basis he had lied about his affair with "that woman".  It didn't matter whether or not the underlying act (sex) was impeachable. The lying was enough to support a charge of obstruction.

Cover-ups are very risky but the temptation to bury one's sin is often too great. Any such attempts inevitable involve lying or destroying evidence or getting rid of the investigators or bribing witnesses. All of these techniques of coverup are relatively easy to discover and to prove. I always told my candidates that: "There are no secrets. If there is something in your past that is not good, let me know now so we can prepare for dealing with it appropriately when it comes out. Because it will come out."
(But note:I did not work on behalf of people who had done truly bad things.)

Aside from the no-secrets aspect of life, is Trump just too stupid to do a cover-up? Is he actually just floundering around, trying to hush the talk of Russian interference simply because it annoys him? Has he created the appearance of terrible guilt inadvertently?

Yes, that is possible. This is an extremely stupid man. He is cunning in some ways but what intelligence he has, modest as it is, is often derailed by his very warped personality. He is the classic spoiled brat, the little rich kid who has never been denied anything. At the same time, like many rich people, he is very insecure. Inheriting a fortune from Daddy is often debilitating. Now — finally — he can say to himself, "I've done somthing really big on my own. I have won the presidency."

Maybe the terror of losing that sense of achievement is making him do stupid stuff and look guilty when he isn't.

Naw. On second thought, the weight of the evidence is that he is guilty of something. For example, here's just one chapter in the Trump saga that points strongly to serious guilt, including collusion against the USA with our enemy Iran. Yes, Iran. The possible range of Donald Trump's very serious crimes just takes my breath away. Some of that range, including the Iran dealings, are laid out in this compelling article:  Donald Trump's Worst Deal - The New Yorker.

Read it and weep. Not for Trump. For us.



The Trump Tower that never opened.





Saturday, May 6, 2017

Trump and House GOP Doomed by Mutilating of Obamacare

Trump is one of three things:

Stupid,

Stupid politically, or

Doesn't give a damn except about a (fake) image of "winnning".

Actually he is all three, isn't he?

Paul Ryan and the House GOP didn't want to vote on the Ryan/Trumpcare bill, but Trump pushed them into it. The House members and their Speaker could see the extreme opposition to it among voters. Nationwide only 17% approve of it. And the GOP House members will have to stand for re-election next year with this dismal bill hung around their necks.

Trump doesn't care. He is all about appearances and his own needs. In his play-book, he personally needed an appearance of a victory on something. So he threw a celebration to salute his fake victory yesterday of the House voting on the Trumpcare bill. He placidly ignores the fact that a bill aproved in just either just the House or just the Senate isn't a law. It's nothing.

Either he doesn't understand that he won nothing yesterday or he doesn't care because he assumes his base wants even a hollow victory.

Since his inauguration he's been on a spectacular losing streak. His executive orders are toothless. He lost to the courts on his Muslim ban. His deportation efforts are nasty but small. And he lost to the courts on punishing sanctuary cities. He also lost the money for the wall when the Republicans decided to resurrect past practices and work with the Democrats by passing the budget bill instead of shutting down the government to finesse the wall funds. He also had to give up on scuttling Nafta, on labeling China a currency manipulator, on starting a nuclear war with North Korea. (Instead he misplaced a giant aircraft carrier.) He also failed to prove Obama had wire-tapped him and was "sick" or "bad".

Most of all, he's lost his long struggle to make everyone forget about the Trump & Co. connections to Russia and possible Trump/Russia collusion in tipping the election. In fact, right along with pictures yesterday of Trump applauding the House vote on Trumpcare, were pictures of the co-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee with their announcement the Senate is demanding Trump's people hand over documents regarding contacts with Russian operatives.

If the White House doesn't comply, the Senate leaders said there will be subpoenas. Refusing compliance with a subpoena means a judge sends you to jail until you comply.

Against this latest piece of bad news for Trump, the House's passing the health non-care bill is no more than a squeaky toy. By contrast a giant gate has just swung open against one Donald Trump.

The biggest piece of bad news for Trump is, however, waiting for him around the bend in 2018. If he loses the House, he's toast. He already is toast for all intents and purposes, according to polls that give him only a 40% approval rate, but then he'll be soggy toast. Without the House, he can have little impact. And he will have done most of this damage to himself all by himself.

No matter what revisions the Senate now comes up with in Trumpcare, some of the GOP and independent Trump voters will remember in 2018 that their Congressman originally voted for one of the cruelest bills in American history. The House bill would  throw 24 million off their health insurance and put millions more at risk of cancellation due to pre-existing conditions. (The funds voted by the House to help pay higher premiums would last only a few months.) It will also wipe out Medicaid funding of school programs for millions of children with special needs. It will also subject older Americans (50 to 65) to paying insurance premiums five times as great as paid by younger ones.

All this cruelty so as to offset the giant tax cut Trump/Ryan plan for the rich as their next legislation. Keep in mind: Trump alone would save $31 million a year under their proposal to eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax.

But Trump may pay for this financial windfall by losing the presidency. A political ignoramus, Trump keeps forgetting some political basics. First, he lost the popular vote and only narrowly won the electoral college.  In three and a half years the rules regarding the electoral college may be changed, a scheme for such having already been adopted by half the number of states needed. (See an upcoming post on this.)

Alternatively the few thousand voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania who gave Trump his 2016 win in the electoral college may wise up by 2020. Especially if they have a family member with a pre-existing condition or are themselves over 50 or were dependent on Medicaid. These last two groups are, in fact, predominately Trump voters.

Nothing like stabbing your own voters in the back. And in the front. And pushing them over a cliff!

The man is a canny fool. He is shrewd about cheating and selling snake oil. But he's basically a fool.





















.



Friday, April 28, 2017

Trump's (Secret) Goal WAS Achieved in 100 Days

Most experts were wrong in how they graded Trump on his first 100 days. They're using the goals he mouthed in his campaign. By that standard he's a dismal failure.

But that's not the measure. Years ago he said what his goal would be in running for president. He said he would do it to make moneyDonald Trump's Campaign, Billed as Self-Funded, Risks Little ...  By that standard he is a resounding success. The sound that resounds is the sound of the Trump family's cash register. His business is pulling in money from foreign governments  despite the constitutional prohibition on presidents taking payments from foreigners. His son is doing giant real estate deals while being an official in Trump's office. His daughter captured lucrative brand copyrights in China when she sat next to the president of China at a White House dinner.

For Trump, all that matters — all that has ever mattered — is the money. For him and his family.

For him the presidency has nothing to do with the sales pitch of his campaign. He never believed in the goals he campaigned on. He doesn't give a fig about issues. That's why he  forgets what he said 20 minutes ago, continually contradicts himself, and doesn't know what's in his own legisation. It's why he's left hundreds of top jobs unfilled that help run a presidency. And of course he goes golfing every weekend in Florida because he just doesn't give a damn about the work of the job. And he can bill the taxpayers for some of the cost of the trip, plus add to the drawing power of the place for cash customers.

Money. Money. Money. Money. Money. Money. Money. Money. Money. Money. Money. Money.

The Trumps are all about  money.

While many commentators have complained about the White House oozing nepotism, only one commentator that I am aware of has grasped the real picture: the White House IS the family business. For the Trumps, the presidency only matters as it affects their bottom line. Egan: White House of Grifters

Timothy Egan's column I have cited above is the most important piece that has yet been written about the Trump presidency. You must read it and take it seriously.

It is disgusting to know that the presidency is now just a con man's grift. But it's reassuring too. At least Trump doesn't want to be Hitler. And our country has survived past massive scandals in Washington, e.g. the Teapot Dome scandal, Watergate. All that Trump and his family are stealing is mere money. Not our freedoms, as we feared.

In fact, I can imagine Trump and Jared and Ivanka laughing together at our worry about their possibly destroying our system. Destroy this system? Why would they? This system has made it possible for them to lie, defraud, and cheat their way to millions or billions or whatever it is they have. It even handed over the highest office in the land — yea, in the world — to a cheap carnie man.

And that's out real problem. Actually a two-pronged problem. What is wrong with our country that "free enterprise" means freedom to lie, cheat, and defraud?  What is wrong with our political system that allows a cheap crook to grab the golden ring?

Instead of wasting our time hanging on Trump's meaningless gestures and words regarding legislation, foreign policy, and other matters of state, we have to focus on these issues. We have to fix our country. We have to fix our financial system and our political sytem.

In order to focus on what counts, we all have to get it through our heads: Trump doesn't matter! I have been saying for weeks that we have to stop inflating his importance. Let's turn our energies to fixing our system.

David Brooks describes Trump well as "... a man who is a political pond skater — one of those little creatures that flit across the surface, sort of fascinating to watch, but have little effect as they go." Brooks: Pond-Skater President

Just forget Trump is president. He isn't. He isn't even trying to be. He just goes through some motions and some switcharoos so as to keep the con in place. Watch only for the pleasure of seeing him get caught by law enforcement. He who steals and defrauds generally gets caught and jailed. So it's fine to watch the Russian scandal unfold and the investigations proceed against Trump &Co. Sure, go ahead and "follow the money". That's what brought Nixon down in Watergate.

But, please, no more knickers-in-a-twist about Trump the pseudo-president. Pointless anxiety isn't good for health. I have reiterated since the election how little he can actually do of the harm he threatened. And I was right; he isn't doing those harms in any substantial way.

Instead of knickers-twisting, we must focus on how we can fix our systems, both our financial one and our political one. And read the Egan and Brooks pieces I have cited here. Take them seriously.

And, yes, there will be a quiz.Your score on the quiz and on the real challenges we now face will determine the future of our society and our country. And that of your family.

So it's actually more than a quiz.

It's a test.

It's the test.

P.S. I'll be suggesting ways we can fix our financial and political systems. You think of ways too.  Nobody is going to jump up and do this for us. Or they would already have done so and we wouldn't be in this situation. We can do this. Because we have to. Si, se puedes. Yes, we can!















 White House of Grifters  timothy egan nyt 4-28-17, says it's all about the family making money

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I Told You So 100 Days Ago.

Don't send praise.  Just send money. Or chocolates!

I predicted what a nothing Trump would turn out to be. And he did turn out to be a sound and a fury, signifying nothing. He couldn't do what he had promised or threatened.

So relax. Or better yet, keep the heat on Congress and work to get Democratic control of the House in 2018.

Can you trust me on Trump being nothing? Read what I posted here two days after the election.

Then join me in watching him crashing and burning, and be ready to count how many of Trump & Co go to jail.

Here's from November 11, 2016:

What can Trump actually do? Nothing like what he has threatened. By contrast we can do very effective things about the mess we face. We ca...
OUTFRONTPOLITICS.BLOGSPOT.COM

Monday, April 24, 2017

More Failures for Trump's 100 Day Scorecard!


So much failure to remember. So few days (only 100) to remember it all. Last week I posted a Trump scorecard that listed 0 achievements and lots of failures. Trump's 100-Day Score.  But I forgot some. Here they are.

Do you remember others?

He has done nothing to investigate the Russian influence in our 2016 election.
He's surrounded himself with a crew of those-who-played-footises-with Russians, including his son-in-law.
He had a computer server in his Tower offices connected to a Russian bank.
He refuses to release his fed tax returns so we can see conflicts of interest.
He has White House staff play middle of the night hide-and-seek with House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes to supposedly pass "secret information" about Obama eavesdropping on Trump.
Two of his cronies have had to excuse themselves from their duties for misconduct. Nunes has left his work on the Intelligence investigation and Attorney General Sessions has recused himself from the intelligence agencies' investigation of possible Trump & Co collusion with the Russians in tipping the election against Clinton.
People drop out of his administration faster than they get appointed. Two dozen new appointees have left, an average of one a week! It's mayhem! Keystone Cops! Laurel and Hardy! The Marx Brothers! Clown car! 

All because a few thousand people in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan made a mistake last November.







                                                                            

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Trump's 100-Day Score



Trump's score at 100 days is 0.

He's accomplished nothing except negatives, e.g. roiling the foreign policy scene so as to give everyone indigestion.

He has not filled the appointments needed to run government.

He has failed to keep his word on anything he promised.

His appointment of a Supreme Court Justice has to be credited to Sen. Mitch McConnell's ruthless and unpatriotic willingness to deprive Obame of the appointment for a year and then up-end the Senate filbuster rules.

He has no legislative accomplishments.

He has blown all his political capital.

He has the lowest poll rankings for a new president ever.

He is the first president to be under investigation for disloyalty to this country. Three investigations actually. And the first to be under investigation for any reason this early in his administration.

His wife won't live with him and hates for him to touch her. (Her flinching was constantly noticeable  at his inauguration ball when they were dancing.)

In addition to a salary, he's figured out how to make money off the government while president by using his presidential presence on frequent weekends at his Florida resort to promote business. Likewise, the various other Trump holdings.

He lies about everything.

He relentlessly displays his ignorance.

He wears bad makeup, including that white stuff around his eyes.

His hair.

He brags about molesting women.

He advocates violent repression of political dissent.

He chums with racists and anti-Semites and other disgusting people.

He flaunts executive orders he has dashed off that are toothless.

He issued a travel ban that the courts hooted at. He had it rewritten and still got laughed out of court.

Best of all, he misplaced a battleship.

He makes George W appear wise by comparison and Nixon appear honest.

Lordy.....






















Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Trump Misplaces His Aircraft Carrier

I never thought I'd write such words as these:

                 Last week the President of the United States lost an aircraft carrier. 
It wasn't lost in the sense of being sunk. He had merely misplaced it.

How do you misplace an aircraft carrier? 

Your car keys? Yeah. But an aircraft carrier?

April Fool's Day is apparently running a little late this year. The Fool in the White House has just made it appear to the world  that the USA had misplaced a giant aircraft carrier! Yes! An aircraft carrier! A huge one! He said it was on the way to Korea. But it wasn't. 

Well, the Navy certainly hadn't misplaced it. It was exactly where it was supposed to be, sailing in the opposite direction from Korea. In his ignorance, Trump thought it was going to Korea as part of a "mighty armada" he intended to use to frighten North Korea.  Obviously he had forgotten to discuss this idea with the Navy.

What probably frightens the North Koreans (and the rest of the world) is that there is a verifiable idiot in the White House who doesn't understand anything! Nor does his staff!

Well, this is one way for the world to be united — everybody around the globe standing awe-struck, mouths agape, at the Fool of the Century pretending to be a president.

I laughed all weekend. 

It was not only comical in itself; it was enormously reassuring. As I have written in recent weeks, Trump is no longer a scary guy because (1) he blew all his political power in the health care debacle, (2) he obviously doesn't know how to get things done; (3) his staff is inept, (4) he hasn't staffed the departments with adequate leadership.

But now it isn't just me who can say we have nothing to fear from this four-year-old.  The whole world can see that this guy is even less than a four-year-old. He's zip, zilch, nothing. 

If you confuse your fantasies of "a mighty armada" with reality, you are, as we lawyers say, "non compos mentis".  Which in technical terms means "you got a screw loose." If you can't co-ordinate information and plans with your military you are not Commander in Chief. 

It's wonderful that Trump made this mistake about something military, something gloriously big in the military. The military can't now ignore that there is something seriously deficient in this man. 

This is good. The military is our bulwark against  Trump launching a nuclear war. To the military, a nuclear war is not in the military's best interest. No one in the military will win any ribbons in a nuclear war. It won't advance any careers. Because everybody will be dead. They understand this.

In the final weeks of Watergate, when Nixon was alone in the White House, depressed and seriously drinking, there was concern he might launch a nuclear strike rather than face the disgrace of impeachment.  His chief aide, H.R.Haldeman, on his way out of the White House to serve a prison sentence for his Watergate offenses, snagged General Alexander Haig to babysit Nixon and keep Nixon's fingers off the nuclear launch button. In addition, Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger told the War Room to contact him before carryng out any Nixon orders for a nuclear launch.

Since Trump has launched a phantom aircraft carrier and a phantom armada this past week, hopefully someone high in the military has ordered our War Room to double check any Trump orders launching nuclear weapons. Hopefully....hopefully.....

We certainly live in interesting times, don't we?




Sunday, April 16, 2017

Why We No Longer Need Impeach Trump Nor Want To

No sooner will I write this posting than Trump will launch a nuclear war, and I will thereby be shown as dead wrong on this topic.

Really dead wrong.

We will all be dead, so that's that.

But let's take nuclear war off the table, trusting that the military men he has appointed to his cabinet are keeping an eye on things nuclear.

In my last post I wrote that Trump no longer scares me. Nor should he scare you. He is revealed now as breathtakingly incompetent, and he has an incompetent team. He is like the "Wizard" in the "Wizard of Oz". Just a rotund old guy behind a screen pulling wires and levers to make a sound and fury signifying nothing. Further, neither the media nor the intelligence committee have been bullied into silence by his disparagement and threats. Instead they are going to retaliate for his bullying by destroying him. That's how our government works. We call it checks and balances,  meaning "Watch it, buddy! You screw us; we get you back!"

So we can relax. Sort of. We still have to demonstrate and yell at Congressmen in their district meetings. This is participatory democracy in an era when there are no ships loaded with tea in Boston harbor. It's our duty to keep the heat on. Remember that, because bad guys never sleep, good guys can grab only an occasional nap. If things aren't going the way you think they should, it's your own fault. You can and should make a difference. Keep houndng those Congressmen! You're the reason the "repeal and replace" of Obamacare crashed and burned and showed Trump to be a toothless tiger.  Meantime we can just let Devil Don bumble back and forth from Florida with that dazed look on his face.

"Well," you ask, "what about impeachment? Weren't you screaming for Trump's impeachment a while back?"

Yes, I surely was. But this has been a fast-moving game. For one thing, I underestimated Trump. I couldn't conceive of him being so incompetent. He and his team are so incompetent that I was going to joke and say they can't even find the light switch in the White House. Except they actually couldn't find the light switch!  Do you remember that?

Also lessening the need to impeach Trump is the unbelieveable disfunctioning of the GOP in Congress. The Republicans control both houses of Congress and the presidency but still can't make the trains run on time. It's amateur hour in the House and in the White House.  Trump & Co were very proud of being amateurs in governing, as were the Freedom Caucus Republican House members.  Their motto: "Phooey on compromise! We ain't going to do things like they've always been done. It's our way or the highway!" Well, folks, trains don't run on highways. They need tracks. And this bunch are proud of not being on track.

So we can keep Trump for a while. In fact, that's the smart thing to do. If Trump were impeached, Vice President Pence would take the presidency. Pence is aware of how government and politics work. He could get things done. But they'd be all the wrong things because he is very far right.

We're better off with a president who actually is a Lame Duck three years before that usually happens.

Donald "The Lame Duck" Trump!

I like the sound of that!

Keeping him for now, however, doesn't mean keeping him forever. Au contraire! If he gets too obstreporus, there's still impeachment. The historian Allan Lichtman lays it out in his new book, "The Case for Impeachment", reviewed at  The case for impeaching President Donald J. Trump. (Too soon?) Professor Lichtman is one of the few commentators who said last fall that Trump would win the election.

As for the "too soon" aspect, dumping Trump becomes much more feasible if the Democrats win back control of the House of Representatives in 2018.

In fact, lots of things get better if the Democrats can win back the House  next year.

Such is indeed a consummation devoutly to be wished! Let's make it happen! You can do this! (Instructions to follow, free of charge!)








Saturday, April 15, 2017

I'm Happy! Trump Is Just An Ignorant, Frightened Man Behind a Screen.

I know that conventional wisdom says that no one wants to read good news. So I'm probably losing some readers by daring to say that there is some good news.

I'm not kidding.

For one thing, Trump isn't Hitler. He could have been. He had all the right moves going for him in the beginning, such as trying to discredit the intelligence services and even intimidate them. Same moves on the media.

I'm happy to say the media and the intelligence communities came after him with vigor. Undeterred by fear of the bully boy. I'm proud of them. They will be on his case and weave his burial shroud. In fact, a couple of more "lines of inquiry" about Trump & Co. were announced this week by the intelligence agencies.

I'm also proud of the Americans who have stopped supporting him.  Who admit they regret voting for him. It's a pretty wonderful bunch of people who can say, "We're wrong.  We made a mistake."

And I dearly love the ever-so-red Congressional District in Kansas that came within 7 points of turning Democratic in a special election last Tuesday. Bad things happen to an incumbent or his party that has held a seat a long time and yet can't keep a challenger below 40% of the vote. The bad thing being they are likely to lose the next time. In fact statistics guy Nate Silver says that if all GOP Congressional seats perform in 2018 as this lovely Kansas district just did, the Democrats will then hold 321 seats of the 438! Yeah, yeah, I know what you're saying: "In your dreams!" But Silver isn't saying that's what will happen in 2018; he's just indicating the scale of the anti-Trump voting in dear Kansas on Tuesday.

The environment will be okay too. It isn't just us tree-huggers who are trying to take care of Mother Earth. I read this week that the new museum of coal mining in Kentucky is using solar power. I fell out of my chair laughing. Trump, you old fool, fossil fuels are toast!

And I dearly love even the rotten and otherwise awful Freedom Caucus for telling Trump and Paul Ryan what they can do with their replacement for Obamacare. The words "moon" and "doesn't shine" come to mind.

And I rejoice in Trump being so stupid that he's less likely to be able to do much of anything. His latest: threatening the Democrats that they better come across with what he wants in healthcare or he will take steps to assure the immediate collapse of Obamacare. The fool! The Democrats will feel sorry for anyone who thereby loses his/her health insurance, but they will rejoice as they watch Trump and Ryan and the rest of the GOP take the blame for pushing 24 million Americans off their health insurance.

Trump sure doesn't understand politics. Once he and Ryan took on the overturning of Obamacare and framed an alternative, the health insurance issue is and remains THEIRS. Any changes they make will carry their fingerprints. And their footprints, for that matter.

On the foreign front: Will 59 missiles and an MOAB save Trump with the electorate? A bit, but not for long. The American memory is about two weeks in duration. Trump had his fun being a "tough guy", and he distracted the media from the Russians-messing-in-our-election issue, but the distraction is only for a bit. Lawrence O'Donnell and I actually think the missiles/MOAB may have been done just as a distraction and as a way to suggest that Trump is not now and never has been a Putin puppet.

Okay, so there's the question of North Korea. In the 60 years (yawn) that we have been waltzing around with North Korea, these crises come up every few years when the N. Koreans are bored or starving or in need of headlines. The question is not war or no war. The question is "What do they want this time?" They are panhandlers.

Have a happy and a hopeful Easter/Passover or whatever is your happy day. We all deserve a happy time because Trump is not only not Hitler. He's also not a wizard; he's just like an old man I used to know, a rather rotund old man behind a curtain manipulating some lighting and sound effects.

I remember Trump's ilk, because my name is Dorothy and I sure have been to Oz before! Trump's a bad man, and even worse at playing wizard.

C'mon, Toto. Let's go have some supper. And then some ice cream. It's Spring and things are going to be all right.









Friday, April 7, 2017

Trump Just Doubled Our Risk of Immediate Nuclear War



NOTE: This sentence from today's Washington Post confirms my conclusion that bombing Assad's airport was a nothing in terms of inconvenience to Assad:  "Residents of the Syrian town devastated by a chemical-weapons attack last week said that warplanes had returned to bomb them Saturday as Turkey described a retaliatory U.S. assault as 'cosmetic' unless it removed President Bashar al-Assad from power."Warplanes return to Syrian town devastated by chemical attack

                                                                     *********
Trump's bombing in Syria this week was likely no more than an attempt to distract the media and public attention from his failing administration and from the multiple investigations of his possible collusion with Russians to interfere with our election. As a distraction, the ploy is succesful. Nothing succeeds as a rallying cry like, "Let's bomb the bastards!" 

But Trump is playing with fire. Nuclear fire!

With North Korea kicking up a predictable tantrum to impress our new sort-of-president and Trump unwilling or unable to coordinate with China on restraining North Korea's growing nuclear weaponry, we were already at risk of nuclear war.

Now Trump has doubled the risk that we shall all perish in a nuclear holocaust.

He did this by bombing that Syrian air base in retaliation for Syria's Assad attacking babies and other innocents with poison gas.

Gosh, didn't Mr. Trump ever hear that "war is hell"? Why is a man of 70 surprised that babies and children suffer in war. Doesn't he remember the little girl running down the road in Vietnam, screaming because her clothes are aflame?

In January he unreasonably barred all Syrian refugees from fleeing to the safety of America. But now he's all weepy about "the little babies". Yet he bragged during the campaign about how he would kill the families of terrorists and "carpet-bomb" Syria. Has he really changed his tune? Some commentator suggested that this horrible incident may have "sincerely touched Trump and changed him."

Baloney!

Trump is a phony and grossly incompetent. He has a memory as long as a shoelace. If he has been touched, it won't last. He is a rudderless boat. He remains extremely dangerous and ignorant. Dangerous because of his stubborn ignorance. I'll bet the farm he wasn't awakened at all to the truth that ALL war is bad for babies and children and everybody.

But let's suppose he's genuinely shocked by the pictures of the dying children. There was another approach to the problem of Assad using chemical weapons. It's one that worked when he did this before. President Obama and Secretary of State cleverly maneuvered Russia into taking charge of Syria's chemical weapons, even to transporting them out of Syria.

What Trump doesn't see now is that Syria is doing exactly what North Korea is doing: testing America under its new "leadership".

Bombing the Syria air base was a stupid response, one that is painless for Assad and the Russians. A couple of bulldozers and some asphalt will put the airport to rights for Assad. And what do the Russians care about Assad's airport?

Nothing! Russia cares nothing about Assad's airport.

Russia cares about economic sanctions on Russia!

Get it through your head, Trump! Russia's economy is in desperate trouble, threatening the chances of Putin surviving in power.

You want to control Putin so that he controls Assad? To grab him by the you-know-whatzis, grab him by Russia's wallet. Squeeze his already pathetic trade with more American sanctions.

Instead of doing something smart like this, you have stepped in the doo-doo. I shouldn't use that kind of language; this is deeply serious stuff.  You have raised the risk of one of our pilots shooting down a Russian pilot over Syria. Or vice-versa.

Then what?

Russia has now announced it is abandoning the air-space agreement we had to keep such a confrontation from happening and escalating. Are we now headed into a sequel:  "Dr. Strangelove, Part 2: Our President Went a Little Funny in His Head"?

I am not alone in my assessment of the risk that Trump has now imposed:

"In response to the U.S. strike, the Kremlin announced that it was suspending a military agreement meant to 'deconflict' Russian and U.S. warplanes in the skies above Syria. That portends making a catastrophic accident more likely: the collision of U.S. and Russian planes in Syrian airspace would do far more to damage relations and incite tensions than Thursday’s action." The U.S. Air Strike in Syria: First Thoughts - The New Yorker

Mr. Trump, you sneered at Obama because he adopted a restrained stance regarding Syria. Obama was intelligent. You are not. Obama understood that there are five or more factions at war in Syria: Issis, al Queda, non-crazy Syrians, Assad, and the Russians. Back of these are Iran and Turkey. To actively fight the terrorist factions, logically we would have to ally ourselves with non-crazy Syrians. But do they even exist any more as a viable force? And you certainlydon't want to ally with the MUslim terrorist forces, right? If not, that leaves only Assad and Russia as an option for alliance. Is that what you want to do? If so, how can you ally with someone who is so wicked as to gas babies? .... Hey, isn't that where we just came in!

Syria's a mess, Mr. Trump. There's no easy answers. You have to accept that fact. Syria's even harder to do than health care insurance! Of that legislative challenge, you said "Nobody knew it was so complicated." Not true. Everybody but you and your cheerleaders knew that the health care issue is very complicated, and everybody but you and your bunch knows that about Syria.

Life is complicated, Mr. Trump. It takes grown-ups to help us thread our way through these big problems. Find some grown-ups, Mr. Trump. You are not a grown-up,  so get some! Dump that baby brat, Steve Bannon and his pal Steve, Jr.

And please, please, don't solve the problems by simply calling in just military guys to advise you. They are grown-ups in some ways and probably nice guys, but they always have only one solution: Kill 'em! President George W listened to them with regret and went all the way on Iraq. His father stopped listening when he'd done the limited thing of driving Iraq out of Kuwait. President Johnson listened to the military and got us into Vietnam big time and then more and then more....  JFK enraged the military and the CIA by rejecting their urging that he bomb Cuba when we discovered the missiles there. Harry Truman fired the adored WWII hero General Douglas MacArthur when MacArthur insisted he was going to invade China in order to crush the North Koreans. HST didn't want a war with China. He was also upholding civilian control of the military.

Well, now we've come full circle — back to North Korea. You'd better get busy on the phone, Trump, calling President Obama and asking him what to do now with Syria and North Korea. After all he kept us out of war with each of them but also managed to restrain them.

You better learn how to do the same.

And do it damn quick!

Call him!






Trump Dam Bursting Faster and Here Come Flying Tigers!

Last week we went step-by-step through the accelerating decline of Donald Trump.  Run for the Hills! Trump's Dam Is Busting!  We walked through the "Michael Flynn Affair", then the "Inspector Clouseau Chronicle" of Rep. Devin Nunes. Then came the two stunning disclosures from the recent House and Senate hearings, the first being the announcement by FBI Director James Comey that the intelligence community has been investigating Trump & Co since July 2016 for possible collusion with the Russians in sabotaging the election.

The other disclosure was in the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last Thursday and was actually even bigger news, though generally missed by the media: the report by former FBI agent and intelligence expert Clint Watt, describing how Trump was in effect a Russian megaphone, actively assisting their interference with the 2016 election by blaring out the Russian lies and propaganda to rallies of thousands and to millions on TV and to the Net by tweet.  If he thus assisted the Russians knowingly, that's treasonous aid to a force hostile to the United States.

To cap all this off, last week ended wth Trump's aide Michael Flynn offering to tell "quite a story" in exchange for immunity from prosecution. That's where we left off last Friday. As you recall, Flynn had been fired from his job heading U.S. security when his earlier phone calls with the Russian ambassador came to light. In the intervening weeks since the firing, something has spooked Flynn to want immunity from prosecution.

(Sources for all the foregoing are at my preceding blog post cited in the first paragraph.)

Let's pick it up there. Plenty more has unfolded in this drama, and this new week is just half over!

Act 9: First Rat Flees the Ship!
Picture Michael Flynn sniffing around the deck edge of the sinking Trump ship, a rat looking for a way to jump ship and get safely to shore. Having offered to tell tales to reach the safety of immunity from prosecution, he has to give the feds enough goodies on Trump & Co. Anything less and the feds will reject his offer to be a fink.

What kind of deal can Flynn get and what can he tell to get it?

To assess whether he can make an immunity bargain, there are two elements: (1) what inside info does he have that will advance the FBI's present investigation of possible collusion between Trump & Co and the Russians regarding the 2016 election, and (2) how much does the FBI have with which to threaten Flynn to tell all?

We can't know what Flynn knows until he squeals. But we do know the FBI can threaten Flynn with a triple-barreled gun. First, they already have Flynn cold on a charge of failing to register as a foreign agent. This stems from his work promoting Turkey in 2015 and being paid about a half-million dollars, in part for trying to help Turkey kidnap a Muslim cleric dissident from somewhere in my neighborhood.  Trump team knew Michael Flynn might register as a foreign ...  (Also see the footnote below for there being an about-to-be-kidnapped Turkish Muslim cleric dissident in my neightborhood.)

Second, they have Flynn nailed on a charge of failing to report income, i.e. "speaking fees" from Russia in 2015. He also ate dinner with Putin. That's not a crime though quite disgusting. Could Michael Flynn Turn on Trump?)

The big question is the third possible charge. Did Flynn improperly negotiate with the Russians while a member of Trump's transition team? On December 29 President Obama imposed severe sanctions on Russia in retaliation for the newly-revealed Russian interference in our 2016 election. We now know for sure that Flynn immediately discussed these sanctions with the Russians, and we know that thereafter Putin uncharacteristically took no retaliatory action. Could Michael Flynn Turn on Trump?  Did Flynn negotiate some deal with Russia about removing the sanctions or negotiate anything else that appeased Putin but undercut the authority of the still-President Obama?

Act 10: Can Flynn Take Trump Overboard with Him? 
Only Flynn's third offense has hooks into Trump. If Flynn's talk with the Russian ambassador was a crime and done at Trump's direction, he could take Trump down with him.

But was it a crime?

The short answer is "yes".  See this excellent article:  Many think this law is obsolete. It could actually be a big problem for Trump. (For an historical footnote on a similar Nixon incident and a possible chuckle, see the end of this posting.)

Act 11: Bombshell This A.M., And Nunes the Mouse Scuttles Off the Ship!
With Flynn as a rat, it's easy to picture Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) as a mouse. He actually looks a bit like Mickey Mouse! Until this morning he was the chair of the House Intelligence Committee investigation of possible Trump/Russia collusion in sabotaging the 2016 election. Now he's recused himself, scampering across the kitchen floor to get out of sight. Because Nunes had become a water carrier for Trump, trying to switch the House Committee investgation off topic and playing spy games at night on the White House grounds, he has been pressured to drop his role as head of the House investigation.  But there's more!

Just as he was recusing himself from the House Committee — BOOM! — came the next bombshell: Nunes himself is now under investigation!

And for doing what? For disclosing secret information, says the investigating House Ethics Committee.

He fell on a sword for Trump. What a pathetic thing to do!

Well, folks, this drama is actually a bit of a mystery and quite a bit comedy. There's still lots of unanswered questions. Here's a big one:

Is there anyone in Trump's circus who is not under investigation?

Act 12: What's Next?
Who would dare to guess?

We do know one more thing now — and it's important and serious — with Nunes gone as chair of the House Intelligence Committee it's less likely Flynn will get a grant of immunity from that committee. Such could have protected so much of what he says that the FBI wouldn't have any leverage either to get more information out of him or prosecute him after all the publicity. That's what saved Oliver North on appeal of his conviction in the Iranian arms/hostage scandal under Reagan. As Trump's water boy, Nunes would probably have given away the store to Flynn to keep him sweet.

What a bunch!

________________________________________

Footnote re dissident Muslim cleric in my neighborhood in order to hide out from Turkey. Well, the news reports do say he's hiding out in rural Pennsylvania so he's around here somewhere.  (I have to get a laugh out of this stuff sometimes. Otherwise the Trump disaster could be crushingly depressing!)

Footnote on Flynn's unreported Russian fees: "Flynn first met Trump in August, 2015, just weeks after Trump entered the Presidential race. A few weeks later, Flynn appeared on RT, Russia’s English-language TV network, which the American intelligence community recently described as “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet.” In December, 2015, Flynn gave a paid speech in Moscow and attended RT’s tenth-anniversary gala, where he dined sitting next to Vladimir Putin. Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that Flynn “collected nearly $68,000 in fees and expenses from Russia-related entities in 2015,” including some forty-five thousand dollars for the RT event." Could Michael Flynn Turn on Trump? - The New Yorker

Footnote re end-runs around a president on foreign policy: As a candidate for president in1968 Nixon tried an even uglier end-run around retiring President Lyndon Johnson in order to block Johnson's vice-president Hubert Humphrey from winning the presidency. Through an intermediary Nixon sought to scuttle peace negotiations Johnson had nearly achieved in the Vietnam War. The announcement of the negotiations would have helped the Democrats retain the White House. Shortly before the election, Johnson's intelligence community caught the Nixon trying to sabotage the effort, but Humphrey asked Johnson to let it go rather than tear the country apart by enforcing the applicable criminal law. Humphrey was a decent man and a true patriot. Nixon was neither. As far as Nixon was concerned, people could go on dying in Vietnam just so he could nab the presidency. (Lot of good it did him! Kharma came in due course and knocked him out of the White House in disgrace.) I remember all this from 1968 but you can verify by checking the Anna Chennault entry in Wikipedia.

Years later, I had a strange encounter with Nixon's intermediary in the sabotaging of Johnson's near-peace achievement — a woman named Anna Chennault, a Chinese woman, widow of Lt. General Claire Chennault, hero of the American war effort in China in World War II. He was adored as the leader of the colorful and famed "Flying Tigers" who braved all hazards to fly war materiel from India to China over the Burma mountains. I met her when a dear woman named Lillian called and begged my help after she'd been cornered into hosting an event for Anna Chennault in San Jose, California, near where we lived. I despised Anna Chennault for her dirty work in helping Nixon, but I loved Lillian for her unending good works for the poor, into which she was always dragging me. Now she was begging, "Please help me. Nobody wants come to the reception we are having for her! Please come and bring people so we can make it look like a good crowd." Who can say no to Lillian? I tried to get people to go and no one would. So I rounded up my six kids, combed their hair, and dragged them protesting to the event. "Look like a crowd," I instructed them. There we were: Lillian and her husband, me and six bored kids, and Anna Chennault in a room big enough for a hundred people.

Oddly enough, Anna Chennault is still alive at 91. I hope she reads this and realizes nobody liked her after she helped elect the second worst president in U.S. history, Trump of course being the worst.

Maybe she joined with the Russians and helped Trump too?