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The Ink Stain

June 14, 2019

sarah-huckabee-sanders-1.jpgOh, be still my beating heart!  It’s almost too much to bear for a single day, yet dare to dream my wildest hopes to fulfill.  Another casualty of the Trump Inaction Team, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, has left the main stage to retire her role as an ink stain on the pages of Whitehouse Press Briefings, even as having been absent from such duties in over three months. Clearly she must have understood she was no longer needed, perhaps an efficiency of economics, but more so the casualty of the management style of Trump himself who in his daily Twitter onslaughts and pre-flight helicopter press dalliances has squashed any need for all but affirmation of his now over 10,000 lies and false statements in office.  She has eagerly made herself a public joke and as a rabid Trump sycophant rendered herself a useless media castaway, suitable only for office back in Arkansas as a Republican stooge in a home of Trump supporters. Goodbye and good riddance.

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President Bone-spur’s “Fantastic Speech”

June 7, 2019

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Oh, how the media struggles to find positive content to report on regarding Trump.  Witness James Clapper’s CNN interview praising President Bone-spur’s D-Day speech as “fantastic,” one of the best of his Presidency or Jim Acosta’s quote that “he hit all the rights moments.”  Trouble is, that’s not saying much.  The bar is set pretty low. What does it take to read the words of another?  To inspire?  Certainly not the half-dead drone, under-his-breath delivery of a somnambulist speaker, uninspired and sleepwalking through his required appearance. As for his words, well I find them difficult to praise.  They were scripted for him by a speechwriter that could have easily been bested by any high school history or civic students with a sense of patriotism and world awareness. No, there was nothing special about this speech except that Trump stayed on script and read the words provided. Like all of his previous scripted speeches it was flat and lifeless.

 

So what makes a great speech?  I would contend that, as much as I despise the man and his beliefs, his off-the-cuff ad-libs, his departures from reality, his agitating a rabid crowd into joining him in his antics with deplorable anti-democratic, anti-American chants, these constitute great speeches, wrong as they are.  It is where Trump comes alive, inflated by the crowd into filling his own ego to go beyond civil norms, setting new records for brash falsehoods and egregious attacks on American political leaders and heroes, he has been overwhelmingly successful appealing to the baser instincts of his followers, emotional entreaties to an emotionally responsive body void of logic. This he understands.

 

So let’s not try to give him credit for reading the words of others in a less than half-hearted delivery.  Credit where credit is due.  What makes a great speaker is not the words he pronounces (and admittedly Trump has problems in this area) but the ability to market ideas, and in that regard he must join the likes of snake oil salesmen, and marketing genius P.T. Barnum as a huckster with nothing to sell but falsehoods and the hope of witnessing something exciting, even if it would be found repugnant to our long-dead founding fathers and the rest of the world at large.

 

So no, President Bone-spur’s D-Day speech was nothing to be excited about.  This was not his audience.  These were not his MAGA followers.  The speech was written for him to fulfill the most basic requirements of presenting a proper front for the rest of the world on the solemn occasion of the 75th  anniversary of D-Day, something he could not do for himself under the best conditions.

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The Boldest & The Oldest…  The Biden Factor Part Five.

May 14, 2019

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Given the thick mud of Washington politics is it any wonder that it takes the youngest among us to motivate substantial change? One need only look at the effectiveness of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students, leaders like David Hogg  speaking against gun violence, to see the reality of that effort. Where our governmental leaders decry what cannot be done, these students demand what can be done and do it.  Having formed a youth movement outside the conventional structure, these kids, not yet able to vote, have already changed Florida law, swifter than the never-ending partisan battle between the left and the NRA with all its money and lobbying power.

It might be argued as to what is the single most pressing issue to be debated in the 2020 election, but there can be no denying that if the planet does not survive, all other issues become secondary.  While the effects of climate change are being felt in the immediate now, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, droughts, mudslides and forest fires plague our country and its economy and will continue to do so, alternative arguments are presented with pseudo-scientific support as plausible to all but the well-informed, producing legislative paralysis.

As the youngest member of Congress, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, AOC, has boldly taken a leading position in all matters progressive, especially the Green New Deal.

“I’ll be damned,” she said, “if the same politicians who refused to act (in past decades) are going to try to come back today and say we need a middle of the road approach to save our lives.”  One can safely say that without naming him, this is squarely aimed at Biden.  A scientific report released yesterday shows evidence that the amount of carbon in our atmosphere exceeds all levels since man walked the planet.  Biden represents too little, too late in this arena and others.  He will have a tough time defending his voting record on the banking industry against Elizabeth Warren’s or Bernie Sanders’.  We cannot go forward with effective solutions if we limit ourselves to going half way.  Half way is half-assed. It we feel the need to moderate our solutions to satisfy the scared and the timid among us, then we are all doomed.  Change needs to be as immediate and drastic as the existential threat we face.  This is not a time for pussyfooting around.  Let us look to the wisdom of our youngest and boldest to take the needed action to survive.

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Biden Part Four, The Buttigieg Inoculation

May 14, 2019

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Just why is Hurricane Trump hammering the Biden coast with blankets of Twitter rain?  The prevailing media all agree that it’s because he expects Biden will be the candidate he will face in the 2020  election, but I don’t believe that’s his true motive.  I think he’s using reverse psychology. What he REALLY wants is to go up against Biden. He’s itching for another fight with a flawed candidate. After the election of 2018 Trump has a deep-rooted fear of the power of the progressive sway. It’s not a game he knows how to play.  He swings for the cheap seats by keeping the match a popularity contest of personalities and not policies.  By attacking Biden, the perfect foil who currently wages a Trump war without specific policies, Trump furthers the notion that Biden is the political threat he must defeat in 2020 and therefore must be annihilated  with extreme prejudice.  But in so doing he understands that he will be strengthening the resolve of Democrats to fall in line behind Biden as the anti-Trump candidate who might best take him down.  This is a false premise.  Consequently, he will attack Biden as an Obama proxy and expose all his vulnerabilities reducing his anti-Biden campaign to a single nickname, easily remembered and chanted by the lemmings that attend his rallies, “Sleepy Joe.” While riding the ant-Obama hate wave of his deplorable base, he stirs sympathetic Democrats away from the Progressives he cannot control to support Biden in a reactionary defense to his bully onslaught.

 

The trouble with the Democrats is that they have too many really good primary candidates, any one of which would make a great President.  Bernie is outstanding and has a loyal base, but Warren and Harris are both equally well-equipped to take down Trump with solid policies and logical arguments to support them. Klobuchar also makes a lot of sense but Corey Booker, equally persuasive,  outshines her in passion and personality. Beto is a rock star by virtue of taking on Ted Cruz, thought to be an impossible task, only losing with the narrowest of margins, but compared with the other primary candidates in the field is light on policy. My money is on Buttigieg over Beto.

 

Rising fast from mayoral obscurity he has shown the wisdom to inoculate himself in advance of the Trump onslaught that will inevitably follow and in so doing may be the perfect candidate. Buttigieg is openly gay in a solid marriage and is deeply religious.  Amazingly, he has bridged the divide between the LGBTQ community and the religious right that might upend his candidacy by talking openly about his relationship with his partner and with his God.  By contrast, the moral ground Trump stands on is quicksand. Considering his many dalliances with playmates and porn stars, and his Hollywood Access audio tape,  he will have trouble creating a scandal for a man devoted to his life partner. In the current political environment he will find it self-destructive to create a derogatory gay nickname for Buttigieg without losing a solid block of voters sympathetic to the ideals of commitment in marital relationships, gay or otherwise. And more importantly, Buttigieg is everything Trump is not.  A Harvard graduate and Rhodes scholar, a veteran Navy intelligence officer who served in Afghanistan, as mayor of South Bend he is credited with spurring the economic growth and business development of that community.  While Trump the playboy philanderer dodged military service with a bogus bone spur and scammed banks losing 1.7 billion dollars, he inserted the “too big to fail” philosophy into our culture and shamelessly lied his way up the ladder using his TV persona to ascend to his current office.

 

The media soft-pedals its Trump assessment by calling him amoral, when by any standard they know he is clearly immoral.  Use of the word “amoral” is safe and appears “objective” while “immoral” is a term that clearly places the user in the anti-Trump camp. No, the media will not state the obvious. Rather, they must look for pundits who will do it for them in order to maintain their “objectivity”  and keep their corporate lawyers happy.

 

Biden has wandered in where angels fear to tread. This is Biden’s attraction, a plain talking Joe, fearless in the face of Trump.  While all other Democrat candidates have taken the high ground, preferring to avoid even naming Trump and sticking to policy ideals, Biden attacks Trump full frontal to the cheers of an angry and frustrated electorate running out of patience with the idiotic state of affairs Trump has created and the complicity of the cowardly GOP to work as tireless enablers of such a despicable bullshit artist. While all of America is screaming at their TVs, Biden personifies our anger into a tangible form that has gotten Trump’s attention.  He’s saying what we all want to say to Trump but lack both the clout and the means to deliver it personally.  Trump does not run from a fight and he never shows fear (supposedly) but you can smell it a mile away.  In the words of Bill Maher, “He’s a whiney little bitch!”

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The Soul Food Menu for Mr. Trump.

May 10, 2019

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It’s not known whether Jeff Sessions loved soul food or not but I’m pretty darn sure he never expected to become it. It’s one of the great ironies of the Trump era that the very racist elements of his administration have been reduced to a culinary choice named for that which they deplore, namely “the other,” those unlike themselves, Soul Brothers.
 
The source for this observation is a New York Times editorial by James Comey where he states that “Mr. Trump eats your soul in small bites.”
 
Sessions is not the only course on Trump’s Soul Food menu. Others include, Reince Priebus, Corey Lewandoski, Kelly Anne Conway, Rob Porter, Hope Hicks, Rod Rosenstein, Michael Cohen, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Mike Pence, Michael Flynn, Mick Mulvaney, George Papadopoulis, Roger Stone, Carter Page, Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Anthony Scaramucci, Sean Spicer, Omarosa Manacault, Tom Price, Sebastian Gorka, Rex Tillerson, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Steve Mnuchin, Patrick Shanahan, William Barr, Matt Whitaker, David Bernhardt, Sonny Perdue, Wilbur Ross, Alex Acosta, Alex Azar, Ben Carson, Elain Chao, Rock Perry, Betsy Devos, Robert Wilke, Kirstjen Nielsen, Robert Lighthizer, Dan Coats, Jonathan Cohen, Gina Haspel, Andrew Wheeler, Linda McMahon, Lindsey Graham, Chuck Grassley, Tom Cotton, Rand Paul, Devin Nunes, Chris Collins, Kevin McCarthy, Mark Meadows, Paul Ryan, Jeff Flake, John Kennedy, Mitt Romney, Bob Corker, Marsha Blackburn, Ben Sasse, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Orin Hatch, Rob Portman, Martha McSally, Jim Jordan and notably Mitch McConnell to name but a few. Too many to mention are the Republican members of Congress many of whom have succumbed to Trumpism as a way of political survival.
 
Trump team members notably absent from this list are Paul Manafort and Steven Miller. Lacking a soul, neither has anything to lose and therefore cannot be reduced to grist for Mr. Trump’s mill.
 
Below is the relevant portion of that NYT editorial:
 
“Amoral leaders have a way of revealing the character of those around them. Sometimes what they reveal is inspiring. For example, James Mattis, the former secretary of defense, resigned over principle, a concept so alien to Mr. Trump that it took days for the president to realize what had happened, before he could start lying about the man.
But more often, proximity to an amoral leader reveals something depressing. I think that’s at least part of what we’ve seen with Bill Barr and Rod Rosenstein. Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive Mr. Trump and that adds up to something they will never recover from. It takes character like Mr. Mattis’s to avoid the damage, because Mr. Trump eats your soul in small bites.
 
It starts with your sitting silent while he lies, both in public and private, making you complicit by your silence. In meetings with him, his assertions about what “everyone thinks” and what is “obviously true” wash over you, unchallenged, as they did at our private dinner on Jan. 27, 2017, because he’s the president and he rarely stops talking. As a result, Mr. Trump pulls all of those present into a silent circle of assent.
Speaking rapid-fire with no spot for others to jump into the conversation, Mr. Trump makes everyone a co-conspirator to his preferred set of facts, or delusions. I have felt it — this president building with his words a web of alternative reality and busily wrapping it around all of us in the room.
I must have agreed that he had the largest inauguration crowd in history because I didn’t challenge that. Everyone must agree that he has been treated very unfairly. The web building never stops.
 
From the private circle of assent, it moves to public displays of personal fealty at places like cabinet meetings. While the entire world is watching, you do what everyone else around the table does — you talk about how amazing the leader is and what an honor it is to be associated with him.
Sure, you notice that Mr. Mattis never actually praises the president, always speaking instead of the honor of representing the men and women of our military. But he’s a special case, right? Former Marine general and all. No way the rest of us could get away with that. So you praise, while the world watches, and the web gets tighter.
Next comes Mr. Trump attacking institutions and values you hold dear — things you have always said must be protected and which you criticized past leaders for not supporting strongly enough. Yet you are silent. Because, after all, what are you supposed to say? He’s the president of the United States.
 
You feel this happening. It bothers you, at least to some extent. But his outrageous conduct convinces you that you simply must stay, to preserve and protect the people and institutions and values you hold dear. Along with Republican members of Congress, you tell yourself you are too important for this nation to lose, especially now.
You can’t say this out loud — maybe not even to your family — but in a time of emergency, with the nation led by a deeply unethical person, this will be your contribution, your personal sacrifice for America. You are smarter than Donald Trump, and you are playing a long game for your country, so you can pull it off where lesser leaders have failed and gotten fired by tweet.”
Speaking to CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Comey explains why he believes Trump eats peoples’ souls.
“It doesn’t make me happy to write that, but it’s what I believe. “
 
“This President, because he’s an amoral leader, shapes those around him. And that shaping sometimes pushes out someone that is a strong person of integrity that stands up and says ‘not going to have it,’ but far more often it shapes and bends and pulls in weaker souls and he does it.”
“It has happened to me. The man lies constantly. In public you’ve seen it and in private it happened.”
 
“I think people like that, like Rod Rosenstein, who are people of accomplishment, find themselves trapped. They justify their being trapped, which is, ‘yeah he’s awful but the country needs me.’ Republicans are doing this in Congress. ‘Yeah it’s awful but if I speak I’ll get defeated and this nation needs me here right now,’ so they start to make little compromises to stay on the team, echo his words, use the term ‘spying,’ talk about collusion or just be silent, saying, ‘that’s what I need to do to survive,’ and in the process he has eaten their soul. So that’s what happens to so many people, and they end up making compromises.”
 
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Pedantic Semantic Antics

May 9, 2019

william-barr-35-ap-jc-190501_hpMain_4x3_992Mothers, don’t let your children grow up to be lawyers.  The sum of their education will be the keen ability to parse single words to defend the otherwise indefensible by highlighting slippery vocabulary. It’s a legal superpower, allowed in court and legislative proceedings that obfuscates investigations and shades truth in perjury-free doubt.  Witness William Barr responding to questions from Kamala Harris as he dwells on the word “suggestion.”

 

Harris: Has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested you open an investigation into anyone?

Barr: Um, I wouldn’t, uh—

Harris: Yes or no?

Barr: Could you repeat that question?

Harris: Has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested you open an investigation into anyone? Yes or no please, sir.

Barr: Uh, the president or anyone else—

Harris: It seems you’d remember something like that and be able to tell us.

Barr: I’m trying to grapple with the word “suggest”. . . there have been discussions of matters out there that . . . they have not asked me to open an investigation but . . .

Harris: Perhaps they’ve suggested?

Barr: I wouldn’t say suggested—

Harris: Hinted?

Barr: I don’t know.

Harris: Inferred?

Barr: I . . . don’t know.

Not since Bill Clinton stalled on the word “is” has there been such a shameless display of guilt. I’m one of the few who maintained at the time that Clinton should have been removed from office after his impeachment, but partisan politics back then was as effective as it is today and Clinton, a disgrace to his office, remained in power because of his success with the economy and a Democrat majority in the Senate. Just think how different things might have been if he had gotten the boot he deserved.  Al Gore would have become President and surely re-elected and the necessary steps to combat climate change would have been implemented more than twenty years ago. No one has a crystal ball and even hindsight is not 20/20 all the time, but we need to wake up to the notion that doing the right thing, however idealistic, will always be the best solution.  It takes both courage and faith to forego personal short-term political damage for long term community well-being. Today is the bridge between what has been and what will be, that determines whether we continue to uphold the self-evident truth of the foundation of American government or return to pre-1776 rule.

 

All men are created equal under the law, even those who would aspire to be President, and with equality comes responsibility and accountability that no definition of any one word can defy.

 

Barr’s tactics at his hearing were to run out the five-minute clock on those questions that jeopardized his perjurical potential and to run for the cover of his office and that allowed to Mr. Trump by virtue of his office, whether defensibly legal or not.

 

The Mueller report did not state that Trump and Trump organizations did not collude.  It said simply that it did not find evidence of collusion.  That is a very different thing entirely, especially when the evidence of collusion exclusively resides with the potential colluders, all unwilling to divulge their culpability.  It’s like an Easter egg hunt where I cleverly placed Easter eggs throughout my yard, so my children can’t find them.  It doesn’t mean that there are no eggs in the yard when they cannot be found. If I don’t tell them where they are, they’ll never be found.

 

Perjury is a dangerous tool that can be used against criminals defying justice but cannot be used against those who do not or will not testify, or those who twist their answers into meaningless drivel through semantic antics. Barr, after having weathered a withering examination looking every bit the embarrassed fool, is blanketed with Trump’s protection against all inquiry into his potential wrong-doings by forbidding Barr or anyone else from testifying or supporting with documents any look into his activities both before and after his stolen election, financial, unethical or downright treasonous.

 

Now, the “billionaire” who promised to do for the American economy what he did for himself is unrobed to reveal that he lost over a billion dollars in his Halcyon ten-year period prior to office and as it will surely play out to the fullest, will be eventually actualized as the one promise unwittingly fulfilled in fact, not fantasy.

 

 

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The Biden Factor Part 3, The Barometer Rises

May 1, 2019

Election 2018 Senate McCaskill, Bridgeton, USA - 31 Oct 2018Photo by Jeff Roberson

The first polls are in on Biden’s effect on the Democratic lineup since he announced his candidacy. Not unexpected, he has risen to a whopping 39%.  Impressive, but as I said in my previous blog, this should be taken only as a barometer of the electorate’s thirst for Trump blood.

 

Oh sure, there are other factors pro and con to consider: a positive association with all that is good about the Obama administration, against a voting record in the senate that Bernie has rightly highlighted as being on the wrong side of history, but neither accounts for the 39% popularity poll in the face of the wave of progressive candidates with exciting policy proposals.

 

Over time we will see this polling blip fade away, as Biden draws fire away from the other candidates and weathers the full assault of Trump’s wrath. Speaking on Bill Maher’s Realtime HBO show, John Avlon aptly quoted an old Joke… “what’s the difference between a liberal and a cannibal? Cannibals don’t eat their own.”  Obama highlights one dimension to this potential problem referring to the “circular firing squad,”  but he’s referring to the candidates themselves not the electorate who easily tires and shifts allegiance. To be sure Democrats will rally around whoever emerges the winner, but Biden poses a problem for the voters, who while they have a strong taste for Trump blood have moved away from middle-of-the-road, tepid policies and demand substantial progressive change, bold action,  not just a new figurehead.  Got’ta love Biden, but we may find him to be a divider like Hillary was. Progressives don’t want a corporatist and Biden’s support of the credit card companies located in Delaware, home of his Senatorial seat, will not bode well in the end for him while his limp, half-hearted telephone apology to Anita hill still rings like a cracked bell for women and minorities.

 

Bernie supporters will not give up.  We all wanted a woman president in 2016, but Hillary was a flawed candidate and Elizabeth Warren knew better than to divide the vote by tossing herself in the ring. Bernie could have won, should have won, so if not now, when?  A Bernie/Warren ticket or a Warren/Bernie ticket is a show stopper. Think about it.