Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Thoughts about Charlottesville and our "president"

Fairly recently I had an apartment in Charlottesville for 21 months, I got to know the town very well. After the protests and violence, some have asked me, "aren't you glad you got out of there?" That reaction to what occurred in Charlottesville told me that people did not fully understand the situation, at least not initially.

I decided to write the following email to several of my friends, sending it Sunday evening:
-------

A couple of points:

1) Charlottesville ("Cville") is a liberal and progressive small city, surrounded by much right-wing, Republican districts. What we saw this weekend was NOT the residents of Charlottesville (although I'm sure many Cville residents comprised the anti-Nazi protesters). The white supremacist, neo-Nazi protesters were from 
outside Cville and frankly outside Virginia. Example: the Nazi murderer who drove the car into the crowd was from OHIO, not Virginia.

2) The town of Charlottesville voted to have the Robert E. Lee statue removed, something that many believe was LONG overdue. But that was the business of the citizens of Charlottesville. Why were there people from outside Cville, and even outside Virginia, that decided to show up to protest the decision that the people of Cville voted on? I just love how Republicans are all for "states rights", keeping it "local,' and yet in this case, when Cville residents voted to remove this statue, "outside forces" decided to show up and express their unhappiness.... The fact is leaders of several white supremacist & neo-Nazi hate groups planned for weeks if not months to make this protest a big event, a splashy media spectacle to gain national attention. It worked.

3) As for the University of Virginia (UVA), the university "allowed" the parade of the white supremacists on Friday evening, which many wondered why? I wouldn't say UVA allowed it, but rather UVA is a public institution, not private, and they can't necessarily stop people from walking on their campus. You know, that pesty Constitution, Bill of Rights, free speech, etc. But the president of UVA did issue a strong statement as she condemned these people and what they stood for. That said it's still very bad optics for UVA as people don't make the distinction (including the media) and blur things together, believing that UVA all but endorsed the white supremacist parade -- not true!

4) It's really sad. My son asked me, "Dad, if we had moved to Charlottesville, would we now want to leave?" I had to explain to him much of what I wrote above, how Charlottesville is not to be blamed for this travesty, how they actually voted to do the right thing, remove a symbol of pro-slavery, and as a result outside hate groups decided to target Charlottesville as a symbol of hate. This protest was in the works for many weeks, months, it was not spur-of-the-moment. Many hate groups, white supremacists, neo-Nazis and KKK members all coordinated and decided they would take a "stand" with Charlottesville, make Cville the example for not removing Lee statues (note: many other towns and cities across USA have voted to remove Robert Lee statues, but these hate groups decided Cville would be their "final"  line in the sand).
In fact, I said to my son, if Cville decided to do nothing, to NOT vote to remove the statue, that would be worse as it would be the wrong thing, to allow a pro-slavery symbol to stand AND to be silent about it. Yes, there would then have been no protests and violence, BUT that's giving in to the hate groups, keeping wrong in place, as they would like for it to be and remain.

Of course, what's ultimately worse about this weekend is our president's response. As Trump did during his 2016 campaign, he did his usual "dog whistle" crap to "condemning" white supremacist, neo-Nazi hate groups. Meaning he didn't condemn them. Instead, he decided to condemn EVERYONE, with his now infamous comment, there is blame to go around "on many sides" -- REALLY?!!  it's just a coincidence that the side that decided to drive a car into a crowd was the white supremacist, neo-Nazi side?? And Trump does not decide to SPECIFICALLY condemn these hate groups BY NAME??!! No, of course not, since they make up a big part of his base!! Hell, without them, he would not have become president (since he actually lost the popular vote by 3 million votes).

And please don't tell me he's out today with a clarification, PLEASE!!!! It doesn't matter, too late!! AS PRESIDENT, WHAT MATTERS IS NOT JUST WHAT YOU SAY BUT WHEN. Trump's strong specific condemnation should have come immediately following the incident, NOT 24 or 48 hours later, after he was harshly criticized by nearly everyone on the planet. I mean, for Ted Cruz to look presidential versus Trump, that's saying something!!! But more importantly, these hate groups already got their wink-wink from Trump, their unspoken gesture of approval with the "on many sides" reference. They know that whatever Trump says later is just forced sentiment that Trump had to do to cave to media pressure. But they all know what Trump and his administration truly felt based on his initial words. There's no correcting that now with "further clarification" or with Mike Pence saying whatever 24 hours later. And I laughed when I saw Ivanka's tweet, trying to take heat off daddy -- just imagine if Chelsea tweeted for a president Hillary!!  Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, etc. would have a field day!!!

KEY QUESTION: if Trump doesn't have the very basic wisdom and presidential awareness to appropriately handle this awful incident in Charlottesville, how can we expect him to handle the much more complex North Korea situation??!!!!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Is Trump a Sociopath, Pathological Liar or Losing His Mind? (and does it matter, since any = we're screwed)

In response to Kevin Drum's post. Trying to accurately identify the mental state of Trump is like trying to really nail down the taste of human feces. What's the point?! Any way you slice it, you consumed feces (i.e. you're screwed)!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

It's official: we have a man-child in the Oval Office

As Republicans run out of excuses for Donald Trump, they inadvertently find themselves veering closer to truth -- something they typically wish to avoid!

Before the Comey hearing had even concluded, Republicans were out voicing their defense for Trump, deciding this time to go with he's too new to the job to know better.  Boy-wonder Paul Ryan said“He’s new to government... he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI, and White Houses. He’s just new to this.” Read: Trump is a man-child.

Where to start with this incredibly lame defense. First off, you know that as is most often the case, Republicans confer and agree well ahead of time about messaging, and so after much discussion this was apparently their best option! Yes, to frame the president as an "aw shucks" naive newbie who just fell off the turnip truck. Yup, because he has little to no experience in political office, he gets a free pass when it comes to committing egregious ethical (and possibly criminal) violations. Why c'mon, he just doesn't know any better, give him a break! 

Second, as I find myself saying over and over and over, just imagine if this were Hillary or Obama. Imagine if either of them were caught up in all these scandals. Would Paul Ryan or any other Republican be OK with the excuse that he or she was just too new on the job? That the leader of the free world was just too dumb or too naive? I think not. Impeachment proceedings would already be underway.

But what is most disturbing is that with Ryan et al (finally) admitting that we have a "naive" (ignorant, dumb, dim bulb) man-child as president, this fact cannot be narrowly applied to just this Comey matter. Republicans are saying what many of us have known for some time now. That the person who has control of the nuclear codes is someone who is "too new to the job" to be trusted to act in a way that should and would be expected of anyone else in his job.

Well that's cold comfort! 

Marco Rubio had it right when he could still be honest, saying Trump couldn't be trusted with the nuclear codes. But of course once Trump became president, like nearly all Republicans, Rubio quickly became a steadfast Trump defender (and it held true with the Comey hearing).

Yet they claim "Country First" -- LOL! Right, and Fox News is "fair and balanced." Republicans only care about themselves, their power, and their wealthy backers. That's it. If they can get what they want with a man-child lunatic to do their bidding, so be it, and the country be damned! I mean after all, a tax cut for billionaires is easily worth the trade-off of denying science and facts, eliminating health care for millions, allowing the planet to cook, and even risk going to war over a misspelled or misguided tweet. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Gianforte Slam Speaks Volumes About The State Of USA

Republican Greg Gianforte physically attacked and assaulted a reporter for doing his job. Listen to the audio if you haven't already. Gianforte broke the reporter's glasses in the body slam. There were eyewitnesses (including Fox News people). 

As we know, Gianforte went on to win in Montana, a very Republican state. When voters there were interviewed, many said it was all fake liberal news, it didn't really happen -- despite the audio tape and eyewitnesses. 

Incredible. 

This is our country now, with people willing to dismiss facts they don't want to hear and live in a bubble, insulated from real life. Where a bully can physically attack someone yet because he's Republican, it never happened. Just imagine if Gianforte was a Democrat -- yeesh.

So a (Republican) candidate can physically assault someone and still win elective office. Well, we have a president who admitted on tape to 'p*ssy grabbing' sexual assault and yet he won elective office. 

Proud to be an American? It's becoming harder thanks to one party's normalization of grotesque behavior and willful denial of facts and reason. 

I simply posit: imagine if Hillary was president and all this Russian controversy and scandal was attached to her, where would she be right now with the Republican congress? Likely already impeached and moving out of the White House.

It's beyond surreal. A day doesn't go by that I don't say to myself, "Where am I?! What is happening?!! Is this for real?!!!" 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

This says it all

Pew is one of the most respected polling firms, period. See the poll below. Trump has started with the worst approval rating (39%) since they've been taking this poll. Far lower than the next worse, GW, at 53%.

HOWEVER, look closely at the results. Democrat voters gave GW just a 30% approval rating, and they give Trump justifiably and understandably a meager 8% approval.

BUT LOOK AT REPUBLICAN VOTERS. They give Trump an 84% approval rating!!! Compare this to Republicans at the time giving Reagan, their god, just a 78% approval rating. In fact, Republicans give Trump a higher approval rating than Reagan, Bush Sr. or GW!!

This poll becomes Exhibit A that the Republican Party is the root problem when it comes to Trump. Yes, this lunatic had a few key states go his way by a slim margin, handing him the Electoral College victory. And he additionally had the aid of Putin and Comey. But he did not win the White House without the backing of many Mr. and Ms. GOP voter.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The GOP must be held to account

If I read or hear one more Republican "confess" that Trump is awful, or that they didn't think he'd be this bad, my head is going to explode.

It's become, and has been, too easy to just criticize Trump. Of course, he deserves it. But how did he get here? Who is responsible? He didn't just waltz into the White House with no help from anyone else.

And who helped him (besides Putin and Comey)? Yes, the Republican Party.

Please just watch or listen to this video, from minute mark 3:20 to 10:00, less than 7 minutes. The great Sam Seder reiterates what I've been saying for some time now. The GOP must be held to account for Trump. They are his enablers. Sam quotes Mitch McConnell saying Trump is basically doing what a President Jeb Bush, Rubio or Romney would be doing now anyway -- and I agree. Oh sure, they wouldn't be as blatantly crazy, but they'd be appointing the same appointees, nominating the same judges, endorsing the same policy, etc. Just not with the tweeting or fly-away hair. 

Sam says he predicted Trump would be both a GOP rubber stamp and a loose cannon. But imo, the key is that he is a GOP rubber stamp. Why? Because McConnell & Co. can tolerate an insane babbling orange man in the White House as long as he is signing bills and legislation that they want passed. If Trump went completely rogue and was not doing what they wished, then you'd very likely see McConnell & Co. work to greatly diminish Trump, to curb him or force him to act and say as they want. You know, much like Russia seems to have long ago figured out how to do. 

So Sam's right, the media has to make the GOP account for their choice to be president. The Republican Party are the bad parents directly responsible for this boorish, obnoxious, unhinged man-child.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A Growing Continuous Refrain

Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, has been a strong voice of sanity for many years. And he apparently remains well-connected in Washington

His tweet is becoming a constant refrain as many inside-DC Republicans confess that they're concerned about Trump's mental state, i.e. that he's coo-coo nuts. Of course, the GOP is responsible for putting this guy in the White House, but I digress.... 

And what does it say that they put a nut in the White House and yet then use said nutball to advance their pet issues, like ruining the planet... really sick.

But now we have to hear about their concern, how they're worried that Trump is not mentally competent to be the most powerful person on the planet. As if they just discovered this revelation over the last three weeks, nevermind the volumes of evidence prior to then.... 

Newsflash: IF YOU HAVE A PROCESS (PARTY) THAT ALLOWS FOR FRANKENSTEIN TO BE THE NET RESULT, TO BE THE END-PRODUCT, THEN YOU HAVE A DEEPLY FAULTY PROCESS (PARTY).

Trump is the demon seed born from the uterus of the GOP. 

More so, if Trump must resign at some point, many may say Pence is better in relative terms. But people, Pence did not actually win in 2016! Would he have beaten Hillary then? Who knows since Pence did not run! 

But what we do know is Republicans picked Trump, he was their guy, and he won (the Electoral College). Trump is who they are, NOT Pence or Ryan or.... THAT is what we need to keep in mind, regardless of what happens going forward. Republicans picked Trump as their presidential nominee AND Republican voters put him in power (with lots of help).

Do not let them forget this fact no matter what occurs in the future.

John McCain was very brave (was)

We all know John McCain's past, his bravery and honor as a POW. And we even recall pre-2008 when he was the "maverick" of his party. 

But those days are long gone. 

Yes, fine, McCain is pushing back against Trump. But should we really pat him on the back so hard? Should the kid who returns a stolen wallet get a big reward? (as opposed to just doing the right thing, needing no reward)  I mean my god, the fact we applaud any Republican to state the obvious versus this nutcase in the White House is really telling about the GOP! McCain is great because he says the emperor is naked?! Sheesh. It's not that McCain is "brave" (please!), rather that most other Republicans are craven, partisan-blind and afraid of Trump.

But the sadder fact is there was a time when McCain carried much influence in the GOP -- those days are long gone. He's instead treated as that once mighty lion who is now old and must leave the pride and wander off alone. His window of influence has closed. Oh sure, TV news shows love to have him on, still, but within DC he's near DOA. 

So way to go McCain! At his peak, he picked a female Trump (narcissistic dim-bulb) from Alaska as VP and flamed out, deservedly. He once believed in global warming, then switched sides to appease his f*cked-up party. I do sort of feel sorry for him, what reasonable person can have real influence in that asylum?

And frankly, given how much he has flipped from his "maverick" pre-2008 self, he has not done NEARLY enough to redeem himself....

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

"Bigger than Watergate"

With this recent Russia scandal, Democrats are reportedly saying it's worse than Watergate.

But those are just words. The Republicans were able to apply extreme pressure and initiate several investigations on Benghazi (amounting to zilch). The key word here: tenacity. Republicans are tenacious in their political ambition and audacity. The Democrats not so much....

So let's see how things progress with this outrageous and alarming controversy concerning Trump's collusion with Russia. If Benghazi warranted eight investigative hearings, how many does this scandal warrant? Twelve? Twenty?

It's all up to the Democrats. We know the Republicans will look to sweep this under the rug, to move on expeditiously as if nothing happened. Will the Democrats be as tenacious and relentless as the Republicans have been towards MUCH less? Unfortunately I remain very skeptical. Democrats are too often all bark, no bite. They'll say much and sound tough, but in the end not much happens.

Let me be clear:

1) This is potentially a VERY serious matter.
2) It's been all but served up to the Democrats on a silver platter.
3) Will the Democrats just let this go? Will they do their usual, go on TV talk shows, use harsh language, then after a few days all is forgotten?
4) Republicans are likely banking on that -- and frankly I can't blame them, given past history.

Look, if Hillary was in the White House under these circumstances, impeachment hearings would already be occurring! Yes, I understand the Democrats are not in the majority, but did that ever stop Republicans when they were in the minority? Please.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Are You $%#& Kidding Me?

Michael Flynn resigns. Read the many stories on why he resigned. Now imagine Hillary Clinton as president under these circumstances.

What do you see? Non-stop alarm by Republicans, and their call for many investigations? Fox News going apoplectic about the scandal and likely treason? The "mainstream media" playing all of this up to be the worst start to a presidency in our history??

Yeah, but Trump is president, and instead we have seen nothing remotely close to this response.

I would say "incredible" if it was actually, but it's not. The Republican Party is so twisted in its hypocrisy it's no longer shocking or hard to believe. Instead, it's what we've come to expect from a group of people who have completely checked their morals (and bravery) at the door as the price of admission. To be honest and upstanding are qualities that will sh*t-can you out the door faster than you can say "Reagan was the greatest president."

I don't know how a Republican can remain a Republican with a straight face, assuming said person is sane and not in denial. The problem is too many are not, i.e. they're insane and in complete denial.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Our Worst Nightmare Becomes Reality

It's taken this long for me to recover, but here I am. Like most voters (by a margin of about 3 million anyway), for the next 2-3 days following the election, I walked around in a daze, able to function, do my job, talk, eat, but always in a fog. As if I was in Bizarro World. Did this really happen? Really? Where am I? It's been months since the election and even now I remain somewhat in a semi-coma state.

But it's real, it happened, this guy is our president. I just recently saw him on TV, with hand on two (?) bibles, getting sworn in. OMG. Only to later hear him claim millions of people were there in DC to watch his big(ly) moment (despite photos showing this assertion to be QUITE false). So here we go, he's doing it, the bluster, the lies, the tweets, the retorts, the nonsensical actions -- just as we feared it would go, but arguably even worse!

OK, take a breath, breathe (I have to do this often, remind myself to calm down, breath, stay rational).

I was going to spend some time to at least give my take on what happened, why did Trump win and Hillary lose. I of course do not have the definitive answer(s), this election will be studied for years with many books released as a result. But I've come up with ten reasons for the outcome, with only the first two reasons holding Hillary directly responsible.
  1. The private email server. Ugh. I know, I know, it should not have been a big deal, but it was big enough. And in this election, it was death by a thousand cuts, with several seemingly minor decisions and occurrences adding up to a larger net result. We all knew going in, Hillary would be facing the usual deranged-hate from too many people, including millions of women. It's baseless and nuts, but it is Hillary's unfortunate cross to bear. That said she needed to be "extra" clean regarding perceived controversies, to avoid giving her haters just one more knife to throw. But nope, with this decision, she gave them what would become an incessant refrain concerning emails.
  2. Ignoring key swing states like Michigan and Wisconsin. At some point, Hillary and her campaign decided it was strategically smart to divert resources away from very-bankable states like Wisconsin and Michigan and instead focus on other states that were more of a reach. In retrospect, a massive mistake. Yet many articles have since noted that it's not just a 20/20 hindsight lesson, that before the election many HRC ground-game campaign officials in MI and WI were pleading frantically for her to spend more time in these states, but their pleas were ignored or overruled.
  3. Comey's week-before-election letter. The effect of this extremely wrongful act by James Comey cannot be overstated. In an election as close as this one, with poll numbers wavering day to day depending on tweets, lies, sexual allegations, etc., for the FBI director to go against advice and historical norms, deciding instead to release a (baseless) letter to resuscitate speculation of Hillary's "guilt" about emails, it will go down in history as one of the most egregiously partisan acts by a government official to ultimately affect the outcome of an election. Hillary's approval rating was about 81% just before the letter's release, plummeting to 65% a week later, just before Election Day.
  4. Russian hacking favoring Trump. It's bad enough our intelligence agencies agree that the Russian's interfered with our election, what's worse is they picked sides, favoring Trump over Hillary. And in this election, when every advantage, no matter how small, meant something, this hacking certainly played a factor in Hillary losing.
  5. The Electoral College. Obviously, this EC "effect" was huge. Our antiquated and undemocratic means of picking a president had a person receiving nearly 3 million more votes as the loser. Think about that. And the USA is supposed to be the paragon example to the world of how a democracy should function. LOL. I am convinced that if the founding fathers were alive today, they would be horrified to learn that we've kept the EC as our way to select the #1 most powerful and important elected official. It served a purpose over 200 years ago, but no longer. There is no reason why today a voter in Wyoming should count nearly four times more than a voter in California! The Electoral College must be eliminated!
  6. "Hillary" and her last name. The hatred for the Clinton name, and Hillary in particular, runs very deep in certain segments of the voting population. Thankfully, we're talking a minority of people and not majority, but nonetheless it's a despisal and continued suspicion that is like bedrock in too many voters. And again, many women feel this way about Hillary, not just men. In such a close election as this one, it's another factor that meant the difference -- especially in states where at the margin people stayed home and didn't vote for her. 
  7. Sexism and misogyny. I felt the extent of sexism and misogyny in the U.S. became very evident when Obama, a black man, won over Hillary, a white female, in the 2008 run for president. AND then the black man Obama beat the white man McCain, and did so again over white Romney. Yes, we of course continue to have racism in this country, no doubt, we saw it surface full-bore with this recent election cycle. However, arguably sexism and misogyny remain a less-recognized but large problem for women when seeking elected office, particularly the #1 top office. As I'm listing here, Hillary had many obstacles to overcome, but I suspect simply being a woman did not help her.
  8. Voter suppression in key states. Many Republican-controlled states were able to very effectively suppress voter turnout for this election. Of course, these voter suppression efforts are aimed clearly at those who are typically Democratic voters (minorities, low-income, urban, students). Also, I would argue that this disenfranchisement trend within certain states needs to be counter-attacked by eliminating the Electoral College, thus allowing the popular vote in total to win out. Yes, voter suppression within these states is wrong and needs to be addressed and remedied. However, without the EC, the overall popular vote would have been more than enough to overcome the partisan voter restriction laws in the GOP-controlled states. With the EC in place, voter suppression laws become much more influential ultimately.
  9. Bernie Sanders primary run. Look, I love Bernie, he's great. But I don't think there's any denying that some of the talking points he pounded home during his primary run and in his debates had at least some lasting effect (damage) on Hillary. I'm not in any way saying he was wrong in doing it, not at all. He was running to be president, gloves were off. Yet Bernie did call her "corrupt," a phrase Trump borrowed or adopted and repeated endlessly. It quickly morphed into "Crooked Hillary." Again, I'm not blaming Bernie for Hillary's loss, not even close. But you could say he was very effective in his primary run, perhaps too effective. 
  10. Fake news. Apparently social media web sites like Facebook had a very big impact on this election. How big? I don't think anyone knows at this point, but it's presumed more than any other previous election, social media did influence the outcome of this race. That said the influx of fake news on the internet, and particularly on social media platforms, has become a serious problem. All too many people see a supposed news story and believe it, flat out, no questions asked, and then share it with X number other people, who then likewise share it, and suddenly the fake news item has gone viral. Needless to say, if this trend continues, it will severely undermine and erode the foundation of our electoral process.
Those are my ten points, which collectively cost Hillary the election. Did I exclude any?

So yes, more time should've been spent in Michigan and Wisconsin. And perhaps more time should've been spent on "humanizing" Hillary. What does that mean? Who knows exactly, but you hear it. One can argue past presidential winners were more "human," more relatable, less stiff, etc. Bill Clinton, Obama, GW, and now (gulp) Trump, more human. McCain, Romney, Kerry and now Hillary, less human. Silly? Whatever.

Then there's the Hillary was great presidential material with an impeccable resume, but a bad and/or flawed candidate. There's a difference. Trump was incredibly horrid presidential material, but apparently a very viable candidate. The fact is as bad as he was, the polls were always relatively close -- which in the end spoke volumes! The key word is "relative" because he was a repugnant, ignorant buffoon, just a clown, and she was considered by many to be the most qualified presidential candidate in history, had tons of money to spend, and YET all of these things considered, the polls were much too close. Was there a Bradley effect along both sexism and alt-right racist lines? I believe most definitely. By how much, I have no clue, but if this were Hillary versus McCain or Romney under same scenario, I think Hillary wins. Why? Because there would've been much fewer unaccounted for, "undecided" voters (shadow voters?) in the polls who came home to roost Election Day, when they could let their true feelings be known. 

In that sense, Trump's poll numbers were always artificially too low, through no fault of the pollsters. In short, it's very difficult to get accurate polling on a popular racist-peddling, pathological liar and demagogue.