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Jesus?  I hardly knew the man.

April 13, 2017

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Have Trump and his disciples finally found religion?  Have they been studying the words of Saint Peter, who the day before the crucifixion, to avoid a similar personal outcome, denied knowing Jesus?  With certainty, even Peter knew that guilt by association was powerfully incriminating.  So it is that Trump and his surrogates cannot run away fast enough from the substance of their associations with players like Carter Page and Paul Manafort.

Apparently they have all conspired to agree that these characters from the real “House of Cards” had minimal contact with Trump and little to no effect on campaign strategy, management or policy, before or after the election, yet Paul Manafort was Trump’s campaign manager and is reputed to have been the driving force behind softening the GOP campaign plank towards Russia. Carter Page, for his contribution, was the first person named by Trump to his foreign advisory team.

And now, the de-facto SNL Potus, Steve Bannon, has fallen from grace and no longer carries the weight of being Trump’s chief strategist, but is just “one of the guys.”  Truth is that Trump can’t fire him without losing the support of the radical right, the wave of votes Bannon rode in on, so he’ll be kept around, in the room, just not seated “at the table.” Expect the distance will be ever increasing.  Trump knows a liability when he sees one.  I’ll give him that.  It’s just a solution like bankruptcy.  End the bleeding and create a rebirth for the company.  Make the investors take the hit.  That is the one true Trump strategy.  His business record bears that out.

But in all this drama, there may actually be some degree of truth, a very real alternative fact not being discussed.  Think about this.  Trump never expected to win.  He has admitted this in several interviews since the election.  So working with that premise, let’s take an alternate look at the actions of Manafort and Page.  If Trump had not planned on winning, then Manafort, Page and anybody else for that matter could have been dispatched to Russia or involved with Russian proxies on what they all believed was simply “business.”  What business you say?  Doesn’t matter. It’s simply the business of making money in a developing market.  Until we see Trump’s taxes we shall never know, but we also need to know if Trump and Tillerson and Manafort are the holders of the shares of Rosneft stock that were purchased prior to the election.

Manafort is first in line to take the hit, regardless, because he actively campaigned to affect GOP policy towards Russia, but even this may not have been breaking any laws.  It may just be that the whole Trump candidacy was designed to affect his business objectives in Russia. These are some pretty blurry lines, but I can see how they might claim that they were not acting as foreign agents.  If Manafort regarded himself as simply a businessman doing business, then there would be no need to register, but now that Trump has won, he fully realizes that he should have registered. That he never did may have something to do with the fact that he didn’t see this possibility coming and therefore not a conflict in the making.  Only recently in the last few days did he register as a foreign agent. CYA, Paul Manafort, CYA.

As to Page, well it appears that Trump did not need a real foreign affairs advisor, just the appearance of having one, a requirement of a bonafide candidacy.  After all if you never expected to win, what did it matter?  So it’s possible that there may be a large element of truth in all that Page has to say about his role orbiting Trump.  Meanwhile Trump will continue to say, “Jesus, I hardly knew the man.”

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The Gang That Can’t Shoot Straight

April 13, 2017

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Anymore it just seems like it’s harder and harder to keep up with all the chaos and turmoil stirred up every day by Trump and his gang that can’t shoot straight, each caught with a smoking gun. It’s not just that the many thread of intertwined stories are being untangled little by little but also that each day more new stories are added to the mix, and these, while not small events, are often avoidable mistakes, at the very least calling the competency of Trump as a manager into question over and over.

A couple more noteworthy shoes dropped yesterday, though they seemed lost in all the controversy swirling around Sean Spicer’s bonehead remark about Hitler’s non-use of gas weapons.

First it was revealed that both Democrats and Republicans on the Intelligence Committee have looked at the same “evidence” that Devon Nunes relied on for his remarks regarding inadvertent surveillance of Trump Tower and Trump’s accusation levied against Susan Rice of illegal unmasking. This was the very same evidence that was given by Whitehouse staff to Nunes and he in turn delivered to the President personally the next day, cloaked in all the pomp he could muster by a mini press conference with the Whitehouse as a backdrop, one designed to cover Trump’s tracks, cast by Trump like a warm blanket over the witless Nunes who took the bait and ultimately the blame.

Next, was this something of a shocker, or did we expect it all this time?  Perhaps it was a shock that it happened so soon, but it was revealed today that the FBI saw fit to get a FISA warrants to investigate Carter Page, a Trump Associate who is believed to be an agent working for the Russians knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on their behalf.

The FBI’s FISA Application cited meetings with named and unnamed Russian operatives going back to 2013, alleged meetings in Moscow and Page’s own public statements of record regarding Russian policy including a speech critical of the U.S. given in Moscow.  Page has time and again shown his colors, effusive in his praise for Vladimir Putin and harshly critical of U.S. sanctions for Russian military intervention in Ukraine but it seems that his intentions may have been strictly personal–making a lot of money.  Even the Russians thought so and commented on it in surveilled communications. Hmmmmm, sound like anybody we know?  By the way who did he represent and advise?  Hence the connection, and the fun is just beginning.

 

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Tongue Trippin’

April 11, 2017

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Is there anyone in the Trump administration capable of thinking on their feet without tripping all over their own tongue?  As the latest statements made today by Sean Spicer attest to, the answer is still an unequivocal “NO.”  In today’s press briefing Sean claimed that Hitler did not use chemical gas weapons during World War II.  Reminded that he had overlooked the use of gas to kill millions of Jews in the holocaust, he tried to walk it back, saying that Hitler did not use gas to kill innocent civilians as Assad had and then realizing the gross negligence inherent in that refinement, had to walk it back a second time after the on-air briefing and say that he meant “dropped from the air.”

There’s an old saying among carpenters used to avoid mistakes.  It goes like this.  “Measure twice, cut once.”  Sean would do well to keep this in mind.  But following in the tracks of his fearless leader, Sean like every other Trump surrogate, talks first before getting his facts straight.  The cure for Trump was a teleprompter, but for Trump, with his limited reading skills, his speeches became concatenated fragments of three and four word phrases interspersed with moments of dead air, allowing him to process the next scripted phrase.  It killed Trump’s impact and left him saying pretty much nothing, since his emotional fabric had been laid bare. But as all conventional politicians concurred, it briefly put the reins on a runaway.

With Spicer that’s just not possible.  He can’t work his job from a teleprompter.  What he can do is try to answer questions intelligently without feeling the need to rebut every question with yet another combative question of his own or challenge the press with angry false remarks that obscure the issues.

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Collateral Damage

April 11, 2017

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There seems to be an endlessly repeated refrain among Trump and his surrogates that began during his campaign and continues to this day:  He has a plan, but he’s not going to tell anyone.  Trump’s reasoning is that he doesn’t want to let his adversaries know what he is going to do, that they might devise a defense against his moves.  It could just be a poker bluff or he may really be holding all the cards, but either way, it’s a strategy designed to confuse and defeat his enemies. and the collateral damage is the American people, Congress and in turn any investigative bodies.  But consider this, it gives him the freedom to move in any direction without bearing the stigma of failure.

That’s right, if you don’t have a stated plan, then it can’t fail.  You can’t miss the target if you don’t have a target.  Take Syria for example, or healthcare, or the economy, or global climate change, or immigration, he has no plan.  Take anything he claims to embrace and the hard facts are that he has no plan at all.  Oh sure, he has the wall you say and Mexico will pay for it.  That’s a campaign slogan.  That’s not a plan.  When the cards are on the table and his bluff is called, his campaign slogans crumble under the weight of facts.  The wall is too costly. Mexico will not pay for it and neither will the American people pick up the exorbitant tax required to sustain an idea that has no positive net effect on its intended outcome. Healthcare? Well we all know what happened with that.  And how many more natural disasters, tornadoes, hurricanes, mudslides, floods and forrest fires will it take to convince him that the global climate has changed and we cannot stand idly by and simply say that we have no controls that we can exercise to create a positive effect other than to pick up the costs for the damage?  And why?  To protect a few coal jobs?  To support American petroleum companies by continuing an energy plan based on fossil fuels?  This is his plan?  To restore the do- nothing policies of the party of “no.” To poison our food supply by deregulating farmer’s use of insecticides?  To allow fracking which is proven to pollute drinking water?  This is a plan?  This is his target?  It goes on and on.  So he does one good thing and fires a few Tomahawks at Syria and whoop-de-do, we all cheer his bold move, but truth be known, he did it at Ivanka’s urging, because she empathizes with the death of the small children pictured in the news.  After all, she has small children of her own.  This is his conscience.  It’s external and lives outside his human form, as do his “plans.”

No, Trump is all about winning and that’s all there is for him.  He can’t lose if he never stakes his position with a plan. He’s untethered and blowing in the wind, a sail without a mast.  If we the American people are that mast, then he must tether himself to us by sharing a plan that works.  He must embrace the press as an ally, the congress as a partner, both parties and the entire political spectrum of the diverse population he claims to represent, and involve us in a cooperative way that begins with a stated plan.  It can’t remain a secret.

Or is that truly it?  Maybe not. There is another possibility, one supported with facts, and that is that Trump is really just plain clueless.  According to insiders and by Trump’s own admittance, he’s really from the same reading club as Sarah Palin and it seems obvious when questioned.  He exhibits the same depth of knowledge, but handles his response in a different way.  He says he has a secret plan.

Why?  Maybe because he seems to disdain reading and prefers to get oral reports.  After all in the days leading up to his presidency, he avoided his intelligence briefings, both written and oral.  Not on his agenda or was it just over his head?  Did he need someone else to explain it to him or did he just not care? His writing abilities seem to fit well with the Twitter limit of 140 characters. He watches Fox News about 4 hours each day. K I S S…  Keep it simple, stupid. This is where he gets his ideas from, but results, ah, there is where the line is drawn.  It wasn’t until H.R. McMaster took over the NSC and began cleaning it up that we started to see real results.  There’s an important lesson there. Governmental agencies work best when Trump stays the hell out of the way.

So give him his ballcap with the scrambled eggs, chicken feathers and lightning bolts and let him parade around our armada for photo-ops with all the pomp of a third world Generalissimo. Who cares.  Trump is a rubber stamp, a signature on other peoples ideas and policies.  He’ll say or do whatever he has to, to be perceived on the winning side. Eventually he may just come around and have to replace the many other bad choices he made in cabinet appointments.  He just has to figure out how to make it look like a win.  It’s our job to help him in that regard.  We have to get rid of the losers in congress and start electing winners who will get things done.  I don’t care on which side of the political spectrum you come from, we have to pull together, work together and channel this idiot to do the right thing for our sake.

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“I’m a Loser, and I’m not what I appear to be.”

April 9, 2017

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Anybody remember the name of that guy who used to head up the House intelligence Committee looking into the relationship between Trump campaign and transition team players and Russian hacking? No?  My bad.  I meant the guy looking into Obama’s wiretapping of Trump Tower.  Yeh, that guy.  Devon Nunes.

Devon Nunes, what a chump!  He witlessly stepped into the corridor of “me” and now he’s yesterday’s news. Trump played him like a fiddle. Called into the Whitehouse to be given information by the Whitehouse that was to be delivered to the Whitehouse, and no one else, now how stupid is that?  Devon had a secret, one that he wouldn’t share with the American public, one that he failed to share with his committee.  His only answer was, “I know something you don’t know, but I’m not gonna tell.”  C’mon Devon, grow the fuck up!!

Ah, but not to worry.  Loyalty has its rewards.  Trump has your back.  Fifty-nine Tomahawks can go a long way to wiping clean public memory of your blind devotion.

Now all the news is about those babies killed by Bashar al-Assad and Trumps’ military action.  While it may have been the right thing to do, I have to question Trump’s sincerity regarding his motivation.  Was it those babies he was thinking about or was it his own image and his need to appear strong in the face of aggression?  Well, every news agency is giving him a free pass on that one.  Not me.  He has yet to demonstrate even an ounce of sincerity in any matter whatsoever. No, Tomahawks were the right answer to Assad’s murderous spree, but Trump?  c’mon, he’s still the same old Trump. He doesn’t give a shit about anybody but himself.

Whoever said Americans don’t have the stomach for war was wrong.  Americans just don’t have the stomach for losing.  The lesson of Vietnam was simple.  In spite of our extreme military might, our numbers, our military intelligence, and our wealth, we got our ass handed to us by a band of rag-tag peasants living in tunnels in the jungle, eating rice and rats.

But did we learn anything?  Consider Afghanistan, an endless war with no victory in sight.  In spite of our extreme military might, our numbers, our military intelligence, and our wealth, we get our ass handed to us by a band of rag-tag peasants living in caves in the mountains, eating God knows what.

No, Obama had the right idea—reduce our occupying forces and accomplish pinpointed attacks on high value targets remotely with drones. Oh, but there was just this one little thing.  Collateral damage.  Occasionally, innocent civilians got caught up in the attacks.  The bad guy’s wives and children, cousins, neighbors and accomplices were also killed.  Innocent?  Maybe, for the most part, but surely babies and children were innocent?  Were Americans really that squeamish or was this just the party of “no” doing business as usual?  Look at any war and ask yourselves, when were innocent people excluded from bombing raids? Surely the numbers of civilian casualties in drone warfare is infinitesimally small compared with say, Dresden?

So, I have to disagree with this criticism of Obama.  Stealth warfare and drones, the use of technology and small highly skilled, ninja style forces are the answer for our need to win. It’s a string of small victories, a chain of successes for citizens of the nation that invented serialized entertainment and video gaming. We move from one cliff hanger to another and amass an ever growing score, gather prizes and feel good about ourselves.

If the last election was about anything, it was just that.  Americans wanted a winner.  To be American is to win.  It’s our destiny. We created “Trump Nation” long before we created Trump to rule it. But the reality is that Trump has to look to others for his answers.  Tomahawks, drones, what’s the difference really?  It’s all remote warfare. The difference is this:  He’s a winner because he tells us so. No, rather I agree with John Lennon.  Donald, you’re a loser and you’re not what you pretend to be.

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The Corridor of “Me”

April 8, 2017

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Day 77 of the Trump Presidency

Did anyone else feel the air move yesterday, a sudden gust of warm wind, as the collective sigh of a grateful nation and the incredulous gasps of a faithful few, reacted in unison to the ouster of Steve Bannon from the Nation Security Council?  My, my, my…. Diddeth the Crown Prince plotteth against the Archbishop, and the Archbishop assaulteth  the Crown Prince thusly, “You’re a Democrat”?

Well Democrat or not, it’s a big step in the right direction, albeit just a suture on the leg wound of a diseased infected body that’s still walking and talking through the corridor of “Me.”

In the corridor of “Me” loyalty is a one way street.  Soldiers in the army of “Me” are recruited for one-way missions.  Bannon is the latest casualty.  He served his purpose and now has become a liability to a man who will adopt any position to remain in power.  Health insurance?  Who could have known it would be so hard?  (Try Obama, you fool.) Just to keep his promise Donald has threatened to work with the Democrats. Wow, he’ll do anything to win!  Heretic!  And he said he wasn’t a politician.  Syria?  What would Obama do?  Oh yeh, he’s doing that too. Little by little, Donald is coming out of the closet.  Trouble is, it just opens on a Mobius Strip, the corridor of “Me.”

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The Crown Prince

April 6, 2017

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Day 76 of the Trump presidency

Not so very long ago, it used to be that our nation was run by elected officials.  It’s looking less so with each passing day.

In previous centuries nations were largely governed as monarchies ruled by Kings protected from the masses they reigned over by high walls and castle towers. The line of succession fell to the Prince. Both King and Prince were attended to by many advisors, conspiring henchmen of all sorts, the royal court, the religious clergy, and just plain thugs and assassins, all vying for position and favor, paying homage to the King while plotting against him. The wretched masses the working class were kept in check by the religious clergy who promised eternal damnation to those who failed to conform to the dictates of their rulers as interpreted by the Church.  They were an easily managed population that still wallowed in superstition and believed in fairy tales. Witches and heretics were treated harshly, often burned alive atop a pile of kindling or drowned in a religious test at the end of a dunking arm. Such were the times. Such was fear. Such was the nature of order.

Things went well for the rulers until the ruled subjects, the 99%, realized that they had power over their own lives, power achieved through revolution.  Revolutions persisted, even until this day,  but historically we only educate our children regarding certain prominent ones—The American Revolution, the French Revolution with it’s guillotine, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Cuban revolution and so on.  With the exception of King George, all ended very badly for the rulers. A couple thousand miles of ocean provides a nice buffer against losing your head.  Not so for King Louis and Marie Antoinette who lost their heads along with just about every other member of the aristocracy who remained in France.  In Russia Czar Alexander and the entire Romanoff family, including his young children, were all executed.  In Cuba General Battista was stood up before a firing squad along with his entire cadre of associates both military, political and wealthy landowners. It’s the familiar pattern of  how corrupt systems are purged of diseased elements.  The two exceptions to this formula for reform were both in British colonies with movements infused with the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela respectively, historical anomalies to be sure.

Today, we have a new paradigm of government in the United States.  We are being ruled by a neo-monarch who assumed power through election, but nevertheless who has tasked his Prince, an unelected appointee to a fabricated position beyond the normal scope of regular government appointments, cabinet positions and so on, with the actual function of running the government. It’s the old concept of the family dynasty reborn in modern times, complete with a tower and a palace, and no shortage of intrigue. Jared Kushner is that prince.

As of today Jared has been tasked with the following responsibilities:

1 The mission to Iraq to meet with the Prime Minister to develop a strategy to defeat Isis.

2. Planning the visit of the Chinese President to Mar-al-ago.

3. Brokering Middle East Peace.

4. Reforming the criminal justice system.

5. Running the newly established office of American Innovation.

6. Reforming veteran care.

7. Stemming the opiod epidemic.

8. Revamping the entire federal government.

Now am I mistaken, but do we not have a Secretary of State whose responsibilities just might include foreign relations such as those in items 1, 2 & 3?

And as for items 4 through 8, don’t those fall to the many other cabinet secretaries?

So to say that Jared Kushner is charged with these responsibilities places him above these others in the pecking order to the King.

If Steve Bannon is the idea man, Sean Spicer is the carnival barker and Mike Pence is the cleanup man following the elephant in the parade, then it remains that someone must be running the country while we are being entertained.  The recent failures of healthcare reform, lack of a working budget and the foibles of “The Wall”  indicate that Trump is incapable of delivering on his promises or managing a system that relies on mutual cooperation rather than dictates from above.  While Trump may be clueless and many of his advisors may be incompetent or unqualified, the appointment of the Prince, on the surface a foolish move, may in fact be the only smart thing he has done in his first 75 days in office.  Jared may still be wet behind the ears, but by all accounts, it is his views and those of Ivanka that have moved Trump, if ever so slightly, off his entrenched positions to consider policy changes for the better.  I pray that is true.