Friday, November 9, 2018

Democrats win back the House while Trump pretends to be triumphant

The Dems won at least 30 seats (some races still to be decided) and the Reps won at least 2 states (some races still to be decided).  Trump is pretending that he personally has had a fantastic victory, historical, monumental, historical - did I say historical? Whistling in the dark.


One thing for sure, Trump has screamed at the top of his voice that he is going to make the next two years as ugly as possible.  First, he fires the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, for having recused himself from the Mueller probe into Republican and Trump.  Next step, of course, is to appoint someone who will fire Mueller, which will be in itself an obstruction of justice.  The target of an investigation firing the investigator is pretty much by definition someone who is obstructing justice.  So, I expect justice will actually get done, but it is likely to be more ugly than I can imagine at this point.


And, another thing he rushed off to do is ban a CNN reporter from White House press conferences for daring to ask him a question.  Worse yet, his press secretary provided a doctored video that tried to portray the reporter, Jim Acosta, as striking a young woman intern as she tried to take his microphone away.  Pure propaganda.  Very disturbing. 


Trump's attack on the News, calling them the Enemy of the People, is pure authoritarianism.  I believe the only thing he ever studied relative to politics is propaganda - Nazi propaganda.  Unfortunately, he does it pretty well.  For example. Himmler said that whatever you are guilty of accuse the other side of the same thing - Trump (and his Russian enablers) have been flooding the country with actual fake news since early 2016.  So, what to do?  Accuse real  news organizations who report actual news of being Fake News.


Another example is following Goring's admission on the stand at the Nuremburg Trials after WWII where he said "The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.  That is easy.  All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the Pacifists for lack of Patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works in any country."  Sound familiar?


By the way, there has been absolutely no mention of the terribly frightening Caravan of brown people hundreds of miles away from the U.S. border in Mexico now that the election is over, of course.  Just a stunt to terrify the Trumpsters and get them out to vote. Make them fear brown people.  Not allow a man with a last name of Acosta to attend press conferences.


The fight against Trump is not left wing against right wing, not liberal against conservative.  It is democracy against burgeoning authoritarian tyranny.


Democracy is going to win.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

May the light push back the darkness

I have many conservative friends, and I trust that most of them are not overt racists and I hope they are impervious to the darkest energies coming out of the woodworks in this election - Trump and many Republican candidates are not sending out racist dog whistles that can only be heard and responded to by the racists they are messaging, but rather they are sending out loud trumpet calls of overt racism to play to the hardcore Trump supporters, far too many of which are hard core right wing anti-semites and racists.


The ridiculous false claims that the caravan of refugees fleeing poverty and violence in Central America to seek asylum in America includes Isis and hard core drug criminals is just an overt message to those who fear brown people to vote Republican who also fear brown people.

The astonishing voter suppression in Georgia and Kansas and other Republican strongholds is an echo of voter suppression in the Jim Crow south.  There is not even an attempt to hide the racism in these efforts.



When the Republican candidate, Desantis, for governor in Florida says that voters shouldn't "monkey this up" by electing a black man, there is nothing subtle about that racist message to his base.  And when Trump's Agriculture secretary says that the Florida governor's race is "cotton picking important" this again is an overt message to anti-black voters.


But, there is so much more to conservatism than racism.  I am very saddened that the avid Trump base is so mired in the darkest places of the party - from racist fears to the darkest and most vile conspiracy theories such as Jews like Soros are trying to replace whites with brown people. 


I have a fervent desire and hope that the forces of light amongst conservatives, and my conservative friends, will be repulsed by these forces of darkness and push back. As many long term and reputable conservatives have said, the only way to defeat the Trumpster darkness is to vote against it.  Indeed, I believe the only way for conservatives to prevail and return the Republican Party to conservatism is to punish this relentless overt racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, isolationist campaign being led by Trump and the Trumpster candidates.


I expect that the forces of light are stronger than the forces of darkness.  And I expect that many Republicans appealing to the darkest energies in the conservative movement will be defeated this Tuesday. 


I certainly hope so, but even if I am pleased with the outcome of this mid-term election, the forces of darkness will still be there. Perhaps electoral losses can be a wake up call for what used to be called compassionate conservatives, and maybe even a wake up call for those in the thrall of the flim-flam leader of the Republican who is temporarily leading the Republican Party.


America has always been a light in the world, and that light is not going to be extinguished by Trump and his appeals to the darkest corners of America.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Please vote - against Republicans this election

There are many conservatives who are advocating for voting against today's Republicans because today's Republicans have been captured by Donald Trump, who has been captured by the Alt Right - who are racist, authoritarian, cruel, exploitive, and essentially un-American.


Max Boot, conservative historian, just wrote an article entitled "Vote against Republicans. Every single one."


Conservative columnist George Will wrote an article entitled "Vote against the GOP this November."


Former George W Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson wrote an article entitled "The only way to save the GOP is to defeat it."


There are many many more conservatives who are adamantly against Trump and his subservient Republican Senate and Congress who are all afraid of offending the offensive alt-right base.


As I have written before, I was a Democrat in the '60s and '70s, but a Republican from1980 until the extremism and cynicism of the Tea Party pushed me to register as an independent.  Then Trump pushed me to become a Democrat.  Today's Republican Party which refuses to stand up to the morally bankrupt Trump is itself morally bankrupt.


My conservative friends think that opposition to Trump is liberal opposition to conservatism.  It's not.  It's opposition to racism, hatred, violence, and incipient fascism.  The Alt Right collection of KKK, neo-Nazis, racists, and torch bearing violence used to be on the fringes under Reagan and the two Bushes. They are in charge now, and a country as great and the United States must just say no to these white nationalists and white supremacists.


We are in a time of the crumbling of old institutions, but that doesn't mean we have to be in a time of domination by a racist and fascist morality.



Wednesday, October 24, 2018

It's the impulsive ignoramous, stupid

In keeping with the motto of the Clinton victory in his first campaign - "It's the economy, stupid", I have suggested a few mottos for this mid-term - "It's the corruption, stupid", "It's the incompetence and neglect, stupid", and "It's the cruelty, stupid."  Here is another....

"It's the impulsive ignoramus, stupid."

I mean Trump, of course, but Republicans are too timid to challenge his ignorance. 

Nothing wrong with being ignorant, we are all ignorant - that is just not knowing something.  All presidents are ignorant about many things.  But, they have the decency and character to explore, ask, listen, learn----learn----learn. 

But an ignoramus is one who is ignorant and refuses to learn, one who is ignorant and thinks he knows it all, one who is ignorant and thinks it is not necessary to learn or be informed.  That pretty well summarizes the TV star who is playing the president on TV, Mr Trump.

A few top of the head examples - trade - he thinks a trade deficit with a country means the country is taking advantage of us, even though it has been explained to him over and over that this is not true.

Trade war - he thinks the way to grow the economy is via a trade war.  Caterpillar today announced that the price of their very heavy products will have to rise because of the increased price of steel, and the stock market dropped 608 points, culminating a bad week and wiping out all the gains of the year.

The economy - I caution against keeping investments in the stock market while this ignorant loose canon is president - between his ignorance of economics, ignorance of diplomacy, and ignorance of actual news rather than just the right wing propaganda he is slave to his impulses are likely to have pretty drastic damage on the economy.

Taxes - he thinks lowering taxes will have no consequences other than getting him votes, and thinks increasing the deficit is of no importance.  Of course, the Reps in Congress are happy to go along because they can use the frightening deficit to cut social programs, which they hate because it helps the people they try to ignore - the poor and middle class, especially those of color.

The Middle East - he has sided with the murderous Saudi Arabia against the murderous Iran.  Hard to imagine anything dumber than to pick a side in the Middle East.  You break it, you own it, and now he owns Mohammed bin Salman who just dismembered a critical media person, Kashoggi, while he was still alive - took him 7 minutes to die.  But, what the heck, they buy weapons from us - to ....

Immigrants - he is whipping up a paranoid frenzy about 5000 desperate people fleeing Latin American countries from poverty, despotism, and cruelty.  All bad folks, he says.  What nonsense. Terrified people needing a refuge.  But that would take compassion, which he and too many of his followers can't muster.  And that would mean abandoning his number one campaign strategy - whipping up fear of brown people.

The list is endless, but this is as much as I can bring myself to remember right now.

It's the impulsive ignoramus, stupid - and his supine Republican politicians running as close to him as they can - the ignoramus caucus.

Friday, October 19, 2018

It's the cruelty, stupid

Another suggestion for Democrat strategy this election - "It's the cruelty, stupid". 


Carville said "It's the economy, stupid" to help elect Clinton.  I've suggested "It's the corruption, stupid" and "It's the incompetence and neglect, stupid".  But cruelty seems to be a feature of Republicans these days.


Where is the cruelty?  Here are a few examples:


After redistributing wealth from the middle class and poor to the wealthy with the Republican tax cut last year which increased the deficit, just as planned, the Senate Republican leader has announced that they will just have to be forced to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  Just as I predicted the day after the tax cut.  Disempower the middle classes to make them more dependent upon the ruling oligarchy. Cruelty.


Another example?  separating children from their parents if the cross the border as a way of deterring undocumented immigration.  Cruelty.


Deporting Dreamers?  Children brought to American by their parents and undocumented, even though they are students and soldiers? Cruelty.


What else?  Defend the police whenever an unarmed black man or youth is killed.  Keep the people of color in line, don't cha know?  With - cruelty.


And, how about reduce environmental regulations on drinking water in poor neighborhoods?  Cruelty.


Cutting food stamps to the elderly, children, disabled veterans?  Cruelty.


Promoting violence against the critical press, including refusing to condemn Saudi Arabia for the torture and killing of an opposition journalist?  Cruelty.


Mocking a reporter with a congenital disorder? Cruelty.


Mocking the appearance of women politicians and reporters that are critical? Cruelty.


Paying scant attention to the horrific effects of the hurricane in Puerto Rico? Cruelty.


These are just what comes off the top of my head.  There are examples of Trump and Republican cruelty weekly, and sometimes daily.


It's the cruelty, stupid.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

It's the incompetence and neglect, stupid

On a previous post I suggested that Democrats focus on a theme - "It's the corruption, stupid".  This is a take off on James Carville's famous "It's the economy, Stupid" which was the focus that helped elect Clinton.  Here is a second idea - "It's the incompetence and neglect, stupid".

We now have a crisis with Saudi Arabia where there seems to be evidence that the Saudi leader tortured and killed and dismembered a critical journalist.  But, guess what, America does not have an ambassador to Saudi Arabia.  This is one example of the unbelievable level of incompetence and neglect of this administration.

Michael Lewis is a writer who is a national treasure.  His book "The Big Short" was the best written book on the financial collapse of 2008.  I just finished his newest - "The Fifth Risk".  What is the fifth risk? it's the one that nobody is thinking about.  He reveals some terrible facts.  

The first is that there was no transition to the Trump administration from the Obama administration, because Trump did not have a transition team.  He started out with the experienced Chris Christie running the transition team, but fired Christie because Trump didn't understand that a transition team was needed, and demanded by the law.  He didn't care. And nobody really replaced Christie.

Horrifying example - the Department of Energy. The day after Trump's election the leaders of the DOE showed up with extensive briefing books they had taken about a year to put together to teach the incoming administration what the DOE did, the ongoing programs, issues, problems, etc.  Nobody showed up from the Trump administration.  What??  After a few days some guy eventually showed up, spent an hour, took no notes, left, and never came back.  The only thing that guy eventually did was purge the DOE of people who had anything to do with studying climate change. 

About half of the DOE $30bn budget is on our nuclear arsenal - testing, guarding plutonium and uranium, cleaning up nuclear waste.  The most knowledgeable people in DOE left or were pushed out. 

The DOE runs the nation's 17 national labs, including Fermi, Oak Ridge, Lawrence Livermore, etc.

"The office of science for the DOE is not the office of science for the DOE, it's the office of science for all science in America."  

They work to prevent huge risks - accidental explosion of a nuke, North Korea nuclear threat, Iranian nuke capability, containment and reducing nuclear waste, safety of the electrical grid.

Hanford Washington was where most of the plutonium for America's nukes were made.. It is close to the giant Columbia river that cuts across between Oregon and Washington.  It is now in the dangerous business of cleaning up over 40 years of deadly toxins.  That is 10% of the DOE budget.  Things like Strontium is already in Hanford's ground water.

"Beneath Hanford, a massive underground glacier of radioactive sludge is moving slowly but relentlessly toward the Columbia river."

There are 177 giant tanks buried on Hanford's tank farms.  Most are single shell steel containers and they leak.  In the '40s and early '50s they piled waste, contaminated liquid and uranium into open pits near the Columbia river.

It is not just Trump, it is also right wing ideologues who can only think one thought - that the free market solves all problems. But there are many problems that only the government can solve - problems that take extensive scientific research and massive amounts of government money to solve.  Trump knows nothing of this, and the ideological storm troopers capitalizing on his ignorance are gutting essential protections.

Trump's budget laid off 6000 people from the national labs and eliminated all research on climate change.
 
Same across the federal government. Nobody showed up from the Trump administration for the transition. Or if they did, they were too few and too ignorant and confused and unprepared to be worth anything.


At the State Department those who showed up didn't have security clearances and couldn't be briefed.

There are many places where the U.S. government is what stands between us and what can kill us.  Those places are places where civil servants do their jobs, and we get to live and prosper.  The civil service is the foundation of civilization. Of the top 6000 career civil servants, 20% were fired or pushed out or left in disgust in the first year.

The right wing ideologues who so trust the free market don't realize that without the government there is no internet, no iPhone, no GPS.  Reagan's famous catchy campaign phrase that government is not the solution but is the problem used to be believed by me.  No longer.  Government  is vital to America, especially our safety, from the military and police and Justice Department to the DOE and State Department and the Department of Agriculture.  Indeed, all of the governmental departments.

It's the incompetence and neglect, stupid.

 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Trump's war on the press - death to Khashoggi

It seems tragically clear that Saudi Arabia has tortured and killed Jamal Khashoggi, Washington Post opinion columnist and editor for Saudi newspaper Al Watan.  He lived in Virginia, just outside D.C. 


Khashogi criticized the Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).  He also criticized Donald J Trump. It looks like Mohammed bin Salman killed him.  Trump doesn't want to criticize or punish Saudi Arabia.  His excuse is jobs - he, the Great Negotiator, was solely and completely responsible for selling $110bn in military arms to Saudi Arabia.  So, he is certainly not going to stop that magnificent business deal over such a small thing as an authoritarian regime killing a critic in the press.


Trump's war on the press has given permission to authoritarians around the world to go to war on their press as well.  We already see dictators denounce critical press reports and opinions as "Fake News", just like our esteemed president.  Well, in authoritarian countries other than the U.S. the war on the press sometimes means death. 


Deaths of journalists have gone up around the world since Trump became president, and I think a real reason for that is that the U.S. no longer is the exemplar of moral leadership in the world - no longer is the powerful promoter of human rights and democracy - no longer is the opponent of tyranny around the world.  Indeed, this president actively attacks and demeans our allies and praises and sucks up to our authoritarian enemies - Putin and MBS for example.


Trump's violent rhetorical attacks on actual news in America inspires hatred against responsible news outlets.  Violence is looming. Khashoggi shows us what can happen - even here, even here, even here.


America must take a very hard line against MBS and Saudi Arabia.  This must not be sanctioned with a wink and a nod toward an authoritarian leader in Saudi Arabia by a wanna be authoritarian leader in America.