Edward Packard
Daily Blog

December 16, 2018 

 

A Voice from the Future 

 

Two hundred nations were represented at the climate talks just completed in Poland. Some progress was made, as always not enough. Barring a global recession, emissions will rise once again next year.  

 

I keep having mental images of ice melting, a process one associates with warming that in fact has a cooling effect. It slows global warming while the ice lasts.


Scrolling down Facebook, I saw a video-clip of a 15-year-old Swedish girl, speaking English, imploring the delegates to act. She was a voice from the future, reminding early 21st century holders of power of their indifference toward children, the parents and grandparents of generations to come.


 

 

December 15, 2018 

 

Re: Impeachment 

 

Trump asserted that “the people would revolt” if he were impeached, thereby supplying us with yet another example of his thuggish character. Impeachment would have only symbolic effect unless two-thirds of the Senate voted to convict him and remove him from office. If Trump’s criminal behavior became so manifest and incontrovertible that the needed number of Republican senators would vote to convict, the atmosphere would be such that, with few exceptions, Trump’s diehard supporters would recede into the shadows.



 

December 14, 2018 

 

Global Warming and Air Pollution 

 

In his final book Stephen Hawking said that global warming may reach runaway phase and turn Earth into an uninhabitable planet like Venus. 

 

That surely won’t happen in the next few decades, will it? So why concern ourselves about? 

 

News Report: “The average person on Earth would live 2.6 years longer if their air contained none of the deadliest types of pollution, according to researchers at the University of Chicago.” 

 

Even if global warming were a hoax, it would be worth making an all out effort to combat pollution. 


 

 

December 13, 2018 

 

Kasich’s Chance To Be an American Hero 

 

Neal Katyal, a law professor and former solicitor general of the United States, called yesterday the worst day of Trump’s life. Trump’s former lawyer was sentenced to three years in prison for serious crimes, among them conspiring with Trump to illegally influence the 2016 election in Trump’s favor. Apart from other crimes Trump has committed, there is a good case that he should be prosecuted and sentenced to prison for this one. Republican senators shamefully continue to support him. 


John Kasich, outgoing Republican governor of Ohio, who was a 2016 contender for the Republican nomination for president and is probably the most prominent and formidable Republican who has unequivocally disassociated himself from Trump and Trumpism, emphasized his dedication to traditional Republican values, in particular fiscal conservatism, in a Washington Post column yesterday titled “When will we stop ignoring that 21 trillion-pound gorilla sitting in plain sight?” He was referring to the national debt, which has strikingly risen since Trump took office.


As the scope and depth of Trump’s criminality becomes ever more unmasked, it becomes increasingly likely that Kasich will challenge him for the nomination in 2020. It’s not a remote possibility that Kasich will depose Trump in the primaries, but even if he doesn’t succeed, he can ensure Trump’s defeat by running on a third party ticket grounded on true conservative principles: it would attract all Republican voters except those most maniacally loyal to Trump. 


Kasich is unlikely to become president, but he can be an American hero by being the instrument of Trump’s removal from office. There is no greater service one could render to our country than that.


 

 

December 12,  2018 

 

Trump, Repubicans, and Autocracy

 

In his latest New York Times column Paul Krugman asserts that Republicans have contempt for democracy and “that the G.O.P. is an authoritarian party in waiting.” It’s not an overstatement. Does anyone imagine that Trump doesn’t aspire to autocratic rule? By continuing to support him, Congressional Republicans betray their country. 

 

 

December 11,  2018 

 

Orwell 201 

 

My barber, in response to my comments about recent news events: “I don’t know what to believe.”


Washington Post report: “Disinformation campaigns emanating from Russia . . . . fling up swarms of falsehoods, concocted theories and red herrings, intended not so much to persuade people but to bewilder them.”


 

 

December 10, 2018

 

Are Republicans Abandoning Democracy?

 

This is the headline of E.J. Dionne’s latest Washington Post column. He’s referring mainly to the power grab by the lame duck Wisconsin legislature and governor to strip the incoming Democratic governor of the power that had been vested in that office. The same question could be asked of the Republicans in Congress who continue to defend and protect Trump and rubber stamp his mostly incompetent and morally compromised nominations. The answer is the same in both cases. That’s what’s happening.


 

December 9, 2018  

 

Trump Trouble  

 

Trump’s criminality is finally catching up with him. Upon leaving office, if not sooner, he faces likely indictments for participating in a conspiracy with Russians to influence the 2016 election in his favor, defrauding the electorate by failing to disclose that while he was running for president he was negotiating a lucrative business deal requiring Russian government approval, campaign finance violations, and obstruction of justice. Trump will be desperate to be reelected in 2020 to perpetuate the protection he enjoys by virtue of his office and support by a critical number of Republican senators, but unless our government falls under long-term Trumpian control, his downfall is all but assured.


 

December 8, 2018 

 

Trump and Tragedy 

 

Trump’s criminal behavior dwarfs Nixon’s. Nixon never showed willingness to contravene America’s interests to gain favor and money from foreign dictators. The greatest tragedy of our time is that, despite the enormity of Trump’s transgressions, there is no prospect that, if the House of Representatives impeached him, the Republican-controlled senate would fulfill its Constitutional role and high moral duty to remove him from office.


 

 

December 7, 2018 

 

Power Plays 

 

Reflecting on laws passed by the outgoing Republican governors and lame duck Wisconsin and Michigan legislatures weakening the power of the incoming Democratic governors, Ezra Klein notes: “These power grabs highlight one of the most disturbing facts about American politics today: The Republican Party has become institutionally indifferent to the health of democracy. It prioritizes power over principle to such an extreme degree that it undermines the most basic functioning of democracy.”


 

 

December 6, 2018 

 

Whittaker and Trump 

 

In my November 13 blog I wrote: “Matt Whitaker, the ultimate in Trump lackeys, whose big career stratagem of adopting and publicizing legal positions designed to please Trump paid off when Trump appointed him acting attorney general, including authority to oversee, and thus cripple, the Mueller investigation, is likely giving some thought to consequences of actions he might take in his new position."


Whittaker hasn’t recused himself –– I have the impression that he can’t get in legal jeopardy from refusing to do so –– but the latest court filings by Mueller reveal that Whitaker hasn’t done what Trump wanted him to do, in fact what Trump hired him to do, which was to act swiftly to cripple or terminate Mueller’s work. Instead, Whittaker is apparently following DOJ protocol and allowing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to continue to supervise Mueller. Whatever Whittaker said in the past, and whatever Whittaker actually would like to do, it’s in his interest to avoid possible future prosecution for conspiring to obstruct justice. It now seems likely, though far from certain, that he will continue to let Mueller continue his work unimpeded. If so, Trump’s fate is probably sealed. He can’t very well fire Whittaker and try to install someone more “reliable.” That would simply add another count to the indictment for obstruction of justice it looks increasingly likely he one day will face.

 

 

 

December 5, 2018 

 

Democratic Strategy 

 

Nancy Pelosi says that Democrats should focus on legislative initiatives rather than on investigating corruption in the Trump Administration. This should not be an either / or way to proceed. The House should pass constructive, pragmatic, progressive bills even though Republicans will block them from advancing. Sharply defining the contrast between the parties should work to the Democrats advantage in 2020. At the same time, aggressively investigating Trumpian malfeasance is critical to restoring our democracy. 


 

 

December 4, 2018 

 

Wise Words

 

I’m a faithful reader of the columns of Roger Cohen, a New York Times op-ed writer who knows the world well and thinks deeply. In his latest column he capsulizes the world situation: “With the presidency of Donald Trump it has become impossible to recall Friday what seemed outrageous Monday. Even rot can be normalized. It is human nature to adapt. Global “culture” is increasingly defined by rich, valueless elites — as in Russia, Saudi Arabia, China and Trump’s United States — while those excluded from this wealth veer toward angry, xenophobic nationalism.”  

 

Normalized rot is what we’re living with


 

 

December 3, 2018 

 

Trump’s Strategy 

 

During the coming weeks and months, Trump’s strategy will be tested to the utmost. His strategy is not to bring out facts that would support his arguments –– there are none. As Quinta Jurecic, the managing editor of Lawfare, has noted: “If facts were enough, Mr. Trump would already have been impeached.”

 

Of necessity Trump, aided by compliant politicians who until January will continue to control Congress and by an assemblage of powerful allies in the media, has adopted the only strategy that has a chance of saving him, which is to direct unremitting fusillades of denials, prevarications, and distractions in all directions. As further incriminating evidence issues from the  Mueller investigation and Democrats take control of the House in January, Trump may become ever more desperate. It’s anybody’s guess how his strategy will evolve.

 

 

 

December 2, 2018  

 

Book Writing  

 

I once read that when you’re writing a book, you should be able to describe it with just one sentence or phrase. Often this appears as the subtitle of a nonfiction book, giving prospective readers a better idea of what the book is about or what it promises to deliver than the title alone. It’s a good idea for authors to think of such a tag line for their book even before they start writing. It’s a way of improving the chances that it will have a coherent and engaging theme.  


I’m thinking of titling my book The View from Ninety, the idea being that it would be ready for publication when (if) I reach that age, not a lot more than two years from now. I have an idea for what the subtitle or one-line description should be, but have not settled on it.

 

 

 

December 1, 2018 

 

About This Daily Blog


Inspired by Christiane Amanpour’s exhortation, “Fight against the normalization of the unacceptable,” I started this blog two years ago in reaction to Trump’s election. I sensed that we had entered an era in which we would have to exercise self-discipline to keep our brains in order and reverse the country’s violent lurch toward autocracy. 


Most of my blogs over the past two years been attempts to reflect on political developments and formulate arguments I could bring to bear in correspondence and letters to the editor to help Democrats take control of a least one house of Congress, which I judged to be an absolute necessity if American democracy was to survive. Thankfully, that minimal goal has been attained.


I planned to suspend this blog for a year so I could concentrate on the book I’ve started writing. It now appears that events even more dramatic than we’ve lately witnessed lie ahead. Maintaining this blog on a daily basis has proven invaluable to me, and I hope been of interest to others, so I plan to continue it, maybe taking a few more breaks than in the past, and work on my book at the same time. More on this tomorrow.


 

 

November 30, 2018

 

The Breaching of the Line

 

The truth about Trump’s felonious criminality is gushing out. 

There have been countless indications of it. Now the dike seems to have been breached. Trump installed a lackey, Matt Whittaker, as Acting Attorney General, a position that carries with it with authority to shut down or paralyze the Mueller investigation, but it appears that Whittaker has decided not to be wholly compliant with Trump’s wishes, not probably because he is a man of conscience, but because he has determined that by doing what Trump wants him to do and thought he would do, he would be putting himself in serious legal jeopardy. If that’s the case, Trump’s last line of defense has been breached. As of this morning, his downfall has never looked more likely.


Note: I was going to suspend this daily blog after today’s entry, but I have decided to continue it. More about that tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 29, 2018 

 

R.I.P.  G.O.P.

 

Jennifer Rubin supplied this epitaph: “The moral nihilism inherent in this Republican defense of Trump (i.e., nothing he says matters) is indicative of the intellectual and moral rot that has destroyed a major political party.”


Destroyed but damaging our country every day they allow our sociopathic president to remain in office.  


 

 

November 28, 2018

 

The Dimensions of the Tragedy 

 

Headline: Trump says that he is among those who “have very high levels of intelligence but are not believers in climate change." He also says that “when you're talking about an atmosphere, oceans are very small,” a statement that may sound unintelligible to you if you have only an ordinary level of intelligence.The perpetualization of Trump and his enablers in power is a tragedy the dimensions of which are as yet beyond our comprehension.

 


November 27, 2018 

 

Manafort 

 

If Manafort had cooperated with the special counsel, instead of being sentenced to what might be the rest of his life in prison, he would likely have been rewarded by being sentenced for only two or three years. Having chosen to lie instead of telling the truth, he will likely be sentenced to a term exceeding his life span. His motivation for lying seems clear. He learned –– perhaps by way of a clandestine communication from the White House –- that he will be pardoned if he refuses to squeal on Trump. It must have seemed to him like a good bet. If there’s any justice in the world it was a bad one.


 

November 26, 2018 

 

Moral Sickness and American Survival

 

Our intelligence agencies unanimously agree that the Russians interfered with the 2016 elections and are continuing to do so. Trump pretends that this is not the case.

The CIA has determined that the North Koreans are continuing long-term missile development. Trump pretends that this is not the case.

The CIA has determined that the Washington Post writer Jason Khashoggi was murdered at the direction of the Crown Prince and ruler of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman. Trump pretends that this is not the case.

A scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies concluded the climate change will have a devastating effect on the U.S. economy during this century. Trump pretends that this is not the case.

        Enablers and emulators of Trump, including virtually all of the Republicans members of Congress, have contracted a  grave moral sickness that is transmissible and appears to be incurable. No later than the 2020 elections, we must quarantine a critical number of them if America is to survive as a democracy.

 

 

 

November 25, 2018 

 

Coal: Humanity’s Nemesis 

 

Reading a just published New York Times article on coal production and consumption is about enough to make you abandon hope that climate change can be slowed, much less stopped. Coal is so abundant world-wide, and dominant political and economic interests are so locked into its ever expanding exploitation that even governments keen on promoting conversion to renewable energy are losing ground in efforts to arrest and reverse fossil fuel emissions, which it now appears certain will inject increasing chaos and disruption into human affairs and threaten to precipitate runaway greenhouse effects that will have a catastrophic effect on human life across the planet. 


The Times reports that In the next round of international climate negotiations, starting Dec. 3, the American delegation plans to promote coal, just as it did in last year’s talks.


 

 

November 24, 2018

 

House Congressional Committees. 

 

Democrats, who will control House committees beginning in January, have been warned by Republicans, pundits, and even members of their own party not to “overreach” in investigating the Trump administration. True, they should not “overreach,” but neither should they be intimidated or deterred in the slightest from carrying out their duty to fully expose to public scrutiny unacceptable behavior on the part of Trump and his enablers and emulators. 


 

 

November 23, 2018

 

Guiding Principles

 

The gigantic toxic spill that is Trump and Trumpism has contaminated our country. As is the case with any big spill, it’s going to take a long time to clean it up. Jennifer Rubin has noted that moral nihilism “has engulfed the GOP and hovers ominously over the country.” The first in combatting it is to practice basic goodness and decency.


 

 

November 22, 2018 

 

Happy Thanksgiving Wherever You Are!

 

If you’re short of reasons to feel grateful, read Steven Pinker’s book Enlightenment Now. With an overwhelming assemblage of data he demonstrates that the state of humanity has radically improved during the past few hundred years, most rapidly in recent decades. He properly extols science, reason, and humanism for setting salutary trends in motion and urges that we adhere to enlightenment values to continue our upward climb.

 

Pinker makes a convincing case for his argument, but he ignores or underplays some dark very significant counter-trends that threaten to send his upward-trending progress-proving graphs plunging. Today is Thanksgiving, so let’s not think about such things, at least until tomorrow.


 

 

November 21, 2018 

 

Air Quality and Health 

 

This morning’s online Washington Post has an interesting graphic based on work by the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute that shows average years of life expectancy lost because of air pollution. In China, India and Nepal, the average varies, of course, but is in the neighborhood of five years. (Nepal? Isn’t that a remote mountainous country with pure air? Unfortunately, not). In the United States the average loss of life expectancy is about a year, not as bad, generally, as in Europe, though it is likely worsening under Trumpian control of our government). In Fresno, California, the average loss of life expectancy is about two years, the worst in the nation, and I think that was before the recent catastrophic fires in the state.  


Even if global warming were not occurring, the effects of poor air quality should be reason enough for a concerted intense world-wide effort to reduce harmful emissions and accelerate the transition to clean energy. 


 

 

November 20, 2018 

 

California Fires and Health 

 

According to Ezra Klein (Vox), "the air quality index in Sacramento {was recently} 316. Breathing in that air for a day is roughly equivalent to smoking 14 cigarettes.” I assume he has a scientific basis for this equivalency. Imagine, a tyrant takes over much of California and forces millions of people to smoke 14 cigarettes a day, even young children.


This is nothing as bad as the two packs a day (40 cigarettes) for a year or so that I guessed.) Still, imagine being forced to smoke half a pack or more a day when you’re not conditioned to it. An unanswered question is the effect of all this smoke on longterm health. It may lower the average average life expectancy by up to a month or more per person, but will anyone notice? A bright spot, until it’s obscured by more smoke, is that about fifty years ago, great numbers of millions smoked that much voluntarily. (At least they thought it was voluntarily. In fact they were addicted, ensnared by a tyrant –– the tobacco companies.)



November 19, 2018 

 

Headline: Trump suggests Navy SEAL commander should have found bin Laden faster. 

 

Trump must be right about this. He is, after all, a master military strategist. We’ve know this from the highest authority –– Trump himself. If bone spurs hadn’t kept him out of the Vietnam war, he would surely have been a hero. He would never have allowed himself to be captured like that non-hero, John McCain. He would probably have single-handedly turned the tide in America’s favor. It’s surprising he can’t get up enough courage to listen to the recording of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudis.



 

November 18, 2018

 

California Fires

 

The magnitude of the tragedy of the California fires is hard to grasp. Apart from the deaths, destruction, displacement, and suffering, surely over a million people have experienced ill health effects. Perhaps medical authorities can quantify it –– I think of it as if all these people were forced to smoke two packs of cigarettes a day for  a year or more. We need a national fire reduction and mitigation policy, one based on science rather than the desires of real estate developers, logging companies, and utility companies.

 

Like so much else, it’s not possible in the age of Trump.


 

November 17, 2018

 

Blog Suspension 

 

I started this blog on Dec 4, 2016 as a way of monitoring the catastrophe in motion occasioned by the election of Trump. On completing two years of daily entries, I’m planning to suspend it at end of the month in order to concentrate on a book I’m writing. More about that later. Meanwhile, I plan to post occasional blogs, including one saying something about the last two years in retrospect. I hope to resume with daily entries by January 1, 2020 in anticipation of a wildly active presidential campaign season, which by then will already be underway.

 

 

 

November 16, 2018

 

Utah Canyon Lands

 

Driving and walking in the Utah canyon lands doesn’t just involve a change of place; it enlarges your timescale from months and years to tens and hundreds of millions of years. You can feel the ancientness of the towering  canyon walls; you can imagine the millions of years that passed before a great slab of rock split off from the face of a cliff and came to rest where you can lean against it and tighten your bootlace. 


Some of this terrain gives the feeling of visiting an alien planet. One place we passed reminded me of Mars. Another, a freakish gray assemblage of cliffs and rocks, surely can only exist on a planet millions of light years away. How refreshing for a few days to be transported so far back in time and so far out in space. 


 

 

November 15h, 2018 

 

McConnell 

 

Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, is no less a sociopath than Trump. He’s not a bumble-headed malignant narcissist like Trump –– he’s much more clever, much more smooth ––  but he’s no less an enemy of democracy than Trump. 


While the Florida recount is still proceeding in accordance with Florida law, and no evidence of impropriety has been found, McConnell has joined Trump and Florida governor Rick Scott, who is leading in the as-yet-undecided U.S. Senate race against the incumbent Democrat, Bill Nelson, in claiming that the recount is a fraud perpetrated by Democrats, and has declared Scott the winner and welcomed him as a member of the U. S. Senate. In cases of close elections, the Trumpian strategy, with which McConnell has aligned himself, is to claim fraud despite lack of any basis so that, when all votes have been counted, if the Democratic candidate wins, Republicans can raise a hue and cry that the election was rigged and, if they can get away with it, refuse to recognize the results. This is the stuff of autocratic rule, a route McConnell, no less than Trump, has shown himself willing to take. 



 

 

November 14, 2018 

 

Tipping Point


1.  Trump is grossly unfit to be president.

2.  Almost all Republicans in Congress are aware of it.

3.  A substantial proportion of Republican voters admire Trump,

the Trump base.

 

4.   Republicans cannot win Republican primaries without support of the Trump base.

 

5.  Republicans in Congress have felt that they had to pretend that Trump is fit to be president to keep from losing primaries.

 

6.  This fiction that they have adopted becomes ever harder to maintain as Trump becomes increasingly frustrated and desperate. 

 

7. We may be approaching a tipping point where most Republican senators and representatives realize that they have more to lose than to gain by continuing to support Trump. 

 

8. Let’s hope so.


 

 

November 13, 2018 

 

Matt Whitaker 

 

Matt Whitaker, the ultimate in Trump lackeys, whose big career stratagem of adopting and publicizing legal positions designed to please Trump paid off when Trump appointed him acting attorney general, including authority to oversee, and thus cripple, the Mueller investigation, is likely giving some thought to consequences of actions he might take in his new position.


It’s not tremendously unlikely that Whitaker will betray Trump’s confidence and recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation. This would cause Trump to get even more angry at Whitaker than he got at Sessions when Sessions recused himself, but it would insulate Whitaker from possible future prosecution for obstruction of justice, earn him widespread praise, and improve longterm prospects for his career. Matt, this is your chance to be a hero and serve your own selfish interest at the same time!


 

 

 

November 12, 2018

 

The Struggle

 

The votes have mostly been counted. The contours of the new Congress, which will convene in January, have been established. There will be no relaxation in the struggle against the baleful force personified by Trump and his enablers and emulators, which, as Jennifer Rubin so acutely states it, “pits nihilism against objective reality, the cult of personality against the rule of law, and decency against cruelty.” 

 

 

 

November 11, 2018 

 

To Impeach, or Not To Impeach. 

 

There are multiple grounds, each sufficient in itself, for impeaching Trump and removing him from office. The world would be a better place if this happened. Two months from now, Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives and for the first time have the power to impeach him. Most Democratic leaders and most liberal-leaning pundits argue that they shouldn’t do so, because there is no chance that Trump would be removed from office –– the Senate will remain controlled by Republicans, and removal requires that two-thirds of the senators favor it –– and impeaching Trump would have an inflammatory and distracting effect, hurting Democrats more than helping them.


This a plausible line of reasoning, but I think it is wrong because it is complicit with the fiction that Trump is not a dangerous sociopath who does immense damage every day he remains in office. By impeaching him -–– clinically laying out the long list of his rank offenses, Democrats would lay bare for all to see just how grave Trump’s “high crimes and misdemeanors” have been. Impeaching him would be a salutary repudiation of normalization of the unacceptable. It’s arguably a moral obligation.


 

 

November 10, 2018

 

Trump and the Republicans 

 

Since the election Trump has made it clearer than ever that he seeks to be a dictator. That Republicans controlling Congress are neglecting their duty to hold this grotesquely empowered sociopathic bully in check is no less of a historic scandal than Trump’s presidency.


 

November 9, 2018

 

The State of the Union is Perilous

 

By firing Sessions and installing Matt Whittaker, a notorious Trump toady (accurately described as a “crackpot” by Ruth Marcus in her Washington Post column this morning) as acting attorney general for the obvious purpose of ending or crippling the special counsel’s investigation, Trump supplied the country with yet another indisputable reason why he should be impeached and removed from office. Since this can’t be accomplished without two-thirds of the senate supporting it, and Republicans in Congress have shown themselves to be willing to toss American democracy on the trash heap so long as it serves their personal interests to do so, chances that Trump can be removed before January 2021 are close to nil. 


For the good of our country and the entire world, Trump must be voted out of office in 2020. Democrats should be thinking, not about the person they would most like to become president, but the person most likely to defeat Trump. All other considerations are subordinate.

 

 

 

November 8, 2018

 

Investigations


Trump, in characteristic fashion, has warned Democrats in Congress not to investigate him or his allies, threatening that if they do he will get the Senate to investigate Democrats. “My house of Congress can beat up your house of Congress” is the way Trump’s mind works. This presumes that misdeeds of similar gravity are waiting to be found in both camps, but there are overwhelming indications that this is not the case.


 

November 7, 2018

 

The Elections

 

The worst didn't happen –– Republicans didn't retain control of both houses of Congress –– but it's deeply disturbing that voters didn't overwhelmingly repudicate Trump and those allied with him. American democracy is still in peril. 

 

 

 

November 6, 2018 

 

After the Elections 

 

After the closing of the last polls this evening, a dam will break, one that’s been holding back two floods. One is deferred action by Special Counsel Mueller, very possibly including indictment of Roger Stone for colluding with Russia on behalf of the Trump campaign; the other is the firing of Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein, elevating the Trump-friendly solicitor general, Noel Francisco, to acting attorney general, with power to oversee, and thus cripple or even terminate, the Mueller investigation. So far, it’s been an interesting year. The remainder will likely be even more so.


 

 

November 5, 2018

 

Trump's Way


Washington Post report: “In the campaign’s final days, President Trump has claimed without evidence that Democrats want to destroy the economy, obliterate Medicare and open the borders to violent criminals.”  


To be content with this behavior is to lack human decency. To fail to condemn it is to repudiate American democracy.  


 

 

November 4, 2018 

 

Imminence 

 

It’s not an overstatement to say that the fate of nation hinges on the mid-term elections two days away. Trump has consistently displayed his overwhelming moral and intellectual unfitness for office, yet propagandists –– Fox News and the like –– have propped him up, and Republicans have thrown their lot in with him. If they retain control of both houses of Congress, we may expect them to accommodate him to an even greater degree; intoxicated by success, he will commit amazing new feats of self-glorification; and in the remaining years of his term, we will witness entrenchment of government of, by, and for the rich, powerful, and ruthless at the expense of everyone else. 


By Wednesday we’ll have a better idea as to whether American democracy can survive.

 

 

 

November 3, 2018 

 

Doing the Right Thing 

 

I’ve started writing a book one topic in which is the desirability of invariably doing the right thing. This requires you to inquire whether you’re fooling yourself, rationalizing a proposed decision as right, or not thinking about it at all, when on conducting more searching analysis you would realize that it is wrong.


It might sound as if adopting this practice would be burdensome. I’ve concluded that the opposite is true, that its effect is to clear static out of your head. That process I also intend to explore.


 

 

November 2, 2018 

 

Native Americans Barred from Voting in North Dakota 

 

I read that a federal judge has upheld a law passed by the North Dakota legislature requiring street addresses on voter registrations, effectively barring native Americans who live on reservations and by long tradition have no street addresses. The sole purpose of the law is to disenfranchise a large block of voters likely to vote Democratic. Because of the law and the accommodating court ruling, Heidi Heitcamp, the incumbent senator, a Democrat, will almost certainly lose her seat to the Republican challenger. It’s through actions like this that democracies die.



 

November 1, 2018

 

A Needed Poll


Slate headline: “Even after violent attacks, Fox & Friends can’t

tolerate anyone who would criticize the president’s rhetoric.”


I’d like to see a poll that reveals the percentage of eligible voters in each state who get 80% or more of their news (or what they think is news) from Fox News. That’s because I think that people 80% or more of whose exposure to news is to Fox News are adequately shielded from truth –– truth can no longer get through to them. The poll would give an indication of the percentage of voters with captive minds.


 

 

October 31, 2018 

 

How Trump's Brain Works


Headline: “Populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians have declined by 60 percent since 1970, the World Wildlife Fund has found.”


All those creatures are losers. Humans are the greatest. Our numbers have increased tremendously. 

 

 

 

October 30, 2018 

 

Trump’s Talk Repertoire 

 

Among the good points Jennifer Rubin made in a Washington Post column yesterday was that if Trump did not divide, lie, boast, and incite, he would have nothing to talk about. Because he is unacquainted with other modes of discourse, abandoning these themes would render him mute.

 

 

 

 

October 29, 2018 

 

The Trump of the Tropics 

 

The New York Times reports: Jair Bolsonaro, just elected president of Brazil, “has exalted the country’s military dictatorship, advocated torture and threatened to destroy, jail or drive into exile his political opponents.”  

 

What next?

 

 

 

October 28, 2018 

 

Population Prospects 

 

I’ve read that population experts are pretty much in agreement that world population, which is presently about 7.7 billion, will peak at 10 -12 billion. Beyond that would be unsustainable. Either the birth rate has to come down or the death rate has to go up, or some combination of the two. Given wise world leadership, declining birth rate will be by far the dominant factor. 

 

 

 

October 27, 2018

 

Reason # ? (I’ve lost count of the numbers) Why Trump Should Not Be President


News Item: “The Trump administration is preparing to tell Russian leaders next week that the U.S. is planning to exit the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.”


One of the most vital responsibilities of a president of the United States is to work unceasingly to reduce nuclear armaments throughout the world. This has nothing to do with what motivates Trump. His concern is to look tough.


In a recent New York Times column former Secretary of State George Shultz wrote, “This is the time to expand, not abandon, an important nuclear weapons agreement with Russia. . . .” A few days before, the Times published an op-ed piece by former Soviet Premier, Michael Gorbachev to the same effect. Both men are infinitely more informed of strategic considerations than Trump. Not only should Trump not be president. It’s morally indefensible to support him.


 

 

October 26, 2018 

 

Can This Patient Be Saved? 

 

America may lack an immunity system strong enough to survive the highly virulent disease that’s been ravaging it. Otherwise, it would have generated antibodies that would already have sent Trump back to his palaces, towers, and golf courses. Can the patient be kept alive until the disease runs its course? We’ll have a better idea after November 6th, when the patient will be treated with voter therapy.


 

 

October 25, 2018

 

Peeking at Future History Books

 

It’s getting so that, often several times a day, Trump says or does something or there’s a credible report about him that is sufficient to demonstrate that he’s unfit to hold office. What has he been doing lately? Gail Collins in her online New York Times column last night reports: “The president has been on a rally marathon in which he alternates between saying things that are meant to whip his audience into rage and things that are just wildly egocentric and imaginary.”


If you could peek at future history books, you would find that it will be the almost unanimous opinion of historians that everyone who helped Trump remain in office was either ignorant, deluded, crazed, cowardly, sociopathic, or a mix of two or more of them.


 

 

October 24, 2018 

 

America in Decline 

 

Yesterday, in Moscow, meeting with U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, Putin mocked the great seal of the United States and said that the United States is no longer a superpower. 

 

Despite this behavior by the Russian dictator, and despite our intelligence services having recently warned that Russia continues to interfere with our elections, and despite the Justice Department having just indicted a Russian agent for illegally trying to influence the 2018 elections, Bolton remained passive, commented that Russian interference had had no effect on the 2016 election, and announced plans for a December meeting between Trump and Putin in Paris. The playing out of such a scenario would have sent waves of shock and horror throughout America were we not living in the Trumpian era. 

 

Last evening, appearing on the Rachel Maddow Show, former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul observed that Bolton’s behavior was most unusual and that Putin had reason to judge America to be in decline. Trump’s pulling out of the international efforts to combat climate change, pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Arms Treaty, spurning the Trans Pacific Partnership, undercutting our NATO allies, and just the other day, pulling out of a longstanding nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia have had a disastrous effect. According to polling results, only in Russia and Israel do people respect the U.S. more than they did ten years ago, countries whose leaders have found Trump to be wholly accommodating.


 

 

October 23, 2018 

 

These Truths 

 

This morning I finished reading These Truths, Jill Lepore’s engaging 789-page history of the United States. For most of the last half of the book the events recounted meshed with my personal recollections.

 

Winston Churchill took six volumes to chronicle his history of World War II. Volume I was titled “The Gathering Storm.” Volume VI was titled “Triumph and Tragedy. The last part of These Truths, covering years that have slipped by since the turn of the  century, feels both like a gathering storm and an unfolding tragedy. The story of the United States from its inception to the present has a sad ending.


 

 

October 22, 2018 

 

The Normalization of Dirty Tricks, Continued 

 

With few exceptions, Republicans have descended to Trump’s moral plane. Consider their wide-spread efforts at voter suppression; for example, in Georgia, voiding registrations of voters with trivial irregularities in forms they fill out, aimed at minority voters; having a system of checking absentee ballots that invites abuse and errors prejudicing likely Democratic voters; in Tennessee, closing polling locations convenient to minority voters; in North Dakota, changing requirements to exclude Native Americans living on tribal lands who, by longstanding custom, don’t have street addresses; in Texas, changing address requirements to make voting more difficult for students at a predominantly black college. 

 

As Jennifer Rubin noted in her Washington Post column yesterday, “Two years of Trump leave us wanting to wash away the moral and financial filth that he’s tracked into the White House. If Americans turn out to vote in large enough numbers, the midterms will provide a national cleansing, a political fumigation. . . How refreshing and exhilarating that would be.” 

 

This year, cleaning house is not sufficient. It needs to be fumigated. 


 

 

October 21, 2018 

 

The Normalization of Dirty Tricks

 

In These Truths, Jill Lepore’s wonderful new one-volume history of the United States, she recounts how, in the 1930s a Republican public relations team sabotaged the California gubernatorial campaign of the famous writer and muck-raker, Upton Sinclair. They poured through his books, looking for statements he had made that would reflect badly on him. They found one and featured it in a campaign ad: “The sanctity of marriage... I have had such a belief... I have it no longer.”


Sinclair had indeed written these words, but as an assertion by a character in one of his novels. The ad was no more honest than an outright fabrication. Now eight decades later, dirty tricks of this degree of crudity have become almost ubiquitous, most decidedly, blatantly, and egregiously, on the part of Republicans. More on this tomorrow. 


 

 

October 20, 2018 

 

Blot 

 

At a Thursday rally in Montana the other day, Trump openly praised Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) for assaulting a reporter in his bid for Congress last year. “Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of — he’s my guy,” Trump said.  

 

The survival and perpetuation of the Trumpian ethos will forever be an ugly blot in the history of our country.


“Fight against the normalization of the unacceptable,” Christiane Amanpour said after Trump’s election. Normalizing it is what Republicans have allowed to happen. The whole lot of them should be voted out of office.

 

 

 

October 19, 2018 

 

The Outer Limit of the Perversion of Christianity 

 

Pat Robertson, the Yale Law School-educated founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, may once have been true to the Faith, but he has long been marching in the opposite direction, still holding the Cross of Jesus, Going on Before. At 88, instead of approaching the gates of the Kingdom, he has arrived at their antipode, the outer limit of the perversion of Christianity, supporting Trump’s acquiescence to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, committed almost certainly on orders of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, scion of the realm known as M.B.S. Vox reports that Robertson’s take on the matter was to remind members of his TV audience that “ . . look, these people are key allies. . .” and to urge them to remember that “we’ve got an arms deal that everybody wanted a piece of. . .”


You don’t have to be a Biblical scholar to know what Jesus would think of that.



 

 

October 18, 2018 

 

The Most Exciting Election 

 

Of all the election contests we’ll be monitoring the night of November 6th, the most exciting may be for the governorship of Georgia. Can Stacey Abrams, a black woman, actually beat Brian Kemp, a white standard issue politician in the Georgia Republican mold? 

 

It would seem impossible, especially because Kemp has seemingly dedicated his career as Georgia secretary of state to voter suppression to prevent just such an event from happening. A win by Abrams would generate a fresh breeze so strong that it would dissipate the stench of racism and greed hanging over Georgia and raise the oxygen level across the entire land.

 

 

 

October 17, 2018

 

Tump and American History


Reading These Truths, Jill Lepore’s luminous new one-volume history of the United States, is to be reminded of the degree to which greed, ruthlessness, dishonesty, and, most conspicuously, racism are thoroughly interwoven in American history. I saw a TV clip of Trump in the White House. Behind him was portrait of Andrew Jackson, who forced the mass removal of native Americans from Georgia to west of the Mississippi River. Thousands died along the way. Trump, who is probably more ignorant of history even than all the other things of which he’s ignorant, is not likely aware of this episode, but if he were, he would unquestionably approve. He would say, of Jackson, “He did great things. He was so under-appreciated.” Trump is only the latest exemplar of villainy in American history, but the stakes are higher now.

 

 

 

October 16, 2018 

 

Fascism 

 

I watched a short video by Jason Stanley, a Yale philosophy professor, on how fascism has become ascendent or is on the rise in many countries, including, of course, our own. 

 

No matter where they come from, fascist leaders are cut from the same cloth. They style themselves as father figures, strong men who evoke the mythic past. They turn groups against each other, attack the truth, spread propaganda, and stir fear and hate. Trump fits the pattern. A video of him at any of his rallies of supporters exposes his character in full view. 


Stanley notes that, “If you’re not worried about fascism, before long it will start to feel normal, and when that happens, we’re all in trouble.” 


Agreed. Except I don’t think “trouble” is a strong enough word.

 

 

 

 

October 15, 2018

 

Suburban Men and Trump

 

New York Times Headline: “Suburban men ‘feel better’ about Trump.”  Sure, he’s crude at times. I don’t agree with him about everything, but the economy is doing well. He gets things done! 


Reading this in conjunction with everything else in the news, and out of the news, for example just what you learn from a review in the same issue of the Times of Michael Lewis’s new book, The Fifth Risk, is enough to make you weep.


Most of the tremendous damage that Trump has been doing to our country is out of sight, but there is plenty that's in sight for anyone with any curiosity or breadth of interest to see. “Suburban men are shown to be ignorant and shallow” would have been a more informative headline, keeping in mind that the Times isn't talking about all suburban men. I’m hopeful that there are a lot of them that don’t feel one bit better about Trump, or better yet, feel worse.

 

 

 

October 14, 2018


What’s the State of Georgia? 


Slavery was abolished, but the mindset of proponents of slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War endures a century and a half later and is exhibited conspicuously by politicians like Brian Kemp, the Secretary of State of Georgia, who surely ranks among the most vigorous perpetrators of voter suppression in history. In his official capacity as Secretary of State of Georgia, Kemp has evidently been disenfranchising black voters at the same time as he is running as the Republican candidate for governor against a Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, who is black. 


The difference is quality as human beings between the two candidates is startling. Abrams is brilliant, experienced, capable, and honorable. Kemp is the worst kind of hack. If he wins, the margin by which he wins will be a nice indicator of the degree of racism and cupidity in Georgia.


 

 

 

October 13, 2018

 

A Democracy of Dollars


Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife have reportedly put up $80,000,000 to keep Congress under Republican control. I read that Michael Bloomberg, who used to be a Republican before the Republican Party became the Outlandish Party, has put up $20,000,000 to support Democratic candidates. In the months since I contributed  $15 to Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, who is struggling to hold on to her senate seat, she has sent me dozens of emails asking for a few dollars more. 


To a large degree, we’re living in a democracy of dollars rather than one of people. Every thousand dollars has one vote. This is not the way it should be, but it doesn’t seem likely it can be fixed. Billions of dollars supporting Republicans control all three branches of government. If there’s a Constitutional Convention to deal with the situation, it’s likely that dollars will control it too.


 

 

October 12, 2018

 

Assaulting Democracy in Plain Sight


One of the duties of Brian Kemp, the Republican Secretary of State of Georgia, is to make sure rules have been complied with by citizens in order to be registered to vote. 


Georgia’s population is approximately 32 percent black, according to the U.S. Census, but the list of voter registrations Kemp’s office has on hold is nearly 70 percent black.


Kemp is also the Republican candidate for governor. 

His Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, is black.


Kemp has refused to recuse himself from overseeing voting procedures.


These facts don’t prove that Kemp is using the power of his office to try to steal the election, but you don’t have to be a statistician to know that they prove that the question should be intensively and thoroughly investigated. 


Michelle Goldberg, in her column in today’s New York Times, quotes “the never-Trump conservative” David Frum: “If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy.”


 Democracy is in America is fighting for its life.


 

 

October 11, 2018 

 

Election Day Looming Closer 

 

Bernie Sanders: “While you weren’t looking, the House of Representatives just passed another big tax cut for the rich.” Such is life in a plutocracy. Election night is going to demonstrate whether you can keep fooling most of the people all of the time, most of the time, or only some of the time.

 

 

 

October 10, 2018 

 

Democracy In Peril 

 

Republicans controlling Congress have been complicit in the transition of the United States from the world's greatest democracy to a government of, by, and for the rich and privileged –– steamrolling tax cuts primarily for corporations and the rich and especially the super rich; jamming through judicial confirmations of right-wing ideologues; making it harder for poor people and minorities to vote; undercutting access to health care under the Affordable Care Act; failing to provide oversight and investigate corruption of Trump and his appointees; undermining Congressional and Special Counsel investigations of Russian interference in our elections; and acquiescing in Trump’s habitual lying, appeals to prejudice, praise of dictators, denigration of allies, attacks on the free press, and cruel treatment of children in families applying for refugee status.


We had intimations that Republicans seek permanent control of our government when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that his top priority was to make Obama’s presidency a failure, disregarding whether that would be good for the country, then, contrary to the intent of the Constitution, prevented Obama’s Supreme Court nominee from even getting a hearing. Most recently, after a sham F.B.I. investigation, Republicans took a big step toward making the Supreme Court their political weapon by confirming a nominee who exhibited extreme bias against Democrats and holds a disturbingly expansive view of presidential immunity from legal process.

 

 

 

October 9, 2018

 

A Voting Guide for Republicans 

 

If you’re politically inclined to support Republicans, consider that, except perhaps for Senator Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, Republicans in Congress aren't true Republicans anymore. Being Republican used to stand for being conservative, honorable, and anti-authoritarian, but has come to stand for being Trumpian. (“Trumpian” is a useful word, which can serve well both as an adjective and a noun. It means having, approving of, or going along with, significant qualities, characteristics, and behavior of Trump.) If Trumpianism appeals to you, vote Republican, but if you prefer what being Republican used to stand for, you’ll be much closer to the mark voting Democratic.



 

October 8, 2018 

 

Nothing To Be Done. 

 

Headline: World has barely 10 years to get control over climate change, U.N. scientists say. 

 

I suppose in nine years a headline will read that the world has barely a year to get control of greenhouse gas emissions, then a month, then that the world must act by midnight, then –– you see where this is headed. Nothing to be done. Nothing to be done. The world will still be habitable for our grandchildren; never mind about theirs.


 

 

October 7, 2018 

 

Republicans 

 

Instead of restraining Trump from indulging in his worst impulses (the only kind he has), Republicans in Congress have chosen to emulate him.


Jennifer Rubin: “Republicans under President Trump have adopted a distinct political methodology evocative of autocratic regimes: Eschew rationality and facts, whip up hate, play to the mob.”


The more of them that are swept out of office this November, the healthier America will be.


 

 

 

October 6, 2018 

 

Longterm Prospects 

 

Headline: “Climate scientists are struggling to find the right words for very bad news.” 

 

A few years ago I read Jared Diamond’s book Collapse, about how societies disintegrate through mindlessness, greed, and lack of foresight. This phenomenon appears to be happening to human civilization itself. In the next few centuries the mix of life on this planet may change with extraordinary rapidity on a geologic timescale. Within the millennium it may take on a character similar to that obtaining several billion years ago, when, as some scientists say, life was limited to certain types of bacteria, extremophiles, as they are called, that live in super-heated sulphuric hydrothermal vents in the ocean floor.

 

 

 

 

October 5, 2018

 

Some People Try To Do The Right Thing

 

It was uplifting to learn yesterday that Democratic Senator Heidi Heitcamp (N.D.) announced that she would vote against confirmation of Kavanaugh despite widespread speculation that she would have to vote in favor of it to have any chance of winning reelection in a state that Trump carried by a 36% margin. 

 

In an interview on MSNBC, her brother explained: “She may lose. But in the morning, when she’s brushing her teeth, she needs to like the person she sees.”


 

 

October 4, 2018

 

Flake 

 

I read that, when Jeff Flake was asked if he would have demanded an F.B.I. investigation if he had been running for reelection this year instead of retiring, he said something like “No way.” That was remarkably candid, admitting that he did the right thing only because it wouldn’t hurt him politically. Flake is clearly more honorable than nearly all his Republican colleagues in the Senate, but clearly not honorable enough.


 

 

October 3, 2018 

 

The Forty Trillion Dollar Fallacy

     

     Shouldn’t the world’s richest country –– the world’s greatest democracy–– strive to provide access to basic health care for all? What a noble goal. Republicans claim it would be too expensive. The best estimate is that Medicare for All would cost forty trillion dollars over the next ten years! 

     That would be bad news, except that this is The Forty Trillion Dollar Fallacy! Our present health care system is staggeringly inefficient. Based on a study by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Studies, it’s projected that the cost of health care under our present system will be fifty trillion dollars over the next ten years!

     We spend twice a much on health care as other developed countries that cover all their citizens. We could provide basic coverage for a lot more people for a less money. The regime for paying medical providers could be much more fair and efficient. Immense savings could be obtained by trimming the role of insurance companies. Expanded Medicare could do what present Medicare should do but doesn’t –– negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for better prices. Enormous savings could be obtained because people with adequate health care require fewer emergency services. Added revenue could be provided by taking the rich and the super rich off Republican-constructed welfare masquerading as tax reform. The truth is that it’s too expensive morally and economically not to have Medicare for All. It’s a goal we should strive to reach.

 

 

 

Octoberr 2, 2018 

 

Biden 

 

Biden should take himself out of the running for 2020. He’s too old, he’s not bright enough or imaginative enough, he descended to Trump’s level by talking about how if they were in high school he would take Trump behind the gym and teach him a lesson. In any case, his conduct toward Anita Hill in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearing disqualifies him.

 

It’s true that Biden is the kind of guy that a lot of guys who voted for Trump would feel comfortable having a beer with, whereas they wouldn’t know what to say to Elizabeth Warren, but that’s not enough. There’s a surfeit of prospective Democratic presidential candidates. Biden would perform a useful public service by bowing out.



 

 

October 1, 2018 

 

Kavanaugh 

 

It’s a bitter irony that this week’s F.B.I. investigation will likely turn up nothing new of significance about Kavanaugh and that this will be taken as reason for confirming him. No new F. B. I. evidence is needed. At the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last Thursday, in a single sentence, Kavanaugh supplied everything needed to show that he should not be confirmed:


This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.


It may sound like a strong thing to say, but to vote to confirm this man is to betray our country.


 

 

September 30, 2018 

 

Klobuchar 

 

Awhile ago in this space, I mentioned Amy Klobuchar as an interesting possibility for the Democratic presidential ticket in 2020. Since then, she has come into higher visibility because she is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Kavanaugh behaved boorishly toward her. A Washington Post online article yesterday reported on the favorable impression Klobuchar made at the hearing Friday, noting, however, that she doesn’t have the firebrand personality some liberals think is needed to combat Trump. I don’t hold to that view. I think she would be a superb choice to run against him.

 

 

 

September 29, 2018 

 

What’s Important to Republicans 

 

Regardless of Kavanaugh’s past and present deceptions and deflections, regardless of his being chosen by Trump because he holds an unusually expansive view of the president’s immunities and powers, no F.B.I. investigation is needed to demonstrate Kavanaugh’s unfitness to serve on the Supreme Court. He wilted, not under cross examination, but on his own initiative, exposing his disqualifying partisan bias and intemperate and vengeful nature for all to see.


As Roger Cohen noted in his New York Times column this morning: “What America saw before the Senate Judiciary Committee was an injudicious man, an angry brat veering from fury to sniveling sobs, a judge so bereft of composure and proportion that it was difficult not to squirm.”


Republican members of the Senate don’t care. As of this writing, not a single one has announced that he or she will vote against this nominee. The goal of Republican members of Congress is to remain in power ––  to solidify right-wing control of the country for the long term. Power is more important to them than truth, decency, honesty, and the rule of law.

 

 

 

 

September 28, 2018   

 

Kavanaugh 

 

Yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing will long be remembered. I watched Dr. Ford give her opening statement and answer questions, then watched Kavanaugh for a while, but found the experience so intense I had to go for a swim to calm down. (As noted in an earlier blog, I would have voted against Kavanaugh on multiple grounds even if sex assault allegations hadn’t surfaced.)


The proceedings reminded me of a theory I developed over decades of observation: that there are three distinct behavioral reactions among people who have had too many drinks: Some people get sleepy and droopy; some get silly and tend toward buffoonery; and some get mean and abusive.


Observing how Kavanaugh comported himself yesterday left me with no with doubt as to the category to which he belongs.

 

 

 

 

September 27, 2018

 

Extremism and Basic Decency 

 

Republicans like to call Elizabeth Warren an extremist. That’s their word for someone who advocates basic decency, as she did the other day: 


 Last year, Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress gave $1.5 trillion to billionaires and big corporations. Now that they’ve picked our pockets, they want to penalize immigrants who need help buying food and accessing healthcare for their kids – the vast majority of whom are US citizens. Donald Trump is trying to turn the American Dream into a nightmare for working families. How about instead of punishing them for being poor, we ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share? Every kid deserves a chance to succeed – no matter where they're from. 


 

 

September 26, 2018

 

The Insanity of Keeping Trump in Office

 

Everyone is so caught up in the multiple unfolding dramas roiling the land that we lose sight of the biggest elephant in a room crowded with them. It’s reprehensible –- it’s nothing short of insanity –– that the Republican-controlled Congress fails to impeach Trump and remove him from office. Grounds abound for doing so. Why are Republicans so insensible to or unconcerned with Trump’s rank unfitness, which he demonstrates afresh daily, sometimes hourly? Just dwell for a moment on his recent declaration that he is opposed to Puerto Rico statehood because he doesn’t like the mayor of San Juan. Alice in Wonderland never met anything crazier than this, yet we’re living with it.


 

 

September 25, 2018

 

Opportunity for All

 

Inequality has been on the rise for decades  The trend has accelerated during the Trumpian era, largely because of tax cuts and tax breaks primarily for corporations, the rich, and especially the super rich. Instead of raising wages and salaries by more than token amounts or investing in new technologies and services, corporations have been putting most of their windfalls into buying back their own stock, which has the effect of raising stock market valuations and further enriching stockholders. 84% of stocks are owned by the richest 10% of Americans. Only half of households own any stocks, so they are essentially left out. Increases in ordinary wages and salaries are meager, barely keeping pace with inflation. Interest rates rise because the government must borrow increasingly to make up for lost tax revenue. The rich grow richer and the poor stagnate.


History shows that agendas purporting to equalize wealth lead to disaster. The same is true of agendas conducive to excessive concentrations of wealth. It’s not healthy for the nation when almost half the population is pinned down, struggling from paycheck to paycheck, unable to save for emergencies, education, training,  or retirement, and, because of our lack of meaningful campaign financing laws, the richest people have outsized power to chart the nation’s course. Our present tax structure is tilted to favor those who are already rich. It should be tilted to promote opportunity for all.


 

 

September 24, 2018


North of Crested Butte, Colorado, 

rounding a bend in the trail, 

I came upon a vista of gray mountains 

shimmering in “a certain slant of light”

while misty clouds passed in front of the sun.

My camera couldn’t capture it. 

The clouds moved on, reducing 

what had been a magical apparition

to ordinary beauty.


 

 

September 23, 2018 

 

The Elections 

 

I’m not inherently interested in politics, but this year is an emergency, and I find myself writing about little else. Writing a daily blog is a way of forcing myself to keep up with the news in some depth, enabling me to help try to flip my Congressional district. The incumbent Republican is a fellow of mediocre intellect and subpar moral character. The Democratic challenger, whom I support, is smart, honest, experienced, energetic, pragmatic, and an immeasurably better all-round person. I’m writing a series of letters to the editor of most of the newspapers in our district. My blog yesterday, on health care, will serve as a draft of a letter I plan to send out in the next week or two.


 

 

September 22, 2018


The Forty Trillion Dollar Fallacy


Shouldn’t the world’s richest country –– the world’s greatest democracy –- provide access to reasonable health care for all?

 

What a noble goal!  

 

Republicans claim it would be too expensive. It’s easy to think so. The best estimate is that medicare for all would cost 40 trillion dollars over the next ten years.

 

Forty trillion? Forget it. Or we would have to if this wasn’t the forty trillion dollar fallacy. It ignores that, projections based on a study by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Studies show, under our present system we are likely to spend 50 trillion on health care over the next ten years. By instituting Medicare for All, America’s health care costs could be reduced by trillions of dollars over the same period. Our present health care system is staggeringly inefficient. We spend twice a much on health care as other developed countries that cover all their citizens. 

 

 

We could provide basic coverage for a lot more people for a lot less money. For example, the regime for paying medical providers could be much more fair and efficient. Huge savings could be obtained by trimming the role of insurance companies. Expanded Medicare could do what present Medicare should do but doesn’t -- negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for much better prices. Enormous savings could be obtained because people with adequate health care require fewer emergency services. Added revenue could be provided by taking the rich and super rich off Republican-constructed welfare masquerading as tax reform. And that’s not the end of savings that could be obtained. The fact is that it’s too expensive morally and economically not to have Medicare for All.

 

 

 

September 21, 2018

 

Uncivil War

 

Republicans have no basis for refusing to let the FBI investigate Dr. Cristine Blasey Ford’s accusations concerning Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Republican Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley says it isn’t necessary –– his staff has investigated the matter. This kind of dissimulation without trying to create even a semblance of plausibility has become standard practice for Republicans in the age of Trump. It bespeaks what New York Times columnist Roger Cohen calls “the insidiousness of Trump’s moral depravity.”


American Democracy is capable of withstanding attack from any foreign foe, but may not be able to withstand a combine of Americans in positions of power who have no inhibitions about setting our country on an autocratic path.

 

 

 

 

September 20, 2018

 

The Most Unlikely Catastrophe

 

Of all the catastrophes that might have befallen our country, I would not have imagined that, as now appears likely, every Republican senator, 51 of them, I believe, will throw aside all sense of comity and respect for our legal traditions in order to confirm under false pretenses and at breakneck speed as a justice of the Supreme Court a man whose character and record evidence his unfitness, but, like Trump himself, they value as an instrument of their anti-democratic agenda.


 

 

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.