Monday, May 29, 2017

Why I think Putin is controlling Trump

I think Russia's Vladimir Putin is controlling America's president, Donald Trump.  Here's why:

  • The Russians hacked into the Hillary campaign and dumped emails into the media to damage her candidacy, while they did nothing of the sort to Trump
  • Trump cared about only one thing at the Republican Convention during the forming of the platform, and that was to delete any mention of condemnation of Russia's take-over of Crimea and Ukaraine
  • After the election and before the inauguration the CIA, FBI, and NSA all concluded that Russia interfered in the election with the goal of electing Trump
  • President Trump pressured FBI director Comey, Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, and Mike Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency to call off investigations into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign
  • Top Trump campaign people are known to have Russian connections - from Michael Flynn and Jeff Sessions to Ashton Carter, Roger Stone, and now Jared Kushner
So, what is the entire point of Putin putting Trump into office?  What does Putin want from Trump?  I think he just got it.  Trump refused to affirm America's support of Article 5 of NATO which says an attack on any member of NATO is an attack on all of us.  Germany has said that it is becoming clear that Europe was going to have to stop relying on America.

Perhaps Putin's prime goal is to keep NATO from opposing Putin's takeover of the Baltic states.  Looks like Mr Trump is in agreement with Mr Putin.

And then, of course, there is just the general Putin strategy around the world to discredit and weaken all democracies as his way of lifting Russia back into international power status.  How could he have done that more effectively than by putting an ignorant child into the White House.

Why is Trump letting Putin tell him what to do? Possible reasons - Trump owes Putin and his oligarchs billions of dollars - Putin has humiliating and/or incriminating evidence he can release against Trump - or Trump is just Putin's chump.

Not good for America or the world.  I believe.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Speaking of obstruction of justice...

So, Trump put pressure on the head of the FBI, James Comey, to call off investigations into the Russian interference in the presidential election, and fired Comey when he refused.  And, what else did he do?  Oops - he put pressure on others as well - Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, and Mike Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency.  

All three refused the "inappropriate requests" - otherwise known as obstruction of justice, also thought of as potential grounds for impeachment.  The president put pressure on the leaders of top intelligence agencies to stop investigating his campaign, and by implication to stop investigating him.

His actions scream guilt.  

Let the investigations proceed, with all possible speed.  This man is either dangerous, or dangerously clueless.

Only the Republicans can decide to impeach this anti-democracy president, and they will only do so when they see their own futures being threatened by his presidency.  Wouldn't it be nice if they made their decision based upon this man's threats to democracy rather than just threats to their electoral chances?  

Oh well, hoping for Profiles in Courage from today's Republicans seems to be a Bridge Too Far.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Hats off to Trump

I was knocked out by Trump's speech to Middle Eastern dignitaries in Saudi Arabia this morning.  I was surprised to hear a reasoned, forceful entreaty for all nations to unite against the evil of terrorists.  

I was a little concerned that he called out Iran as the locus of evil in the region, especially after Iran just elected the reformist Rouhani to be their president, but I hope that Rouhani and the Iranian people can take that as an impetus to back off the Iranian Shiite extremist wars against the Sunni extremists in the region and around the world.

Of course, unmentioned by Trump was the fact that Saudi Arabia is the other center of extremist dogma.  Iran fuels the Shia and Saudi Arabia fuel the Sunni extremists.  But I was very encouraged that Saudi Arabia hosted our president whose biggest statement of his speech was that all nations should drive out fundamentalist extremists and stop funding and supporting them.

Obama made special efforts to reach out to Iran, leading to a nuclear agreement and eventually to the election of Rouhani.  Trump has declared Iran the source of Middle Eastern butchery, and although that is true, it is only half of the truth.  Saudi Arabia feeds the Sunni butchers on the other side of this terrible religious and civil war in the Middle East which has spread throughout the region and into the West as well.

I was happy to hear the president say that America will stand with them in the fight against terrorists, but we can't make their decisions for them:

"America is prepared to stand with you in pursuit of shared interests and common security, but the nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them. The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their country, and frankly for their families, for their children. It's a choice between two futures, and it is a choice America cannot make for you. A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and drive out the extremists.
Drive them out. Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land. And drive them out of this earth."
I have been appalled by most of what President Trump has said and done, but I have to give him credit when I think he has  done something well, and I was impressed by this speech. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

How authoritarian is Trump?

The president shows alarming tendencies toward  authoritarianism. By firing the FBI Director who was investigating his campaign connections to the hostile foreaign power, Russia, by showing admiration for authoritarian rulers like Putin and Erdogan, by telling the FBI Director that journalists should be imprisoned, he gives me reason to fear him. 

But, I have reason to hope that his desires for authoritarian rule will peter out, for two reasons. 

First, Trump himself doesn't seem to have the gravitas to be a dictator. He has no passionate agenda other than ego gratification in him. Plus, he doesn't have the focus and stamina to follow through to create a totalitarian state. 

Second, and more importantly, the country doesn't want a dictator. 

Without the Nazis, Hitler was just a loud mouthed nut. The Hitler Youth, the Brown Shirts, were authoritarian thugs driven be racist pride and love of cruelty to carry out their leader's quest for racial supremacy.  Hitler had enough of the vicious to support him that he was able to take over the country and slaughter tens of millions. 

It is true that actual white supremacists support Trump, that actual people longing for authoritarian leadership support him, but I believe they are very much just a scary minority. I believe the bulk of Trump support comes from just plain old fashioned conseratives trying to establish the agenda of the Conservative Movement. 

Trump is being, and will be, thwarted by men and women of integrity and honor who see the threat of authoritarianism. America, and the ideals and honor of American democracy, will prevail, I am convinced. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Special Counsel into Russia-Trump investigation named

Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to investigate possible Russian - Trump Campaign ties and collusion during the presidential campaign.  

Trump has said that the investigation will prove there is nothing there.  That is possible, but given how fiercely the President tried to stop this investigation, it is pretty unlikely, it seems to me.

Had Trump been innocent all along, he would have welcomed and supported such an investigation so as to clear his name, and to clear the reputation of his electoral victory.  But, of course, he did just the opposite.

I have written many times that he is just a child, with a insatiable and very fragile ego.  One thing that I can learn from this man-child is that when we think with our egos we become very stupid.  This is axiomatic on the golf course when the ego says you can hit the ball over the water onto the green and have an eagle putt.  If your not a pro, you can't.  

How smart is it for Mr Trump to attack the CIA, FBI, and all of the intelligence agencies?  Aren't they in the business of finding things out?  

How smart is it for Mr Trump to attack the Media?  Aren't they in the business of finding things out?  

Some politicians wouldn't have to worry about investigations because they have nothing to hide.  That certainly does not describe Mr Trump, who has a very checkered past and a very questionable present.  

What reason is most likely that Mr Trump has steadfastly refused to release his tax returns?  Isn't it most likely to be financial ties to Putin and Russian oligarchs?

The latest revelation that the President tried to get the FBI Director to stop investigating the Russia-Trump ties is probably an illegal obstruction of justice, which charge was the leading charge against Nixon and Clinton in their impeachment hearings.

I think Trump supporters have been thinking of him as a Republican or a conservative and see this and all of the fierce opposition to Trump as ideological.  I think it is not.  I think it is a response to a president they see as undermining the rule of law, undermining the institutions of America, undermining the Press, undermining the courts, undermining democracy itself.  If Pence becomes president, I will not be happy because I am likely to oppose his fundamentalist sense of morality, but I will be very relieved that the Trump anti-democratic train was derailed.

Where this will lead we don't know.  But I am pretty sure the President is not feeling real good right now.  

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Why we shouldn't put children in the White House

When it came time for Donald Trump to be given his first intelligence briefing many of us shuddered at the thought because he was so obviously childish that the chances were good that he would blurt something out that could severely harm the country or the world.  Well, yesterday he did just that - to his best buddies, the hostile foreign power Russia.  Not because he is an evil traitor, but because he is a 9 year old who needs to brag about how important he is.  Here is the quote:

"In his meeting with Lavrov, Trump seemed to be boasting about his inside knowledge of the looming threat. “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” the president said, according to an official with knowledge of the exchange"

So he gave them a piece of intelligence that can easily be used by the Russians to uncover a very highly guarded source providing intel on Isis - who is likely now in danger for his or her life.  What foreign intelligence will now share highly sensitive intel with the U.S.?  What does our intelligence service share or withhold from him?

God help us all.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Overt Authotitarian move by Trump

Trump just fired FBI dirctor James Comey. We are supposed to believe it was because his Attorney General recommended it. So, he does something while claiming it is someone else's idea. Typical. But, of course, totally unbelievable.

We're supposed to believe it is because of the way Comey dealt with Hillary's emails last July during the presidential race. What nonsense. The last person to be upset by Comey's handling of Hillary emails would be Trump, who benefited greatly by Comey's handling of her emails.  Totally unbelievable.

We're supposed to pretend that we don't remember that Comey and the FBI are investigating links between a hostile foreign power, Russia, and Trump, interfering in our 2016 presidential election with the goal of helping Trump become president. But we don't forget.

We're supposed to believe that Trump will not appoint a lackey who will try to kill the Russia-Trump investigation. I certainly don't.

Trump is making a very overt Authoritarian move - fire someone who is investigating him. This is the kind of thing Putin does.

Nixon tried that. Didn't work out too well for him.

Time to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate Russia-Trump ties, and influence.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Trumpcare will dramatically increase bankruptcies of the Middle Class

One of the good things about Obamacare was the elimination of yearly and lifetime caps on insurance coverage. Middle class families were going bankrupt when confronted with skyrocketing costs to save the lives of family members, or to pay for the effort to save a dying family member. Then Obamacare was instituted and guess what?  Bankruptcies in America have been cut in half, from a high of 1,536,799 in 2010 to 770,846 in 2016.  See chart:

Republican's Trumpcare will bring Middle and Lower Middle Class bankruptcies due to unafordable costs to treat seriously ill and dying family members back.  Isn't that nice of them?

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Republicans make Americans less safe with Trumpcare

The House of Representatives passed Trumpcare today by two votes, opposed by all Dems.  I think it is both cruel and foolish.

The cruelty first - it allows states to - waive essential benefits requiring out of pocket, unexpected and perhaps unaffordable expenses for some basic care - impose spending caps and thus reintroducing bankruptcy for the middle class if catastrophic expenses are required for the family - waive pre-existing conditions exemptions thus making health care for so many people so expensive as to be unaffordable. 

So people will die.

Although the Reps forced it through before the CBO could issue an analysis I expect that it will throw about the same number of people off of health care as Trumpcare 1.0 - 14,000,000 initially and 24,000,000 in ten years.  The Rep talking point that more people will be covered depends on none of the states waiving essential parts of it, but since they are allowed to, I expect many will. So people will die.

And it cuts Medicaid by $880 Billion - you know, it's for poor and disabled people so who cares?  People will die.

The foolishness next.  They voted on a bill that was not analysed by the CBO, so nobody knows what it will cost and nobody knows how many will lose their coverage. That's moronic.  Obamacare took two years to grind through Congress with endless expert testimony and analysis; Trumpcare took two weeks with no testimony or analysis. The Reps in the House just passed a bill that will affect 1/6 of the country's economy in two weeks with no analysis.  Astonishingly irresponsible.  What on earth happened to the Republican Party?

Also, the states where Obamacare is not working are the states that are controlled by Reps who have done all that they can to sabotage Obamacare.  These are the same states that will be allowed to slash care in the Trumpcare bill.  Gee, what are the chances?

Who suffers?  The people in those states.  Who are the people in those states? Those who voted for Trump.  

It looks to me like the House Reps just voted to dramatically hurt their own voters, their base.  Are they counting on the idea that they won't notice?  How much do they disrespect their own base?  How little do they care about their own base?

I think the whole idea of the Republican Party in particular, and conservatives in general, is that it is the party of men, hard men, courageous men, responsible men who are dedicated to the protection of the country and its people.  Today, the Reps didn't protect America's people, it threw them to the wolves - good luck on your own, suckers, the Reps got their tax break for the Plutocracy.

A very sad day, it seems to me, for America.