Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Russians Are Coming! Welcome Back! I Worried About You!

For the first time ever, this past week there was no one in Russia reading my blog. Normally Russian readers are second in number only to those in the USA. I was worried about you, my Russian friends, because of the reports of demonstrators there now being jailed. I think of you as just the kind of folks who would demonstrate. (Not saying you have to, of course!)

But as of today, you are back. And I am very glad.

Sometimes, being 80, I get weary and think I should just quit my writing about politics. But then I think of you readers in all those other countries and get a nice warm feeling of community with the whole world.

Thank you all for being there and for reading my blatherings. You are the light of my world!

And what a wonderful world we all share! Together we can keep it wonderful and make it even better for all its people.

Thanks for being back, my dear Russians.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Trump and GOP Are Done For! Ides of March Came On the 24th!

The Ides of March came for Donald Trump on Friday, March 24. On that date everything ended for him. His charade of being a president, a strongman, a Mr. Fix-it – all of it crashed, along with all of his posing, posturing, lies, and his attempts at intimidating. It's all a heap of ashes and everyone can see that.  The "winner" lost. The "closer" failed. He is so apparently a fraud no one can deny it. And he has lost all political power.

It was also the Ides of March for GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan and for the entire Republican body in the House.

Yes! I mean that! The Republican party has indeed lost everything. And the irony is that, in melting like the Wicked Witch, the dying GOP  has given American democracy the biggest boost imaginable.  (I'll write about that tremendous gain next week.)

Let's note the full extent of what the GOP lost on Friday in the House.

First of all, Trump and the GOP didn't just lose the attempt to repeal Obama's Affordable Care Act. They also lost their credibility. The GOP had pledged for seven years to repeal Obama's handiwork. Then they couldn't do it. Trump too had boasted he would repeal it on his first day in office and  additionally boasted that he could make a deal with any politican. He fell on his face, his credibility in tatters.

The loss of credility is a fatal loss in politics. Once you lose it, it's gone forever. Sure, everybody loses a vote sometimes. I once lost $85 million in the voting on a funding package due to an error by the committee's clerk. But in my 55 years in politics I never lost my credibility. Without credibility, a politician is a two-legged milking stool. Trump is now a toothless tiger and so are Ryan and his GOP pals in the House.

Next, Ryan and Trump also lost their only possible shot at the huge tax break for the rich they had planned, a trillion dollar tax cut to be delivered under the name of "tax reform".  Such a large giveaway could only have been accomplished if the tax measure had qualified to go through the Senate with just a simple majority of votes and thus been insulated from a Democratic filibuster. For the measure to thus qualify for the so-called  "reconciliation process", the GOP would have had to show that the lost tax revenues would be offset by savings elsewhere, i.e. from the cost-cutting in the Trump/Ryan non-care health bill.

In other words, the GOP leadership was willing to strip 24 million Americans of their health insurance and rob the Medicare trust fund of $365 billion just to give the rich a super-big tax cut. That is disgusting and sinful!

But now they can't do either! And let the heavens marvel at the irony of this: it was the mule-headed intransigence of the far-right Freedom Caucus that caused the crash-and-burn of the Ryan/Trump non-care health plan, the end of the huge tax cut, and the demolishing of the entire GOP House claim of power.

For that too is the clear result of Friday's debacle. The GOP doesn't have a working majority in the House of Representatives! The Freedom Caucus's intransigence not only defeated their own avowed goals of destroying Obamacare, cutting taxes, and diminishing government. It also assured that their future power as a bloc is gone.  When they disabled the GOP control of the House they took away the very stage upon which they could have played. As things stand now the Freedom Caucus is hereafter an irrelevancy.

Let's look at other specific casualties of last Friday. Here's a biggie: the broad conservative wing of the GOP, including the Freedom Caucus and Paul Ryan, passionately hate the "entitlements", i.e. Social Security and Medicare. If the Trump/Ryan non-care health plan had passed, $365 billion
would have been stripped out of the Medicare trust fund by reducing the modest amount high-earners now pay into it as part of payroll taxes. Absent this $365 billion, Medicare would soon have been in deep trouble, and Ryan's announced plan of "changing it to save it" would have come to pass. He has claimed for years that Medicare is already in deep trouble. But it isn't! Nor is Social Security! Nor is Obamacare! They could use some tweeking, but are basically just fine. He lies about this issue so as to engineer their destruction. The raid on the Medicare trust fund would have sabotaged its soundness and flung wide the door to Ryan's demolition of it, taking away Medicare and giving the elderly mere pocket change towards medical expenses.

Now, however, the Freedom Caucus — those entitlement-hating GOP right-extremists, those Tea Party's darlings —  have cut off the GOP's best hope of destroying Medicare. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face! These guys cut off their own heads!

As all this unfolds in the understanding of the GOP politicos, the Freedom Caucus will become anathema! Exactly what they should be to everyone! They are the same GOP Congressional members who stood on an outside balcony of the Capitol in 2010 and shouted encouragement to their supporters spitting on the heroic Rep. John Lewis and hitting the other Democratic Congressmen with  signs as they entered to vote for Obamacare.

That was a dark moment in American history. These extremists move in darkness. It has blinded them even unto their own best interests and announced goals. But he who lives by idiocy, perishes by it. In short, it's pay-back time!

These 30 members of the Republican House  chose in their blindness on Friday to end the power of the entire GOP and their own power. By making it clear that the rest of the GOP cannot work with them, they have destroyed the GOP majority position. Their House majority is as meaningless as a cancelled stamp. No one in politics can take them — or the GOP or Speaker Ryan or Donald Trump — seriously ever again. It's not just because these folks managed to defeat repeal of Obamacare but because they demonstrated for everyone to see that they have no understanding of how to use power.

Those who don't understand how to use power lose it. And quickly. That's what destroyed Jimmy Carter's presidency. He was "an outsider", a reformer, a self-styled non-politician. His ignorance and ineptitude in politics ruined his four years and deprived him of a second term.

The ignorance and ineptitude of Trump, Ryan, and the Freedom Caucus have shown they can't use power. They are empty suits. Politically they are a joke.

Knowledgeable politicans now wash their hands of the GOP in the House and the White House. Increasingly the media won't take them seriously either.  And in further due course, neither will their base.

So, guess what! Apparently the old saying is true. Apparently God does indeed take care of dogs, drunks, and the American people!

Next week: the unexpected blessings growing from the cursedness of Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and the far-far-right! ........ Will wonders never cease?

Friday, March 24, 2017

WHAT'S SCARING DEVIN NUNES? And Does He Have a Russian Connection?

(I wrote this way back but it's very relevant right now.)

That Devin Nunes is one worried-looking dude! And he keeps trying to cover for Trump and the Russians. 

Does he have a Russian connection too? Is he terrified of being exposed along with the rest of Trump's crowd? After all, he too worked on the Trump campaign.

He reports raising about $2.5 million for his own 2016 campaign for his Congressional seat in California's 22nd District, spending about $1.3 million on the 2016 campaign, and in December 2016 having $3.5 milllion on hand. His Democratic opponent raised no money and spent nothing. 

Why all that campaign funding for Nunes? He had no actual opposition in the general election.

Where did the extra $2 million come from?  Maybe this apparently unexplained $2 million was left over from prior years? Hmmm....Let's give him the benefit of the doubt?

It likely didn't come out of Nunes' own pocket. He claims to have a personal net worth of only about $83,000, one of the lowest in Congress. 

But his private holdings, small as he claims them to be, are interesting.

According to his federal disclosure forms, almost all his net worth consists of his share in ownership of a wine company, Alpha-Omega Wine LCC, that sells in Russia through a Russian distributor who is reputedly a friend of Putin.

 Was Alpha Omega the beginning of a Russian dirty money journey into a pipeline to cleanliness in an American wine company account? Wouldn't it be difficult to show that someone who claimed to have sold wine to a Russian distributor really just took the money that needed laundering but didn't send the wine. 

Maybe just sent crates of bottles filled with water?

Actually a pretty clever way to launder money.

You likely know that the Russian billionaire-politicos have a big problem getting their money washed of criminality and moving it out of Russia, often resorting to a Cyprian bank now that the Caribbean has been exposed as a flow-way for dirty money. A computer in the Trump Tower campaign HQ was connected last year to a Russian bank, leading the FBI to suspect something criminal or disloyal was afoot. The FBI therefore trotted off to court, showed probable cause for the agency's suspicions, and was able to get a warrant to conduct surveillance of the Trump-Russian bank connection.

This court-licensed surveillance was based on a showing of probable cause, meaning the FBI had some goods on Trump & Co. From the moment in January when we learned Flynn had been caught lying about phone calls with the Russians, those who know some law realized the FBI had been surveilling Trump & Co. with a court order or the Russians without one. In January the NY Times ran a story about this, though not explaining about probable cause and court-issued warrants. Trump saw at least the headline, and in his unfathonable ignorance of the law, he thought Obama must have ordered the surveillance.

Not so, Mr Trump! Only a court can green-light government surveillance of citizens. 

Not until Monday did the pieces fall into place for Nunes. Perhaps what FBI Director James Comey disclosed at the Congressional hearing opened Nunes' eyes. Or were his eyes opened by a document he now claims to have been shown in an ancillary building on the White House, grounds, this info being provided by a mysterious unnamed figure. Nunes reputedly then ran post-haste to the White House, to warn the Trump team that ...... Well, what did he warn them of? "We are all in the deep poo-poo"? As if they didn't know.......?

In typical Trump fashion, Mr. Trump tried to twist the truth to his advantage, announcing that this Nunes' disclosure actually proved he was right about Obama spying on him.

Nonsense, Mr. Trump! Once again: the president CAN'T order surveillance. No one would accept that order. If an intelligence agent did so, that agent would be open to criminal prosecution. Mr. Trump, get this: Nunes and Comey are inadvertently saying that there was probable cause for a search warrant, probable cause to believe you and the Russians were up to no good. There can be no "spying", as you call it, without a warrant! No warrant without some evidence of something!

We are, in fact, a nation of laws, Mr. Trump. Get that through your strangely-colored head!

And now you and your cohorts — including maybe Devin Nunes — are going to run straight into the withering light of the law. 

When things are rotten, they smell. You can hide the rotten under a basket, but the smell will out. Read "Hamlet", for heaven's sake, Mr. Trump, the all-time political story of usurpation of power!

"You shall nose him out as you go up the stair."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

In Defense of FBI Director Comey

Lots of people I know are angry at FBI Director James Comey. People are bitterly resentful of him not discussing the Trump investigation yesterday as openly as he discussed the Clinton one last fall.

So I posted this on Facebook and share it with you here. For what it's worth, I feel pretty good about the job Director Comey will oversee. And please remember, he's not the one doing the FBI investigating.  Dozens of staff people are. You can't muzzle dozens of people. Please remember that "Deep Throat" was #2 man at the FBI.

Here's my take on Comey:

I'm getting lots of comments of loathing toward FBI Director Comey. As an attorney, a politico and someone who worked in government, I see things a bit differently. He talked to Congress about the Clinton investigation in the latter weeks of the campaign because he had previously told Congress he would keep them updated. Now he was reopening the investigation on her, and he had to tell them. The ruling protocol is that departments must keep their commitments to Congress because, on OUR BEHALF, the Congress is their BOSS. We have a complicated system of government.

 In the hearings on Monday he refused to comment on individuals in Trump's bunch because THEY ARE UNDER INVESTIGATION. That tells us exactly what we want to know. The more mum he was, the greater the possibility of their guilt. He had made no prior commitment to Congress to reveal names, etc. nor could he. But he HAD to tell Congress he was reopening the investigation on Clinton. Those are two very different things in a criminal proceeding. 

Also he was protecting the FBI when he disclosed the FBI was reopening the Clinton matter. If he, and thus the FBI, had sat on that information and she'd been elected and the new evidence then turned out to be seriously incriminating, he and the FBI would be in a hell of a mess. 

Yes, he was also protecting himself — sort of. Notice though that the anger about his choosing to tell Congress has fallen all on him, not on the FBI. Notice also that his choice made sure this country would not face a terrible crisis if the newly-elected Clinton had to be prosecuted because the Weiner computer evidence was so damning of her. 

Don't we all wish Anthony could have kept his pants on!

Jail Trump to Celebrate Anniversary of 1917 Espionage Act?

INTRODUCTION: I wrote this back in the second week of January. But I didn't publish it then because I was afraid my instincts were running away with me. Guess I should have trusted my instincts! At age 80, why not?
The NY Times story referred to is the one Trump saw that led him recently, though belatedly, to say Obama had wire-tapped him. In the most bizarre twist in a presidency ever, Trump's claim did two things to hurt him: (1) it meant a court had found probable cause to issue a warrant to put him under surveilllance, and (2) the screams from him and GOP Congressmen for the FBI to investigate the "tapping" pushed the Congressional investigation that yesterday hosted FBI Director James Comey announcing Trump and his cohort had indeed been under investigation all along for collusion with the Russians and that Obama had not done the wire-tapping.
In seeking to distract from his Russian Connection with an accusation against Obama, Trump has shot himself in both feet! He's been now labeled a liar by the head of the FBI and he is identified as being under criminal investigation.  So, belatedly from mid-January, here it is at last, what I wrote then but withheld.  Maybe we should call it "Trump the Traitor"?]

The New York Times' top story this morning [January 11]  uses the word "treasonous" in discussing newly-leaked intelligence reports that Trump colluded with the Russians in anti-American acts. Trump Briefed on Claim That Russia Had Secrets on Him. Treason, as you likely know, is a capital offense and the only crime defined in the Constitution.

The Times first refers to Russian-held video tape of Trump's sex with prostitutes and then says, "If some of the unproven claims in the memos are merely titillating, others would amount to extremely serious, potentially treasonous acts." [Emphasis added.] These acts would include colluding with the Russians in their hacking into an American election. 

To get to this point, the Times hurriedly brushes aside the sex to get to the  treason. The sex tapes (if they exist) were merely a tool in the treason, making it easier for the Russians to blackmail Trump into treasonous collusion and into the "friendship" he is indeed now extending Russia, including letting the Russians gobble Ukraine without protest and appointing as Secretary of State a pro-Russian oil man who wants to remove the sanctions the US has applied to Russia regarding its illegal oil dealings with Iran.

We especially care about treason nine days before the presidential inauguration of the alleged traitor! 

It's probably unrealistic to hope that this issue can be resolved before January 20. Nevertheless at least one Congressman has overnight demanded an investigation: "Democrats on Tuesday night pressed for a thorough investigation of the claims in the memos. Representative Eric Swalwell of California, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, called for law enforcement to find out whether the Russian government had had any contact with Mr. Trump or his campaign." donald-trump-russia-intelligence.html. From the report leaked by the CIA and the other intel agencies (see the foregoing cites), it appears that the agencies are in fact investigating just that.

And as for Trump "contact" with the Russians, he has himself boasted of such trips and contacts.

Were these contacts treasonous? Are you aware in all our history of a walk-up to the inauguration when the question is whether the president-to-be has committed treason? The fact that the New York Times uses the term is itself significant. The Times is the premier news outlet in the world. And the word "treason" carries a red-letter label in journalism: "Use only with extreme caution."

The legal community is also chary of the term. In fact, "treason" prosecutions under the Constitution are so difficult to win that prosecutors typically proceed under other broader laws, such as the Espionage Act of 1917.

Perhaps soon we will hear the law book pages turning throughout Washington D.C. and elsewhere as interested parties begin carefully reading the Espionage Act and its brethren.

You did notice, didn't you, that this is the centennial of the 1917 Act? 

Are we about to celebrate its enactment in a very vivid fashion?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Trump/Russian Collusion? Here We Go!

In case you hadn't heard....."The game is afoot, Watson!"

FBI Director Comey confirms probe of possible coordination ...  in The Washington Post today, March 20.

Comey Confirms Inquiry on Russia Election Role and Ties to Trump  New York Times today.

The Trump-Russia Hearings Begin

The Congressional hearings into the Trump-Russia connections begin today. This widely republished article and chart may be useful as you watch the hearings or the news about them.

Now, Congressional committees, do your job!     The web of relationships between Team Trump and Russia

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Trump's Tax Return, the Real Deal! (Short Break from My Break)

(Couldn't not comment on this! So I'm taking a break from my break.)

Everyone is speculatiing whether Trump snuck his own 2005 tax return out into public. The theory is that it shows that he does indeed pay federal income taxes. Thirty-eight million dollars actually in 2005.

But surprise!

Almost all of that sum is the Alternative Minimum Tax levied on higher income filers who would otherwise pay no taxes because of all the deductions and losses they claim. Remember that depreciation is like a loss. You take the income from a building and pretend the building is nevertheless worth less than last year. Trump has lots of buildings, lots of depreciation.

Of course his plans for tax reform include eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax. Of course.  Maybe that was his goal in becoming president? Nice way to pick up $38 million year after year.

Now, don't tell my eye doctor that I wrote this when I should be resting my eyes.

P.S. Can we depreciate our aging eyes on our tax returns?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Until Trump is Imprisoned or Impeached

And one or both will happen.

Meantime I'm giving my irritated eyes a rest, as I said yesterday. I'll use this rest period to recommend good reading from when I quickly scan the NY Times and the Washington Post and occasionally peek at the newest numbers from Nate Silver's site, plus Charlie Cook's and Pew Research.

Here's todays' recommendation. It's by economist and NY Times regular columist Paul Krugman. Says it all about the proposed Trumpcare, and says it well. I'm glad he mentions that this proposed law could cost the GOP all its power. Typical result! Whenever the GOP win they get greedy and overstep.

               Paul Krugman Trumpcare vs. Obamacare: Apocalypse Foretold   

Monday, March 13, 2017

Time Out, Please. Then Trump to Prison?

Due to a vision problem, I have to take a month off from writing this blog. Please forgive me and please come back then.

After all you wouldn't want to miss "Trump's Path to Prison."

And thanks to all you readers who have been sharing this wild ride. We're living some history, folks!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Biggest News Story in History

It's a beautiful June day in 1957 and I'm in the elegant office of Arthur Hays Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times. I turned twenty-one just a couple of days ago, and I'm in New York City as a winner of Mademoiselle magazine's Guest Editor competition for college seniors. I am now interviewing the most powerful man in America, the man who largely decides what we know and how we think. 

"Where are your women reporters?" I ask him.
The poor man has none. He walks me all over the Times building to show off the Women's Pages (recipes, gardening, fashion, society news and weddings). He points out the small empty office of a woman on the editorial board. Perhaps as a distraction he even takes me three floors below the main building into the cavernous basement where the presses clamor and groan. No women reporters anywhere.
"I can't hire women," he explains, "because I'd have to send you to cover a dock strike where it might get violent. Or what if you find a body on a sidewalk? You'd have to go into the pockets for the wallet and ID."
It was 1957. Dead bodies and possible violence were absolute barriers against the presence of women. Women were the weaker sex and must be cosseted and protected. Except when giving birth or bandaging the dreadfully wounded just behind the front lines of war. How odd that women were strong enough for these painful and bloody tasks but nothing else. Of course the Sulzberger-style reasons for barring women were nonsense. With few exceptions, however, they had kept us from the world of action beyond doing laundry since time immemorial.
Besides being weak and tender, we women were also deemed nitwits. There was many a laugh on the radio or in the cartoons about women drivers, women who couldn't manage money, women and their silly hats. But we were deemed smart enough to teach children -  the most important of all jobs except parenting  -  or be secretaries to very important men. Or save the desperately ill. Nursing, teaching, secretarial. Those were our allotted career paths. And naturally these "women's jobs" paid the lowest wages, and men told the underpaid women what to do.
None of this was supposed to bother us because women shouldn't have careers or even jobs outside the home. We were supposed to marry. Married women didn't work. Single women over twenty-five were "old-maids" and ridiculed as such.  All of society, and especially my mother, recited this litany over and over.
"Take typing," my father had said when I entered high school in 1949. "You'll never be a writer. You’ll be a secretary. Writing is a man's job. And it's a man's world." But I didn't take typing because I didn't want to be tempted to give up and take a secretarial job. I was going to find work as a writer and neither my father in 1949 nor a fatherly Sulzberger in 1957 was going to stop me. 
To a great extent, however, my father was right. Returning from New York in 1957 to Los Angeles, I began beating against the brick wall. "You are exactly what we want for this job," said the news department of KTLA-TV, "but we don't hire women. That's the policy."  There it was. Right out in the open. It was true in many lines of work besides journalism -  law, medicine, dentistry, trucking, pharmacy, construction, college teaching, chemistry, finance, management, public office. Every door shut. No women! Half of the population was openly and legally discriminating against the other half. Half the population was depriving the other half of money, stature, dignity. As we had been for most of history, women were deemed less than fully human. 
It wasn't just the jobs. I finally got a part-time journalism job on a little weekly paper for a while before marrying. But I kept bruising my shoulders knocking down other walls. As late as the mid-1970’s women were denied the very basics of life in America. As an appointee in Gov. Jerry Brown's first administration, I was one of the first four women ever to hold a non-clerical job in all of California state government. But in due course, my husband said, "Quit the job." Wives obeyed. I had sworn obedience. And then eight weeks after I obeyed, he left.
There I was, out of work, out of money, on my own with six kids, the youngest an epileptic. I had to rush that little boy to the ER frequently, but the insurance industry didn't want to give me car insurance. The policy had been in my husband's name, then the standard practice. Although I had been driving for twenty-five years and never had a ticket or an accident, I was effectively barred from rushing a convulsing child to the hospital because I didn't exist in their company records. 
Nor could I get credit. My husband often hadn't collected payment for his consulting work, so my paychecks from the state of California had gone to pay off the resulting credit card debt and all the other bills. But my pay stubs and cancelled checks for all those bills meant nothing. The credit record was in the man's name, as was standard practice then. Reality didn't count, just one's gender.
All this wasn't just my personal misfortune. These hardships fell like an axe on many thousands of women in 1975 when California became the first state to adopt no-fault divorce. The moment no-fault divorce was enacted in California, half the marriages in my county went to the divorce courts. In the next county the rate was 75%. The vast majority of the filings were by men, newly relieved by the law of any obligations except inadequate child support. Women in their 40s and 50s and even older were left destitute. Beyond employment age or with no employment record or training, no longer covered by a husband's health insurance or car insurance, and denied credit, tens of thousands of women were thrown into destitution. The destitution then began killing them.
By 1977 the print media reported that the rate of hospitalization for serious illness was soaring among divorced mothers. And so was the death rate. All of this was attributed to rising stress and diminished resources. Sadly, this story had no bounce. I read it but apparently no one else did. Certainly no one came riding to our aid. 
Two of my friends died during this period. One was the mother of four children. As a nurse she had supported her husband while he went to med school and got established as a doctor.  Once established, he unestablished her as his wife the minute no-fault kicked in. Then he wore her down with an unending battle over every bit of money and every possession. She got pneumonia, and this former nurse, recently the wife of a doctor, died of lack of medical care. Why hadn't she found a job? There was no licensed child care in those days, and no hospitals wanted to employ a woman as burdened as she. Her name was Misty and she was only thirty-nine. 
Jackie died on a Monday morning in the office where she worked for a pittance as a secretary. Her heart just gave out. At age thirty-five. She had literally worried herself to death about money and how to meet expenses for her fifteen-year-old son. She asked me to help her get an extension on some medical bill for him. She stood there in tears, twisting her hands together. The bill was $286. I told her I would just give her the money to pay it. I actually couldn't afford to but  -  oh God  -  I'm glad I gave her that money. Within a week she was dead.
Equality wasn't about being a big shot. It was about survival. Supposedly we were too weak to lift a wallet from a dead man's pocket, but it was okay for us to be strong-armed by male-dominated divorce courts into the hard knocks of penury and then early death.  Under the new divorce laws the judges had the discretion to give minimal child support, deny spousal support, and order the family home sold immediately so the husband could get his share even though the wife and kids were then out on the streets.
Obviously there would have to be changes on the bench and in the laws. So I went to law school even though I was the single parent of six children. My epileptic son went to a new co-op pre-school right on the campus.Thus I could readily be called out of exams and classes when he was convulsing. It happened a lot, being called out of class for him. But I didn't mind. Not at all. I also had to work while in law school. And yet somehow I graduated with honors. 
Ironically, by the time I graduated, male lawyers were already making a big difference for women in the divorce courts. Not all men are bad guys by any means. Plus Gov. Jerry Brown had appointed a woman as Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court.  Things were getting better. So I wasn't needed in the divorce courts. Instead I chose to teach law and run a law clinic for indigent clients. I gave up higher pay in order to be home by 4 p.m. for my kids. We had to live frugally, but we managed.
We survived those dark days, my kids and I, while we women worked to change the anti-women laws and practices and “raise consciousness”. As part of that effort I wrote book called “Women of the West” under my married name of Dorothy Gray, the first book about the serious contribution and admirable courage of women on the Western frontier. It is still in print all these decades later, still a testimony to those 19th century women who rose to great challenges and found freedom, setting an example for women in those 20th century decades of change and for the future. 
Amazingly the dark ages for women had begun to end in my own lifetime. I saw the beginning of the end. For the very first time in the history of western civilization, women were being recognized legally and in many other ways as fully human and fully equal.
Of course we are not really over the bridge entirely. But we are on the way and we will get there.  Because we are not only changing society but we ourselves have changed. When I entered politics in the late 1960s and did door-to-door work, many women said at the door, "I always vote the way my husband tells me to."  Today that’s laughable.
So there, Arthur Hays Sulzberger! You had it all wrong, Mr. Powerful Man. In fact, you missed the beginning of the biggest news story of perhaps all time. When that very young woman asked you that question in June 1957 she was announcing a revolution, the greatest revolution in human history: The liberation of half of the human race. 
And, Arthur, you missed it. You missed that very big story!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

How Impeach Trump? With Russians' Help!

>>>>>UPDATE:  NY TIMES BOMBSHELL just fell on Trump! This NYT story substantiates my main point in the blog posting below.  Obama Aides Left a Trail of Intelligence on Russian Efforts, top story, page one, published at 7:52 p.m. this evening.<<<<<<

As the Oscars were being awarded Sunday night, I suddenly thought of a famous line from the classic "All About Eve":

"Fasten your seat belts, folks. It's going to be a bumpy ride."

And I wasn't thinking about the Oscar awards that were cruising across my TV screen, although they certainly got bumpy at the end. I was thinking about a much bigger drama that's now getting under way.

I mean the impeachment of Donald Trump. Next year marks the 150th anniversary of our first presidential impeachment trial. Will we be marking it by conducting another one?

Isn't it clear that Donald Trump is unfit to continue as president? The record after thirty-plus days is staggering. So forgive me if I run through it in just one paragraph, saving the worst for last.

He is abysmally ignorant and refuses to learn from anything or anybody except TV far-right talk shows. He's obviously mentally and emotionally unstable. He is wildly irresponsible, continually lying and mouthing ugly policies and positions, including racist ones. He is failing to defend the Constitution as he swore to do but attacks it with cheap facist rants against the judiciary and the media. He picks fights with our allies, cuddles with Russia's Putin, and is destablizing a world made orderly for 70 years by American-backed institutions.  He has been labeled "cruel" by the Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles for his attacks on immigrants and for inflicting extreme hardship on them.  The Latest: Speakers blast Trump's immigration orders - The . Unlike any other president since polling began, Trump has a disapproval rate higher than his approval rate even in the "honeymoon period" of this term. In two of the most respected polls he is down to less than 40% approval!

Further, we are all aware now that Trump may have gained the White House illegally. Our intelligence agencies concur that the Russians tried to tip the election in his favor. FBI, James Clapper back CIA, say Russia interfered in U.S ... Since Trump won the Electoral College by only 77,000 votes in three states, with one of them at only a 7,000 vote lead, it wouldn't have taken much interference to make the difference. If he was in cahoots with the Russians in betraying our election process, that is a serious crime and a treasonous betrayal of the foundation of our democracy.  Certainly "free elections" must be free of the interference of foreign powers!

We already know that the Trump ccampaign was talking to Russian intellience during the campaign. Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian ... (Also see footnote at the end about how we "know" what's true in the news.) But can we expect a GOP Congress to conduct a thorough enough investigation to turn up compelling evidence that the purpose of these talks was to rig the election?

After all, Trump and his supporters have taken control of the GOP and apparently terrify the rest of the Republican party. Like the Tea Party before them, the Trump forces could dump out present office holders in GOP primaries if the incumbents were perceived as disloyal to Trump. His supporters showed their muscle in the presidential primaries in 2016, beating every opponent the rest of the GOP threw at him. No wonder the GOP Congressmen are scared silent by Trump. For GOP Congressmen an effort to impeach Trump must look suicidal.

Also, while several impeachment grounds look possible, none yet compels impeachment enough to break the 86 percent approval rate among still-deluded Republicans. That is, however, beginning to change.

The strongest reason for impeachment is edging closer. It could be called "The Russian Connection", and it may offer all the excitement of that wild ride in "The French Connection".  It's the growing likelihood Trump actually conspired with the Russians to steal the election. Since that would be both a betrayal of our democracy and a criminal offense, what lovely karma if Trump, having last year threatened Hillary Clinton with jail, were to be marched out of the White House in handcuffs!

Ironically this Russian Connection is not only a strong reason for impeachment but also has strong potential for pulling Republicans out of the Trump camp. For 50 years the GOP made its center theme a witch hunt for Russian sympathizers.  Back then it was always "those Commies". And those Commies were Russians. Therefore today's GOP rank and file may still harbor great unease about "Ruskies", as they were also called by GOP leaders.  Trump supporters may harbor enough old hate against the Russians so as to want Trump impeached if it can be shown he conspired with them.

At least one leading GOP Congressman is working toward that end. He's Darrell Issa, one of the highest ranking and most conservative GOP members of the House. As reported in the Washington Post last week, Issa said on a TV talk show, “[We're] going to need to use the special prosecutor's statute and office."  Top Republican says special prosecutor should investigate Russian meddling in Trump’s electionRep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who narrowly won reelection in November, made his comments on “Real Time with Bill Maher."washingtonpost.com

This seems very brave of Issa, but his courage is the product of his fears. As the Post notes, "Issa is serving his ninth term in Congress but is likely to face a grueling midterm election in 2018. After a lengthy reelection campaign last year, Issa narrowly defeated Democrat Doug Applegate in November to hold onto his seat in California's 49th Congressional District."

Caught in an unusually competitive district (California's districts are not drawn by the parties), Issa is apparently reassuring moderate voters that he will do his duty to get an effective investigation of Trump and the Russian Connection. At the same time he has carefully taken steps here to lessen any offense to Trump supporters. 

To do the latter he explains in comically simplistic terms what compels his position. The Russians, he says, are "bad people".  He goes on: "And we need to investigate their activities and we need to do it because they are bad people.” 

As for possible Trump involvement, Issa zig-zags with an awkward "[there]" may or may not be fault", then immediately shifts back to how very bad these Russians are. "[T]he American people are beginning to understand that Putin murders his enemies — sometimes right in front of the Kremlin, and then suddenly the cameras don't work there — he's murdered people and taken down [sic] using cyberwarfare in Georgia and Ukraine. This is a bad guy who murders people, who runs a gas station with an economy the size of Italy but is screwing up things all over the world that we've been doing — 'working with.' Now, we have to work with them. We don't have to trust them. And we need to investigate their activities and we need to do it because they are bad people.”  He's talking to Trump supporters the way a parent explains "don't talk to strangers" to a five-year-old.

It's a bit disjointed but the poor guy is trying to persuade edgy Trump folks that somehow the Russians are so wicked that the people have to get Gary Cooper to save the town, i.e.  a special prosecutor. Issa makes clear that his "friend" Jeff Sessions, Trump's appointee as  Attorney General, might not be the one to prosecute a case against Trump because Sessions helped Trump in his campaign. Notably Issa says nothing about the GOP dominance of the two Congressional committees supposedly investigating Trump.  Under the old boy's club rules, Issa's can't talk about fellow Congressmen of his party in an accusing fashion. Thus he must make the Russians into Super Bad Guys who require a fearsome Special Prosecutor. He's selling snake oil to Trump supporters, who have already demonstrated remarkable gullibility. 

In the meantime the rest of us can lean on the hope that a special prosecutor will indeed be lots tougher on Trump than a GOP-dominated Congressional investigation or the Justice Department under Trump's new appointee as Attorney General. Maybe we'll get really lucky and fate will bring forward a special prosecutor like the one who went after Bill Clinton. That would be real fun!

How likely is any of this? The key is Trump's popularity with his base. Issa is one of the few GOP Congressmen who is as afraid of Democrats whipping him in a general election as he is of a Trump supporter beating him in a primary. Thus he is willing to talk special prosecutor.  Few other GOP Congressmen are in Issa's predicament. Only when Trump's hold on his base begins to slip significantly, will these other GOP Congressmen break their silence and support seeking the truth.

As of Monday, NBC's new poll shows Republican voters still give Trump an 86 percent approval rating. So it doesn't look like Congress will move yet.

Still, it's only 39 days since Trump was sworn in. If we think of "The Russian Connection" as being a film like "The French Connection", this latest movie hasn't quite started. We're just watching the credits roll by, folks. So settle down in your seats and don't gobble all the popcorn before the action starts.

Be patient and not discouraged. Because we know one thing for sure: there is indeed a smoking gun to be found. 

We know this because of what Trump has been doing. His vicious attacks on the press have been fired off in absolute rhythm with the emergence of incriminating news about the Russian Connection.  He is clearly afraid of what is yet to come out and is therefore trying to discredit the messenger preemptively. And what could be more terrible for him than the Russian Connection news that has already emerged? What could he possibly be dreading even more? The news that he and his campaign conspired with the Russians to rig an American election!

Congressman Issa knows this. He knows what's coming. And in his own bumbling way he has tried to prepare his constituents for the inevitable shootout  at High Noon. 

Now go get some JuJubes and let's enjoy the film!

How can we know a news story is true when it relies on "anonymous sources"? Primarily we rely on the stature of the news organization publishing it. The high stature of the New York Times and the Washington Post have been painstakingly earned by hiring the best reporters and enforcing a strict journalism ethic. Those of us who have some training in journalism know what these journalism rules are. Everybody got a useful glimpse of some of them in the film "All the President's Men", in which Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford, as two Post reporters, are repeatedly hounded by their editor, played by Jason Robards, to produce multiple corroborating sources on every point, even those points coming from named sources. And, of course, "All the President's Men" introduced us to the most famous of all anonymous sources: "Deep Throat", who was revealed over 30 years later to have been the Number Two man at the FBI.

The bottom line?  No, Donald Trump, the press that is driving you nuts does not "make up" their anonymous sources. They've got 'em for real. And like Deep Throat they are not only real but reputable. And they are all out to get you because they serve this country, love their work, and you love only yourself and are a danger to this country and to their work.

Hasta la vista, baby!
{ANOTHER NOTE: I choose to ignore Trump's speech to Congress last night because he usually says something and then changes his position, often in the same day. That in fact happened yesterday when he said during the day he would not deport anyone who was not a serious criminal. His speech last night failed to include the prior change from his prior hard-line position, and it was back to the fear and anxiety for eleven million of our fellow residents.}