Friday, January 18, 2019

January 18, 2019--Next Under the Bus

Two nights ago, on CNN, Rudy Giuliani unleashed another drunken rant. As with previous ones, embedded in the incoherent parts was genuine news. 

This time it was back to the persistent subject of collusion, Trump's default bĂȘte noire. It appears to be the one thing that always gives him grief.

Running out of cards to play, collusion is a clever thing for Trump to obsess about because (1) it is not a crime, and (2) it keeps folks from focusing on conspiracy, which is related to collusion but is a crime. A serious one.

Wednesday night Rudy took Trump one step further down the path to impeachment. And with BuzzFeed's overnight report that Trump instructed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about plans for a Trump condo in Moscow, things are looking precarious for the president.

"I never said that there was no collusion," Rudy in effect said, "In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if there was collusion. I've said that before [lie] and I said if there was the president wasn't involved in it [lie]. About senior campaign staff? That I couldn't say. [lie]"

There's a pattern here, which I suspect will play out again next week when Mueller likely moves to reveal more of his findings. The pattern is that every time Rudy reveals something new shortly thereafter the Mueller team takes some serious action. Rudy serves as a kind of harbinger.

This may be because as a courtesy and possible requirement that prosecutors through the discovery process share their allegations and exhibits with the defense, Rudy in that way earlier this week may have gained a preview of what is to come--perhaps even that Trump himself did in fact collude with the Russians or, minimally, knew that senior members of his campaign staff did. Thus, the need to distract, obfuscate, and blame others.

In regard to who those others might turn out to be take note of the "senior staff" reference because they are the ones who Trump will attempt to blame. In other words, throw under the bus to save his own skin.

Like me are you thinking these senior campaign staff may include Paul Manafort (who was campaign manager for months), son-in-law Jared Kushner, and oldest son, Don Junior? If not them, who else?

If I had been a senior member of the Trump campaign staff at about now I'd be taking to drink. Or thinking about a pardon. We may be getting close to pardon time.

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

January 17, 2019--Dotty

Between June 2015 and now in hundreds of postings, I have struggled to understand the Trump phenomenon. 

As unlikely as his candidacy was, and how except on FOX and late night radio it was thought of as more a joke or an egotistical act of self-branding than a political force, the grinding process did reveal it had enough power to propel Trump to the White House where he sits as the nation's 45th president.

Though many of my friends and regular readers criticized me, often severely, accusing me of "normalizing" Trump rather than dismissing and deriding him outright, claiming that by taking him seriously I was contributing to legitimatizing him and his presidency. And, by doing so, I was overlooking his totalitarian, fascistic inclinations.

If we would wake up one morning with tanks in the streets and everyone in the White House wearing black shirts and jackboots, it would be because people like me were aiding and abetting his worst instincts, too casually certain he would be brought down by our mockery and constitutional system of checks and balances. We survived Charles Lindbergh and Joe McCarthy. So not to worry, they claimed I was saying. At least not too much.

I responded as over the months all the other Republican presidential candidates fell by the wayside--16, 17 of them--and Trump inexorably crept into the lead, got nominated, and, though a series of relentless one-man hate-filled rallies (Nuremberg?), defeated the inevitable candidate, Hillary Clinton. Observing this I said it was dangerous not to take Trump seriously and thereby ignore the opportunity to understand what was going on in that part of the country about which I and my friends and readers did not know enough about to take seriously.

I added, at our peril. If we don't figure out Trump's political power we will remain susceptible to him and other Trumps.

But, spending half the year in rural Maine, a part of fly-over America, I encountered many wonderful people who were enthusiastic Trump supporters and over many long breakfasts came to learn a great deal about Trump's appeal. 

Yes, much of it was fueled by fear and some of it, sadly, racism; but his appeal was also the result of his grim optimism. Many people believed that he and he alone could a restore an America where too many felt left out by professional elites who knew better than the people themselves what was good for them. For these people, and there were many, Trump alone would bring about a return to their lost America. With him as president they would no longer be looked down upon as deplorables. They would be in charge

No matter that his vision was mostly ahistorical fiction but it did tap into a stream of hope and belief. Both essential to successful presidential aspirants of all ideological persuasions. 

The differences are about what constitutes the hope--a white America or a socialist America. Then there is the belief, a powerful human propensity, belief itself, that affects us all. About this particularly we need to learn more. It above everything it drives our thinking and behavior.

That is what I was attempting to do. To learn from his followers. And to do so I needed to be genuinely inquisitive and respectful. I needed to do a lot of listening. Above all, I needed to be open to changing my views when that seemed appropriate.

This did not prove difficult as I liked my coffee companions so much. They were not defined by just their political views. And, hopefully, neither was I.

But many of my non-Maine friends found me to be a Trump enabler. I struggled with that.

Then recently, after daily revelations about Trump's felonious behavior--including the incredible speculation by the FBI, not cable news polemicists, that Trump may be an "asset" or agent of Russia's, everything changed. I no longer wanted to "learn" more about Trump and his appeal. I just wanted to see the end of him. And, as much as possible, his followers. I didn't want to discuss politics with anyone who could simply write that off as fake news.

When I saw something a Trumpian friend, Dotty, who tweeted that she didn't care that he might by a Russian operative--I was distraught. She wrote, "I don't care what he says or does He's the president we need now to assure our survival." When I saw that I thought there is no hope of reaching any understanding with someone like that--fortunately maybe only 25 percent of the population--there is nothing any longer worth learning from Dotty. But I know I have to search for a way to remain her friend.  


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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

January 15, 2019--One More Day?

I hope that by tomorrow I will feel well enough to post something. It's hard to be on the sidelines when a storm of stories about Trump's perfidies is filling the media zeitgeist.

Monday, January 14, 2019

January 14, 2019--Still Sick

Coughing, wheezing. So I will try to feel better and have something to post tomorrow.

Friday, January 11, 2019

January 11, 2019--About to Be Snookered

The Democrats are about to be snookered. By, who else, Trump.

Here's how it will work--

First Trump finds himself in a losing face-off with Nancy Pelosi about reopening the government. The polls at the moment show Trump to be the intransigent one as well as the principal advocate for an unpopular concrete or steel wall.

As the crisis builds and the implications for nearly one million federal workers and contractors become dramatically clear--many do not have enough money to put food on the table or get their children desperately needed health care--and so the focus shifts from the wall and settles on dozens of disturbing human interest stories. At this stage it becomes all about "humanitarian" concerns. Even the unempathetic Trump indicated he shares these feelings during his Oval Office speech.

At this stage Trump begins to talk more and more about his power, in a fabricated "crisis," to declare a national emergency. And here's where it starts to get tricky for the Dems.

If he does declare an emergency (and, running out of options, it looks as if he will) it will effectively include the redeployment of Pentagon money and troops for the fabrication of a few miles of wall. Enough to enable Trump to declare victory and get a few photos of himself at the border in a hard hat, "supervising" the construction. 

Also, as a corollary, by invoking emergency powers Trump will in effect end the shutdown. This way he will co-opt the Democrats' agenda to reopen the government and not authorize one dollar for the wall. 

As a result, all the contested issues will become moot. The government will reopen and Defense Department money for the wall will be made available.

But here's the trickiest situation--will the Dems take Trump to court in a likely losing attempt to bock this? If they do, won't it appear that Trump wants the government to open while the grinchy Dems will in effect be calling for the courts to keep it closed?

Politically, who wins this one?

It's pretty obvious. 

Since the Dems for the moment have the upper hand I'd urge them to play it. In other words, make a deal. Look like the adults. Move on and focus on investigating Trump.


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Thursday, January 10, 2019

January 10, 2019--Down for the Count

I have a thick chest and head cold that makes thinking and typing difficult. I will try to return on Friday, more likely Monday.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

January 8, 2019--Trump's Emergency

With the Mueller report likely to surface soon, Trump is experiencing his own private emergency and now he appears to want to drag the rest of us into a much larger, generalized one. A national emergency.

His is real, the one he has in store for us concocted.

At first, hearing about the possibility that Trump was finally trumped, with some Democratic friends I was gleeful.

"This only shows Trump's desperation," one said. Another, that "He's finally painted himself into a corner from which there is no way out."

But then I thought more about this. Yes, there may be no easy exit from the trap he clumsily set for himself, with Nancy Pelosi playing him subtly like a well-tuned piano. And on the other side, to his base, there is more trouble represented by Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, both of whom warned that they would call his manhood into question if he caved in to the Dems by agreeing to reopen the government as part of a deal that would get him a pittance more for his cement, steel, tissue paper wall, fence, barrier, curtain, whatever. Call it anything you like. He just wanted out of the trap.

For the man whose ghostwriter wrote the book on the art of the deals it was looking bleak. No deal in sight. Just plunging poll numbers.

But then there is the potential game-changing idea for Trump to declare a national emergency--he would claim, as he did last night in an Oval Office speech, that the country is threatened by caravans of murderers, rapists, gang members, and drug dealers, augmented by tens of thousands of terrorists sneaking annually across the border. And, oh yes, there is a humanitarian crisis.

Never mind that there were just six (6) potential terrorists who were intercepted by the border patrol during the first half of 2018. Compounding this lie, Trump went on, claiming most of the opioids threatening our young people are coming though the same way--strapped to Mexican MS-13 gang members, while in fact they are hidden in and smuggled across the border by otherwise legitimate big-rig truckers.

If Trump declares a national emergency (and he has the power to do so), he will no longer need Congress (read Democrats in the House of Representatives) to pass a Homeland Security Department budget with $5.0 million allocated for the wall because he will just redeploy those and many more billions from the Pentagon budget (in an official emergency he likely has the power to do that as well as deploy soldiers to take the lead in building the wall).

By this scenario Nancy and Chuck will become irrelevant, Trump will look extra macho to Ann Coulter, Rush will be re-smitten, and too much of the public will think that Trump did the bold and right thing to protect us from all those dangerous brown people heading north on moonless nights.

And then the final irony--since it will cost $50 to $100 billion to build a 500-mile wall, because the money will have come from the Pentagon budget, Trump will demagog Chuck and Nancy into coming up with enough to replace it. The last thing Dems want is to appear wimpy when it comes to military spending. You know--"support our troops."

This strategy is so perversely brilliant that it could have come from only one source. Trump's current senior staff and advisors are incapable of thinking about how to get themselves out of a paper bag and so a play this multi-layered and intricate is beyond their devious capacities.

Therefore this has to be the idea of only one possible person. One evil genius--

Steve Bannon. Remember him?

The only problem--it won't work. 

Trump's favorables will continue to hover in the 35 percent range. His act is becoming boring to all except his relatively few dead-ender followers. Even Steve Bannon will not be able to think his way out of that.


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