Posts Tagged ‘Trump’

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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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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.

 

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The Biden Factor Part Two, The Soul of America

April 29, 2019

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Who are we kidding?  We all know the very real problems we live with.  Everyday Americans have been suffering for years and continue to do so.  In search of a real change, they elected Trump and things only got worse for them. The issues of our times are clear and evident.  Many Americans continue jobless as others live with stagnant wages. Buying power decreases each year with the rising cost of living. Veterans are suffering on many fronts. Our privatized jails are maxed to capacity with low level offenders while police violence goes unchecked at every turn.  Anyone can buy a gun and use it for any purpose, consequently we live in fear. Our schools are no longer safe havens for our children, nor are movie theaters, nightclubs, live concerts or religious services.  The high school education we were all guaranteed by right is no longer sufficient to provide a reasonable base income or employment opportunities that support planning a future, starting a family, buying a home or saving for retirement.  Overdose drug deaths, primarily heroin laced with fentanyl, kills more than 70,000 Americans each year.  Most of our food supply is unhealthy in one way or another, packed with fats and sugars, preservatives, pesticides, GMOs and fillers. Our groundwater is contaminated with chemical runoff.  Our infrastructure is crumbling.  Our electric grid is vulnerable to a hacked attack by foreign actors. Our dependence on a fossil fuel energy supply, coal, oil and natural gas is not limitless and therefore, while being not only wholly unsustainable, it continues as the primary danger to the planet, nevertheless a priority for gutting environmental programs and stimulate the demise of climate worldwide, enriching the few so invested in stripping the earth of its resources.   Is this a life of liberty and happiness?

 

Our nation is losing its leadership position in the world with our current administration’s threats to NATO and international trade and our “look the other way” policies regarding Saudi Arabia and human rights violations around the world.  Trump’s relationship and agreements with Putin and Russia remain a secret, while his naive attempts at diplomacy have moved Kim Jung Un to form alliances with both Russia and China that circumvent American interests and threaten our safety in an ever-increasing nuclear environment.  The “great negotiator’s” moves are a false promotional front, like a movie set, a veneer with nothing behind it.  By the time the problem is addressed by someone competent it may be too little, too late.

 

Natural disasters continue to destroy homes and livelihoods in every region of the country with floods, forest fires, tornadoes, hurricanes and drought, the rising oceans and the destruction caused by pollution to marine life and the very air we breathe, all fueled by man-made priorities putting profit above health and well-being.  Paying for a college education leaves our youth financially encumbered, facing lifelong choices that preclude starting a family or initiating major purchases while living with protracted years of family assistance spreading their burden over an even broader base, multiplying the struggle.  Yes, the economy is booming.  Gutting social and environmental programs, suppressing educational and health benefits, cutting taxes for the very rich, rolling back consumer protections and furthering social injustice make for a more favorable climate for capitalist profit, but who are these capitalists that see the benefits of investment? Most Americans cannot free capital from their meager incomes to rise above everyday realities to participate in this temporary boom.  Is the stock market the measure of our democracy or might it be our social programs and institutions designed to foster equality by helping the less fortunate while protecting our accomplishments? According to the Fed one-third of families in the bottom 50% of earners own stocks. On the other hand, according to Gallup nearly 94% of the top income group owned stocks in 2016 while only a total of 54% of all Americans invested in stocks, mutual funds, pensions or retirement plans.Record Dow highs don’t mean much to about half of all Americans becausethe top 1% controls 39% of the country’s wealth.  So, God bless the credit card companies, international banks and Wall street power brokers that they are witnessing a temporary “economic boom.”

 

It’s time we realized that democracy is not an economic system.  Capitalism is not synonymous with democracy.  Democracy is a system designed to further equality through social justice and respect for human rights, by securing meaningful participation in the system for everyone.  It does not exist as an engine for capitalism.  Rather capitalism exists to further democracy.

 

All twenty Democratic primary candidates are unified in agreement on the various problems we suffer under and differ only slightly on the policy remedy required but nineteen are reluctant to take the battle directly to the source. But there is one exception, that last one to enter the fray, the 2oth candidate, Joe Biden, who acknowledges that Trump must be confronted head-on.

 

But it would be a mistake to think that he alone sees this as the foremost problem.  Democrats are divided yes, not on the issues themselves but on the approach to the solutions, basically along idealistic versus pragmatic lines. Progressives are mostly idealistic to a greater or lesser degree.  Klobuchar and Kamala straddle the idealist/pragmatist fence wanting to achieve their ideals in a pragmatic, a more practical conventional middle of the road way with, as they see it, less risk, while Bernie and Elizabeth Warren go all out on idealism.  But none of “The Nineteen” travel the so-called middle lane.  That is where Biden saw his opportunity, abandoned policy arguments and went all-out on a frontal attack, recognizing the obstacle to healing the country was sourcing the problem to Donald Trump. While “The Nineteen” tippy-toe around what we all know and agree on, that Trump must go, parsing policy hairs and fresh ideas, Biden brings that old school mentality for a conventional campaign and a knock-down political struggle funded by the same corporate entities that care less about who wins and more about securing a place in the mud at the feeding trough when it’s all over.  Biden’s value is that he will be the active barometer of the Trump-attack strategy and while he could influence the others to join in and pile on, I doubt it. He will be the main target of Trump’s vitriolic Twitters and the poison spewed by his surrogates, deflecting much harm from the progressives who will continue with a strategy of policy ideals, fertile ground were Trump is at a disadvantage.  Trump’s argument with them is limited to one word… “Socialism.”

 

It’s easier for his base to unite in fear around that one word than to actually consider the issues.  It’s an appeal to pure emotion and nothing less.  Do they not realize that Socialism is aligned with the Christian concept of taking care of one’s neighbor?  This is the case Biden is making without appearing to be a socialist.  He is making his entrance based on moral and ethical issues, neither political nor policy based, but fitness for office. This is what all Democrats believe and frankly so do most Republicans in private, that Trump is unfit. He is a plague that they allowed upon themselves and they can’t exterminate it without losing a few limbs. These church-mice will not speak up for fear of being primary-ed by a Trumpian candidate. And so we look for the Savior beyond them.  Is it Joe? Or will Joe be the spoiler that disheartens progressive momentum and creates a cynicism that keeps their numbers from the polls. Can Joe ride the Blue wave?

 

Meanwhile, the House is mired in a difficult decision… impeach or don’t impeach.  Doing the right thing is not a political decision but a moral and ethical choice. The political consideration is to not impeach for fear of damage in the 2020 election, while the moral choice, the courageous choice, is to do the right thing and hold Trump accountable for his actions, regardless of the political consequences that may or may not be incurred.  Impeachment must be considered for the values it upholds not the potential downside it may impose.

 

Trump has built his storm over the warm waters of the haters in his base who see themselves as the “very fine people” he describes and their collective hatred is carried inland on the Jetstream of the internet and media coverage to wreak havoc on a trusting nation.  A turbulent effect builds in a chaotic fashion, Trump feeding the storm and the rising storm feeding Trump until untethered and lacking any form of compassion, each feels licensed to commit heinous acts such as murdering Jews on the one hand or ripping asylum-seeking families apart on the other, taking children from their mothers and caging them like stray dogs in a pound.  This sort of open, unrepentant behavior has not been seen in a very long time.  It’s rather like the measles, thought to be wiped out, but now rearing its ugly head.

 

And so Biden enters the race as a fight for the soul of America.

 

 

 

 

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Descending The Media Molehill

April 1, 2019

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It seems as though every new day, our political realities bring a fresh climate-change challenge to our fragile environment of common sense.   In the age of “Me Too” how is it that the American public can accept the sexual misconduct of a philandering president or the drunken abuse of a supreme court nominee, despite credible sworn testimony to their misdeeds and yet, vigorously reverse course to persecute minor offenders like Al Franken until out of office. The answer can only be understood in three parts. First, Trump’s and the offending Republican’s misconduct has been so outrageous that it is no longer unexpected and we have become too numb to respond to each transgression.  Second, we know that changing this culture cannot happen from within the Republican ranks. From the first days of Trump’s administration, Republicans have proven themselves to be hypocritical enablers, providing cover through denials, alternate facts while creating chaos and confusion to maintain power.  And thirdly, a very important component,  the media covers all offenses equally for dramatic impact, often creating mountains out of molehills in a never-ending political soap opera..

 

Al Franken is one such case, as the former SNL clown-not-yet-a-Senator mimed “copping a feel” on a sleeping woman aboard a government USO air transport. To be sure, he never touched her, nor did she suffer any embarrassment at the time. Nevertheless it was undoubtedly a sophomoric attempt at humor. Even as recently as yesterday, many months after Franken resigned office, I heard this specific event characterized by a CNN anchor as “groping” a woman. It was just not so!  Who among us has never told or laughed at an off-color joke or remark?  This cannot be considered deviant behavior, nor is it criminal, so does it warrant removal from office? Did Franken really have to resign?  Are the acceptable standards for Democratic candidacy so narrowly defined that a purity test for saintly behavior is now required?

 

Just as Trump’s lies become “facts,” as repeated over time,  so too repeated mischaracterization of actual events become lasting mountains of falsehood in the forgotten forest of truth. There can be no room in a democratic environment for media inaccuracy. Shortcuts lack specificity and create lasting myth, an unintended fiction.

 

If we seek lasting reform, it cannot come from the Republicans, who have clearly run from their responsibility losing all credibility.  So, looking to the Democrats to affect change now requires a stricter measure of moral character as the litmus test for championing the fight. Any infraction, however small, disqualifies a candidate for office. Enter Joe Biden. Oh Joe, what have we done?

 

A Nevada candidate for state legislature, Lucy Flores has come forward to accuse Joe of “kissing the back of her head,”  implying an unwanted advance that was creeping her out.   How far have we come from fucking a porn star to kissing the back of a woman’s head as a determinant of inappropriate conduct? While the one offender remains in office, the other struggles to qualify to compete.  It’s a peculiar, hypocritical standard. Video footage exists of Joe doing pretty much the same thing to Stephanie Carter, wife of Ash Carter. While standing beside her husband at his swearing in, as Joe’s hands are placed on her shoulders he whispers something in her ear.  It’s more like an act of fatherly support than an act of sexual intent.  Joe is clearly old school and is one of those dear people not shy about showing affection.  If anything he is blindly unaware of the new realities.  He does not understand how things today can be perceived and contained by the realities of time and space, he cannot jump in the time machine to erase his history of innocent actions made within a different contextual social and political environment.

 

There are several ways to interpret Biden’s touchy-feely behavior and we must all Flores her own interpretation, but in retrospect it appears more like a paternal blessing than a sexual advance.

 

Different cultures have different standards and kisses of this kind are more like a warm welcome or a hand shake, an indication of acceptance and praise. Many European cultures, including the French and the Russians embrace kissing of each cheek as accepted tradition.

 

An extreme example of the climate change surfaces through a self-effacing offhand joke Beto O’Rourke made at his own expense, highlighting his own inadequacy in his marriage helping his wife raise the family. The joke was about Beto’s failure not about his wife.  Saying that his wife had been raising their three children “sometimes with my help,” If anything, was his admittance of regret and an apology.

So why did Beto feel compelled to apologize?

“Not only will I not say that again, but I’ll be more thoughtful going forward in the way that I talk about our marriage…. So yes, I think the criticism is right on. My ham-handed attempt to try to highlight the fact that Amy has the lion’s share of the burden in our family — that she actually works but is the primary parent in our family, especially when I served in Congress, especially when I was on the campaign trail — should have also been a moment for me to acknowledge that that is far too often the case, not just in politics, but just in life in general. I hope as I have been in some instances part of the problem, I can also be part of the solution,” he said.

 

Clearly, Democratic candidates feel they must be sanctified. As they descend the media molehill they must each assimilate as a paragon of virtue to stay in the game.