Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Ryan Does A Ryan




We know what Paul Ryan is. Now we're just haggling over the price.

This is nothing new. Joe Scarborough

on Monday singled out Stephen Miller, saying President Trump's senior adviser had gone on a "power trip."

"Why did Stephen Miller fight so hard to put out this order on Friday without talking to any of the other agencies?" Scarborough asked Monday during MSNBC's "Morning Joe," referring to the president's immigration executive order.

"It was Stephen Miller sitting in the White House saying, 'We're not going to go to the other agencies. We're not going to talk to the lawyers. We're going to do this all alone,'" Scarborough continued.

Scarborough's suspicion that Stephen Miller was a lone wolf turned out to be inaccurate, however, for we learned that evening

Senior staffers on the House Judiciary Committee helped Donald Trump's top aides draft the executive order curbing immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations, but the Republican committee chairman and party leadership were not informed, according to multiple sources involved in the process.

The news of their involvement helps unlock the mystery of whether the White House consulted Capitol Hill about the executive order, one of many questions raised in the days after it was unveiled on Friday. It confirms that the small group of staffers were among the only people on Capitol Hill who knew of the looming controversial policy.

Not only was this done in secret but

The work of the committee aides began during the transition period after the election and before Donald Trump was sworn in. The staffers signed nondisclosure agreements, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Trump's transition operation forced its staff to sign these agreements, but it would be unusual to extend that requirement to congressional employees. Rexrode declined to comment on the nondisclosure pacts.

"It’s extremely rare for administration officials," Politico continues, "to circumvent Republican leadership and work directly with congressional committee aides. "

Ah, yes, but  this is an extremely rare Administration. The staffers signed nondisclosure agreements. The regime considers as enemies not only foreign refugees, but also elected representatives of the American people, the latter to be lumped with the American people in being denied anything other than "alternative facts."

The following morning, the second most powerful Republican in the nation pulled a Ryan, when in a news conference

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) would not discuss a report revealing that staffers on the House Judiciary Committee helped with President Donald Trump's executive order barring immigrants from several predominantly Muslim countries.

"Congressional staffers help the administration all the time," Ryan said when asked about the report.

No one knows whether Ryan actually supports the ban, and it might not matter. Paul Ryan would turn his best friend over to Al Qaeda if it meant he could eliminate the estate tax, privatize Social Security, or turn Medicaid into bloc grants so that states themselves can stiff the poor, without his fingerprints on the murder weapon. We know what he is, and his price, negotiated already or not, will be steep.











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Minister Of Propaganda





Bill Maher observed the first week (!) of the Trump presidency and recalled

Before the election, I was saying there's a slow-moving coup happening and fascism could come to America. This week the President talked about sending troops into Chicago.   He said I'm going to send the Feds in. By the way, Chicago- only the 18th worst murder rate of cities in America. The idea of Donald Trump sending a private army into an American city is not a precedent I really want to see, talked about. 

Starting up black sites for torture overseas. His chief strategist and the media said the media should keep their mouth shut and just listen. He muzzled agencies- EPA can't tweeet or talk any morein comination with this concept of alternative facts, so you can't get out the real facts.  EPA- the only facts we hear are the alternative facts. I'm just saying it's easy to get distracted.








Sean Spicer seems to be one of the culprits (although it has been learned he was not primarily responsible for the following).  President Trump announces the refugee ban on the same day as Holocaust Remembrance Day and forgets Jews were its primary victims. As Trump's mouthpiece, Spicer states

I gotta be honest. The president went out of his way to recognize the Holocaust and the suffering that went through it and the people affected by it and the loss of life. And to make sure that America never forgets what so many people went through, whether they were Jews or gypsies, gays, disability, priests…

Still no mention of the primary victims, constituting what is a hop, step, and a way from Holocaust denial.

There is a rumor that Spicer and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway are an item, and not in a good way, which at least adds a little intrigue to the unprecedented conentration of power in the Executive branch.  On Fox News Sunday, in the portion (beginning at 16:56 of video below) of her rant which seemed least unhinged, Conway contended

And yet we deal with him every single day. We turn the other cheek. If you are part of team Trump, you walk around with these gaping, seeping wounds every single day, and that's fine. I believe in a full and fair press. I'm here every Sunday morning. I haven't slept in a month. I believe in a full and fair press. But with the free press comes responsibility.

Sure enough, the First Amendment begins "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion," a provision deeply offensive to resident theocrat Mike Pence. In the Conway version, it continues as

.... or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press- unless that press is not acting responsibly- or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

What's that? Not accurate? But that's the alternative facts of the Counselor to the President, in which freedom of the press may not be abridged by government unless the press is not acting with "responsibility."





And that, boys and girls, is the presidential adviser not named Sean Spicer or Steve Bannon, but instead the one-time winner of the New Jersey Blueberry Princess Pageant and World Champion Blueberry competition, now a mover and shaker in an Administration determined to establish an authoritarian state.








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Monday, January 30, 2017

We Know What The Hell Is Going On, Donald





While Donald Trump is making America great again by barring from the USA Iranian and Afghan interpreters who helped American forces in Gulf War II, we are helpfully reminded that the President's prejudices are not limited to Arabs or Muslims, and that he has no solutions.

On Tuesday, the President tweeted "If Chicago doesn't fix the horrible 'carnage' going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!"

There was no indication whether Trump meant Justice Department lawyers, the FBI, the National Guard, or the Air Force, or why he inexplicably surrounded the word carnage with quote marks. He is Donald Trump, he will fix everything, and details are optional. He was, however, two days later doing stand-up at the GOP retreat in Philadelphia as

“What’s going on in Chicago?” Trump said. “I said the other day, what the hell is going on?”
In response to Trump’s question, somebody in the court yelled, “Democrats!”

The room burst out in laughter. Trump smirked and said, “There’s a lot of truth to that.”

There was more laughter than truth, however. Brad Heath has tweeted out the latest excerpt, from the first half of 2016, of the FBI Uniform Crime Report. You will notice that Chicago ranks 12th among large cities in its murder rate during that period.





Trump doesn't cite those other urban hot spots. However, give him his due or as in the applicable cliche, "give the devil his due." A report released from the University of Chicago Crime Lab (its graph, below) indicates, according to The Trace, "among America’s largest cities — which also include Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia — Chicago experienced the largest jump in homicide rates in the last 25 years."

Nevertheless, the President is likely unaware of that. At last week's GOP retreat, he claimed "Here in Philadelphia murder has been steady, I mean, just terribly increasing..."

That's factually untrue- Philadelphia's serious crime problem notwithstanding, there were fewer murders in 2016 than in 2015 and fewer than a decade ago. But Philadelphia and Chicago both have Democratic mayors, and Philadelphia has a black mayor. Chicago's mayor is white but its most famous resident/prior resident is the famous Barack Obama. So Republicans have been for many years singling out Chicago for its violent crime. No coincidence, there.

It's no coincidence, either, that there is

one important change over previous years: police are recovering more powerful weapons from crime scenes. In 2016, police seized more 9mm and 40-caliber firearms than at any point in the last 15 years. This trend is not contained to Chicago. As The Trace has reported, police around the country are recovering higher caliber weapons, a shift medical experts warn could lead to increased lethality rates for shooting victims.




It's no coincidence, either, that the GOP platform from Trump's convention argued "the government has no business dictating what types of firearms good, honest people are allowed to own" while the Party promised to "defend the Second Amendment of our Constitution. The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed upon. Period."

"What the hell is going on?" Donald Trump asked in Philadelphia, about Chicago.   The University of Chicago Crime Lab concluded it is not the rise in criminal behavior "but rather a narrower one of gun crimes committed in public places frequented by young people in our city's most distressed neighborhoods."

The Trump convention made clear in its platform that it is determined that will not change. After its paean to the divine (and misunderstood) Second Amendment, it maintained that a President Clinton "would ban every gun, destroy every magazine, run an entire national security industry into the ground."  So that we know who's calling the shots with the Republican Party, it noted that was "explained" by National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre.







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Saturday, January 28, 2017

No Option




This past week, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed in the Southern District of New York a lawsuit against Donald Trump for allegedly receiving payiments from foreign governments, which would be in violation of the enoluments clause of the United States Constitution, once a document Republicans professed to honor.

The U.S. Congress must also do its part, according to attorney and activist John Bonifaz, who told Amy Goodman this week that

there must be an impeachment investigation initiated in the United States Congress based on the violations of the emoluments clauses, the foreign emoluments clause and the domestic emoluments clause, both of which make clear that the president of the United States cannot engage in the kind of corruption that we’re seeing now of the Oval Office. This kind of corruption is massive, and it’s far worse than even Watergate. And Nixon White House counsel John Dean has said that.

The presidency is not a profit-making enterprise for its occupant. It is a public office, and the president is a public servant. And the president, this president, does not seem to understand that concept. He is engaged in businesses all over the world. He has refused to divest from his businesses. And as a result, he has serious conflicts of interest, from all the foreign payments he’s receiving from foreign governments and from the domestic payments, from state governments and from the federal government, that collide directly with the Constitution. He swore an oath of office to protect and uphold the Constitution. He’s already violating it. And this impeachment investigation must proceed.

By all means, investigate. File lawsuits, especially, on the chance that the President will have to release his tax returns as part of discovery. (And march and demonstrate.) But impeachment and removal from office would bring its own dangers.

In March,  2015 Indiana governor Mike Pence signed a "religious freedom" law, designed- as they all are- to legalize discrimination on the basis of claimed religious belief. After companies pulled their business from the state, the Governor signed a revised version of the law.

That was a nod to realpolitik- and commerce- although neither conservaive evangelicals and gay groups were completely mollified.

Nonetheless, the real Mike Pence remains. On Friday the Vice-President became the highest ranking government official ever to attend the pro-forced birth demonstration, the March for Life, conducted annually close to the date of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.  That was unsurprising, given that Pence always has been known as strictly anti-choice and as Buzzfeed reported on October 20, 2016, Governor Pence had signed a series of anti-choice bills after in the House of Representatives co-sponsoring several "personhood" bills. He was an early advocate of defunding Planned Parenthood.







Judging from the reporting of public radio correspondent Todd Zwillich of WNYC, the evangelical gang knew what it was getting when Trump selected- in what appears to be a brilliant strategic decision- the Indiana governor as his running mate.   Earlier in October, Zwillich tweeted "Pa GOP source heard from mut pastors: 'Evangelicals believe God is using Trump to deliver Pence to the WH, & that Trump will be eliminated.'"

As recently as yesterday, Zwillich on "The Takeaway" reiterated that "many, many pastors and congregational members, evangelicals" in Pennsylvania believed that "God had put Donald Trump into the race in order to put Mike Pence into the White House" and that Trump would be "eliminated."

President Trump will have only contempt for critics, all the more reason Democrats and liberals/progressives still must resist Donald Trump.   Concern, or fear, about Mike Pence does not obviate the need to challenge President Trump on nearly everything and everyone (and maybe not "nearly"), but if he is removed or "eliminated" (however those evangelicals meant that), we will still face a major threat to freedom.







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Friday, January 27, 2017

A Republican, Not In Name Only




Conceding Donald Trump's "love of Vladimir Putin is a big berak with the GOP orthodoxy," Steve M. observes the President is "just the modern GOP on rage-induced drugs."

Republicans favor torture and have "an obsession with torture," he points out.  Their support for the President's eagerness for deficit spending comports neatly with their passion for blowing up the deficit whenever the President is a Republican..

And of course, immigration, regarding which Steve M. cites questions those who doubt

the largely Republican-driven shutdowns of immigration reform efforts in both the Bush and Obama years? Or anti-immigration anger so vociferous that it led John McCain, once a supporter of reform, to demand that the government "complete the danged fence."

Were he blogging primarily about the GOP's immigration policy, rather than the failure to understand that Trump is a creationof the Republican Party, he would have noticed another similarity between Trump's immigration policy and GOP orthodoxy which has gone under the radar.  This is the ten-point immigration plan on the Trump-Pence campaign website:


1. Begin working on an impenetrable physical wall on the southern border, on day one. Mexico will pay for the wall.                                                                                                                                                                 
2. End catch-and-release. Under a Trump administration, anyone who illegally crosses the border will be detained until they are removed out of our country.

3. Move criminal aliens out day one, in joint operations with local, state, and federal law enforcement. We will terminate the Obama administration’s deadly, non-enforcement policies that allow thousands of criminal aliens to freely roam our streets.

4. End sanctuary cities.

5. Immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties. All immigration laws will be enforced - we will triple the number of ICE agents. Anyone who enters the U.S. illegally is subject to deportation. That is what it means to have laws and to have a country.

6. Suspend the issuance of visas to any place where adequate screening cannot occur, until proven and effective vetting mechanisms can be put into place.

7. Ensure that other countries take their people back when we order them deported.

8. Ensure that a biometric entry-exit visa tracking system is fully implemented at all land, air, and sea ports.

9. Turn off the jobs and benefits magnet. Many immigrants come to the U.S. illegally in search of jobs, even though federal law prohibits the employment of illegal immigrants.

10. Reform legal immigration to serve the best interests of America and its workers, keeping immigration levels within historic norms.


For all of Donald Trump's bluster, there is one key item missing from the list.  Chris Matthews asked guest Haley Barbour Thursday evenig "why does Trump never mention illegal hiring?" Here he is, the Mr. Populist who broke through that supposed "blue wall" in the Rust Belt by winning the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and there is no talk of illegal hiring or the workplace raids.

Trump does promise to "triple the number of ICE agents," but that is followed by "anyone who enters the U.S. illegally" because the focus is on people who haven't yet crossed the border. If the immigrants already are here- illegally- employed at a job a native-born individual or legal immigrant otherwise would have, Trump doesn't want to hear about it.

There has been little support over the past few decades for deporting individuals who ae in the country illegally and employed, and President Trump has given little indication he will challenge that. Building a wall to keep out individuals not yet here goes down much easier, like a little sugar with medication.  Viewing video of men, women, and children already in the USA being kicked out would be much more discomfiting.

Business interests are not to be offended. We wouldn't want to cut into the profit in hiring cheap, non-union, vulnerable labor, would we?  In this and in other ways Donald Trump is, as characterized by Steve M., "a Republican evolution, not an aberration."




 








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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Donald Trump Is A Republican.





Michael Tracey, criticizing individuals who are criticizing some Democratic senators for their willingness to work with Donald Trump against the GOP Congress, argues

Can someone please explain the harm done by working with Trump to produce better policy on infrastructure, outsourcing, and trade? If the worry is about “normalizing” him, that ship has already sailed. He is president, and therefore basically about as “normalized” as you can get. 

Tracey may be confusing normalizing with legitimizing. The latter concept aside, Donald Trump has most assuredly not been normalized.  This morning on CNN's "New Day," Michael Smerconish stated that after he noted on his radio program that there is no evidence of Trump's claim of  3-5 million illegal immigrants having voted in November, a caller irrationally challenged him to "prove" that it did not occur. Tracey might as well "prove" that he did not write the paragraph above while under the influence of intoxicating substances.

God is in the details, and we do not know yet- and may not know for a long time- how any effort to play ball with the singularly megalomaniacal, highly mercurial, and far right President will turn out. However, speculation is not only reasonable, but irresisible, and the arrow is pointing in the direction Tracey is turned from.  Politico reports

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday endorsed President Donald Trump's call to launch an investigation into voter fraud in the presidential election. "I think it's fine," Ryan told MSNBC's Greta Van Susteren.

To be fair, Ryan also

made a point of saying that he has not seen any evidence to support Trump’s unsubstantiated claim, repeatedly debunked by independent fact-checkers, that his loss in the popular vote was a result of millions of people voting illegally for Hillary Clinton.

That's not much of a concession.  In 30 of 47 states, the Secretary of State is a  Republican (no such position in three states), and Ryan is hardly likely to contradict those Secretaries. If he singled out other states, it might be interpreted as an overly partisan claim, and Ryan is jealous in protecting his image with the media as knowledgeable, rational, and sensible.    Yet,

Ryan, noting that he is "sure there is some fraud," suggeted that an investigation into the issue is the right step to establishing the facts if Trump really believes the claim. 

"If he believes there's a problem to be looked at, the right thing to do is get an investigation, to get the facts," Ryan said. "I haven't seen evidence of this kind of widespread numbers that  we've been hearing about. The thing to do is to get an investigation to get the facts and then make a judgment based on the facts."

Ryan contends there is fraud and that President Trump is right to investigate it. He is perpetuating the legend.

It may matter little why Ryan is keeping this urban myth alive. Most likely he is pandering to that Smerconish caller- and other Republicans- who believe there is widespread voter impersonation fraud. Less likely, he is giving it up for the President. Conceivably- but just barely- he really believes in this pile of horse manure.






But he is doing it and he is no back-bencher, but the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, arguably the second most powerful person in American government.   And he is all-in with President Trump.

Let's remember, further, that Donald Trump became President running against a candidate boasting of support from rank-and-file Republicans and GOP foreign-policy hands.  .  Hillary Clinton beleived candidate Trump could be separated from more moderate, more reasonable Republicans. She won very few votes from Republicans, was defeated decisively among Independents, and lost an election which was hers to lose. The notion was that Donald Trump was an outlier in his party. We learned otherwise. Charlie Pierce remarks

The more stringent "gag rule" on abortion that Trump signed into place with his executive order is pure Mike Pence. While he's blathering on about crowd size and Peyton Manning, Paul Ryan is as close as he's ever been to his golden dream of dismantling the social programs that, in his mind, stopped serving a useful purpose when they got him through college. The country's environmental programs are being handed over to people who would frack their grandmother's old gray head if they thought there was a buck to be made in doing it.

Triangulation failed Hillary Clinton as it had failed President Obama.  The most effective political movement of the past quarter century was the Tea Party movement, which might as well have borrowed Nancy Reagan's drug slogan "just say no."  If Democratic officials, like Michael Tracey, does not heed that lesson, they will lose both their sould and a lot of elections.







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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Shoe Is Now On The Other Foot




In one of his famous tweets, private citizen Donald Trump in September, 2013 contended "The only reason President Obama wants to attack Syria is to save face over his very dumb RED LINE statement. Do NOT attack Syria, fix U.S.A."

At a debate two years later, GOP presidential contender Trump stated

“I wouldn’t have drawn the line, but once he drew it, he had no choice but to go across.  Somehow, [Obama] just doesn’t have courage. There is something missing from our president. Had he crossed the line and really gone in with force, done something to Assad, if he had gone in with tremendous force, you wouldn’t have millions of people displaced all over the world.

Nearly a year later, in an attempt to tar Hillary Clinton with Barack Obama's controversial policy in Syria, the GOP nominee at the second presidential debate stated "Obama draws the line in the sand. It was laughed at all over the world what happened."







Donald Trump is now President and

The White House has confirmed that Donald Trump's team is in the "beginning stages" of discussing a plan to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Mr Trump said repeatedly during the election campaign that he intended to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem, despite warnings the move would violate international law and destroy the peace process.

However, one terrorist group is not amused- or intimidated- as Politico reports

A spokesperson for the Gaza-based militant group Hamas said moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would add “more oil to the fire” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Osama Hamdan, also a senior leader in the group, said Palestinians will not abandon Jerusalem during an interview with Al Jazeera English’s current affairs show Upfront that's set to air Friday.

“Now if there was changes or the United States administration try to make a change in the status of Jerusalem, of course that will mean an action from the Palestinian side and no one can control that,” he said. “[Trump] has to make a choice whether he wants to create peace in the region or he wants to add more oil on the fire."

Who's laughing now? Certainly not the individual who has drawn his own line in the sand- and had it erased by Hamas.

Trump ridiculed Obama for drawing the red line in the sand, then backing down (although he got something better with both Syria and Iran).  Now Hamas is daring him to follow through on his campaign promise, and we will find whether Donald Trump is true to his word or determined to lead a pitiful, helpless giant.







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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Real Joke May Be Himself



Staff writer Amy S. Rosenberg of The Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News reports from New Jersey that

"Just asking?" Atlantic County Republican Freeholder John Carman wrote cheekily on his Facebook page, as he posted an image of a woman in the kitchen that asked: 

"Will the women's protest be over in time for them to cook dinner?"





And no, the good news is not that, after Facebook commenters, the Atlantic County Democratic chairman, and other individuals slammed the remark, Carman (on the left in Fox News/Instagram photo above) took it down. Prior to that, he maintained in an interview "some people just have to get a sense of humor."

It was a joke when  Saturday Night Live's Katie Rich tweeted of one of Donald Trump's sons "Barron will be this country’s first homeschool shooter." Not funny, and making little sense, it was no doubt meant as a joke and she was suspended amidst demands for her removal by 79,000 people on change. org.

They did not have much of a sense of humor nor much tolerance for a very bad joke Presumably someone of the left, Rich profusely apologized as expected.   Not so Carman, given that

"I will support anyone who wants to march," he said. "I am a proponent for women’s rights. With that said, some of these marchers, with their vulgarity and replicas of female body parts on your head, they hurt the cause rather than help it. I’m saying 'Come on, really?' That's the part that turns you off." 

Vulgarity? Someone, evidently, can't take a joke.






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Trump, Rain, And Flood All Part Of God's Plan. Believe Him.




He's at it again. Reverend Franklin Graham, head of North Carolina- based organizations Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, spoke at Donald Trump's inauguration. He led his statement with "Mr. President, in the Bible, rain is a sign of God’s blessing. And it started to rain, Mr. President, when you came to the platform (for his inaugural speech).”

Having endorsed Trump for the GOP nomination, Rev. Graham is not a johnnie-come-lately. And in the wake of the presidential election, Reverend Graham told The Washington Post "I could sense going across the country that God was going to do something this year. And I beleive that at this election, God showed up."

A politically-conservative evangelical asked if God was at work also in the election and re-election of Barack Obama is likely to contend that it is all a part of God's plan, however much a sadist that makes of God in the eyes of conservatives.  Presumably, God has also brought about "the crime, and the gangs, and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential" and "this American carnage" President Trump recently invoked.

Graham is accurate when he maintains rain- at least sometimes- is used in Scripture as a "sign of blessing," as when God told Moses, recounted in Leviticus, "then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield it produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit."  In Deuteronomy we read "The LORD will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow." Most of the verses mentioning rain pertain to crop growth (or food), not so prevalent in Washington, D.C. Perhaps President Trump has agricultural business interests, but without his income tax returns we can only speculate.

You will not be surprised to learn Reverend Graham is selective in citing Scripture.  He has not mentioned the admonition of (probably) John the Evangelist that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." And for those of you who are Jewish- or Christian, actually, and maybe Muslim- there is Psalm 25:11, including  "for your name's sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity for it is great."

Trump, we know, has no reason to ask for forgiveness, having told Frank Luntz a year ago ""I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don't think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't." And truly the Almighty was raining down righteousness when candidate Trump referred to his hands and claimed "if they're small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there's no problem. I guarantee."  No doubt that was just Trump walking in the Spirit.

Some of that is harmless.  Not for everyone (photo from VVNG.com), it appears, because

California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for 50 California counties that have been drenched by storms, including ongoing Winter Storm Leo, which have caused tens of millions of dollars in damage.

In this latest round of storms to pound the state, at least four people died, three were missing and others were rescued from raging floodwaters.

Anguished relatives gathered along a creek in Alameda County southeast of San Francisco as searchers looked for an 18-year-old woman whose car plunged into the rushing waterway after a collision late Saturday.

Two other people remained missing after being reported in waters off Pebble Beach on Saturday. The search along the Monterey Peninsula was suspended.






And not in southeast Asia, where recently

Thailand is experiencing deadly flooding for the second time within a month after heavy monsoon rains flooded its southern provinces. At least 19 people have died and more than 750 000 people have been affected by January 8, 2017. More heavy rain and flooding is expected over the coming days.








Nonetheless, it rained while President Trump was given his inauguration speech and when a guy has been elected by God, all dissent is petty.







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Monday, January 23, 2017

Not About Crowd Size




If it weren't so serious, it would be funny to read from Politico

Shown a clip of counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway’s confrontational appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” over the weekend, Giuliani suggested that the anchor of that show, Chuck Todd, was biased against the new administration. His terse back-and-forth with Conway over the weekend, Giuliani said, is only the most recent example.

“I’d feel a lot better if Chuck and the others would just admit they don't like Trump, they’re against Trump and they're going to view facts in the light most unfavorable to him,” Giuliani said on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends” Monday morning. “Look, I was on that show during the campaign under difficult circumstances any number of times, including all of the others. And my God, the venom is enormous. They just don't like him. And they're looking for things to pick on. You know, the size of the crowd.”

Gosh, how could they possibly question Sean Spicer for "the size of the crowd?" Perhaps because in the space of five minutes, Trump's press spokesperson made five brazenly inaccurate claims, which, in the order presented by Politico's Kyle Cheney and Dan Diamond, were:

- This was the first time in our nation's history that floor coverings have been used to protect the grass on the Mall. That had the effect of highlighting any areas where people were not standing, while in years past the grass eliminated this visual.

- All of this space (from Trump's platform to the Washington Monument) was full when the President took the oath of office.

- We know that 420,000 people used the D.C. Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 who used it for President Obama's last inaugural.

-This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration- period- both in person and around the globe.

- This was also the first time that fencing and magnetometers went as far back on the Mall, preventing hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the Mall as quickly as they had in inaugurations past."

"Congress shall make no law (abridging)... the freedom of the press" reads to Spicer as "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press unless it offends the President," He charged also
"there has been a lot of talks in the media about how to hold Donald Trump accountable and I’m here to tell you that it goes two ways. We are here to hold the press accountable as well."

If this Republican administration believed in the free market, it would recognize the press already is held accountable- by the public.  However, the free market is of little use to this gang unless it can be used to enrich the already quite rich.

Giuliani, though, may have reason to be bitter about the traditional media. It was, in fact, TIME magazine that unfairly bypassed him when, in light of the 2016 presidential election, it failed to recognize his contribution to defeating Hillary Clinton and make the former New York mayor its Person of the Year.   Otherwise, Mr. Madison shudders.









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"Little Marco" Comes Up Small




In a Facebook post this morning, Florida Senator Marco Rubio commended Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson, but noted Tillerson

did not condemn Russia’s repeated violations of the Minsk II agreement. While he condemned Russia for ‘supporting Syrian forces that brutally violate the laws of war,’ he refused to publicly acknowledge that Vladimir Putin has committed war crimes. Despite his extensive experience in Russia and his personal relationship with many of its leaders, he claimed he did not have sufficient information to determine whether Putin and his cronies were responsible for ordering the murder of countless dissidents, journalists, and political opponents. He indicated he would support sanctions on Putin for meddling in our elections only if they met the impossible condition that they not affect U.S. businesses operating in Russia. While he stated that the ‘status quo’ should be maintained for now on sanctions put in place following Putin’s illegal taking of Crimea, he was unwilling to firmly commit to maintaining them so long as Russia continues to occupy Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

Human rights violations in China, the Philippines and Saudi Arabia are well documented in the latest annual Human Rights Report produced by the State Department, but Mr. Tillerson testified he ‘would need to have greater information’ before acknowledging them, and said he would not rely on ‘what I read in the papers.’ Identifying certain actions as human rights violations is an integral part of the secretary of state’s job, but Mr. Tillerson implied that speaking out on human rights would hinder his ability to do his job as the nation’s chief diplomat.

After that bill of particulars, Rubio- who was considered by Democrats the lone Republican who might vote in the Foreign Relations Committee against the nominee- remarked "despite my reservations, I will support Mr. Tillerson’s nomination in committee and in the full Senate."

Rubio was the last holdout against a unified front of committee Republicans planning to vote for Tillerson.  However, among left-leaning bloggers and activists, there was little or no hope that Rubio would buck his Party.  Like virtually every GOP politician, the man who was patronizingly mocked by Donald Trump in  "don't worry about it, little Marco." is now all-in for Vladimir Putin's guy.







In his unsuccessful bid to unseat the Senator, Democrat Patrick Murphy stated "Marco Rubio stands for nothing but his own pursuit of power."  Little did he know that would turn out to be borderline generous.







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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Bad Political Conditions




Yes, Thomas Perez, we get the point:   Barack Obama- popular, a winner; Hillary Clinton- not.

In all fairness, Perez probably was thinking more about his bid to become chairperson of the Democratic National Committee than about his political mentor, whose administration he served as Secretary of Labor. He stated on the "overtime" segment of Real Time with Bill Maher

We can talk till we're blue in the face about Donald Trump's lack of character but we also have to understand on election day that we had folks who didn't touch, you know. We got enamored with data and analytics and we ignored the old persuasion- you know, you can't go to a church every fourth October and call that an organized strategy. We've got to get back to basics and you, you look at rural America- you look at Wisonsin, Mitt Romney-

We have to get out there and make house calls because Howard County, Iowa in 2012 went for Obama by 21 points; in 2016 went for Trump by 21 points.

I checked. Amazingly, that's accurate, which should lead one to ask (and not rhetorically): what's the matter with Iowa? Perez continued

That's a 42-point swing. You can't sit here and say "all Donald Trump voters are racist." There are plenty of David Dukes out there but these folks-

The challenge was we didn't touch them, we didn't listen to them. When Donald Trump comes in- in Butler County, Ohio, which is coal country-

At this point, Maher interrupted Perez, a diplomatic alternative to asking "'didn't touch them' in the manner of Donald Trump or Jerry Sandusky? or in the manner of numerous words strung together with no significance?"

Not only did Hillary Clinton go down to defeat in 2016. So did most Democrats running for the Senate, the House, and for offices in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. They did so in 2014 and in 2010, also, and in part for the same reason.

Or maybe the wrong reasons.  Polling conducted November 1 through November 6 last year found only 37% of individuals surveyed believed the country was headed in the right direction while a whopping 62% believed it was headed in the wrong direction.






Similarly, the Real Clear Politics average of public approval of the "health care law" on November 6, 2016 stood at 40.3% while disapproval was at 48.7%, a fairly definitive verdict on the popularity of what has been commonly known as "Obamacare."

The Affordable Care Act was slightly more popular in early November, 2012- as President Obama faced off against his challenger- at -7.2%. More significantly, its salience as a campaign issue was diminished once the Roberts Court, with the majority opinion written by the Republican Chief Justice himself, found the ACA constitutional four months earlier.

Perhaps if it wasn't known as "Obamacare," acceptability would have been greater.    Specific provisions of the Affordable Care Act always have been more popular, as they were in March, 2013 (below) than has "Obamacare." There was a host of other factors- not only Clinton's unpopularity and meddling by the Kremlin and the FBI- which contributed to the Democrats' loss in the presidential race in November.





Nonetheless, an Obama cabinet member taking a backhanded jab at Clinton and implying the invulnerability of Barack Obama shoud be cautioned: slow down there, fella. Fortunately, a frustrated Heather McGhee of Demos, took exception to the cheap sociology being peddled by fellow panelists Perez and Jon Meacham. She reminded everyone "it's about NAFTA and Glass-Steagall. There's actual policy that chnged the face of this economy." And although it wasn't her point, that was another reason Hillary Clinton lost an election on ground fertilized by Barack Obama.













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Say "America Is Great" Before Trump Beats You To It




In all fairness to Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader wasn't present when

Halfway through his interview with The Washington Post, Trump shared a bit of news: He already has decided on his slogan for a reelection bid in 2020.

“Are you ready?” he said. “ ‘Keep America Great,’ exclamation point.”

“Get me my lawyer!” the president-elect shouted.

Two minutes later, one arrived.

“Will you trademark and register, if you would, if you like it — I think I like it, right? Do this: ‘Keep America Great,’ with an exclamation point. With and without an exclamation. ‘Keep America Great,’ ” Trump said.

“Got it,” the lawyer replied.

That bit of business out of the way, Trump returned to the interview.

But neither was Michael Grunwald, and he evidently understands, unlike Schumer, what President Trump is up to.  When New York's Chuck Schumer spoke Friday

What felt more surprising—and just as telling—was the tone of the only Democrat who spoke at the ceremony. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also took a stab at describing the state of America at the end of the Obama era, and while it wasn’t the main point of his speech, he sounded almost as gloomy as Trump.

“My fellow Americans, we live in a challenging and tumultuous time,” he began. He bemoaned the nation’s “rapidly changing economy that benefits too few while leaving too many behind.” He warned that “we face threats foreign and domestic,” suggesting that at frightening moments like this, “faith in our government, our institutions, and even our country can erode.”






Grunwald realizes "It makes political sense when Republicans claim the economy 'benefits too few and leaves too many behind,' but why would Schumer?" Not only is the New York senator (a friend indeed to Wall Street) a bad messenger, but- citing improvement of the economy the past eight years- Grunwald observes "all things considered, this isn't really an unusually 'challenging and tumultuous time.'"

More importantly, however, this is a bizarre time for the de facto leader of the Democratic Party to bemoan conditions in the country inasmuch as

That baseline matters a lot to the politics of the Trump era, because any minute now, he’s going to start taking credit for the solid status quo—the low unemployment claims, the steady housing starts, the strong stock market, maybe even the historically low uninsured rate. Democrats will sputter that the improvements were all happening before he even took office. And their feeble complaints will be utterly vulnerable to a one-sentence drop-the-mic response:

Why didn’t you say so at the time?

 Before the GOP primary campaign began in earnest (or in Iowa), Republicans typically proclaimed America "exceptional" and bashed Democrats for allegedly not acknowledging, or even understanding, it.   With a GOP President, the party will return to heralding the supremacy of the country. As Trump's directive to his attorney suggests, the President probably will lead the way in pronouncing the country "exceptional" or "great." It's not a matter of "if," only of "when."







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Friday, January 20, 2017

Secretary Of Deplorable





Were it not standard operating procedure for Kellyanne Conway to make repulsive statements, it would have been unbelievable to read

"I'm sure you're aware some of these confirmation hearings have been show trials this week and an attempt to humiliate some of our incredibly qualified men and women who just want to serve our country," Conway said during an interview broadcast on several networks before she entered an inaugural dinner.

Asking questions which require little knowledge to answer, but which answer might reveal a nominee to be a hard-right ideologue is an unusual definition of "show trial." Yet, it may not be surprising for a Counselor to the President for  the first President of the United States to be investigated for intimate links to a foreign government.

Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of State was asked about the lobbying conducted by the company he then headed, ExxonMobil, against sanctions imposed by President Obama on Russia and, Zak Beauchamp of Vox reported

“I have never lobbied against sanctions,” Tillerson said. “To my knowledge, Exxon never directly lobbied against sanctions.”

This seems hard to believe. Indeed, after the second line, Sen. Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the committee, interjected: "I think you called me at the time [Russia sanctions were being debated]," he said. The public record backs him up: There is abundant and clear evidence that Exxon did lobby on sanctions under Tillerson’s leadership.

When Tillerson evaded questioning by Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine about research ExxonMobil conducted on climate change, the Senator asked "Do you lack the knowledge to answer my question or are you refusing to answer my question?" Tillerson responded "a little of both."  Tillerson was given 40.3 million dollars last year (200 million dollars in the decade prior) at the company he knows very little about.

Nevada was particularly hard hit by the foreclosure boon- uh, er, crisis and GOP senator Dean Heller, David Dayen explains

asked how many Nevada loans were in OneWest’s servicing portfolio. Mnuchin didn’t know. He asked how many foreclosures and loan modifications OneWest committed in Nevada. Mnuchin didn’t know. Heller apparently asked this of Mnuchin and his staff seven different times over weeks, and got no answer. Heller asked why Mnuchin and his investors bought OneWest. Mnuchin said it would have been more lucrative to invest in Bank of America. (Not true; the investors doubled their money when OneWest was sold.) Heller keyed in on the FDIC Loss-Share Agreement with OneWest, where the agency committed to backstop losses by the bank. Mnuchin couldn’t give a figure on how much money FDIC paid OneWest. The number is $1.2 billion. “You’re saying $1.2 billion isn’t an incentive to foreclose?” Heller asked. Mnuchin said no, but combined with the normal incentives among servicers to foreclose, this backstop was critical for OneWest.

CEO and principal owner of OneWest, foreclosure king Steven Mnuchin (net worth nearly $500 million) served on the board of CIT group when it acquired OneWest in 2015. He resigned from CIT in 2016 and recieved $20 million in total pay and an $11 million severance package for not knowing what the company does.

It is largely an ignorance of convenience for Tillerson, Mnuchin, and other Cabinet nominees. Republican senators are given palusibility deniability in voting for nominees whose radical  agendas would be rejected by the American people if revealed.

Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos, however, may be the real deal, not only a zealot but someone truly ignorant.  The Washington Post's Amber Phillips notes

There were several moments in her hours-long hearing when DeVos appeared not to know the answers to basic questions — about how much money her family had donated to the Republican Party ($200 million is “possible”), about whether states should follow a federal disabilities law (“I may have confused it” with a state law), about a debate roiling the education community over whether to focus on students’ grade-level proficiency or on growth.

“This is a subject that has been debated in the education community for years,” said Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) about that last question after DeVos stumbled with how to answer it. “But it surprises me that you don't know this issue.”







It's never a good sign when a President-elect's best nominee was someone selected because he's called "Mad Dog."  It's difficult to determine whether the others are ill-informed, deceptive, unqualified, or any combination thereof.

Kellyanne Conway, however, is not ill-informed or unqualifed. Cleverly deceptive, she is not, in common parlance, "out of control."   In an amazing example of psychological projection, the incoming Counselor to the President refers to "show trials" to imply a similarity of members of the legislative branch of government to totalitarian regimes- and especially to Russia. This is not by accident.  The highly-sensitive President she is serving does not like criticism, will not accept it, and-increasingly- will not tolerate it.









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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Backing Off




It's the same old tune. On January 6, immediately after the end of the roll call of states as Congress certified the electoral votes from November's presidential election, Democratic Representative Maxine Waters of California asked "is there one United States senator who will join me?"

Of course not, just as there is not one United States senator who will bypass Donald Trump's inauguration.

The boycott by dozens of Democratic Representatives of the inauguration is merely a symbol, albeit an important symbol.  But the gathering on January 6 was not merely ceremonial, for

Members of the House of Representatives objected to the electoral tally in states including Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Texas, Mississippi and the Carolinas in a symbolic move that exposed lingering dismay over a contentious election campaign.

Some members complained about long lines at polling stations while others cited concerns over Russian attempts to influence the result in Trump's favor....

None of the representatives had the backing of a senator, which would have allowed them to suspend the joint session and allow the House and Senate to meet separately to debate the objections.

Like a voice crying in the wilderness

"I object because people are horrified by the overwhelming evidence of Russian interference in our election," said Representative Barbara Lee of California before being overruled.

Biden denied the objections one by one, at times jocular and apparently determined to finish the tally. "It is over," he said at one point, to laughter from Republicans.





Why waste our time? It's only the presidency of the nation's pre-eminent nuclear power.

We've seen this play before.  Sixteen years (minus one day) earlier, The New York Times had reported

The rancor lingering from the bitterly contested presidential election spilled over during a joint session of Congress today, forcing Vice President Al Gore to gavel down black House members time and again in order to make official the election of his opponent, George W. Bush.

Congressional certification of the Electoral College vote is usually quick and routine. But nothing has been ordinary about the November election that will result in Mr. Bush being sworn in this month as the first president since Benjamin Harrison in 1888 to win the Electoral College but lose the popular vote.

Today, for nearly 20 minutes in the cavernous House chamber, a dozen members of the Congressional Black Caucus, joined by a few sympathizers, tried in vain to block the counting of Florida's 25 electoral votes, protesting that black voters had been disenfranchised. Florida's highly contested electoral votes were crucial in Mr. Bush's victory after a prolonged legal and political battle following an inconclusive election.

Federal law requires a member of both the House and the Senate to question a state's electoral votes in writing for a formal objection to be considered. But the House members had no Senate support. So Mr. Gore, who was presiding in his role as Senate president, slammed down the gavel to silence them and rule their objections and parliamentary maneuvers out of order.

"There's something  about an Aqua Velva man," the old commercial went, and "it's a sad day in America when we can't find a Senator to sign this objection," Representative Jesse L. Jackson of Illinois said on January 7, 2001.  Like Aqua Velva and Mary, there is something about Democratic senators, and not in a good way. Seventeen years ago and also two weeks ago, they were offered political cover by House members and had the chance to deliberate. They weren't up to it.

Now John Lewis- John Lewis!- says "I don't see Trump as a legitimate President" and 68 Democratic members of the US House of Representatives respond by promising to boycott the inauguration. The tally among Senators: zero (0).

If this pattern is simply the contempt held by the Senate for the House, that would be bad enough. It is worse if it's the Democratic instinct to bring a knife to a gun fight. The Trump crowd is big on the Second Amendment, and a metaphorical knife will be insufficient.







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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Photoshopped Image Of Joe Biden





Politico Magazine, for whom Mark Alderman penned a love letter to Joe Biden for all to see, "served on the Kerry for President and Obama for America national finance committees and the Obama-Biden presidential transition team, and is currently chairmanof Cozen O'Connor Public Strategies." Alderman writes

....there is one prominent Democrat who can match Trump blow for blow. Someone who speaks candidly and honestly. Someone with media savvy, policy expertise that his plain-spokenness makes accessible. Someone who, if my party is smart, they will find a way to deploy in a quasi-official role: It’s time to unleash Joe Biden.

Get a room, Mark. And keep the groaning to a minimum.   he adds

The outgoing vice president is like Donald Trump, but only in the best ways. Biden instinctively knows how to connect with hardworking white Americans, especially those struggling in so-called “forgotten” blue-collar towns. Unlike Trump, though, Biden was born and raised in the middle class—he is, famously, a son of Scranton, Pennsylvania, a man who still feels pain as he recalls when, as a boy, his father told him he had lost his job.

The only thing missing in this public relations missive is a photo of the Vice-President in a hard hat, clutching a six pack of Budweiser and a bucket of wings because he "is defiantly authentic, a man who leads with his emotions, and says (and does) exactly what he feels, moment by moment."

The Democratic Party,  Alderman maintains, needs someone with Bident's "common touch," who is

a spokesperson who can articulate a vision for the party and win back supporters in the “blue wall” states that Trump breached in 2016—Democrats have a much-needed second chance to pit these two pull-no-punches scrappers against each other. Somehow, Joe Biden needs to be in a position where he can take on Trump personally.

It's funny you should say that, Mark, because Biden already has had a chance to take on Trump personally.    And so  it happened that on January 6, 2017

A challenge by several House Democrats to Donald Trump’s election on Friday collapsed when they failed to persuade a single Democratic senator to join their protest.

The short-lived, doomed-from-the-start effort — spearheaded by Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Barbara Lee of California — came during a joint meeting of the House and Senate to certify Trump’s Electoral College victory. Without sufficient support to challenge Trump’s victory, the Republican-led Congress moved ahead with an easy confirmation of Trump’s presidency. The only remaining step is for him to take the oath of office on Jan. 20.

“It is over,” said Vice President Joe Biden, presiding over the meeting, after three Democratic House members lodged objections but failed to secure required support from any senator. His comment drew a standing ovation and cheers from the assembled Republicans in the room.

Of course it did. That's the standing ovation Joseph R. Biden has been waiting decades to get.   Not the first rodeo for Biden, it's the standing ovation he probably expected, but failed to get, a quarter century ago.  In March, 2014

Anita Hill, the woman who accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, on Thursday said that as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Vice President Joe Biden did a "terrible job" overseeing Thomas' confirmation hearings in 1991.

Hill said on HuffPost Live that Biden failed to call witnesses and experts to testify who could have shed light on the sexual harassment claims made about Thomas.

"I think he did two things that were a disservice to me, that were a disservice more importantly to the public," Hill said. "There were three women who were ready and waiting and subpoenaed to be giving testimony about similar behavior that they had experienced or witnessed. He failed to call them."







Joseph Biden has had two big opportunities, one as a Senate committee chairperson and the other as presiding as Vice-President over the Senate, to exercise duly constituted authority and do the right thing.  If he knew a little history, Mark Alderman would recognize that when it comes time to stand up and be counted, Joe Biden will sit down.








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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Much More Than Sex





Donald Trump responded to the dossier prepared by a former agent with the British spy agency, M16, by calling the allegations "a complete lie" and "fake news."

"Your organization is terrible," he told CNN reporter Jim Acosta while denying Acosta the opportunity to ask a question at the President-elect's news conference/campaign rally last week. CNN had reported the existence of the 35-page report, as well as the President-elect having been briefed on its contents. The Trump team had denied being informed about it, a claim contradicted by the reporting of CNN, ABC News, NBC News and, of course, Buzzfeed.

Donald Trump accusing his critics of lying, shutting up a reporter and trying to intimidate his news operation, or allowing his employees to lie about whether the boss was briefed about critical intelligence. That's what he does.

It's is a vital part of Trump's modus operandi and partially because of that, shouldn't be taken lightly. However, it's not surprising and is at least fairly normal, albeit disgraceful, behavior of a man who soon will be the most powerful individual on earth.

Actually, although he will be in a few days the most powerful man or woman on earth, he may sometime become the second most powerful person globally, a status he is welcoming. Appropriately, for an individual who has publicly expressed fairly reprehensible views himself about women, sex, and sexual assault,  he would be playing second fiddle for a guy who himself seems to have a sexual hangup.

Business insider reports that Vladimir Putin has characterized the parties behind the Trump/Russia dosssier as "worse than prostitutes."  Although libertines might consider that not so damning, Putin presumably believes that prostitution (or, more likely, prostitutes) is a holy hell worse, than say, invading an independent country. However

Russian intelligence services "don't chase every American billionaire," Putin said. He added that Trump "has been with the most beautiful women in the world, so why would he need prostitutes in Moscow?"

"Trump organized beauty contests," Putin continued. "It's unlikely he met with young women with such a low social responsibility."

Putin evidently thinks a man who believes physical beauty of women largely determines their worth and is accustomed to exploiting his wealth to be with them would never entertain the services of a prostitute.  As we all know, wealthy men never, ever call upon a call girl.

But as Donald Trump prepares (barely) to become the 45th President of the USA, his thoughts- as are Putin's- are probably less with sex and prostitutes, or sex with prostitutes, than with how to destroy the Western alliance.

In an interview published Sunday in the London Times, Trump again labeled the North Atlantic Treaty Organization "obsolete." And although one of the interviewees was a former chief editor of a German newspaper, he refused to say whether he more trusted Putin or Angela Merkel.

Trump also blamed Brexit on pressure on the U.K.  to admit many refugees and contended more nations will leave the European Union because "people want their own identity."  "If refugees keep pouring into different parts of Europe," Trump argued, "I think it's going to be very hard to keep" a common currency."

This was not the voice of someone who wants Europe as a counterweight to Russian expansionism, whatever the extent of his relationship with the Kremlin.  In Politico Magazine, Alex Massie finds

The evidence, as revealed by Trump’s first post-election interview with the European press, is not reassuring. For 60 years, NATO and the European Union have been at the heart of the transatlantic security and trade relationships. Judged by Trump’s interview, that is no longer the case. The new president doesn’t think the EU “matters very much for the United States”; NATO is “obsolete.” If this rhetoric is etched by a shift in American foreign policy, then the rules and assumptions that have underpinned the Western world since the Second World War will no longer apply. We will be in uncharted territory.

"Uncharted," there, is a euphemism for "exceedingly perilous."













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Sunday, January 15, 2017

When They Go Low, Go Lower





"When they go low, we go high," Michelle Obama declared at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Campaigning three months later with Hillary Clinton

Our vote is the ultimate way we go high when they go low!” she announced. “Voting is our high!”
She updated the call-and-response, then, yelling, “How do we go high?”
“We vote!” came the answer.

Her presidential candidate won a plurality of votes but lost the election to Donald Trump, aided by Vladimir Putin and James Comey.  Still with no clue in January, Mrs. Obama in an interview with Oprah repeated "When they go low, we go high."

That's not the approach favored by The Rude Pundit, who argues

Forget about the odious cabinet picks, forget about the business conflicts, forget all that other shit that people either don't care about or don't understand so they don't care about it. Instead, hammer Trump and the Republicans on the one goddamned thing that is easy to understand: Was Trump elected because of the Russians? 

On every news show, in every appearance, in constant tweets and all over social media, demand, again and again, for an investigation into Russian hacks. Be as fucking hysterical and hyperbolic as needed. Go fucking nuts. When a Republican accuses Democrats of playing politics, respond with something like "Oh, so you're just fine with Russia electing the president of the United States?" And if they try to evade, push them to say "yes" or "no." Whose side are you on? Russia or the USA? And if you're on the side of the truth, then you should be demanding an independent investigation, no? 

Trump's loathsome idiot hordes will choke on their own troll phlegm in rage, but they're just cult members now,...

Less profanely, Dana Beyer of Gender Rights Maryland remarks

The government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” is perishing at the hands of a small proportion of its people, and the apathy of its majority. Drastic measures are needed. The Marquess of Queensberry Rules no longer apply.

Hit below the belt.

When you hit below the belt, do it repeatedly. Stressing the need of the Democratic Party establishment to frame its message more effectively, cognitive linguistics devotee and author George Lakoff explains

Repetition is a way of changing people’s brains. What Trump was doing all through the nomination campaign was that every day he managed to get on TV, and he would repeat different things that activated the same moral framework, and it really worked. In addition you have particular frames that were repeated: “Crooked Hillary,” “crooked Hillary,” “crooked Hillary,”  over and over. There wasn’t anything Hillary did that was crooked. But he kept saying it until people believed it. And they believed it because it was heard enough times to strengthen the neural circuitry in their brains. It wasn’t just stupidity. It’s simply the way brains work.

"Corrupt Donald" won't do because the adjective already has been practically trademarked by Trump.  "Devious Donald" is inadequate and "Terrible Trump" might only endear the President-elect further to his cultists. "Vladimir Putin" has the advantage of both linking Trump to the Russian despot and reminding voters that his election is tainted.

"When they go low, we plunge under the ground beneath them so that the earth swallows them," says Rude Pundit.  "Vladimir Trump wouldn't meet with the approval of Michelle Obama or even Barack Obama but, given the results of the last eight years (Congress in January 2009 below, Congress in January 2017, below that), that would be a good sign.












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The President Of The One-Track Mind

You've all seen this tweet, sent by President Trump twelve hours before polls closed in an election I had totally wrong: Donald...