Edward Packard
Daily Blog

September 19, 2018 

 

Trump’s Abuse of Power

 

Trump has ordered the F.B.I to declassify certain documents relating to the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, claiming that they would reveal that the F.B.I. has been out to get him. The claim is spurious. The intent is to obfuscate and mislead. The effect will be to compromise sources and undermine law enforcement. Former acting CIA director John McLaughlin noted, “Much of the information will be too sensitive for the FBI or Justice Department to declassify. If forced to do exactly as the president wishes, this should be a resignation issue for someone in the Justice Department.” 


Trump grows ever more desperate as the ring closes in.


 

 

September 18, 2018 

 

The Frightening Specter of Democratic Presidential Primaries 

 

It was alarming enough to learn some weeks ago that there might be 35 contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination. That was before John Kerry held his hat up in a way so that a mere flip of the wrist would send it into the ring. Then word came that former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg, who isn’t even a Democrat and is 76, was considering joining the fray. That makes 37 I’ve counted.

 

Of course, every one of them would be vastly better than Trump, but I’m worried about them standing behind 37 lecterns for the primary debates, the moderator sensibly allowing each only 13 seconds for an opening statement, and only four seconds for questioning each of the other candidates, who will have seven seconds to respond.


We’ve got to whittle this list down! First, rule out everyone who will be 75 or older on election day. So let’s bid a fond good-bye to Joe, Bernie, Mike, and John. There, I feel better already. Now, maybe it’s best to gently usher aside the coastal elites. That’s painful, losing Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Chris Murphy, Kamala Harris, and quite a number of other good people, though I’m glad it will safeguard New York State against losing its governor and its two redoubtable senators. Let’s look to the heartland. Yes, and it’s there we find someone wise, competent, and, unlike almost everyone else, impossible not to like, Minnesota’s senior senator, Amy Klobuchar. Alas, the actual selection process will be a lot more messy.


 

 

September 17, 2018

 

Now Is The Time, John Kasich

 

Kasich, the honest and competent governor of Ohio, was the most worthy of the candidates who ran in the 2016 Republican primaries. Since then, he has been a persistent critic of Trump. Now is the time for him not only to challenge Trump in 2020, but to promise to run on a Conservative Party ticket if he doesn't secure the Republican nomination. If he did that, chances that Trump would win reelection would instantly drop pleasingly close to zero, causing a sharp rise in net happiness throughout the land.


If Kasich did this, many Republicans would assert that he is in effect handing the election to whomever the Democratic candidate might be. Some would assert that he is ruining his political career. None of these prospects should deter him. It's time for him to come to the aid of his country.

 

 

 

 

September 16, 2018 

 

A Revealing Comparison 

 

Sometimes the simplest of statistical comparisons tells a lot; in this case about the hypocrisy of the Republican-controlled Congress. (Source: MSNBC News).


                       Americans Killed        Investigations


Behghazi              4                   10


Puerto Rico                 2,975                        0

 

 

 

 

 

September 15, 2018


Manafort 


Manafort’s pleading guilty to charges in the second Federal prosecution against him (having already been convicted of eight counts in the first one) and agreeing to cooperate with special counsel Mueller is a major development in the Trumpian machinations saga. Having decided not to count on Trump’s pardoning him, Manafort has to follow the new course he’s embarked upon or get into serious new trouble with the law.


 

The hurricane clouds approaching Trump are beginning to look darker than those approaching Nixon before his downfall.

 

 

 

 

September 14, 2018 

 

Trump’s Lying:  

 

Trump is so used to getting away with lying that he’s not able to sense when he’s getting so grossly implausible that even some of his slavish enablers begin to show signs of discomfort. This happened earlier this week when he felt free to heartily congratulate himself on his handling of last year's Hurricane Maria devastation in Puerto Rico, rejecting responsible studies showing that some 3,000 people on the island died from hurricane-related causes. Trump continues to cling to the estimate of about 16 or so deaths someone gave him after he flew to San Juan to throw rolls of paper towels to a dozen or so people gathered about him. He appears to be approaching the limit of how much he can get away with.

 

 

 

September 13, 2018

 

The Art of Diversion

 

A Washington Post article likens Trump to a magician who creates an illusion through diversion. The eye follows a sweep of the hand and fails to see what should be the object of attention. The more damning a truth is revealed about Trump, the more outrageously he rails against something else. No fabrication is too extravagant for him because extravagance is the key to diversion. 

 

 

September 12, 2018 

 

Advice for NASA

 

Headline: NASA ponders selling ad space on its rockets

 

A few years ago I started writing a novel to be titled The Day Bill Gates Bought Mars. The idea was that NASA couldn’t afford to send a manned mission to Mars, so they asked Bill Gates to help out. “Sure,” Gates said. “I’ll pay for the whole thing, just as long as it’s understand that I’ll own Mars.” It soon became a done deal. 

 

My reason for bringing this up is that I’m a big fan of NASA, and I’m afraid they won’t charge enough for ad space on their rockets. I can imagine them sending a Bud Lite rocket into space for only a million bucks. Not enough! My advice to them to think big and put Mars up for sale, and charge plenty! Despite the premise of my novel, Bill Gates probably won’t be interested, but I think Jeff Bezos would be. If he needs coaxing, throw in the moon as a sweetener.

 

 

 

September 11, 2018 

 

Kavanaugh 

 

Kavanaugh is emblematic of the tragedy that has befallen our country. Revelations of his prevarications, not to mention his piles of evidence of his dedication to the radical right-wing Trump-entwined cause, raise a slim hope that he may not be confirmed. What a breath of fresh air that would be! 

 

 

 

September 10, 2019

 

This Year Responsible Republicans Will Vote Democratic


Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin was a Republican until the Republican Party left her. Yesterday she wrote: “No Congress has abdicated its role as a co-equal branch to the extent this Congress has. . . voters concerned about fortifying our democracy must deprive the GOP of majorities in one or both houses.” 


Agreed. Except “Fortifying” isn’t quite the right word. “Saving” or “Keeping alive” would be more accurate.


 

 

 

September 9, 2018 

 

The Philosophy of  Congressional Republicans 

 

The end –– loosening environmental regulations and piling on tax breaks and cuts in return for support from rich corporate and individual donors, brutalizing immigration to please our xenophobic cheerleaders, fighting gun safety laws to please our gun lobby backers, clamping down on women’s reproductive freedom to accommodate the evangelical hucksters who scoop up votes for us, and installing in lifetime positions judges who have proven that they will play along with us  –- justifies even as repulsive a means as pretending that Trump is fit to hold office.


 


September 8, 2018

 

Letter to the Editor of 3rd. C.D. newspapers commenting on the Republican incumbent, Scott Tipton

 

 

Jeff Sessions met twice with the Russian ambassador, which he failed to disclose in a Congressional hearing. He had no choice but to recuse himself from matters arising from the unanimous conclusion of our intelligence services that Russia criminally interfered in the 2016 elections and is an ongoing threat. 

 

It fell upon Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel to conduct an investigation, which, together with related prosecutions, has in the course of 16 months yielded indictments of about 25 Russians and indictments, convictions, or guilty pleas of, among others, Trump’s former campaign manager, former deputy campaign chairman, former national security adviser, former long-term personal lawyer, and former campaign foreign policy adviser, and probed numerous contacts, meetings, and transactions between Trump associates and Russians operatives or oligarchs closely aligned with Putin. Trump vehemently opposes the investigation and wants to end it.

 

The Montrose Press reported that at the Montrose County Republican Women’s luncheon, August 17th, Scott Tipton said, “I’ve been very disappointed with Attorney General Sessions {recusing himself from matters relating to Russian interference in our elections}”; “Eliminating himself from the equation, I think, is counterproductive”; “as long as {the investigation} has gone on, it ought to be coming to a conclusion”; “it has morphed to the point where we’re going off on rabbit trails”; and the president “probably could” end the investigation. 

 

Trump and American democracy are at odds. It’s obvious which Tipton thinks is more important to protect.

 

 

 

 

September 7, 2018 

 

Ignored Perils 

 

While virtually every Republican member of Congress is intent on institutionalizing right-wing control of our government, and people of good will are intent on saving American democracy from Trump and his enablers, grave problems go unattended.  

 

Update from The Nuclear Threat Initiative: “After years of progress on nuclear security, the 2018 NTI Nuclear Security Index finds that the progress countries have made to reduce the threat of catastrophic nuclear terrorism is jeopardized by a deterioration of political stability and governance, increase in corruption, and the expanding presence of terrorist groups around the world." 


 

 

 

September 6, 2018 

 

Kavanaugh 

 

There are several reasons why Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court should not be confirmed. Most obvious is that he ducked when asked if a president of the United States could pardon himself. He should have instantly said, “Of course not.” It’s not a deep legal question whether a president can in effect declare himself to be a king. It only requires having heard of the Declaration of Independence.


 

 

September 5, 2018

 

Cyber Era Perils

Posting this late, today, because I just got this computer back from the shop. This morning a notice suddenly appeared on my screen. It said that a virus had infected my computer and something like "downloads in process". A box appeared that said “O.K.” I immediately shut the computer down. When I opened it again, I found that the screen was full of blurred or distorted icons. I took the computer to the local Apple specialist and left it there for what they called “industrial cleaning.” Happily they accomplished this, and it appears that there was no damage. The technician told me that it was an automated attack that had planted 19 viruses –– "one draws others in" ––  all of which he removed. I have some kind of malware preventer installed, but it evidently didn't work. Be alert would seem to be the moral of it all.


 

 

 

 

September 4, 2018 

 

Go! 

 

When I was growing up, the day after Labor Day was when the academic year began. It’s about the time my first full-time non-military job began. It’s when you notice the nights are cooler and longer and summer has slipped away. It’s when the election season swings into full gear every even year, this year in just about the biggest way ever. It’s when I get the feeling someone’s whispering in my ear, as at the start of a race, “Go!”



 

September 3, 2018 

 

Linguistical Considerations 

 

Trump regularly displays his demagogic skills in seizing upon words that are apt to describe his character, his utterances, and his actions and ascribing them to critics and enemies. He regularly describes others as “sad,” “disgraceful,” “failing,” “fake,” “crooked,” “disgusting,” and other such terms every one of which could much more aptly be applied to himself. 

 

In the course of his serial lying, he debases language. Some descriptive adjectives have been sapped of their meaning, so often have they been abused by Trump. Language, along with a lot of other things, will have to be revivified after he’s gone.

 

 

 

September 2, 2018 

 

The Ingratiators

 

Unless your critical thinking ability has been impaired by watching too much Fox News or listening to Rush Limbaugh and his like, you are aware that our president is a classic demagogue and an aspiring autocrat, contemptuous of truth, outraged by dissent, and eager to be proclaimed above the law. This is not just an opinion. Trump himself reveals this is the case; for example, at a recent rally he proclaimed:


 “Today’s Democrat Party is held hostage by left-wing haters, angry mobs, deep-state radicals, establishment cronies and their fake-news allies. .  .  Our biggest obstacle and their greatest ally actually is the media.”


It's sickening that practically all the surviving Republicans in Congress are wiling to ingratiate themselves to this man. 


 

September 1, 2018 

 

The Overriding Issue 

 

I'm roughing out a series of letters to send to the editor of the many local newspapers in my Congressional district in an effort to help flip it from representation by a Trump-toady Republican to the smart, experienced, competent, honorable, pragmatic progressive Democrat running against him. My basic theme is that this year there is an issue that overrides normal clashes between "conervative" and "progressive" philosophies and policies. It's this:

 

Will the United States of America reemerge as the world’s greatest democracy and shining example to the world or will it fall under corrupt and self-perpetuating autocratic rule? It can rattle your head thinking about it, but that’s the point in history that we’ve reached. 

 

 

 

August 31, 2018

 

The Malfunctioning and the Remedy

 

As Jennifer Rubin noted in a Washington Post column yesterday, “Republicans reflect the thinking of the 30 percent of the electorate Trump has bamboozled all along.”


This 30 percent of the electorate represents a clear majority of Republicans, so they govern Republicans, and because Republicans control the government, the effect is that the less than a third of voters control the government.


The remedy for this malfunctioning of democracy is to vote Republicans out and Democrats in this year’s elections.

 

 

 

August 30, 2018 

 

The Affordable Clean Energy Rule 

 

This is the name of Trump’s dispensation to coal-fired utilities allowing them to increase air pollution. The Washington Post reports: “Trump EPA’s own documents. . . reveal that the administration’s plan would result in up to 1,400 American deaths every year by 2030, as more coal burning results in more air pollution.” 

 

If 1,400 will die each year, it’s a good bet that 14,000 will incur significant non-lethal lung problems and that 140,000 will incur some measure of respiratory distress, if only occasional coughing or clearing of the throat, or a vague sense of malaise, and 1,400,000 will notice that vistas are not a sharply defined as they were and the air doesn’t seem as clear, and 14,000,000, or maybe 140,000,000, or so will from time to time feel sick that our country has stumbled so badly as to have installed and maintained a sociopath as president and that so many of us find it to be an acceptable turn in history’s course.


 

 

August 29, 2018 

 

Agreement and Disagreement 

 

Republicans and Democrats appear to be in agreement that this fall’s elections are of unparalleled importance for the same reason: if Democrats gain control of either the House of the Senate, they will exercise oversight as to Trump and his confederates, including using subpoena power to conduct thoroughgoing investigations aimed at eliciting critical facts, instead of stalling or diverting attention to bogus issues, as has been the norm with committees under Republican control. 


Where members of our two major parties differ is that Republicans fear that this eventuality would frustrate their attempt to submit our country to longterm right-wing authoritarian  rule, whereas Democrats see in it hope that government of, by, and for the people may be restored.

 

 

 

August 28, 2018 

 

The Storm, The Ship, The Captain, The Crew 

 

A full gale is building. Were Republicans controlling Congress responsible, courageous, or honorable, they would impeach Trump and remove him from office. Lacking these qualities, they stand mute while their deranged captain steers closer to reefs lining a lee shore.


 

 

August 27, 2018 

 

A Call to Service  

 

Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their country. One man I hope will do so, because he could make a critical difference, is John Kasich, the respected, competent, and honorable Republican governor of Ohio. Kasich could challenge Trump for the 2020 Republican nomination. If he loses, he could run against Trump on a conservative party ticket. He would be certain to syphon off a large number of votes from people who would otherwise vote for Trump. Though it’s unlikely he would win, he would doom Trump’s chances of wining and thereby render our country a service of incalculable worth.


 

 

August 26, 2018

 

Rogue President; Rogue Republican-controlled Congress

 

Republicans have refused to initiate investigations or hold hearings on corruption on the part of Trump cabinet appointees. They’ve turned a blind eye to Trump’s conflicts of interests and receipt of foreign monies that violate the emoluments clause of the Constitution. They’ve sat on their hands while self-appointed Trump protectors attempt to undermine the work of the F.B.I., harassed Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, and first impeded and then shut down the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of Russian interference in our elections.


Republicans have shown have no interest in investigating allegations in sworn testimony by Trump’s longterm lawyer that Trump prevailed on him to violate the law to influence the election. They don’t care that Trump apparently knew of a meeting between a Russian national and top campaign aides in violation of the law and did nothing to stop it. 

 

Our country will be revitalized if Democrats take control of either the House or the Senate in this fall’s elections. Otherwise, we’ll continue to slide down the slope at the bottom of which lies autocratic rule.

 

 

 

August 25, 2018 

 

The Dark Shadow of Trump No Matter What 

 

My blog of August 16, 2018  stated: “The Manafort case has gone to the jury. The evidence against him is overwhelming. One would expect the jury to convict him. I’m doubtful this will happen. About 20% of the population have been conditioned to think that Trump can do no wrong. The odds are that at least one of the jurors is fanatically convinced that the Mueller investigation is a plot against Trump and that resistance against it overrides all other considerations. Such a juror will vote to acquit Manafort and will refuse to yield to a contrary consensus.”

 

As it turned out, the jury convicted Manafort on 8 of the 18 counts, but it’s an indication of how close my dark speculation came to being realized that, although 11 jurors would have convicted Manafort on all 18 counts, one juror would not budge on her determination to acquit him on 10 of them. This surely was a Trump-no-matter-what juror, who presumably would have liked to acquit Manafort on all 18 counts, but couldn’t go that far in the face of the overwhelming evidence and the shame the other jurors would have heaped on her if she’d been willing to single-handedly hang the jury on all counts. Luckily, she wasn’t sufficiently ideologically dug in enough to completely subvert the workings of justice. Will we (the public) be so lucky if and when Trump or any of his family members are subjected to a criminal prosecution?


 

 

 

August 24, 2018


Trump: “If I’m impeached, the stock market would crash.”

 

A small price to pay.

 

 

 

 

August 23, 2018 

 

We’ll Be Lucky If 

 

Trump is almost certainly guilty of multiple federal and state felonies. There is no question that he has committed high crimes and misdemeanors. He should be impeached and removed from office immediately, but our country is in the grip not only of a rogue president but also of a rogue Republican-controlled Congress. Robert Reich gloomily but realistically notes, “We'll be lucky if he loses in 2020. And even if he loses, we’ll be fortunate if he concedes without being literally carried out of the Oval Office amid the stirrings of civil insurgency.”



August 22, 2018 

 

To Throw or Not to Throw 

 

Trump has spent his entire career throwing people under the bus whenever it suits his purposes. Republicans controlling Congress must wondering whether it’s time to throw Trump under the bus. The argument for doing so is that under the bus is where Trump belongs. The argument against it is that it would alienate Trump-no-matter-what voters. 


Whether Republicans do or don’t, their fecklessness in having supported and abetted this nightmare-come-true of a president is becoming increasingly conspicuous.


 

 

August 21, 2018 

 

Letter to the Editor of the Four Corners Free PressWhat This Fall’s Elections Are About 

 

The first thing to realize is that we are not living in ordinary times. Some great historical process has overtaken us, and as responsible citizens we must come to terms with it. We need to stretch our minds to understand what this fall’s elections are about. 

 

In ordinary times the main electoral contests were between Republican candidates and Democratic candidates. Republicans traditionally thought of themselves as conservatives. They wanted to conserve our country and strengthen our nation’s security by building and nourishing alliances with democratic allies in Europe and in Asia. They advocated fiscal responsibility, keeping a brake on the rising national debt. They valued personal integrity, respect for the rule of law, impartiality of judges, and conducting themselves with decency and respect for others. 


Democrats subscribed to these principles of American government too, but Democrats were also traditionally concerned with providing a social safety net and opportunities for the less fortunate among us; whereas Republicans emphasized the value of economic freedom, arguing that growing government services and bureaucracies overburdened our society. For Republicans, free enterprise and vigorous competition were the key to America’s success. 


If these were ordinary times, as a voter, you would rightly be primarily focused on such issues, but whether you were a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent, you would expect the candidate you voted for to be dedicated to upholding the rule of law and the Constitution and to fulfilling the vision of the founding fathers and of Abraham Lincoln, whose words are as true today as they were in his own time, when, addressing Congress, he observed: “We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.”


But, as Eleanor Roosevelt said of the years after Pearl Harbor, “This is no ordinary time.” Whether you consider yourself to be a conservative Republican, a progressive Democrat, or somewhere in between, you need to be aware that an overriding issue has been thrust upon us: whether to preserve and invigorate American democracy or allow it to be subverted by a coalition of powerful self-serving factions that have gained control of the Republican Party and are using an ignorant, crude, unstable, unprincipled demagogue as their instrument to undo democratic governance and subject our country to entrenched rule serving the interests of the rich and powerful at the expense of the common good. 

 

This year the election is only secondarily about differing political and economic points of view –– about progressive versus conservative philosophies –– it is primarily about the survival of America as a great democracy and an inspiring source of hope for the world.


 

 

August 20, 2018  

 

My Favorite Public Figures  

 

I have a lot of favorite public figures. In my most recent autobiographical note for a book, I cited Rachel Maddow and Gail Collins as two that I especially like.  

 

It’s evident to me, though not universally acknowledged, that Rachel is a national treasure. As for Gail, I don’t see how can anyone cannot truly love someone who began her New York Times column Saturday, “Today let’s talk about the evil deeds of Betsy DeVos.”

 

 

 

August 19, 2018 

 

Taboo Words 

 

Friday night Rachel Maddow interviewed former CIA director John Brennan, whose security clearance Trump recently revoked because Trump didn’t like it that, among other unflattering remarks, Brennan said that Trump’s behavior after the Helsinki meeting with Putin was “nothing short of treasonous.” Rachel asked if that meant Brennan thought Trump’s behavior was treasonous. Brennan answered obliquely.

 

Rachel then noted that if you diagram the sentence, “nothing short of treasonous” means “treasonous.” Again Brennan answered obliquely. I wasn’t surprised. Even though Trump is treasonous, it’s taboo to say so. And even though Trump should be impeached and removed from office, it’s taboo to say so. Such allegations are deemed to be “divisive” and “likely to stir a backlash.” Though most Americans don’t approve of Trump, most (so far) don’t think he’s treasonous. And most don’t think he should be impeached and removed from office. Democratic politicians are advised not to talk about such things. It is said that they are nonstarters for this year's electoral campaigns.This is unfortunate, because Trump isn’t merely a terrible president. We shouldn’t obscure that fact that he’s orders of magnitude worse.

 

 

 

August 18, 2018 

 

Trump (again)

 

Every day this country has an emergency: Trump is still in office. If Republicans  controlling Congress were responsible instead of (choose your own string of pejorative adjectives), they would impeach and remove him from office without delay. But, as Jennifer Rubin writes, “We live in a world in which Republicans refuse to put country and Constitution over partisan loyalty to an unfit president. An impeachment effort conducted solely by one party will fail. The remedy, therefore, is to replace as many Republicans as possible in November and then vote Trump out in 2020.”


 

August 17, 2018 

 

Trump / Nixon 

 

Trump has withdrawn the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan and named others he’s considering giving the same treatment. No claims have been made that any of the individuals aren’t trustworthy. The charge is that they behave erratically, “erratic” defined as being critical of Trump. Draw up an enemies list and punish them anyway you can is a practice that was the subject of the second count in the Articles of Impeachment of Richard Nixon, and may someday be reprised in a much longer list compiled in the impeachment of Donald Trump.


 

 

 

August 16, 2018 

 

Manafort and the Trump Can Do No Wrong Factor 

 

The Manafort case has gone to the jury. The evidence against him is overwhelming. One would expect the jury to convict him.

I’m doubtful this will happen. About 20% of the population have been conditioned to think that Trump can do no wrong. The odds are that at least one of the jurors is fanatically convinced that the Mueller investigation is a plot against Trump and that resistance against it overrides all other considerations. Such a juror will vote to acquit Manafort and will refuse to yield to a contrary consensus. Others on the jury will be equally adamant that Manafort should be convicted. The jury will be unable to reach an agreement. The judge will declare a mistrial. Trump and Trumpians will proclaim that the result conclusively proves that Manafort is innocent, that the Mueller investigation is a hoax, that Trump himself is totally innocent of wrongdoing, and that jurors who voted to convict Trump are aligned with the “deep state” conspiracy against him.


 

 

August 15, 2018


The Good and the Bad in Durango, Colorado


The Bad: Multiple wildfires in our region have decreased visibility. Nearby mountains are no longer sharply defined. Sometimes you can smell smoke, and sometimes after rain it smells like a campfire after you dump a bucket of water on it.


The Good:  A sizable new lake  –– in the works for years –– was opened for public access this year. It’s set in high terrain with uplifting views in all directions. It’s clear, cool, deep, and blue, and you can wade out a few yards and swim as far as you like, and if you get thirsty drink and not miss a stroke.

 

 

 

August 14, 2018 

 

Trump and the Degradation of the Republican Party

 

Trump at a recent rally: “I had a great meeting with Putin. .   . Now we’re being hindered by the Russian hoax. It’s a hoax, okay?”

 

No, not okay. Sunday, I sent the following letter to 13 newspapers. So far, just one editor has informed me that he intends to publish it.

 

To the Editor:

 

Beginning almost daily with his first tweet, the cock crowing at dawn, Trump’s contempt for truth, his cultivation of public ignorance, his vanity, his boasting, his appeals to prejudice, his ignorance of history, his dismissiveness of science, his indifference to environmental concerns, his practice of surrounding himself with sycophants and unprincipled opportunists, his adulation of autocrats coupled with disparagement of democratic leaders and our traditional allies, his attacks on the press, the Justice Department, the F.B.I., and on judicial proceedings to which he takes offense, his contempt for civil liberties, his greed, racism, hubris, and incompetence, his cruelty, even to innocent children, and his incessant self-aggrandizing are the stuff of tragedy surpassing that of Shakespeare’s King Lear, whose vanity alone brought ruin upon himself, his family, and his nation.


Loathsome as Trump is, he is a sufficiently gifted demagogue and con artist to have gained the loyalty of most Republican voters. As a result, Republican politicians who denounce him or propose to restrain him have been unable to win primary elections against opponents who propagate his confabulations. This grave problem would begin to fade away and our country would instantly be revitalized if Republican politicians –– surely a majority of them –– who are aware that Trump is grossly unfit morally, intellectually, and temperamentally to be president were themselves decent enough to put country over party, integrity over expedience, and right over wrong to say so. 


 

 

August 13, 2018 

 

Reality and  Response 

 

Don’t be like me and read MIchael Tomasky’s article, sardonically titled Hail to the Chief, in the Aug. 16th issue of the New York Review of Books, in bed before calling it a night. It can result in up to eight hours of restlessness, insomnia, and disturbing dreams, so plausibly grim is it in laying out the reality that the anti-democratic right wing Trump-supporting (or Trump-using, if you prefer) coalition has all but taken long-term control of the government of the United States and that American democracy, as the founders envisaged it, as Lincoln envisaged it, appears to be devolving in front of our eyes.

 

We can’t leave it at that.


 

August 12, 2018 

 

Economic / Political Note 

 

I read that the inflation rate has kicked up to 2.9% during the past 12 months and that pay for workers has not kept pace. Higher inflation rates and higher interest rates are the natural consequence of running up the deficit in order to give huge tax cuts and breaks primarily to corporations, the rich, and especially the super rich. Republicans weren’t as successful as they hoped they’d be in disguising their plutocrat-favoring new tax structure as a boon to ordinary people. They should suffer for it at the polls, but they may not, because some superrich beneficiaries of these tax cuts are investing in political campaigns to make sure control of Congress remains in friendly hands, i.e. ones with outstretched palms. From a Claire McCaskill  fund-raising email I received this morning: 

 

“The Koch network is only spending money on four Senate races this year, and here's the scary news: We made the list. (Lucky us.) The Kochs are coming out against me because I'm leading the charge to get their dark money out of our politics. And they're not alone. Right-wing dark money is pouring into Missouri — and every outlet from Roll Call to The Washington Post reports that Missouri's Senate seat is one of the most vulnerable in the country.”


 

 

 

 

August 11, 2018 

 

Outrage of the Hour 

 

Trumpian outrages pile on so thick and fast it’s hard to keep up with them. Florida Democrat Senator Ben Nelson is concerned that Russian hackers have gotten malware into the computers used by local election officials. Among other criminal acts, they could delete the names of registered voters, thereby reducing the number of votes cast in precincts that are heavily democratic. Besides Nelson, Florida Republican senator Marco Rubio and Republican senator Richard Burr, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, are concerned about the situation. The person with the most power to do something about this outrage, Florida Governor Rick Scott, a prominent Trump supporter, has made clear that he is not concerned about the situation. Scott, who happens to be challenging Nelson in his reelection bid, obviously won’t mind it if the Russians tilt the election in his favor. 


 

 

August 10, 2018 

 

The Stakes 

 

I don’t think the stakes have ever been higher in a mid-term election. If the Republicans retain control of both houses of Congress, in their eyes Trumpism will have been validated, and they will be unrestrained in protecting Trump and completing the transformation of our form of government from a deeply flawed democracy into kleptocratic autocracy.  If Democrats take control of at least one house of Congress, our deeply flawed democracy may endure.

 

 

 

 

August 9, 2018  

 

The Degradation  of the Republican Party, Continued  

 

This is such an important topic that I decded to expand on it and send it as a letter to the editor of newspapers in my Congressional district. Traditional Republicans need to understand that their party has gone completely off the rails. Here follows my revised version:

 

Beginning almost daily with his first tweet, the cock crowing at dawn, Trump’s contempt for truth, his cultivation of public ignorance, confusion, and misunderstanding, his vanity, his boasting, his appeals to prejudice, his ignorance of history, his dismissiveness of science, his indifference to environmental concerns, his instinct for surrounding himself with sycophants and unprincipled opportunists, his adulation of autocrats coupled with disparagement of democratic leaders and our traditional allies, his debasement of language, his attacks on the press, the Justice Department, the F.B.I., and judicial proceedings to which he takes offense, his contempt for civil liberties, his greed, racism, hubris, and incompetence, his cruelty, even to innocent children, and his goal, to the exclusion of every other concern, of aggrandizing himself is the stuff of tragedy far outstripping that of King Lear, whose rank vanity alone brought ruin upon himself, his family, and his nation.


Loathsome as Trump is, he is a sufficiently gifted demagogue and con artist to have gained the loyalty of a clear majority of Republican voters. As a result, Republican politicians who denounce him or propose to restrain him have been unable to win primary elections against opponents who propagate his confabulations. This grave problem would fade away and our country would instantly be revitalized if Republican politicians ––  surely a majority of them –– who are aware that Trump is grossly unfit morally, intellectually, and temperamentally to be president were themselves decent enough to put country over party, integrity over expedience, and right over wrong to say so. 

 

 

 

August 8, 2018 

 

The Degradation  of the Republican Party 

 

The dominant factor in the present political situation is that Trump’s election was a catastrophe, the effects of which are evidenced every day. As Richard Cohen noted in his Washington Post column yesterday, “Has there ever been a president as obscene as Donald Trump — a president as obtuse, as ignorant, as base, as dishonest, as indifferent to precedent, as contemptuous of civil liberties, as critical of his own government and officials, as brutish, as cold to consequences, as hostile to the media, as casually racist and as self-centered?”

 

Loathsome as Trump is, he is a sufficiently gifted demagogue and con artist to have gained the loyalty of a clear majority of Republican voters. As a result, Republican politicians who denounce him or propose to restrain him can’t win a primary election against a Republican who is a Trump supporter and enabler. This would not be a problem if the majority of Republican politicians, who are surely aware that Trump is grossly unfit morally, intellectually, and temperamentally to be president, were themselves decent enough to put country over party, integrity over sliminess, and right over wrong to say so. 


 

 

August 7, 2018

 

Excerpt from Putin - Trump Private Meeting in Helsinki

 

Putin:  Donald, It’s a good thing for Russia and a good thing for the U.S. that you and I think alike on so many of the big issues of our time.

 

Trump: I feel the same way, Vlad. We could accomplish so much, but I’ve been held back by the fake press always criticizing me and never saying a word about all the great things I’ve done for the country, and you should see how people admire me at the rallies I hold. They-

 

Putin: Yes, I’ve seen clips of your rallies. Very terrific. You generate such enthusiasm. You are a great leader, but the press in the U.S. and those cable networks –– they distort it. They are despicable, those people. 

 

Trump: Vlad, you are so right. I think you’re a great leader too.

 

Putin:  Donald I take that as a high compliment because I know that you have very superior judgment, better than anyone else in your country. Now, about the U.S. elections this November . . .


 

 

 

August 6, 2018 

 

The Scariest Thing Yet 

 

Robert Reich is shining a red warning light on the Koch Brothers - propelled threat of a “rogue” Constitutional Convention. It may sound improbable, but it could happen because of the great preponderance of Republican-controlled state legislatures. At such a convention anything –– anything –– could be up for grabs, and the Republican party is presently controlled by people who have shown a willingness to grab everything they can get.


 

 

December 5, 2018 

 

A Perfect Correlation 

 

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Thursday that “the president is rightfully frustrated” that 90 percent of the coverage on him is negative.” 

 

Given that 90% of Trump’s behavior is reprehensible, we have here a perfect correlation.

 

 

 

August 4, 2018

 

Trump’s Mindset 

 

Headline: Saudi Money Floods Trump New York Hotel:


If you were worth a few billion and wanted to be very much admired and through a combination of unlikely events you became president of the United States, don’t you think that your goal of being very much admired would more likely be attained by adhering to your oath of office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and to faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, putting national interest ahead of any desire to add to your wealth? That would obviously produce greater admiration for you than if you conspicuously failed to fulfill your responsibilities so you could add another billion or so to your holdings.


There you go, thinking like a decent human being, concerned with factors besides how rich you can get and assuming others would think the same way. Don’t you understand that wealth is the entire measure of worth? 


 

 

August 3, 2018 


Talk To Cheer About? 


The author of a recent letter to the editor of my local newspaper stated that she was “proud and grateful” that our (Republican) Congressman, Scott Tipton issued a strong statement condemning Russia for its hostile acts including interference in the 2016 election. She concluded: “Patriotism for the United States of America binds most of us together and makes ours a truly great nation despite the threats we face today.” 


How wonderful, except that one of those who lacks patriotism and is decidedly not trying to bind us together is the president of the United States. Trump’s obsequiousness to Putin and his continuing denial of criminal Russian interference in our electoral processes and his disinclination to take steps to end it are nothing less than treasonous. His attempts to discredit the Justice Department and the F.B.I. and undermine the Mueller investigation and other judicial proceedings he takes offense to, for example calling the Manafort prosecution a hoax, amount to a breach of his duty to protect, defend, and uphold the Constitution of the United States. 


Until Republicans controlling Congress are willing to criticize Trump’s acquiescence in Russian interference and advance legislation to counter such threats, their condemnation of Russian interference is nothing more than show.


 

 

 

August 2, 2018 

 

Blog in Process  

 

I'm just back from travels and have lots to do. I was going to post a blog today anyway, but I need to work on it more. I'll post it tomorrow.


 

 

August 1, 2018 

 

Republicans Controlling Congress

 

Republicans controlling Congress are largely composed of, and bankrolled by, self-aggrandizing corporations and greedy superrich individuals, doctrinally twisted religionists, racists, xenophobes, and other misled, misguided, and resentful persons of all stripes. Trump is the blunt instrument for achieving their aims. It’s a classic bargain with the devil with classic results: the bargainers become devils themselves, pretending not to notice, even abetting, an unremittingly destructive president whose continuing presence in the seat of power is a plague upon our country and a plague upon the world. 

 

 

July 31, 2018 

 

Likely To Vote Republican in 2018: 

 

rich people who want ever more tax cuts and tax loopholes and ever more stripping of environmental and safety measures established for the common good; people who think that improving or even maintaining public education is a waste of money; people who think that despoiling the environment is a fundamental right; people whose religious doctrine has more to do with restricting the behavior of others than with love and compassion; people who think of themselves as “us” and of others as “them” and care only about “us” and don’t give a damn about “them”; people consumed by resentment; people who admire “strongmen” and yearn for autocratic rule; people who don’t give a damn about truth and the rule of law; people who prey on the ignorance and helplessness of others; people driven by hate; people who think Trump and his confederates do not constitute a grave threat to American democracy or don’t care.

 

 

 

July 30, 2018 

 

Hope Is a Beginning 

 

News Item:Democrats on the South Fork will have to ‘fight in a way that we’ve never been asked to before’ to elect Perry Gershon, the party’s candidate to represent New York’s First Congressional District, the actor Alec Baldwin said at an East Hampton fund-raiser.”


Baldwin gets it. We are living in a critical year in history. It won’t be enough for good people to hope that Democrats gain control of the House or the Senate in the upcoming elections. Hope is a beginning. Fight is right.


 

 

July 29, 2018  

 

What a Year  

 

Having followed news developments since Trump was elected, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that he is almost certainly guilty of multiple felonies under state and federal law as well as high crimes and misdemeanors, including treason, that would constitute grounds for impeachment, conviction, and removal from office. Russians are ramping up efforts to tilt midterm elections to Republicans. Trump is doing nothing to stop them. Trump enablers control Congress. Cyberattack warning lights are flashing. Multiple investigations and prosecutions  of persons within the Trumpian orbit are proceeding. New exposés await us. What a year.

 

 

 

July 28, 2018 

 

Cowardice (continued) 

 

Report: “As one House Republican admitted, Republicans must be careful about opposing Trump when they stand up for the Russia inquiry, because ‘my constituents love him.’” 


Representatives who are careful not to say what they think about the aspiring autocrat in the White House should be voted out of office this November. Trump is relying on just such cowardice to further his anti-democratic purposes.

 

 

 

July 27, 2018 

 

Mass Cowardice 

In a Washington Post Column today, Jennifer Rubin quotes Howard Dean’s conclusion that Republicans are cowards. 

“I think this is the tragedy for our country,” Dean says. “What Trump has unmasked is not his own lunacy or authoritarianism. Certainly, he’s had that for a long time. What’s been unmasked here is a failure of the country, especially the Republican Party, to stand up for America.”


I’ve been attributing the unwillingness of all but a handful of Republicans in positions of power to criticize Trump, much less restrain him, to their overriding craving for money and power. But Dean is right –– cowardice is part of the mix. The United States has only one mostly honorable major party right now.



 

 

July 26, 2018 

 

Trump and Hitler Commonalities 

 

It would seem hyperbolic to compare Trump to Hitler, but the two share some distinguishing characteristics, among them extraordinary good luck and extraordinary brazenness. Trump rivals Hitler in mendacity and ability to get away with it and even profit from it. As was the case with Hitler, Trump has a magnetic quality that attracts individuals with thuggish dispositions. They comprise a greater segment of the population than one could have imagined, and they fly to him from every recess; he recognizes them and rewards them, he installs the most useful of them in positions of power. Those who share his moral ugliness see him as a reification of their inner yearnings. His trampling on every measure of responsibility and decency excites them. His success intoxicates them. His dynamic nihilism builds to a mad crescendo that, as was the case with Hitler, will likely collapse in blood and tears.

 

 

 

July 25, 2018

 

The Mindset of Trump Supporters

 

From time to time almost every professional political observer wonders aloud at Trump’s level of support, particularly among Republicans. Musings in this vein have spiked since Trump’s Helsinki “summit” with Putin, which evidently left Trump supporters unfazed. 

 

Washington Post columnist Elizabeth Bruenig sees it as an insight into America’s “Heart of Darkness.” Her colleague Richard Cohen attributes it to “a low-boil rage against a vague and threatening liberalism — urbane, educated, affluent, secular, diverse and sexually tolerant. {Trump} hates the right people.”

 

All one can say about the future is that darkening clouds are building to windward.

 

 

 

 

 

July 24, 2018  

 

What Will It Take?  

 

There is every reason to believe that Trump is compromised by Putin and no reason not to believe it. What will it take for more than a handful of Republican senators and representatives to renounce Trump and restrain him or remove him from office? 

 

Trump’s behavior doesn’t reflect a set of policy decisions as to which, however critical we might be of them, we must defer to the judgment of a duly elected president, his behavior is on its face inimical to the interests of the United States and obedient to the will of a ruthless dictator who seeks to weaken the United States and our democratic allies. Regardless of what reasons they give, those who pretend otherwise betray our country.

 

 

 

July 23, 2018 


The Trouble with Tipton 

          ––  a Case Study of a Republican Congressman


Congressman Scott Tipton (Colorado 3rd C.D.) has been and continues to be a faithful Trump supporter, but after Trump threw our country under the bus in order to placate Putin, Tipton knew he had to distance himself a little to avoid being exposed as a Trump toady. He put out a press release saying that Russia is not our friend; that Russia tried to affect the outcome of our election, and that he supported sanctions against Russia. He called on Trump to act: to address this terrible problem. Absent from this ringing declaration was the slightest criticism of Trump.


Putin has a long record of being a ruthless dictator. He has done nothing different from what he’s always done. Putin did not create the present crisis. Trump created the present crisis by attacking NATO and defending, even praising, Putin. John McCain called Trump’s behavior at Helsinki “disgraceful.” 


Our country is becoming a corrupt oligarchy. Trump is the blunt force of its leading edge, yet Scott Tipton is afraid to criticize him, much less hold him accountable. Like most Republicans, he’s content to go along for the ride. American democracy will not survive continued control of Congress by Scott Tipton and his like.


 

 

July 22, 2018

 

Calling All Good Republicans

 

According to former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough, even after Trump’s treasonous performance in Helsinki. 71 percent of Republicans still support him. If you are among them, you qualify as a member of Trump’s famous “base". A lot has been written about the etiology of the mindset of these people, who comprise approximately one-third of the nation’s population, and I won’t add to it here. Though these people represents a clear minority, Republicans who oppose them can’t win primary contests. The result it that the will of supporters of a sociopathic aspiring autocrat controls the Republican Party, and the Republican Party controls Congress.


If our country is to survive the Trumpian attack on our democracy, significant numbers of Republicans among the 29 percent who don’t support Trump’s handling of Russian relations must support Democrats, not because they are willing to abandon conservative principles, but because most Republicans have done so. 

 

 

 

July 21, 2018 

 

Putin Visit 

 

Putin and Trump have decided that Putin should visit the U.S. for another “summit” in the fall. Possible scenario: This meeting will occur shortly before the November elections. Putin will make concessions calculated to give the impression that Trump is a great statesman and negotiator, causing more people to vote for Republican candidates. After the election, Putin will find a reason to withdraw the concessions.

 

What a team. 


 

 

July 20, 2018 

 

The Temperature Rises Higher on the Pot

 

Putin is getting increasingly brazen. He has demanded that former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and other U.S. citizens submit to questioning by Russian Intelligence officers. Trump is said by his press secretary to be taking the matter up with his "team." Any non-compromised president would instantly have instantly denied this outrageous request. Putin has required Trump to invite him to the White House for another “summit.” Trump plans to accede to his wish. Only those playing "Let’s Pretend" (most Republicans) can imagine that Trump’s subservience to Putin isn’t treasonous. 


The Republican-controlled Congress is the frog in the pot on the stove with the burners turned on high. Will the frog jump out before the waer boils? There's no sign that it will. It has already shown itself to be in a state of neuronal paralysis.

 

 

 

July 19, 2018


Traveling today, so for today's blog I'll just add exclamation points after the titles of the last two:  ! ! 

 

 

July 18, 2018

 

Time To Indict Putin 

 

This past week Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation brought about indictments of 12 Russian intelligence officers, all of whom worked under the direction of Putin. It makes no sense to prosecute mob members and ignore the mob boss, so Putin should be indicted too. Putin should be indicted, tried, convicted, and given a good stiff sentence. He won’t submit himself to U.S. jurisdiction, but he has so many billions of dollars stashed all over the world that our authorities should be able to seize a half dozen or so of them, maybe some as handy as in Trump’s pocket.

 

 

 

July 17, 2018  

 

There Is No Excuse 

 

There is no excuse for anyone to defend, support, acquiesce in, cajole, play along with, attempt to instruct, show patience with, work for, or with, or tolerate in the slightest in any respect whatsoever Trump. Failure to work for his removal from office is a failure of moral responsibility.


 

 

July 16, 2018 

 

Note from a C.D. Battleground 

 

Scott Tipton, the Republican Congressman in my district, is an archetypal Trump-enabler backed by the Koch Brothers and the NRA. Though he is favored to hold his seat in the coming election, his Democratic challenger, Diane Mitsch Bush, is more formidable that any opponent Tipton has previously faced. Districts like ours can be flipped and must be flipped if American democracy is to survive the accelerating drift toward autocracy propelled by the right-wing coalition that controls the Republican Party. 

 

Lately, Tipton has been sending studious well-crafted emails to his constituents in an attempt to get across what a great job he’s been doing. It’s a good bet they are drafted by operatives at right-wing think tanks. They are artfully designed to fool people into thinking that Tipton’s continuing incumbency would be good for our district and our country. I’m committed to helping dispel such illusions.


 

 

July 15, 2018 

 

Attitude 

 

I hear this a lot: Trump is winning. It’s a terrible attitude. It's a prelude to despair. Never allow it.

 

 

 

July 14, 2018


Fox News  –– A Unique Phenomenon


At a press conference, Trump refused to answer a question from CNN. He then accepted a question from Fox News. Fox News is almost unfailingly supportive of Trump. Trump likes Fox News like no other media organization. Fox News acts as if Trump is the dictator of the U.S. and Fox News is state-sponsored media. If Trump gained dictatorial power, he would not have to create a new organization. Fox News would be in place to serve that role. 


Fox News’s existence is responsible in large part for Trump’s durability. Fox News is a unique phenomenon. It would take only two or three other unique phenomena to create the perfect storm that would end America’s existence as a democracy.

 

 

 

July 13, 2018 

 

Every Day a Fresh Spectacle, or Two  

 

Yesterday, two: Trump excelling himself playing the role of the mad king at the NATO meeting and Republicans in Congress trying to protect him by intemperately attacking FBI agent Peter Strzok in an attempt to elevate revelation of Strzok’s negative personal feeling about Trump during the 2016 campaign into a wholesale condemnation of the FBI and the Mueller investigation.

 

 

 

July 12, 2018 

 

Trump Builds His Protective Wall 

 

Trump recently nominated Brian Benczkowski to head the Criminal Division of the Justice Department. Benczkowski has had no prosecutorial experience. For that reason alone he is manifestly unqualified to hold such an important and powerful job. Moreover, he represented Alfa Bank, a Russian bank with close ties to Putin that was subject of an FBI investigation of Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Everything about Benczkowski suggests that he is a Trump toady. 


Fifty-one Republican senators voted to approve Benczkowski's   nomination, thereby demonstrating that they too are Trump toadies and that American democracy is on the ropes, off balance, and in danger of being knocked out of the ring.

 

 

 

July 11, 2018 

 

Hysteria 

 

I heard an acquaintance remark that Democrats attacking Trump are hysterical. Elizabeth Warren is shrill. Bernie Sanders is a crank. Michael Moore is a buffoon. On the contrary, I think most Democrats and independents are too phlegmatic. Life goes on. Shrug. That’s how democracies die. Every day is an emergency. Democrats must gain control of either the House or the Senate in this fall’s elections, or the Trumpian transformation will become indistinguishable from occupation by a foreign power.


 

 

July 10, 2018 

 

Another Sickening Day in the Trumpian Age 

 

I’m reading Democracy in Chains, by Nancy MacLean, a Duke history professor, which traces the "origins and development of the attempt by the billionaire-backed radical right to undo democratic governance.” Trump is the blunt instrument forces fueled by greed and resentment are using to bludgeon American democracy out of existence.


Trump’s pick for a Supreme Court justice from a list provided to him by an extreme right-wing organization takes its place among the seemingly inevitable sequelae of the tragedy that overtook our nation when an unlikely alignment of the stars left America vulnerable to blows from which it may never recover. 

 


July 9, 2018 

 

Conservative Values  

 

Many Republican-affiliated voters imagine that their party stands for conservative values. That was once the case. Not any more. Fiscal responsibility, competence in governance, rooting out corruption, respect for scientific findings, cultivation of bonds with allies to strengthen national security, protecting our democratic processes from foreign interference, respecting the integrity of families, fostering economic opportunity, refusing to give comfort to dictators and autocrats, adherence to the rule of law –– these are conservative values that the Republican party has thrown overboard by signing on to the demagoguery of Trump and Trumpism. 

 

Traditional Republican values are more closely exhibited by Democratic candidates than by their present-day Republican opponents. 


 

 

 

July 8, 2018 

 

Religious Liberty 

 

The radical right wants to shrink government –– they have succeeded in lowering taxes primarily for rich and especially for the super rich and in slashing regulations and programs established for the common good, and they want to keep at it.  

 

They want judges who will promote what they call “religious liberty.” Everyone should be free to embrace whatever religion they want. But members of the radical right have something else in mind. They see what they call religious liberty as an instrument for disallowing government action that violates claimed religious beliefs. 

 

In America, antidisestablishmentarianism lost. The prime goal of the founding founders was to construct a system of government that would be resistant to authoritarian rule. The world’s most pervasive religions are authoritarian. Our Constitution assures us of freedom of religion. That it assures us of freedom from religion too the radical right is working to strip away.

 

 

 

July 7, 2018 

 

Sign of the Times 

 

Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott (i) signed off on an $800 million allocation for border security and (ii) vetoed funding of about one one-thousandth of that amount for the Colonias Initiative Project, a long-running state effort to help poor communities on the Texas border obtain drinking water, wastewater service and roads.


 

 

July 6, 2018 

 

Trump’s Servility toward Putin 

 

How can Republican members of Congress tolerate Trump’s servility toward an autocrat who, among other crimes, has strenuously interfered with American elections and continues to do so for his own malevolent purposes? 

 

That Trump tolerates, indeed encourages, Putin for Trump’s own malevolent purposes is the scandal par excellence in Trump’s scandal-ridden administration.

 

Trump’s place in the history of infamy will be shared by his supporting cast. 


 

 

July 5, 2018 

 

Democracy in Decline  

 

When I was growing up, it was self-evident that the United States was the greatest democracy in the world. From sea to sea the blessings of liberty and justice shined. Our Constitution guaranteed free speech, free elections, religious freedom, due process, equal protection, and a lot of other rights. With some exceptions, freedom rung.  

 

The Varieties of Democracy Project 2018 Report rates the state of democracy in each of 178 countries throughout the world. The survey is based on the opinions of more than 3,000 scholars and experts on particular countries who are asked to evaluate the quality of core features of democracy in each country. Most countries today hold elections. Some of these elections are free and fair, others are compromised to varying degrees, and others are so rigged that they are meaningless except for propaganda purposes. 

 

The latest survey paints a distressing picture of the United States. Looking at the ratio of influence on politics exercised by people with average income to that exercised by people with high income, the United States scored lowest among Western countries. 

 

Our country ranked 7th as to the quality of democracy in 2015. By 2017 it had fallen to 31st. The undermining of the Affordable Care Act by the present Administration and this year’s mammoth tax cuts mainly favoring the rich and especially the super rich have almost certainly driven our country further down on the list. If the trend isn’t reversed beginning with this fall’s elections, America’s greatness may be largely eclipsed by the greed, cynicism, and chicanery that through the ages have plagued our human family.


 

 

July 4, 2018

 

Independence from Trumpism Day?

 

Some time ago, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin noted that there have been 80 different contacs and at least 23 meetings between at least 24 Trump associaters and Russian operatives; that Trump and a number of his allies repeatedly and falsely denied such contacts; that Trump went so far as to draft a misleading account to explain away the Trump Tower meeting. It’s shocking to those not numbed to a state of insensibility that he's still in office.


Michael Flynn is cooperating with the special counsel. It appears that Michael Cohen will too. Meanwhile Trump keeps raking in millions upon millions of dollars from his businesses and rich hangers-on. He has a protective wall in Congress and a protective wall in the Supreme Court that he is poised to build higher. Will he withstand the workings of the justice system and achieve de facto immunity? Will we citizens get to celebrate independence from Trumpism day? If Democrats gain control of either the Senate or the House in this fall's elections, I think it’s likely; otherwise, not.


 

 

July 3, 2018

 

The Country on the Other Side of the Border

 

Mexico’s new leader, López Obrador, is something of a cypher. Is he a muddy brained demagogue like Hugo Chavez and Donald Trump, or a high-minded politician determined to set his country on a better course? A former U.S. ambassador to Mexico who has known him a long time argues that he is both pragmatic and driven by a desire to improve the living conditions of the half of Mexicans who remain poor. Just thinking this might be true brightens this hot and smoggy day. 

 

 

 

July 2, 2018

 

If the Truth Could Be Known


If everyone could be made aware of the degree to which policies of Republican politicians are designed to make the rich richer, how little they care for the disadvantaged, how money and power mean everything to them, and how our sweet land of liberty is being despoiled by their mendacity, cynicism, greed, and obsequiousness to their sociopathic leader, the whole lot of them would turned out of office, with Trump on their heels.


 

July 1, 2018 

 

If Your Outrage Meter Broke, Get a New One 

 

I keep thinking of the woman at the supermarket who looked

at someone and thought, How can you be buying broccoli when our country is being wrecked? Then she herself bought some broccoli. For many people, their outrage meter is broken; just not built for such a succession of violent shocks.  

 

It’s critical not to shrug. There are lots of inspiring people working to save American democracy. Be inspired yourself, I keep telling myself.


 

 

June 30, 2018

 

Dreamtime 

 

About a week ago Jennifer Rubin observed:  “ . . .one can see the decline and eventual elimination of this rogue presidency. It just takes time.”


 

 

June 29, 2018 

 

Democracy on the Ropes 

 

American democracy is on the ropes. Democrats must take back either the House or the Senate to keep it from being knocked out of the ring.

 

I’ll do what I can in my Congressional district by working to replace the Koch Brothers-funded Republican incumbent, Scott Tipton, with the experienced, competent, and uncorruptible, Democratic challenger, Diane Mitsch Bush. 


 

 

June 28, 2018 

 

A Dark Turn 

 

American history took a dark turn this week. In upholding Trump’s muslim travel ban, accepting the baseless claim of national security needs and ignoring its true discriminatory purpose, and in other rulings, the right-wing-ruled court showed its political stripes. Justice Kennedy’s retirement will allow Republicans to consolidate the court as a political weapon. The odds against resisters to Trumpism ratcheted up another notch.


 

 

June 27, 2018  

 

21 Signs of Impending Tyranny

 

Soon after Trump was elected president, Robert Reich posted a list of signs of impending tyranny. I think there were about ten of them. The other day he updated it, adding new signs evidenced since Trump took office. Here’s the latest list.


As tyrants take control of democracies, they typically:


1. Demand total personal loyalty from all appointees. 


2. Organize military parades and other choreographed shows of force.


3. Threaten to fire independent prosecutors who get too close to the truth.


4. Spread conspiracy theories about "deep state" forces seeking to oust them.


5. Refer to top-ranking military leaders as "my" generals.


6. Threaten to jail political opponents.


7. Claim to have won an election by a landslide even after losing the popular vote.


8. Stoke tensions abroad, such as trade wars and even the specter of nuclear war, to distract from their efforts to consolidate power at home.


9. Circumvent the independent press and communicate directly with their followers.


10. Turn the public against journalists or media outlets that criticize the regime, calling them “deceitful” and “scum.”


11. Vilify legislators and judges who are critical of the regime.


12. Repeatedly claim massive voter fraud in the absence of any evidence, in order to restrict voting in subsequent elections.


13. Repeatedly tell big lies, causing the public to doubt the truth and to believe fictions that support the tyrants’ goals.


14. Blame crime on immigrants or racial or religious minorities, and foment public bias and hatred against them.


15. Threaten mass deportations, registries of religious minorities, and the banning of refugees.


16. Separate refugee children from their parents, and incarcerate all of them. 


17. Attribute acts of domestic violence to “enemies within,” and use such events as excuses to beef up internal security and limit civil liberties.


18. Appoint family members to high positions of authority.


19. Draw no distinction between personal property and public property, profiteering from public office.


20. Make personal alliances with foreign dictators but express indifference if not defiance toward leaders of democracies.


21. Maintain a powerful propaganda arm that claims to be "fair and balanced" but only amplifies the tyrant's lies and accusations.


I imagine that once the list reaches a certain length, it’s no longer one of signs of impending tyranny, but of indicia of present tyranny.




 

 

June 26, 2018 

 

Tipping Point

 

Can anyone doubt that Trump would like to assume autocratic power? 

 

There are innumerable chilling passages in William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, among them, page 185, “The cardinal error of the Germans who opposed Naziism was their failure to unite against it . . . The Germans imposed the Nazi tyranny on themselves.” 


Jennifer Rubin: “We .. . face an election in which the soul of America is up for grabs.”


 

 

 

June 25, 2018


A Master Charlatan at Work


An article in the Washington Post describes a Trump rally in Duluth. It’s a case study of a master charlatan at work.

 

Trump rallies often feel like rock concerts. There are groupies who travel to as many rallies as they can and camp out at the front of the line. Many rallygoers show up wearing as much red, white and blue as possible — and then accessorize their outfits with T-shirts, campaign pins, hats and flags sold by vendors not sanctioned by the campaign. And there are the chants that allow rallygoers to feel even more a part of a movement: “Lock her up.” “Drain the swamp.” “USA!” “Build that wall.”


It's a safe bet that not a one ever read Huckleberry Finn.

 

 

 

June 24 2018


Can You Overblow Criticism of an Overblown Man?


News Item: “With President Trump’s approval rating at 90 percent among Republicans, his supporters say they defend him  because they feel criticism of him is constantly overblown.”


Ninety percent of Republicans appear to be intellectually or morally deficient. “Feeling that criticism of Trump is constantly overblown” is too weak a reed to lean on. How about “Trump has done a superb job!”?  That would be reason to support him. Except he hasn’t. 


As to overblowing criticism of Trump, it simply can’t be done.

 

 

 

 

June 23, 2018 

 

Trump is a Mass Child Abuser 

 

The buck starts and stops with Trump. He has caused more than two thousand children, including infants, to be abducted from their parents and warehoused at sites around the country without any plan for reuniting them with their families. A pediatrician on the Rachel Maddow show described the adverse effects this practice will have on its young victims. It was a chilling recitation. 

 

Trump is a mass child abuser. For this alone he should be reviled and removed from office. For the moment, he survives, shielded by protective walls of nihilists, sycophants, opportunists, and fellow sociopaths.

 

 

 

June 22, 2018 

 

Disturbing Parallels  

 

In the June  28 New York Review of Books, Cass Susstein examines three books dealing mostly with life in Nazi Germany as Hitler was consolidating power. Susstein’s piece is headlined “It Could Happen Here,” and despite our having greater institutional safeguards and traditions as bulwarks against tyranny than Germany had after the collapse of the Weimar Republic, there are disturbing parallels between the Nazi and Trumpian eras. One contemporary observer of Germany in the 1930s “pointed to a regime bent on diverting its people through endless dramas (often involving real or imagined enemies), and the ‘gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise’.” In one witness’s account, “each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained, or, on occasion ‘regretted’, that people could no more see it developing from day to day than a farmer in the field sees the corn growing. One day it’s over his head.” 


 

 

 

June 21, 2018 

 

A Good Billionaire is Hard to Find 

 

Some time ago I noted that many bad billionaires –– people like the Koch Brothers and the Mercers –– are backing right-wing candidates and agendas for their own greedy sakes rather than for the sake of our country and that, pending radical campaign finance reform, which more and more seems like a fleeting dream, good billionaires need to step up to the plate. Tom Steyer has done so, but rather ineffectively it appears, running ads urging the impeachment of Trump, but most other good billionaires have seemed reluctant to get involved on the scale they need to. For this reasonI I was happy to read yesterday:Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, will throw his personal fortune behind the Democratic campaign to take control of the House of Representatives.”


Mr. Bloomberg is a conservative who knows a scoundrel when he sees one. He opposed Trump during the 2016 campaign, commenting, “This isn’t a reality show. This is reality.” He’s fully aware that it would be a grave calamity, on top of the one we’re already living with, if Democrats can’t take control of at least one branch of Congress in this year's elections. Here’s to you, Mr. Bloomberg.


 

 

June 20, 2018 

 

No Republican Should Survive This at the Polls. 

 

All 49 Democratic and Independent senators have signed on to Diane Feinstein’s  legislative initiative to end the abduction and sequestration of children from their parents at the Mexican border. A few Republican senators have expressed dismay with Trump’s barbaric policy, but none has demonstrated a sense of urgency in addressing it. A statement issued by the office of Congressman Scott Tipton is typical of Trumpian thinking : “The blame for the problem lies with undocumented parents who bring the children into the U.S. illegally.” This is wholly unacceptable as a justification for being cruel to innocent children.

 

 

 

 

June 19, 2018 

 

Res Ipsa Loquitur 

 

Ripping children from their parents and sequestering them in what amounts to concentration camps with no plan for reuniting them with families is beyond abhorrent; it’s a crime against humanity. Yet a recent poll showed that this policy was favored by Republicans by something like 60% for; 40% against. This fits with the problem moderate Republican politicians have: they can’t win a primary contest against an opponent who courts voters who are racist, xenophobic, sociopathic, clueless, generally resentful, or simply mesmerized by Trumpian propaganda or religious sophistry. Though some Republicans in Congress have bewailed some of Trump’s policies, not a damn one of them seeking to remain in office has had the moral integrity to denounce him, to acknowledge that the country has fallen into the grip of a monster who has surrounded himself with monster worshippers, a monster who must be opposed at every turn, who should be committed to prison or, at the very least, to his golf courses, palaces, and and towers and never permitted to cross the White House threshold again.

 

Trump and Trumpism dwarf all other issues. To denounce Trump isn’t partisan; it’s a moral duty. Every person of good will should work relentlessly to commit him and his enablers to the darkest pages of history. They will reside there someday, the sooner the better.


 

 

June 18, 2018  

 

The State of the World  

 

George Soros: “Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.” 

 

Yet for the most part to be felt: the consequences.

 

 

 

June 17, 2018 

 

Trump and the Frogs in Hot Water 

 

You probably know the story about the frog in a kettle of water on the stove: the water gets heated gradually, so the frog barely notices the increased gradations even though it feels increasingly uncomfortable. After a while the water gets so hot that the frog would have immediately jumped out if it had been dropped into the water, but the heating has been so gradual that the frog doesn’t react; it gets numb; then it’s too late: the water is boiling.

 

This is America in the time of Trump and his enablers: daily new outrages, increasing in degree, people feeling increasing in discomfort; getting numb, leaving the burner on under the pot instead of turning it off.


 

 

June 16, 2018

 

Circumspect Language

 

Responsible observers, reluctant to sound inflammatory, often use circumspect language, which phrased differently, though logically unchanged, has a lot more impact:


Jennifer Rubin, in a recent column:


“The contrast between {Trump’s} antagonistic relationship with democratic allies and his never saying a bad word about Russia defies explanation, unless one is to buy into the theory that he is indebted in some fashion to Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose campaign to interfere in the U.S. elections helped land Trump in the White House.” 

 

Translation, without logical distinction: 

 

“The only explanation for the contrast between Trump’s antagonistic relationship with democratic allies and his never saying a bad word about Russia is that he is indebted in some fashion to Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose campaign to interfere in the U.S. elections helped land Trump in the White House.”


 

 

June 15, 2018                                                                             

 

The Clingers Explained 

 

Why do Republicans in Congress cling to Trump even though they surely know he’s a con artist and a destructive fool? 

William Kristol, an observer with impeccable conservative credentials, explains: “Behind all the high-flown rhetoric is a worship of power when exercised by a leader on their side, a worship more intense the more thuggish the manner of exercise.”

 

 

 

 

June 14, 2018 

 

The Challenge

 

Kim Jong-un is a bellicose, brutal, totalitarian dictator. Trump said of him that he was "very open," “very honorable,” “very smart,” “very worthy” and “very talented, and “someone who “wants to do the right thing.”

 

Let us not waste breath excoriating Trump. His behavior is what we would expect of the ignorant, egomaniacal, sociopathic narcissist we know him to be. Let us direct our energies to calling to account the Republican members of Congress, members of the Administration, and billionaire media moguls who support him. Our challenge is to wrest our country’s destiny from the grip of perverted minds.


 

 

June  13, 2018 

 

Headline: “Trump Bets on Special Bond with Kim” 

 

This makes some sense. Trump has more in common with Kim than any previous president had or could have. Still, one wonders if Trump is aware that Kim isn’t betting on a special bond with Trump.


 

June 12, 2018 

 

A Case Study in Word Triage


Headline this morning: “Trump again scolds Trudeau, says his criticism will cost Canada ‘a lot of money’.”

 

Criticize Trump and it will cost you a lot. You better praise him if you know what’s good for you.


Every good writer knows that you should avoid run-on sentences. Suppose, for example, you want to describe Trump as accurately as possible, but know you should limit the number of adjectives you string together in a row. Exercising reasonable circumspection, staying within the bounds of propriety, five is probably about the limit. 


It can be painful to leave out any pejorative adjective on occasions when a great many are needed, but, whether you like it or not, you have to do it! I think Jennifer Rubin showed commendable self-restraint and made an excellent selection yesterday, noting that Trump is “irrational, cruel, impulsive, anti-democratic and stubbornly ignorant.”


Not name-calling; just a statement of facts.

 

 

 

 

 

June 11, 2018 

 

Trump in a Nutshell 

 

Trump’s grotesquely warped psyche was on full display at the Group of Seven summit. Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, sized him up in a nutshell.


“The president, unmoved by history, ignorant of facts and guided by sycophants, has not been forced to grapple with the real world nor to hear views that don’t coincide with his twisted worldview, in which allies are ripping us off and aggressive strongmen are to be admired and accommodated.”


June 10, 2018 

 

Fire 

 

Oxygen comprises about 21% of Earth’s atmosphere. I once read that if there were something like twice as much oxygen, all terrestrial plant life would burn up. I formed a mental image of forests going up in flames. Lately that image returned. 

 

The American Southwest has been having a severe drought for months. Summer will be notable in many states for fires. One has been burning the past seven days about 20 miles and upwards north of my town in southwestern Colorado. Crews have been fighting it on the ground and from the air with helicopters and tankers. A crack team joined them Friday. The fire fighters haven’t been trying to put out the fire, which as of this writing has burned out at least twelve square miles of woodlands; they have only been trying to keep it from reaching houses. 

 

Winds at night tend to be light and variable and mostly from the north. Daytime winds tend to be southerly. Stronger winds are due today. No change of weather is in sight.  The fire may burn all summer –– there’s plenty of wood for it to consume wherever it roams. No one knows how much damage smoke is causing to people’s lungs. The authors of two letters to the editor of the local newspaper say we should fight global warming.


 

 

 

June 9, 2018

 

The Pervasion of Christianity

 

The perversion of Christianity is one of the tragic phenomena that, woven with others, produced the affliction of government that grips our country. I thought of this reading Brian Palmer’s article about Scott Pruitt in Slate. Pruitt, the E.P.A. Director, as everyone should know, is corrupt to a degree rarely approached in American history. No matter. Palmer writes:


Pruitt has been polishing his evangelical bona fides for years, building a bulwark of unwavering Christian support. In 2003, as an Oklahoma state senator, he championed a bill to insert a disclaimer into school textbooks noting that evolution is just a theory. . . He attends Bible study with Ralph Drollinger, pastor to the Republican political elite. . .”


Pruitt’s “Christian” “bona fides” have inoculated him with a large segment of Republicans. Trump can safely let him keep trashing the environment. The perversion of Christianity is a recurrent historical tragedy, rarely more so than in our own time.


 

 

June 8,  2018 

 

The Arsonist

 

The president of the United States is supposed to be a person of high moral character. Among his or her noble traits would be insistence on telling the truth. This is required on both moral and practical grounds. As president, you are highly visible. Thousands of journalists and politicians are checking your statements for veracity. It’s easy to catch a president who lies. At some point no one can rely on anything you say. Keep it up and you’ll be held in universal contempt. That's what one would have thought.

 

Trump lies constantly –– it’s the most notable feature of his character. And he is caught lying all the time, which is part of the problem. He’s like a crazed arsonist, lighting fires so frequently and in so many places that the fire department spends all its energy answering each new alarm. About half of Trump’s lies consist of accusing others of lying, accusing the fire department of setting the fires.


Trump is a master liar, but he wouldn’t get away with it if he weren’t aided by hordes of confederates whose character is almost as flawed as his own, in his Administration, in Congress, and in the outsized segment of the media financed by money-glutted barons and run by acolytes who gain sick satisfaction from propelling our country in the direction of fascist rule. 


The effectiveness of this baleful combine is much in evidence; for example, a recent poll found that 61 percent of Republicans think the FBI is framing Trump, and only 13 percent believe the special counsel’s investigation is legitimate. This is bad, and it is sad, a word Trumps likes to use when referring to the proper workings of justice.


 

 

June 7, 2018 

 

How the Republicans Could Win in 2020 

 

Unless the Democrats self-destruct in the course of having something like 25 aspirants competing for the presidential nomination, none of them a standout favorite, roughing each other up in debates and primaries, whoever becomes their anointed leader will be a strong favorite to defeat Trump, who by 2020 it’s likely all but the most slavish loyalists will be ready to shed.


Suppose, however, that as the fateful year approaches, Republicans grasp that they have hitched their star to an imitation gold-plated chariot that is losing its wheels. Suppose they grasp that the Grand Old Party is in deep existential trouble. Suppose they hit on the idea of seeking a leader who is rational, capable, honest, and perceived generally as the antithesis of Trump, namely Ohio Governor John –– “all my options are on the table for 2020” –– Kasich. Kasich could be just what Republicans need to cruise to victory. ]Fortunately for Democrats, Republicans are no less likely than Democrats to blow their chances. 


 

 

June 6, 2018 

 

Bifurcated Nation 

 

Unemployment is low. The economy is doing well. With the new tax breaks they got, companies have had extra tens of billions to buy back shares of their stock, so their stockholders have benefited. So why not vote for Republicans in November? Maybe, among other extraordinarily compelling reasons, because, as Katrina Vanden Heuvel noted in her Washington Post article yesterday,  speaking of our country: “About 40 million live in poverty, 18.5 million in extreme poverty, and 5.3 million live in Third World conditions of absolute poverty. It has the highest youth poverty rate in the [industrialized world] and the highest infant mortality rates. . . . Its citizens live shorter and sicker lives compared to those living in all other rich democracies, . . . The United States has the highest rate of income inequality among Western countries.” 

 

 

 

 

June 5, 2018 

 

America the Ugly 

 

Last night I saw a video clip of a visit by Senator Jeff Merkley (D.  Oregon) to a detention center where our government houses children it rips away from their parents at the Mexican border. He asked for a tour of the facility, but was denied admittance, which wasn’t surprising. When you’re running a concentration camp for hundreds of children you’ve abducted, you don’t want anyone to know what it’s like for them inside. Some policeman were hanging around, I imagine to make sure Senator Merkley didn’t break the door down. If he'd been allowed to do that, some of the children might have escaped! Worse, he would have documented their plight. 


 

 

 

June 4, 2018 

 

Supreme Court Proceedings  

 

Trump’s lawyer (TL): May it please the Court, the subpoena of the president to appear before the Grand Jury is null and void. The president has absolute authority over the United States Department of Justice. Therefore any insubordinate act by a DOJ official, including a subpoena issued by a prosecutor in defiance of the president’s order is void ab initio. 


A Supreme Court Justice (Justice SC): So, the president is above the law? 

 

TL: Not at all, Justice SC. The Constitution provides a mechanism to make sure that, although the president has full authority over the Justice Department including the power to prevent it from instituting or pursuing legal proceedings against him, Congress has the power to impeach the president and remove him from office. It gives a sense of how baseless this Russian investigation is that, apart from a few strident voices within its ranks, Congress has chosen not even to raise the question of impeachment, much less initiate impeachment proceedings. Our system of checks and balances is alive and well. Congress stands ready to exercise its impeachment authority but has found no basis to do so.


Justice SC:  As you know, Mr. TL, under the Constitution, even if the president is impeached, removal from office requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate. That means, according to you, that out of 100 senators, if just 34 are willing to stand by the president, then no matter how many crimes he has committed, he can do anything he wants and get away with it. He needs only that many  accomplices to turn our government into an autocracy. 


TL: It’s true, Justice SC, that there is no limit to what the president can do in those circumstances, legal or illegal. But the Constitution provides yet another safeguard, presidential elections, and the next one is only a little more than two years away. So you see, Justice SC, our system was designed to check the power of the president even though he has full control of the Justice Department and has a sufficient number of allies in the senate to protect him.


Justice SC:  But you are aware, are you not, that no one can seriously question that the Russians did interfere in our 2016 election, and, according to former Director of U.S. Intelligence, James Clapper, tipped the scales for Trump. And there’s no question that they will be at it again, frustrating the desire of what might be a majority of voters to remove Trump in 2020. What safeguard is there against that? 


TL.  The president has the authority to provide such a safeguard. 


Justice SC: But he he’s not doing it.


TL: That’s his decision, Justice SC, and within his authority.


Justice SC:  So you’re saying that he can choose, with impunity, to let American elections be undermined and possibly controlled by a foreign power?


TL:  Justice SC, that’s within his prerogative, but-


Justice SC: The same prerogative claimed by George III of England in 1776?


TL:  I don’t think that’s a fair comparison, Justice SC. But In this limited sense that’s the case.

 

Justice SC:  So, the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution, and the Constitution never happened?



 

June 3, 2018 

 

Trump's Name's Fate 

 

In a Washington Post op-ed yesterday, Garry Kasparov, who knows what he’s talking about, defended the faked murder of Arkady Babchenko as a desperate but necessary ruse to foil Russian assassins, and added some context:

 

"There's a war going on in Europe, and Ukraine is on the front line. Babchenko and others like him are targets of a system of assassins run by Russia around the world. Putin is also backing Bashar al-Assad’s brutality in Syria, hacking elections in the United States and Europe, and spreading lies and propaganda. He began this war years ago, and he won’t stop until he and his gang are faced with isolation and the loss of their power, riches and access to the West.”


Just how Trump should be dealing with Putin! Instead, he has expressed his admiration for Putin, and in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, a lot of it provided unintentionally by Trump and his family members, called the investigation of Russian interference in his election a hoax, attempted and continues to attempt to obstruct, undermine, and terminate it, and refuses to take any measures to counter ongoing criminal Russian interference in U.S. elections. This is nothing less than a rank betrayal of his oath of office, a failure to faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and, to reduce it to its essence, treasonous. By protecting Trump, most of the Republican members of Congress have been aiding and abetting, and continue to aid and abet, a man whose name who will be reviled in history.


 

 

June 2, 2018 

 

The Pardoner 

 

Pardoning people least deserving of compassion is Trump’s way of saying, “Don’t talk. I’ll pardon you!” to associates who might rat on him to avoid going to prison. 

 

Some communications of Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, also known as his “fixer,” have recently become public. They could serve as a parody of a Mafia thug. Cohen appears to need to be pardoned, though no more than Trump himself. 

 

 

 

June 1, 2018  

 

If 

 

If America withstands the assault on its foundations perpetrated by Trump, Trump boosters, and Trump-enablers, historians will look back on our era as one that proved American exceptionalism. Surviving a scourge as persistent and pernicious as we are enduring would demonstrate that America’s bedrock principles are deeply ingrained in us and that our Constitution is as great a work of genius as we had hoped.


 

 

May 31, 2018  

 

The Normalization of the Unacceptable  

 

Trump goes to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastates the island, tosses rolls of paper towels to an assembled gathering, says how wonderful it is that only 16 or 17 have died as a result of the storm, praises himself, leaves, and ignores the plight of the population thereafter. Now a Harvard study estimates that the Puerto Rican death toll was at least 4,645 people. Shrug. What we should expect. The way Trump is. Nothing abnormal. Get over it?

 

 

 

May 30, 2018 

 

Our Execrable President; Our Feckless Congress 

 

“Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there [sic] parents once they cross the Border into the U.S. Catch and Release, Lottery and Chain must also go with it and we MUST continue building the WALL! DEMOCRATS ARE PROTECTING MS-13 THUGS.” 

 

You wouldn’t need to know any facts other than that we have a Republican president and a Republican-controlled Congress to know that this Trump tweet is dispositive on its face, as lawyers say; that Trump is a deranged and malevolent sociopath. When you consider a few other relevant facts, such as that there is no such law, that conclusion is horrifyingly amplified. 

 

As Jennifer Rubin noted in a Washington Post piece yesterday:  

“Nothing so personifies the administration’s lack of humanity coupled with its utter cowardice as its attempt to duck responsibility. . . This is a moral and legal abomination. The affected children did not decide to come here illegally; their parents did. It is therefore entirely insufficient to insist that the United States, which now chooses to arrest everyone crossing the border, has no obligation to treat the children humanely.” 

 

The more execrable Trump is, the more feckless is the Republican-controlled Congress for failing to restrain him.


 

 

May 29, 2018 

 

Truth in Politicizing  

 

If I were drafting a “truth in politicizing” law, it would ban referring to Republicans as “conservatives.” As a result of the extra tax cuts and loopholes primarily for the rich and especially for the super rich act that the Trump-enabling Republican- controlled Congress rammed through this past winter, budget deficits over the next decade are now expected to total $9.5 trillion, far higher than the Administration has admitted. In the absence of an economic collapse or catastrophic armed conflict, such a radical escalation of the national debt bespeaks irresponsibility, recklessness, and greed, the antithesis of conservatism.

 

 

 

May 28, 2018 

 

Truth on the Ropes 

 

Fact: The Meuller investigation has produced not only numerous indictments but also guilty pleas to felonies by several of Trump’s close associates. Poll: 59 % of Americans believe the Mueller investigation has found no evidence of criminality.  

 

How could this be? 

 

The explanation lies in the combined effect of Trump’s staccato output of lies punctuated with code terms like “F.B.I spy” and “witch hunt,” echoed, embellished, and amplified by right-wing media propagandists such as Fox News, Sinclair Broadcasting, Rush Limbaugh, and their allies, intensified by shamelessly irresponsible members of Congress like Devin Nunes and Trey Gowdy, and voiced most recently by Trump’s new lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. When CNN’s Dana Bash asked Giuliani the other day whether he thinks the Mueller investigation is legitimate, Giuliani said “Not anymore, I don’t. I did when I came in. But now I see—I see spy gate.” Now he sees “spy gate” because that’s the code term Trumpian propagandists have resolved to pound into everyone’s head. 


It’s unethical and grounds for disciplinary action for a lawyer to make false public statements on behalf of his or her client. Giuliani has thrown such strictures to the winds, preferring to join the cacaphony of miscreants who have been warping public discourse to a degree that threatens America's survival as a democratic nation. Truth is on the ropes.


 

 

May 27, 2018 

 

America the Ugly 

 

Trump has exceeded himself in reprehensible behavior in ordering that children of refugees –– even babes in arms –– be separated from their parents in order to deter more refugees from entering our country. As a result, officers who swear to be loyal to the Constitution of the United States have been obeying orders to rip young children from their mothers’ arms and send them to what Chief of Staff John Kelly says is “foster care or whatever.” Our government has lost track of 1,500 refugee children in the process. 

 

This is not just a mass violation of civil rights, it is a crime against humanity and, as such, another abuse of power by Trump; yet another reason why he should be impeached and removed from office.

 

 

 

May 26, 2018 

 

Report from the Chess Board 

 

In the chess game between Trump and his enablers on one side (“TRUMP”) and truth, justice, democracy, the Constitution, the rule of law, and basic decency on the other side (“TRUTH”)` this past week TRUMP moved a rook, Devin Nunes et. al., deep into TRUTH’S territory in a direct attack on TRUTH’S king, special counsel Robert Mueller. TRUTH was forced to retreat two knights, FBI director Christopher Wray and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, to protect loss of material. TRUMP has a well-positioned phalanx of pawns, and his fingers are twitching on one of his bishops, so eager is he to press his attack. 

 

TRUTH’S defensive position looks perilous, but TRUMP’s king is  vulnerable, and TRUTH has a long history of coming back from seemingly hopeless positions. If TRUTH’s queen can get unblocked, checkmating TRUMP is just a matter of time. 

 

 

 

May 25, 2018 

 

The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel: a Case Study 

 

Trump to football players: "You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.” Such an exemplar of patriotism, yet unconcerned with Russian interference with U.S. elections because it helps him personally.

 

 

 

May 24, 2018 

 

Infinite Capacity 

 

The heading for one of Jennifer Rubin’s WaPo pieces yesterday was, to say the least, arresting: “Trump officials’ infinite capacity for self-debasement.” This was not hyperbole. It was evidenced most recently by Department of Homeland Security Director Kirstjen Nielsen’s statement that she was unaware of intelligence reports that concluded that Russia interfered with the 2016 election in an effort to get Trump elected. In fact, this was the conclusion of all our intelligence services, and publicly available evidence of it has continued to pile up since Trump’s inauguration. 


Aspiring autocrats don’t gain one-man rule on their own. They need a cadre of strategically placed underlings to help them, and if they are lucky enough and clever enough, they find them: people so intoxicated by the lure of money and power that they are willing to cast aside any sense of decency and duty to serve and protect the anointed leader and, through their abasement, gain his favor and the bounty he bestows on them.


 

 

May 23, 2018

 

Trump at Bay

 

There’s a nice correlation between the degree to which evidence has piled up of corruption, obstruction of justice, collusion on the part of the Trump campaign with Russian operatives, abuse of power, failure to faithfully execute the laws, and other transgressions by Trump and his members of his cabal and the degree of hyperbole, hysteria, fabrications, and rank mendaciousness on the part of Trump. For example, this morning he released a series of tweets referring to the “Corrupt Deep State, a “major SPY scandal,” (the work of Democrats, of course), and “one of the biggest political scandals in history.” The intensity of such outbursts is a good indication of how worried and desperate Trump is and of why he should be. 

 

The temperature is approaching ignition level.



 

May 22, 2018

 

William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich 

 

I’ve returned to reading this classic work after a six-month layoff, occasioned by other books taking priority and because this one is so thick and heavy I haven’t wanted to travel with it. I’m resuming where Shirer is describing the last days of the Republic and the machinations that eventuated in Hitler’s taking power. I began reading it because of curiosity about the ways in which Hitler’s rise compares with that of Trump’s. Of course, there are striking differences between Germany’s political setting in 1931- 1933 and that of the United States 2016 - 2018 and between the two men –– to give just one example, Hitler read books. They shared at least two significant traits, a tendency to rant and rave and tremendous chutzpah. If, instead of FDR, Trump had taken office in 1933, he probably would have expressed his admiration for Hitler just as he has for Putin. 

 

 

 

May 21, 2018 

 

Oddball Democracy

 

The Colorado primary elections will determine the Republican and Democratic nominees for the state’s congressional districts. In my district the Republican incumbent, Scott Tipton, is running unopposed, but there are three candidates competing in the Democratic primary. Only two are serious contenders, and the race is likely to be quite close between them. I have been active in supporting one of them and plan to send letters to the editors of newspapers in the district this week, arguing that she is the best candidate and the one most likely to unseat Tipton in the general election. 


Confronting me in this task is an oddball feature in the Colorado election law. Regardless of what party you’re registered in, you have the right to choose whichever party’s primary you want to vote in. Of course, Democrats won’t vote in the Republican primary–– there’s only one person running. But Republicans, having no need to vote in their own primary, are free to vote in the Democratic primary, and many will probably do so. If they exercise that right, whom will they vote for? –– in most instances the Democratic candidate least likely to beat the Republican candidate in November. Therefore, in my letters to the editors of newspapers, to the extent I persuade Democrats that my candidate is more likely to win in November and therefore they should vote for her in the primary, I’m persuading Republicans that they should vote against her! 

 

My candidate may win a clear majority of votes cast by Democrats, but lose to her opponent because Republicans vote overwhelmingly against her. This is not a good system.

 

 

 

 

May 20, 2018  

 

Someone. Anyone.  

 

In an impassioned piece in the Washington Post yesterday Mathew Dallek calls for someone -– anyone –– to run against Trump for the Republican nomination in 2020. Retiring Senator Jeff Flake, of Arizona, and retiring (because of term limits) Ohio governor John Kasich, who have both been strongly critical of Trump, are logical possibilities. 


Dallek is surely right. The Republican party needs someone to try to pull it up from the depths to which it has sunk.

 

I’ve read that 86% of Republicans support Trump. This is a terrible indictment of Republicans, because, as should be evident to all thinking people, anyone who by now has not repudiated Trump must be either (a) ignorant, or (b) debased. A primary campaign against Trump even if almost certain to fail would be worth it, if only because it might enlighten some of the ignorant and point the way to rebirth of the Republican Party as a respectable and honorable institution.

 

 

 

March 19, 2018 

 

He Should Be Gone 

 

Thoughtful pundits and important Democratic politicians tell us not to talk about impeachment, because it’s divisive, and the country isn’t ready for it, and we need to let special counsel Mueller finish his investigation and report to Congress, and it could backfire on Democrats who push for it while Republicans are still in power and there’s no chance of it happening, but the grounds for impeachment keep piling up –– the latest being Trump’s abuse of power in trying to get the Post Office to punish Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos because of articles in the paper Trump doesn’t like. 


In normal times Trump would have been shamed out of office by now, (normal times being, like, when Nixon was president!), but Trump has been protected by accomplices in Congress and allied right wing media, so he stays in office and threatens and blusters, and the country suffers and the world suffers. The rot runs that deep in our country. He should be gone.


 

 

May 18, 2018 

 

Some Country  

 

Commenting on the confirmation of Gina Haspel as Director of the CIA, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats asserted that her confirmation “represents the best we have to offer as a country.” 

 

Someone who oversaw and refused to condemn torture. Some country if this is the best.


 

 

May 17, 2018 

 

If Only 

 

It causes dissent when facts unfavorable to great leaders are circulated, and dissent is bad. To run their countries efficiently great leaders must suppress all media that is not state-controlled. Putin knows that. Kim Jong-un knows that. Trump knows that too, which is why it is so agonizing for him that his control of the media is so incomplete. If only all media outlets were like Fox News, what a wonderful world it would be!  

 

Jennifer Rubin explains: “Fox News’s business model is built on promoting crackpot ideas and airing hateful rhetoric that feed the anger and resentment of its base. That means tearing down genuine heroes who challenge the Great Leader Trump. They are utterly comfortable voicing obnoxious slurs, revealing a stunning lack of human decency. They are superstars in the right-wing ecosystem, not in spite of their crass, bigoted views, but because of them.”


 

 

 

 

May 16, 2018 

 

Rule of the Mean-Spirited 

 

Battered by fast-breaking waves of bombast and distractions, it’s easy to overlook the daily damage inflicted by Trump and his cohorts; to not notice, for example, that the Administration is engaged in:


>rolling back teen age labor regulations that have substantially reduced deaths and injuries;


>cutting seven billion dollars from the children’s health insurance program for nine million low-income kids and pregnant mothers;


>tripling the rent paid by the poorest Americans in federally subsidized housing;


>Tearing immigrant families apart; taking babies from refugees, defended by White House Chief of Staff Kelly thus: “The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever.”’


>working to slash food-stamp benefits.

 

 

 

 

May 15, 2018 

 

Imagine 

 

News Item: “California has become the first US state to mandate solar panels on new homes and apartment buildings built after 1 January, 2020.”

 

Solar energy becomes ever more efficient, and the industry continues to grow, even though politicians friendly to, and befriended by, fossil fuel interests hold power. Imagine if by some miracle our country suddenly started being governed rationally. Within ten years we would have solar panels on almost every structure in America, vastly reducing dependence on oil, gas, and coal; most vehicles would be powered by electricity; air quality would be much improved, and we would be much less dependent on the “grid.” Going solar makes sense as a matter of increasing national security, decreasing vulnerability to a wide range of catastrophes, improving public health, and slowing the rate of global warming.  

 

 

 

May 14, 2018 

 

Legal Corruption and How To Fix It 

 

Billionaires and super-billionaires have the ability to swing races, and this year they are trying especially hard to do so. Among others, the Koch brothers, oil and gas tycoons who are worth about $90 billion, are dedicating $400 million to back right-wing candidates, and Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate, about $30 million. Then there are the super-billionaires, like Rupert Murdoch and the Sinclairs, who own publishing and TV and cable properties that give them the ability to spread their propaganda to more than half the population.


Virtually every Republican in Congress returns the favor by voting for the kinds of legislation these fat cat donors desire, like the recently enacted tax law, 83% of the benefits of which will go to the richest 1%.  If Republicans in Congress were honest, they would have titled it “The Tax Cuts and Extra Tax Loopholes Primarily for the Rich and Especially for the Super Rich Act." 

 

Because it’s legal corruption at work here, the only way to fix it is at the polls. If that’s not possible this year and in 2020, it may never be.


 

 

 

May 13, 2018 

 

Rapture of the Mindless 

 

During a rally in Elkhart, Indiana, last week, Trump suggested that his presidency should be extended beyond eight years, an utterance in the “I could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and get away with it” genre. His audience roared their approval. 

 

During the 2016 election campaign, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, arguing that Trump should not be elected president, observed: “This isn’t a reality show. This is reality.” 

 

It’s a distinction Trump supporters have never grasped.

 

 

 

May 12, 2018 

 

Air Quality and Public Policy 

 

The writer of a recent letter to the editor of the editor of my local newspaper, in south-west Colorado, railed against “green tyrants” and asserted that “the climate change movement is far more about governmental control and power than based on reality.” Thus displayed is the mind of a typical Trump supporter, a self-assured citizen whose participation in the political process consists of regurgitating propaganda ingested from Fox News, right-wing talk radio, and similar dispensers of the Trumpian line.


A few pages later in the same issue of the paper was an article headlined: La Plata County {our county} receives an “F” for ozone pollution.” The article noted that the area is “home to and adjacent to one of the largest coal-bed methane gas fields in the country and is also near two major coal power plants.”


Even if human-caused climate change weren’t a serious threat to humanity –– and there is overwhelming scientific evidence that it is –– from a public health standpoint alone we should restore and strengthen environmental safeguards and accelerate the conversion of energy production from fossil fuels to solar and wind. You can wait till the cows come home to hear that from Fox News.


 

 

 

May 11, 2018  

 

Getting a Good Return on Your Investment 

 

Billionaire capitalists are accustomed to investing large sums of money. The goal is to maximize return on investment. The Nevada casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson, smart businessman that he is, is no exception. That’s why he’s investing 30 million dollars to help Republicans keep control of the House of Representatives in the upcoming elections. Adelson and other profit-minded multi-billionaires are already getting a terrific return on previous donations to Republican campaigns. The elected officials they supported were instrumental in passing the tax “reform” act that is yielding tens of billions of dollars in tax savings for rich and super rich donors, an exceptionally generous return on investments of only tens of millions of dollars! The richest one percent of the population will receive about 83 percent of the benefit of the new law. 


 

 

May 10, 2018 

 

Thumbs down, way down, on Gina Haspel.


I used to love watching Siskel and Ebert’s weekly review of recently released movies on TV. They both died prematurely, and I’ve never quite gotten over it. 

 

As a great number of older Americans know, they would illustrate their comments with short clips from films and conclude by giving the movie a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down.” They often disagreed, which made the show more interesting, but when they agreed, you could be sure that the movie they were reviewing was certainly worth seeing, or not. Only rarely, in exceptional cases, would they give a movie a “thumbs way up” or a “thumbs way down."


I never met either Siskel or Ebert personally, but I can tell you with absolute authority that these were two good and wise men. I can also tell you that they would give Gina Haspel, Trump’s nominee to be CIA Director, a “thumbs down, way down.” 


Haspel was involved the in torturing prisoners held by the CIA during the G. W. Bush Administration. She testified at her confirmation hearing that she wouldn’t countenance torturing prisoners now because that’s not the current policy. She declined to repudiate torture as an acceptable form of human behavior. 


Some observers have supported Haspel’s confirmation on the grounds that, if she is not confirmed, Trump would nominate someone even worse. There’s some merit to that argument, but far short of enough. It should get a thumb’s down too. 


 

 

May 9, 2018

 

Descent 

 

Yesterday Barrack Obama released a statement on the occasion of Trump’s action in withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Iran. It’s sickening to read because of the enormity of the folly it exposes, and even more because of the glaring light it casts on how fast and how far our country has fallen since it submitted itself to Trump. 


 

May 8, 2018 

 

Sleepwalking through History 

 

It’s not name-calling to refer to Trump as a petulant, grossly irresponsible, narcissistic sociopath –– it’s stating an exhaustively well-documented fact. Pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump has said he intends to do today, is folly of the highest order, yet unsurprising in light of his warped personality and despicable character. In giving license to him to continue in office, the Republican-controlled Congress has been sleepwalking through history. What next ensues we cannot say. “The weight of this sad time we must obey. . .”

 

 

 

May 7, 2018

 

Our Democracy of Dollars 

 

Imagine that, all dollars being created equal, the way our democracy works is that wads of dollars can vote and that every wad of dollars gets one vote. You don’t need to imagine! That’s the way it is, e.g. news item: “Behind just about every divisive Senate Republican primary this year, a shipping-supplies magnate {Richard Uihlein} is bankrolling the candidate who claims to be the most hard-charging, anti-establishment conservative in the race.”


 

 

May 6, 2018

 

Pence 

 

What Goes On in the Head of Mike Pence? (continued)

 

Experiencing a religious upbringing, Pence noticed the power of mind-stabbing precepts derived, however speciously, from the Bible: abortion is sinful, contraception hardly less so; prayer yields esteem; unfettered acquisitiveness is holy; guns are good, immigrants bad. Insights like these rose in a gelatinous wave and coursed through his brain.


Trump signifies God choosing not to reveal his motives as foretold in the Book of Revelations, the mysterious drama ever about to unfold before our eyes. Religiosity is a sign, if not of amazing grace, of an amazing base, an amalgam of the resentful ever acquisitive superrich propagandizers of Trumpian faith and the bewitched and befuddled “everyday” people Hillary so conspicuously failed to understand.


Pence is a hedgehog who knows one thing: he would have no chance striking out on his own; he must cling to Trump and grovel before him, day after day. That’s the full sum of his mental life and all he is capable of thinking about for now.


 

 

May 5, 2018 

 

What Goes On in the Head of Mike Pence?

 

Pence must be at least moderately intelligent or he would not have gotten as far as he has; yet his brain must be in the grip of a neuronal-twisting pathogen. You can see it looking at any of the video clips and photos showing him sitting or standing a bit behind or beside Trump, the thin smile remaining ever in place, the attentive pose and lip lines signifying approval of whatever Trump is saying regardless of tone or content.


Maricopa County Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio was found

guilty of criminal contempt of court for his flagrant disregard of an order to stop racially profiling Latinos in traffic stops. Trump pardoned him, signaling that that there will be no limit to how he’ll exercise that power. In a speech the other day Pence called Arpaio a “champion of the rule of law.” It's an indication that Pence’s overriding rule of conduct is to say whatever he thinks Trump wants him to say. I’ll speculate as to what goes on in his head tomorrow. 

 

 

May 4, 2018

 

Thug-Speech 

 

Rudy Giuliani, long-time most of the time Trump devotee, recently joined his legal team and jumped right in, asserting that FBI officers, acting under authority of a duly obtained judicial warrant in searching Michael Cohen’s office, home, and hotel room, acted like “stormtroopers.” 


Trump and Trump supporters have been conducting a campaign to smear the Justice Department, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the FBI, and Special Counsel Mueller in an effort to mislead and confuse the public as to how our constitutional system works. In a Washington Post article Jennifer Rubin exposed Giuliani for what he is: “Giuliani disgraced himself by using a term often meant to invoke Nazi paramilitary groups. . . The notion that American law enforcement operating within a constitutional system is in anyway comparable to Nazis is deeply offensive and wrong. It smears admirable men and women who put their lives on the line, and trivializes the Holocaust." 

 

Giuliani has no qualms about using thug-speech, a desideratum as far as Trump is concerned.


 

May 3, 2018 

 

Showdown at the Not-So-O.K. White House Corral 

 

What if Trump is subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury, he refuses to obey, he is held in contempt of court, the ruling is upheld by the Supreme Court, United States marshals are sent to the White House to bring him into custody, and at the front door they are confronted by Secret Service agents who, following Trump's orders, deny them admittance. 

 

Here we have a Constitutional crisis writ large. The marshals would retreat. The question is whether the Republican-controlled Congress would then impeach Trump and remove him from office. If that happened, Trump’s orders to fend off marshals would not be obeyed –– he would have to go. That’s comforting, but it would take only 34 senators to block Trump’s conviction in the Senate, thereby effecting conversion of our country into an autocracy, or an oligarchy, call it what you will.

 

 

 

May 2, 2018

 

Equal Justice for All

 

Martin Luther King, Jr. said he looked forward to the day when a man would be judged by the content of his character rather than the color of his skin. If King’s hope were realized, rather than being discriminated against because of the color of their skin, people of color with high content to their character would be held in high esteem. 


Let us attend to the corollary: people with popular color of their skin and financial clout, but lacking high content of their character, should be treated with no more favor than a common street thug. Much less should any person, no matter what their status, be held to be above the law.

 

 

 

 

May 1, 2018 

 

Life in the Kleptocracy 

 

Robert Reich reports: “The Environmental Protection Agency has granted an oil refinery owned by billionaire Carl Icahn a so-called "financial hardship" waiver. The exemption allows the facility to avoid clean air laws, potentially saving the company tens of millions of dollars. Icahn served as one of Trump's economic advisors until he resigned amid questions about his conflicts of interest last summer.”

 

 

 

April  30, 2018

 

Antipodes in Character 

 

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: “Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.”

 

Trump:  “I don’t pay taxes. That makes me smart.”  


 

 

April 29, 2018 

 

Slouching Toward Autocracy 

 

The Washington Post is reviled by Trump for good reason –– it has some of the sharpest, most perceptive, and most honorable op-ed columnists of all time. (It also has some shoddy-thinking Trump enabling types who are there to provide balance.) 


The brightest stars in the WaPo firmament are Jennifer Rubin, E. J. Dionne, and Anne Applebaum. Here's Applebaum, after describing some factual occurrences and situations in Malta and the United Kingdom, on how there is more than one way for democracy to fail:


"If independent legal institutions are deprived of resources and understaffed, if journalists who report on crimes are ignored, if the public is indifferent — these, too, are sure paths toward democratic failure. And such things can happen slowly, quietly, almost imperceptibly — at least until a crisis, or a bomb explosion, reveals that its citizens are living in a country they no longer recognize. . . "


 

 

April 28, 2018

 

Crystal Clear

 

You don’t have to perform an exhaustive analysis of the recently enacted Republican big new tax cuts and tax loopholes primarily for the rich and even more for the super rich law to understand how it works. A few statistics make it crystal clear. 


1. According to new analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the richest one percent of Americans will receive a $33,000 tax break. The poorest Americans will receive a $40 tax break.


2. In the three months since it’s been in effect, it has delivered  $3,590,000,000 added after tax income to the six biggest Wall Street banks.


3.  Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s secretary will be making  $1.50 more after taxes a week.


 

 

 

April 27, 2018

 

Nikki Haley

 

Former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough, co-host of  Morning Joe on MSNBC, recently noted that it’s doubtful that Trump will be the Republican nominee for president in 2020. Trump has a famous base and, for the moment, powerful propaganda-spewing allies, but a majority of people realize that he’s a disaster of a human being and a disaster for our country, and the number of those so enlightened will likely rise.


As 2020 approaches there’s a high probability that members of the Republican establishment will give increasing indications that they care more about keeping the presidency than about keeping Trump. Who would be their best bet to replace him? Scarborough hinted that it might be Nikki Haley. She has the credentials, having been a state governor and, presently, United States Ambassador to the U.N. She recently showed –– on the Russia sanctions thing –– that she has more class than anyone in the White House. She is more impressive than any of the contenders who flailed haplessly against Trump in the 2016. She is the daughter of immigrants, and nobody, except maybe Trump, is going to say she was really born in Mumbai. 


 

 

April 26, 2018

 

Huckleberry Finn 

 

If The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn had been required reading for graduation from high school for every student in the country instead of being largely ignored and even banned, we would not be enduring the presidency of Trump. It’s as simple as that. Huck would see through Trump faster than a cat can flick its tail, and Jim probably sooner.


 

 

April 25, 2018

 

Trump and the Torturer 

 

Trump has nominated Gina Haspel, a CIA officer who oversaw torture during the G. W. Bush administration, to be the Agency’s next director. It stands to reason. Trump expressed his enthusiasm for torture during the campaign.

 

The scale of torture under the G. W. Bush Administration has only partially come to light. It is all the more distressing that, apart from the high-level officials and their legal lackeys, who should bear prime responsibility, so many of those who carried out these execrable practices followed orders even though any sense of decency would have inhibited them from treating prisoners in the manner of ruthless despots. This was the view too of Matthew Alexander, a retired military officer and prisoner interrogator, who quotes George Washington’s view on the subject: 

 

Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any prisoner . . . by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country. 

“Base and infamous.” That’s a pretty good description of Trump. It would do well for Gina Haspel too.



 

 

April 24, 2018 

 

Contemplating Future Enlightenment 

 

Considering the case in New York State of the caged chimps that animal rights activists are suing to have released to a sanctuary ––the closest thing to restoring them to freedom that their ancestors enjoyed for millions of years –– it occurred to me that in some to-be-hoped-for future era in which humans have attained a degree of enlightenment considerably greater than they have thus far displayed, people will look back with chagrin at how their ancestors allowed animals to be treated.


The owners of the chimps, claiming the right to keep them caged, argue that civil rights can only be claimed by “persons.” Putting aside, but not very far aside, that the Supreme Court of the United States has recognized the religious rights of corporations, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, given that, to adapt the remonstrance of Shylock, these chimps have “hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; {are} fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer,” is it morally defensible to allow their owners to confine them indefinitely in a cage because they are not “persons”?

 

 

 

April 23, 2018 

 

The Great Perversion Conversion 

 

I’ve read explanations about how this came about, but they keep deliquescencing in my mind: why Christian evangelicals overwhelmingly support Trump.  

 

Isn’t he more likely the AntiChrist? Maybe so, but it’s part of God’s plan, so that's fine?

 

Maybe Trump is God’s punishment, like Hurricane Katrina was for tolerating gay people, so to oppose Trump is to oppose God's punishment, which is to oppose God?


Trump supports us and cares about us Christians, so it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t obviously fully reveal that he shares our faith?


Whatever the reason, supplementing the pervasive and perverse propagandistic impact of Fox News, Sinclair Broadcasting, and the like is the Christian Broadcasting Network (Pat Robertson) and the Trinity Broadcasting Network (Mike Huckabee) Collectively they are as terrifying as a Biblical flood.

 

 

 

 

April 22, 2018 

 

The Greatest Plea Bargain of All Time 

 

Trump still struts proudly about, despite the peril he’s in. If events are allowed to continue on their present course, it’s probable that in due course he and some of his family members will be indicted for committing multiple state and federal crimes. Meanwhile, he will likely cause much more damage to the country than he already has, and national turmoil arising from his presidency will likely ramp up even more.


Because neither Trump nor his family members and associates for their reasons, nor intelligent people of good will for their reasons, want events to continue on their present course, the stage is being set for the greatest plea bargain of all time. Here are suggested terms: Trump and certain family members and close associates plead guilty to a range of crimes; Trump resigns from office and is remanded to Mar-a-Lago to serve two years house arrest on such premises, including its attendant golf course; Trump family members and associates agree to similarly modest constraints on their freedom commensurate with their degree of culpability; neither Trump nor any member of his family or close associates is otherwise incarcerated. 


 

 

April 21, 2018 

 

The Rudy Giuliani Show 

 

Longtime prominent Trump booster Rudy Giuliani has joined Trump’s legal team and immediately assumed a commanding position, saying, “I hope we can negotiate an end to this for the good of the country and because I have high regard for the president and for Bob Mueller.” 

 

Having high regard for both Trump and for Robert Mueller strikes me as a condition that can’t last. I predict that Giuliani’s regard for Mueller will drop precipitously once he finds that Mueller isn’t malleable –– that he’s determined to see his investigation continue until he reaches its natural conclusion. This discovery by Giuliani may distress him so much that he tells Trump that the investigation must be ended unilaterally.

 

 

April 20, 2018

Republican Miscalculation: What To Do?

 

Republicans thought they could fool most people into thinking their new tax cuts and tax breaks primarily for the rich and even more for the super rich law was a good thing by throwing in a few bucks in cuts for ordinary people. Even so, as Robert Reich has written:


The Trump tax cuts will go down as the largest redistribution of wealth from middle-class and working families to the rich and corporations in our nation's history. According to new analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans will receive a $33,000 tax break. Meanwhile, the poorest families will receive a paltry $40. As for those middle-class families receiving a few hundred dollars, those tax cuts are only temporary. The breaks for the rich are permanent.


Yesterday I read that, despite months of whooping it up by Fox News, Sinclair Broadcasting, and all the other right-wing media propagandists, the new tax cuts and tax breaks primarily for the rich and even more for the super rich law isn’t the big hit with ordinary people that Republican strategists thought it would be. 

They’re scrambling around trying to figure out how to rectify the problem.


April 19, 2018

Does a Constitutional Crisis Lie Ahead?


Many observers have said that if Trump effects Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s removal, presumably by first replacing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein with a Trumpian puppet, it would precipitate a Constitutional crisis. 


It’s not clear to me what a Constitutional crisis is. If Trump gets rid of Mueller, it would be in the service of obstructing justice and would strengthen the case for criminal prosecution against him. Congress would be provided with yet another ground for impeaching him and removing him from office. But suppose they don’t? Suppose that, fearing Trump’s Fox-News-fed “base,” they are content to let him get away with anything? 


This appears likely, but, if it happens, the Constitution won’t have been violated, except by Trump, but he has been violating it since the day he was inaugurated, so this is just an other instance. The real danger of a Constitutional crisis lies in the possibility that right-wing forces succeed in convening a Constitutional Convention and amending this hallowed document to accommodate an autocrat’s whims. 

 

 

April 18, 2018 

The Autocrat’s Must-Have Asset 

Control of the media is the autocrat’s must-have asset. At the very least, the pro-autocrat media must be dominant in the marketplace of ideas. This presents a formidable problem for the aspiring autocrat in the White House. Formidable but not necessarily insuperable thanks to an amalgam of American oligarchs so deficient in character that they view transition of this country from a democracy to an autocracy as a means of feeding their appetites for ever greater power and wealth. Thus, billionaire-backed right-wing Trump supporting media outlets work their wiles on listeners, viewers, and readers with effect so potent that it’s almost impossible for a moderate Republican to withstand a Trump-enabling challenger in a primary election. Our aspiring autocrat’s must-have asset is tantalizingly close to being in hand.

 

 

 

April 17, 2018 

 

Report from the Political Trenches, Concluded 

 

Friday evening I was among about 350 delegates from the 29 counties in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District who voted for contenders for the Democratic nomination to oppose the Republican incumbent this November. Two of the three got more than the required 30% to earn a place on the ballot and will face each other in the primary election this June. 


This event was the culmination of an extravaganza that began with precinct caucuses about a month and half ago. Throughout the process I’ve wondered why selection isn’t made by tabulating the thousands of votes cast in precinct caucuses throughout the district, rather than bestowing that power on delegates who only roughly reflect the voting preferences of citizens in their home counties, cities, and neighborhoods. The process seems designed to invest power in those who manage to stick it out through their local and county gatherings and trek between 130 and 400 miles (depending on where you’re coming from) to Broomfield, a suburb of Denver, where the district assembly was held. It took a non-trivial amount of money, time, determination, and energy to vote for candidates at the C.D. assembly, which is not exactly perfectly democratic, but a lot better than having political bosses picking the candidates in a formerly smoke-filled room, and the same two candidates will be on the ballot for the primary election as would have been if they had been chosen at the local level.

 

 

 

April 16, 2018 

 

Report from the Political Trenches, Cont. 

 

Last month I walked into our county’s Democratic assembly thinking that the votes of delegates like me would bind the delegates selected for the Third Congressional District Assembly to be held on April 13th, where it would be determined who would be on the ballot for the primary election to be held on June 26th. Instead, after a preference poll was taken, people were told to cluster in groups corresponding to the candidate they had voted for. Delegates were then selected from each group in proportion to the votes their presumably preferred candidate had received, but, as was the case at the precinct caucus level, there weren’t enough people volunteering to be delegates at the district assembly, so the ratio of people who actually became delegates associated with their supposedly preferred candidate was not necessarily proportional to the ratio of preference votes cast. Moreover, as had been the case with delegates to the county assembly, delegates to the district assembly were not bound to vote in proportion to the votes received by each candidate at the county assembly. Thus, the approximately 350 delegates from the various counties who showed up at the district assembly were free to vote for whomever they liked. 

 

Tomorrow: what happened at the district assembly and my thoughts as to the pros and cons of this strange system.


 

 

April 15, 2018 

 

Report from the Political Trenches, Cont. 

 

Democracy at work, sort of, is Colorado’s system for selecting nominees to run for Congress. First we have local precinct caucuses. I think the population of a precinct might be about a thousand voters. At the caucus for my precinct last February about 20 people showed up. The main business was a preference poll as to who should be the Democratic nominee to run for Congress. Another item on the agenda was the selection of delegates to attend the county assembly. Our precinct was authorized to send eight delegates. It soon appeared that there wouldn’t be eight people willing to go, so I volunteered, and was duly appointed as a delegate.


I think there were five of us, so our precinct would be under-represented. That was probably the case with most precincts. Several people told me that the delegates were supposed to, or requested to, or it was suggested that, their vote at the county assembly reflect the preference poll results at the precinct caucuses, but there was no mechanism for achieving this.  (I never even learned who the other delegates from my precinct were). As a result, delegates at the county assembly tend to vote for the person they personally think would be the best candidate, and, if successful, the best representative in Congress. The preferences of voters at the precinct level who do not become voters are mostly lost in translation. Tomorrow: how a further loss occurs in the translation of preferences from the county level to the Congressional district, which in our case –– being vast and largely rural and wilderness ––  comprises 29 counties.


 

April 14, 2018 

 

Report from the Political Trenches  

 

On the road home today after attending the Colorado Democrats 3rd C.D. Assembly in Broomfield, a Denver suburb, last evening. I was a delegate from my county so I participated in voting for aspirants to be the Democratic nominee to oust Scott Tipton, the Republican incumbent Congressman in November. My favored candidate, Diane MItsch Bush, got the most votes, but her main opponent, Karl Hanlon, got more than enough to qualify to be on the ballot in the primary election to be held June 26th.  

 

The process for candidates getting to this point in this electoral serves as an example of both the commendable and the distressing aspects of the way democracy works. More about that tomorrow.

 

 

 

April 13, 2018 

 

Comey’s Book and Trump

 

I’ve missed Michiko Kakutani since she retired as chief book critic for The New York Times and was happy she made a return appearance to review Comey’s new book, a memoir in which he reveals his witnessing of the just how depraved Trump is.  

 

Comey is hard pressed to explain why just before the election he gratuitously announced that Clinton’s emails were still under investigation. The psychodynamics are complex and subtle, but it emerges from Kakuatani’s review that Comey was not trying to tilt the election to Trump; bumble-headed as his thinking was, he was trying to do the right thing. It also emerges that Trump has no mitigating, much less redeeming, qualities. His whole life is a compendium of examples of how not to be.

 

 

 

April 12, 2018 

 

Trump’s Chief Rabble Rouser at Work  

 

From Sean Hannity's radio show last week (courtesy of Robert Reich):


"This country is headed towards a civil war in terms of two sides that are just hating each other and if Robert Mueller wants, there’s a big red button in the middle of the table. And if Robert Mueller is so pompous and so arrogant and so power hungry and so corrupt that he’s going to hit the red button and he’s going to ignite a battle that we’ve not seen in this country before. You think it’s, and I’m not talking about a war, I’m talking about, in terms of, there’s going to be two sides of this that are fighting and dividing this country at a level we’ve never seen.”


This travesty of political commentary –– on the level of the inflammatory snippets that stream forth from the mouth of Rush Limbaugh –– tells you a lot about what’s wrong with this country.  Why the reference to a big red button, evoking Trump’s bragging that his red button (for initiating nuclear war) was bigger than Kim Jong-un’s? What is Hannity trying to conjure up in the minds of listeners? That Mueller may commit an act so monstrous that it can be likened to starting a nuclear war? Such as obtaining indictments that would illuminate the full scope and depth of Trump’s criminality? Evidently, Hannity would have his listeners believe, that would be “pompous,” “arrogant,” “power hungry,” and “corrupt,” rather than a triumph for the rule of law.


Hannity wouldn’t want his listeners to analyze what he’s saying, so he pushes his own big red buttons of provocative verbiage. The extent to which people think he’s putting forth persuasive arguments is a measure of deficiency in our educational system.


 

 

April 11, 2018

 

Single Issue Voting 

 

Some voters care so much about a single issue that a candidate’s position on it is determinative of how they will vote. Guns, abortions, and even marijuana are examples. Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne writes: “Revulsion at Trump is now the driving force in American politics.” It should be. Trump is the biggest single issue. Any candidate who supports him, whether expressly or by implication, should be rejected for that reason alone.


 

 

April 10, 2018

 

Impeachment 

 

Leading Democrats are downplaying talk of impeaching Trump, apparently worried about inadvertently motivating higher Republican trunout at the polls. Other Democrats argue that, even if they gain control of the House and are able to impeach him, there’s no chance of getting the required two-thirds of the Senate to convict him. Why ratchet up divisiveness, they ask, when there’s no chance of removing him before the 2020 elections.


The trouble with this line of argument is that following it –– not impeaching Trump if Democrats gain control of the House, or not advocating impeachment proceedings if they don’t –– amounts to playing the game of “Let’s Pretend that Trump shouldn’t be impeached and removed from office at the ealiest possible moment.” 

 

Every day Trump remains in office is a bad day for our country. There are plenty of grounds for doing impeaching him. Tiptoeing around the subject amounts to normalization of the unacceptable, and there has been far too much of that already. 



 

 

April 9, 2018

 

Democracy at Bay 

 

During early days of the Cold War, the economist Barbara Ward wrote a prescient book titled The West at Bay. If she were alive today, she might be writing one titled Democracy at Bay. That title would be apt for an article in yesterday’s New York Times by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. As Albright states, “fascism — and the tendencies that lead toward fascism — pose a more serious threat now than at any time since the end of World War II.” She neatly outlines the threats and trends. By doing nothing to counter them, the United States is heightening them. Albright asks, “Can a nation merit {the label of being great} by aligning itself with dictators and autocrats, ignoring human rights, declaring open season on the environment, and disdaining the use of diplomacy at a time when virtually every serious problem requires international cooperation?” The answer is self-evident. The Trumpian ethos is pandemic throughout the world. We don’t know whether it can be reversed or whether it’s a preview of a dismal brutish era that lies ahead.


 

April 8, 2018 

 

Conservatives Who Refuse to Play “Let’s Pretend” 

 

Some of the most articulate and forceful voices decrying Trump and Trumpism are conservatives whose natural inclination is to be Republicans  –– Jennifer Rubin, Joe Scarborough, and Senator Jeff Flake, come to mind ––  but refuse to play the game of Let’s pretend that Trump is remotely close to being morally, intellectually, or temperamentally fit to hold the office of president of the United States.

 

That the overwhelming majority of Republican members of Congress, lack sufficient integrity and courage to emulate them is a central tragedy of our time.

 

 

 

April 7, 2017

 

The Wall and DACA

 

I felt great resistance to giving in to Trump’s demand that Democrats agree to fund his beloved wall as a price to pay for allowing the Dreamers to stay and gain a path to citizenship. Pay $25,000,000,000 to save 800,000 people fully integrated into American society from being deported to what for most of them would be a strange country. The word for that is extortion. The Democrats refused to give in, and now, although Trump’s wall may thankfully remain forever in the spasmocically turning world of his imagination, it looks like the Dreamers will be deported. 


I’ve come to think I was wrong; that the Democrats should have given in. Taxpayers would be on the hook for another big chunk of money, but not that much compared to the more than 1.5 trillion the government will have to borrow to finance the recent tax cuts and tax breaks primarily for the rich and the super rich and the more recent gargantuan spending bill, but 800,000 people would not suffer the gross and cruel abuse of deportation, and the wall, if ever built, would eventually be torn down, or if not torn down, stand indefinitely as a fitting anti-monument to the catastrophe that befell our country in November 2016.

 

 

 

April 6, 2018  

 

The Common Good 

 

“The Common Good,” which is the title of an excellent new book by Robert Reich, is what responsible elected and appointed officials should work for regardless of their political orientation. 

 

Many people are all out for themselves and don’t have the slightest interest in the common good, and a lot of them get rich this way. Societies where such behavior becomes the norm are likely to fall under autocratic rule. The United States has been trending in this direction. A charlatan like Trump only becomes a societal problem when a lot of powerful people who could stop him don’t because they are so fixated on increasing their own wealth and power. The culture of caring only about yourself leads to disaster on a national scale. If Americans working for the common good don’t prevail, we’re lost.


 

 

April 5, 2018

 

The Magic Genie 

 

Are you are greedy and rich, or greedy and super rich, or whether rich or not, resentful of the way you’ve been treated, or undifferentiatedly resentful, or cynically opportunistic, a conniver, xenophobic, racist, or simply reflexively mean? A magic genie is here for you, come to share your soul.

 

 

 

April 4, 2018

 

America’s Two Civil Wars

 

Once again our country is engaged in a civil war, the first in a century and a half. No shots have been exchanged in this one, but similarities abound. Again, the fate of the Union, the fate of our democracy, is at stake. 

 

The previous war was between the blue and the gray, this one between the blue and the red. The blue comprises those who believe in honesty, justice, fairness, and decency and revere our Constitutional government and the rule of law. The red is an amalgam of the greedy rich, the affronted resentful, the cynical opportunists, the smarmy connivers, and the self-professed Christians who have adopted a perverted version of their faith. Trump is the apotheosis of the spirit that drives them all.

 

This war will determine whether the United States is redirected on the noble path upon which it embarked at its inception or be transformed into an autocratically run oligarchical kleptocracy bent on bullying its way toward a new American destiny in a world of competing factions united in their contempt for the common good.

 

Where are we now? About where the Union was in 1862. Reeling but resolved.  


 

 

April 3, 2018 

 

Corruption Tipping Point 

 

In some places littering is almost non-existent. In others, littering gets so common that it seems useless to protest it, then useless not to participate in it. Littering has passed the tipping point. Litter is everywhere.


The same effect occurs with corruption. If the corruption exemplified by Trump, members of his family, most members of his cabinet, many of his enablers in Congress, and important segments of the business community becomes the norm, the tipping point will be passed. Corruption will be a core characteristic of the United States of America.


 

April 2, 2018 

 

Daydreaming Days of Spring 

 

It must be spring fever that brings a recurrent image of Trump’s last moments in office to my mind: His successor is there, promising that he (or she) will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and to the best of her (or his) ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. The ringing of church bells fills the air. People are cheering as if a great and terrible war had come to an end. 


No war has ended –- the struggle for truth, justice, and decency must ever continue, but our hearts feel lighter. The heaviness that was there is gone. People everywhere are proclaiming, “America is what it was again,” taking time only, before resuming work and play, to deliver Trump and his enablers to the historians to pick over their remains.


 

 

April 1 2018 

 

Looking into the Minds of Trump Supporters 

 

I’ve been reading letters to the editor in the newspapers I skim through. Editors attempt to print letters expressing a variety of opinions, including those of Trump supporters. Most of the latter display a distinct commonality. One of the two I noted yesterday referred to “the mainstream media’s brutally ceaseless anti-Trump narrative” and condemned the “blatant partisanship coming from artists, journalists and tech titans.” The other lamented that the “morality, decency, integrity and accountability that was once strong in America has been booed, denied and belittled as ‘racist’ or some other moronic description,” and that “liberal judges consistently turn loose criminals who should never see the light of day.”


People who express such opinions appear to have a shared resentment that, however it may have formed in each case, has been funneled and reprocessed by Fox News, Trump tweets, right-wing talk radio, and the like into abhorrence of liberals and liberal views. The writers inevitably reveal that they are ignorant of facts, stuffed with misinformation, fortified with misconceptions, and possess only sufficient mental and moral resources to recite excerpts from a script.