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...

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.


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."


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?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Pre-Existing Conditions Coming Back As Insurance Bar !

As of yesterday the GOP in the House and Trump have a new proposal for federal health care to replace Obamacare, one that moderate GOPs in the House and the arch-conservative Freedom
Caucus reportedly can agree on. Astonishingly, the new plan is even worse then the one that failed to come to a vote on March 24.

Though it seems insane, Trump and Ryan are now proposing to effectively abolish Obamacare's most popular provisions by destroying both the ban against insurance companies denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and the ban against charging older people higher premiums.    Ryan says rekindled health-care talks in ‘conceptual stage’  (See footnote at the end for relevant sentences in this Washington Post report.)

How can you get support for a dead bill by making it worse?

They've tried to disguise what they're doing by using a sly trick: erecting a new barrier against the sick and the older people by allowing insurance companies to charge them a lot more than they charge younger, healthier people.

We will be back at pre-Obamacare. By a different route we will arrive at the same bad place: no insurance for the sick or older people . The high cost of premiums will bar them as surely as did the pre-Obamacare practices by insurance companies. ("Older people" here means those over 55 but too young for Medicare.)

Because Trump and Co are hereby relieving insurance companies of covering the people who most need insurance, the right-wing Freedom Caucus can support this new bill. And because GOP leadership is hiding what they are really doing, the Ryan and Trump think they can persuade the "moderate" Republicans to also support the bill.

The GOP leadership also apparently think the moderates will be lulled by the proposal that the federal government will dole out a subsidy for the higher premiums, thus helping people who were so naughty as to get old or sick.

But will this Congress really give people adequate subsidies to afford the insurance? C'mon! This Congress, dominated by penny-pinchers, is not really going to give much in the way of federal subsidies, is it?

You can bet the farm on that. And why is it such a sure thing?

Because this so-called health care bill is really a huge money swap! The GOP penny-pinchers need to pinch financial aid for the poor and middle-class so as to give away money to the rich in their upcoming "tax reform" effort. To do a massive tax giveaway to the wealthy, the Congress needs an offset of "savings" in spending.  That is the real motive for their revived efforts to "replace" Obama care. It will become the milk cow from which "savings" flow to offset the tax breaks for the rich.

This plan not only heartlessly destroys medical insurance for the sick and pre-65 seniors; it will also fatally undermine Medicare.

"Medicare?" you ask. "How does Medicare figure in?"

Like the recently failed Ryan/Trump bill proposed, this plan will raid the Medicare trust fund for $365 billion by reducing the payroll tax the higher-earners now pay into Medicare. That's a gift of $365 billion to the people who least need it. And it puts Medicare's future at real risk so Speaker Paul Ryan can truthfully argue hereafter that Medicare is failing and he alone can "rescue" it, i.e. replace it with inadequate vouchers. He argues even now that Medicare is a doomed program, failing financially.

But that's a lie! Like Social Security, Medicare is fine now and can be given minor tweaks when needed. Ryan exaggerates its plight because he wants to kill it by issuing vouchers or "privatizing it instead. But robbing it now of $365 billion does indeed doom it. Thus this new GOP proposed health plan is a big step forward in Ryan's oft-repeated pledge to rid America of entitlement programs. (Next up?  The attempted privatization of Social Security?)

On top of all this conniving and heartlessness, this new plan apparently still kicks 24 million Americans off their health insurance and thus achieves another major "saving" through cutting Medicaid spending. Which is more money for the "tax reform" bill to claim as an offset for its giveaway to the rich.

And this givaway to the rich? We're talking trillions, folks!

I laid this all out nine days ago when the GOP's first health plan failed:  Trump and GOP Are Done For! Ides of March Came On ...

I also said Trump, Ryan and their health bill were dead politically, forgetting that vampires can come back!

Be sure your friends and family understand that the axe still hovers over our collective necks. The fox is still in the henhouse to steal trillions. The avalanche still rumbles towards us. The house is still on fire! Someone has to save crippled Uncle Arthur and Little Bobby who has asthma. Someone has to stop the thieves looting trillions from our people's basic needs.

You can do this! You can be the hero once again!

Go to the next district meetings of your Congressional representative. Just like you did before! Tell your representative that you still oppose the same old baloney in its new wrapper. Call the local and D.C. offices and register your opposition.

Trump and the GOP will be counting on us having drifted away after our first victory in protecting Obamacare. Show them the Minuteman is still on the alert. That we are not idiots to be hoodwinked.

You are warned now. "One if by land. Two if by sea!"

Now, ride, ride, Paul Revere! The redcoats are coming yet again!

Vampires in redcoats!

Reported in the Washington Post today: "The proposal... would allow states to apply for federal waivers exempting them from some health insurance mandates established under the ACA — including “essential health benefits” requiring coverage of mental-health care, substance abuse treatment, maternity care, prescription drugs and more, as well as a provision that bars insurers from charging the sick more than the healthy.That last idea is likely to meet with protests not only from Democrats but from moderate Republicans, who could view it as tantamount to eliminating the ACA provision that bars insurers from treating people with preexisting conditions differently than those without."  Ryan says rekindled health-care talks in ‘conceptual stage’

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Run for the Hills! Trump's Dam Is Busting!

Be patient! As a reward I have a big news item for you later in this posting, one that the major media virtually missed. But let's not rush. Everything about the Trump demise is going so fast that even the major media are overlooking some key points. Suddenly we are on Fast Forward and even reporters are getting confused.

And we can get confused too. Trump counted on confusion to get elected and perhaps counts on it now to keep the hounds at bay. But we can avoid getting dizzy if we sort out prior threads in this drama of "The Crumbling of Donald Trump And His Friends"

Act 1: "In Like Flynn and Out Too":
Keep your eyes on Michael Flynn. He's a key element throughout. Less than a month after taking the job of head of national security in January, Michael Flynn was fired by Trump, as you will recall. Ostensibly it was because Flynn had lied to Vice President Pence about phone calls with Russia's ambassador. This firing followed by several weeks a hasty visit to the White House by Sally Yates, then acting head of the Justice Department. She told the White House what the intelligence community knew about Flynn, including the phone calls with the Russians. Trump then inexplicably waited three weeks before firing Flynn.

Maybe Trump got another and bigger push in those three weeks from the intelligence services. After all, they weren't going to sit still for a Russian puppet being in the most security-sensitive job in the government. Throughout all that is going on now and shall follow, perhaps for the next two years, keep an eye on this basic factor: the intelligence services truly believe they are the guardians of America and will do anything — and I mean anything —  to protect the country from what they consider a threat, including threats posed by an administration.

Meantime the wheels were already grinding slowly toward Congressional investigations, one by the House and one by the Senate, supposedly focusing on Russia's connections to Trump and his associates, the issue supposedly being: Had any of the Trump group cooperated with the Russians' successful intrusion into the 2016 election?

Act 2: Trump's Fatal Unforced Error:
To divert attention from the Russia issue, which was actually rather quiescent at this point, on March 4 Trump made the biggest mistake of his life. That Saturday morning he tweeted:

-----------"Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!"--------  

This is blatantly false on the face of it! It's been against the law since Nixon's abuses in spying on citizens and groups. But no one in the media has seemed able to explain that simple fact. Surveillance directed at an American citizen can be done only under a warrant from a court issued on the basis of probable cause, i.e. reason to believe that law-breaking is afoot. Absent such court order, any intelligence agent doing surveillance at the behest of a president or other superior is subject to criminal prosecution. 

Nevertheless, Flynn had been caught talking to a Russian ambassador during the transition period, and their conversation was apparently about President Obama's newly-announced sanctions against Russia. He was caught either by being a target of a court-sanctioned warrant or had been picked up "incidentally" in a routine surveillance of a foreign ambassador.  Either was a legal surveillance. But Trump's claim that he had been targeted personally by Obama meant that Trump, in his splendid ignorance of the laws governing surveillance, was effectively indicating a court had found probable cause to believe Trump was up to no good.

Act 3: "It All Blows Up"
Trump's bogus claim was likely intended as a smoke screen to divert attention from pursuit of the Russian issue, but instead it threw wood on the fire. To stir things up further, Trump repeatedly demanded Congress investigate his claim. In response the GOP-controlled House Intelligence Committee cranked things up and held a hearing on March 20, chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes, an active worker in Trump's election campaign. Supposedly it was a hearing on the whole issue of Russia's connection to Trump & Co. but it quickly became apparent that Nunes and other committee GOP wanted to focus solely on Trump's complaint.

Suddenly this initial — and possibly last — hearing by the House committee blew up in Nunes' face.  Whereas he and his fellow GOP members kept trying to focus the hearing on the purported illegality of an Obama wire-tap of Trump, the head of the FBI, James Comey, said unequivocally there was no record of what Trump claimed.

Then came an even bigger bombshell from Comey:  Trump and his campaign team had been under investigation since July, 2016.  F.B.I. Is Investigating Trump's Russia Ties, Comey Confirms ...

Act 4: "Disappearing Into The Night"
Obviously worried sick, with the face of a man to be hung in the morning (we'll get back to Nunes face at a subsequent time), Nunes began a childish game of hide and seek over the next couple of days, even jumping out of an Uber car "to disappear into the night" as his car companion said, then  turning up in some building on the White House grounds where he allegedly received "secret documents" from a "secret source not from the White House." He then allegedly delivered this secret information to Trump in the White House.

Next Nunes held a press conference and said the secret documents proved Trump had been wire-tapped. Except he soon changed his story to say it proved the Trump folks had been picked up "incidentally" in a wire-tap of someone else "not a Russian". He also changed his story about having documents, saying he didn't actually have documents. By now his face looked worse, like the hanging had been moved up by five hours.

This was the silliest scenario ever proposed in human memory. My three-year-olds could come up with more credible stuff than this. Obviously most of it was a lie.

(Because it's a disjointed fabrication with parts changing steadily, I'm not bothering you with a menu of cites to the Nunes cloak and dagger swagger and their different parts and conflicting versions. Instead watch the newstands for the comic book version.)

Act 5:  The Lie Unravels. And So Does the House Committee.
Within a week The New York Times found out that Nunes' sources were in fact White House personnel.  2 White House Officials Helped Nunes View Secret Reports. They had been Flynn proteges, and when Flynn's successor had tried to dump one of them, Trump said no.

Why did Trump protect this Flynn protege. We don't know. Not yet. We also don't know why the James Bond boys at the White House gave Nunes documents ostensibly to deliver to Trump right there in the White House. Smacks of the document equivalent of "money-laundering". We also don't know how the White House expects the people of America to believe all this nonsense.

Washington D.C. and the rest of the world looked at Nunes, shook their collective heads, and dimissed him and his commmittee as no longer relevant. To put it kindly.

The action now moved to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Act 6: The Grown Ups Are Here 
Sen. Richard Burr, a GOP from North Carolina, and his second in command, Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, now announced their committee was ready to roll. They emphasized that they are getting along great and that partisanship is no problem in their committee.

It actually wasn't a problem on the House committee either. The probem was that Nunes was Trump's errand boy. That's not a partisan problem of GOP v. Democrats. That's a problem of Nunes having no understanding of his job and losing all his credibility.

The Senators held their first Intelligence Committee hearing this week. And it was a doozie

Act 7:Another Bombshell: How Trump Helped the Russians Twist the 2016 Elections
In the Senate committe's first hearing we found out we have been blind fools. We have been looking through the wrong end of the telescope, waiting for techie or other expert explanation of how the Russians may have been assisted by Trump and Co. in messing with the 2016 election. We completely overlooked the obvious.

It was simple, as explained by intel expert Clint Watts at the Senate committee hearing: Trump on the stump or on Twitter is and has been a mouthpiece for Russian propaganda and misinformation.  All through the campaign he broadcast Russian lies and "talking points" to crowds of thousands and to a huge TV audience. He was the Russian conduit, their megaphone. Showman that he is, he was a spectacular amplifier. In this role he helped the Russians enormously in sowing discord, instability and disruption in American politics. And the Russians helped him by providing the material.

How foolish we have been. The answer was right there in front of us. And it is as laid out cogently at the Senate hearing: 'FPRI's Clint Watts: Senate Testimony (March 30) and Post ...

Now we know "the how," but what about "the why" on Trump's side? Did he do it knowingly? Or did he just stumble across this "misinformation" the same way he stumbled into the fake news of rioting  in Sweden. Was his aid to the Russians the product of his own gullible stupidity, his willingness to believe the shocking, the idiotic, the unproven.

Or did he know exactly what he was doing? Was he rewarded by the Russians for thus helping them?That's what the FBI investigation hopefully will reveal. It isn't against the law to be an idiot, but knowingly broadcasting the propaganda of a hostile government could be a serious offense. Taking remuneration to do so could be treason.

Also still unanswered: what else, if anything, did Trump and his campaign do cooperatively with the Russians to affect the election?

The media generally missed what a big bombshell this was, chiefly because they were still dazed  and mesmerized by the Inspector Clouseau antics of Congressman Nunes. Nevertheless Thursday was a big step forward in understanding in part how Trump was a Russian minion.

Act 8: Yet Another Bombshell!
Holey Moley! The day hadn't ended before the next shoe hit the floor. On Thursday evening here comes Mr. Flynn again and with a flinty gleam in his eye, making noises like someone who wants to sell out a superior in exchange for immunity from prosecution. It has to be a superior, someone "higher up the food chain", as they say in Mafia circles, or else the prosecutor won't be interested in cutting a deal.

And who were his higher-ups in his recent White House days? There was only one person superior to him in the White House.

Donald Trump.

We can pick it up tomorrow, but for now that's enough.