A Glance at the Russian Intervention Issues and DACA

The Russian issue and the DACA issue are unrelated, other than I’d rather say something about each topic now rather than so many others, like reducing gun mass violence.

First, the Russian intervention in the 2016 election and Special Council Mueller’s investigation of it.  As for the intervention, our four major intelligence agencies have agreed for months there is no doubt about interference and that it continues and will impact the 2018 election if we don’t make Russia pay a price and to take other steps to combat it.

As retiring NSA director Admiral Mike Rogers testified to a senate committee Monday, he has not received any direction from the president, echoing what he and other security chiefs testified earlier in February.  It is up to the Republican controlled Congress to press Trump on this, but their devil’s pact with him seems to preclude it.

They got tax and regulation cuts and numerous conservative judges through, so, hey, he’s their man under apparently any circumstances.  They see their interest as the nation’s interest (e.g. some Russian hacking helped them in the last election, so……).

Trump’s lack  of response and the failure of the Republican Congress to censure him for that indifference should be big news.  But not in Trumptopia where it dwindles to being just another dime a dozen issue.  His do nothing approach would be denounced as traitorous if a Democratic president did so little to protect the nation’s political structure.

As for the Mueller investigation, I’m struck that Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty today to more charges from Mueller concerning various illegal dealings or lies.  Unless the press are totally off on this, the once-upon-a-time manager of the Trump campaign has brazenly  broken laws all over the world, so I’m drawn to believe he will be convicted of a few things.  Especially because his close long time work associate Rick Gates has entered a plea deal with Mueller, and his knowledge could be enough to sink the man by itself.

So, why plead guilty instead of making a deal himself?   I’d bet Manafort believes that Trump will pardon him.  It’s Manafort’s only way out.  His trial is scheduled for Sept 17 and trials often have their dates moved back, so the mess that is Manafort may stay under wraps (except for leaks) until after the November elections, which might help the Retrumplicans.  Certainly his trial is not likely to help them.

Yes, I said Retrumplicans, meaning what was called “the grand old party” is the party of Trump pure and simple.  As mentioned above, some old Republican values are held on to while others have been dropped as a matter of convenience, like balancing the budget (how old fashioned)  and espousing  some sort of moral code (how quaint).

Moving on, DACA prolonged.  A judge struck down Trump’s order to do away with DACA.  That temporarily saves those in the program but will likely keep them nerve wracked for months to come.  Depends on how long the appellate court’s docket will be too full to handle the case (sometime in the fall?) and then whatever their decision, the case seems likely to go to the Supreme Court ( Trump’s team tried to leap frog the appellate court, but the Supremes would not allow it.)

Upon reflection, this DACA issue being postponed, like with Manafort, until after the election might work to Trump’s advantage as he will continue to blame the Democrats for not settling the issue while acting as if he hadn’t attached other restrictions to his immigration proposal that the Dems see as a poison pill.

Manafort a victim of the witch hunt and the Dems not caring about the Dreamers is how Trump’s narrative will read come election time.

Don’t Arm Teachers. Ban Assault Weapons.

I’m a liberal leaning fellow who has never owned a gun because I most likely would misuse it in some way.   So, my assertion above doesn’t count much unless you are already a part of the choir.

But Ralph Peters agrees with me and he is a gun lover, retired lieutenant colonel who often appears on Fox, sometimes espousing conspiracy theories I dislike.   Peters made the most compelling case I’ve seen for banning assault weapons in yesterday’s New York Post, and I want you to read it, so I’ll keep this short.

Simply put he argues these are military weapons whose sole  “purpose is to kill human beings.” In response to the notion that  that “Guns don’t kill people, people do”  he says “But people with rapid-fire weapons kill a lot more folks a whole lot faster.”  

As for the idea of arming teachers he writes: “When the shooting starts, even the best-trained, most disciplined soldiers and cops — US Army Rangers or NYPD SWAT members — don’t put every round on target. The notion that a guard or teacher who goes to the range once a quarter would keep kids safe is profoundly divorced from reality. ‘Friendly fire’ would simply add to the danger.”

I’m one who feels sorry for Scot Peterson, the police officer stationed at the school since 2009, apparently well liked, even garnering an award one year.  One doesn’t maintain an edge for battle hanging around most schools.  My guess is that he lost the cop’s instinct for danger and ability to respond to it.  He’d become more a staff member than a cop, so  even with that past training and a gun he froze.  Are we assuming teachers with guns are going to become super heroes?   Not to say someone won’t, but it is a dubious plan.

Again, we don’t need more teachers armed, we need less assault weapons easily attainable to attack their schools with.

That Post piece here

A School Slaughter and the Normal Abnormal in Trumptopia Last Week

(I want to give the political gist of some of last week.  To give more would be way too much for a post.  As is this may be my longest post ever.  It was a big news week.) 

School slaughters have become part of our new normal but one thing different here is how a number of the teenage victims seem new born activists determined to not let the rest of us forget this time.  To begin with, several have tweeted to Trump to forget his hopes and prayers. They want actions.  Maybe just maybe…. 

The other points are the more normal incidents of Trump’s governance by chaos.  The scandal of the week grew out of his WH staff.   His staff secretary, Rob Porter, resigned after allegations he abused his two former wives.  The bigger issue was the poor vetting process that allowed him to handle top security papers, which raised questions about WH chief of staff General Kelly’s handling of that, which Kelly appears to have lied about.  Most interesting to me is Representative Trey Gowdy opened an investigation of the matter.  I only hope he is half as tenacious as he was in grilling Hillary Clinton about Benghazi over several years.

The issue of Russian interference in our elections figured prominently last week in various ways, most misinterpreted by Trump to suit his narrative that any efforts Russia made were negligible and, most importantly, his campaign had not colluded with them.

In stark contrast to Trump’s assertions, the heads of the major intelligence branches testified to Congress Monday and all of them believe Russia interfered with the last election and will continue to do so as long as we let them.  Also, upon questioning, it became clear that the WH had not given them specific instructions on how to deal with it.  I might add  Trump has refused to enact stricter sanctions on Russia voted by Congress almost unanimously last summer.

Then later in the week Special Prosecutor Mueller’s team announced indictments of 13 Russians for their interference in 2016, removing all doubt.  As he always has done, Trump ignored the interference, stressing that “no collusion was proven.”  Well, not yet, but the investigation seems far from over.  And, collusion or no, what about the interference, Donald?  What about that?   It’s OK with you as long as it helps you?

I’m continuously stunned by how Trump ignores Russian interference while never criticizing Putin, and most Republicans say nothing.  If the situation was reversed they would never stop yelling traitor.  I can imagine only two reasons for Trump’s behavior, one being his supreme narcissism that makes any admission of interference diminish his win.  And/or Putin has information that could sink him.

As he said he would, Senate Republican leader McConnell took up the immigration issue Monday. Four bills were brought up but none received more than 54 votes while it takes 60 to pass under Senate guidelines.  The one reflective of Trump’s proposal got the fewest votes, 39.

The Dreamers remain in limbo while Trump blames the Democrats, of course, even though he showed no willingness to make a deal, I. E. show some give and take in the process.  Trump doesn’t make deals.  He gives fiats and when the other side isn’t willing to accept his position in total, he blames them for not wanting a deal.

By the way, remember how Trump said he would rewrite our trade deals and make much better ones.  Can anyone come up with a single new trade deal he has actually made this past year?  He has broken deals and threatened to break others, but give me an example of one new deal he has made.  If he had he would have tweeted up a storm.

The Infrastructure Week that Wasn’t:   The Porter scandal dominated the headlines in the first half of the week and then the Florida massacre took over from then on.  No matter,  Trump’s infrastructure plan is just more of his B. S.  He talks about $1.5 trillion investment, but the federal government will only pay 200 billion of that, the rest is to come from states and public/private investments.

State budgets have been creaking for years so forget that and the other part is guesswork at this point.  Also, Trump’s new budget plan shows infrastructure cuts, not hikes, so some of the that 200 billion will be needed to get back to previous spending levels.

By the way, the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates it will take $3.6 trillion invested by 2020 just to raise the country’s support systems to acceptable levels, so under the most optimistic vision Trump’s Great America will still be undergirded by crumbling roads, bridges and airports.

Trump Sexcapades – Trump has given so many signs of being a sexual sleaze bag, that recent stories about big hush money payments to two mistresses prior to the election are hardly a surprise and not worth going into unless they turn into something prosecutable.

The Weekend Tweet Storm: Trump reportedly spent the weekend largely watching TV news and commentary while growing more and more furious about the ongoing Russia investigation, spewing out a dozen or so emails blaming or criticizing others, mischaracterizing situations and continuously emphasizing “no collusion” while now arguing he has always meant the “hoax’ was the collusion part, not Russia’s meddling itself.  No, he continually conflated the two until Mueller’s Russian indictments this week.  He is an expert at saying things imprecisely, so later he can always say he didn’t mean what had seemed obvious.

His last tweet  target was Oprah who was on 60 Minutes last night with a panel of voters talking about Trump and the election.  His tweet began calling Oprah “insecure” and went on to state:  “The questions were biased and slanted, the facts incorrect.”

Leaving aside that last accusation from the King of Falsehoods, let’s take a vote as to who is more insecure:  Oprah, who rose from poverty to become hugely successful and gets along with most people while loved by many, or Donald, who began rich and though he’s had his own share of success is always puffing himself up while battling with others, usually tearing them down?

And Oprah is the insecure one?

Kaleidoscopic Topsy Turvy: Trying to Make Sense of Trumptopia

A series of changing phases or events viewed upside down creating a state of utter confusion.  That’s what a cobbled together kaleidoscopic-topsy-turvy means.  How’s that for grasping the surreal everyday “reality” of life in Trumptopia?   Let’s try some recent news events on for size, so to speak.

For starters could you find anything more topsy turvy than watching Amarosa, a longtime Trump stalwart, who is now on Celebrity Big Brother, a few nights ago tearfully confess to a housemate that she would never ever vote for Trump again, her supposed super hero for months….before she got booted out of the White House, a “bad place.”

Speaking of what Trump used to call his WH well oiled machine,  there have been about 40 administration officials who have either been fired or resigned  (details here),  It can’t be too well oiled, especially when it comes to the vetting process.

A speech writer accused of sexual abuse just resigned and shortly before that it was Rob Porter, WH staff secretary, also for sexual abuse.  Of course, in the latter case at least, Trump emphasized how Porter “says he’s innocent.”  Hey, two accusations to his one defense, maybe he is – but not likely given that one photo.  The point is Trump always emphasizes claims of innocence by abusers….


How topsy turvy is that?   With powerful sexual abusers falling down like cheap shacks as the “me, too” movement has developed into a kind of social hurricane, somehow the charges by all those women against Trump, which of course he denies, just seem to hang there like a fart no one will cop to.  I guess Trump gets away with it because he churns out so many distractions per day that his own abusing nature is taken for granted, becomes normalized like so many other things upside down.

His various truth twisters keep to talking points that make it all seem normal despite it being just the opposite.  WH Spokesman Sara Sanders is Exhibit A.  When asked months ago how the president could demand Democratic Senator Al Franken resign over alleged harassment charges by several women while Trump supported that awful Alabama judge for a vacated Senate seat, Sanders pointed out that the judge denied the charges while Franken admitted guilt (at least in one case).

So, boys and girls, whatever your parents said about the importance of fessing up, no, not in Trumptopia.  Deny, deny, deny…..and eventually they’ll get tired of asking.

According to Sara, if you never admit guilt you get the presumption of innocence despite all evidence to the contrary a la el presidente.  The accusations of several women against the judge and even more against Trump the president lose their impact when Sanders’s twisted thinking is allowed to reign.  More upside down.

My jumping about on this theme reflects the kaleidoscopic aspect of my point of view, but as for the topsy turvy angle, what about this recent budget deal?   Hey, I have such low expectations of Congress that I’m basically in favor of it.  But my topsy turvy point is the agreement shows, in case there was still any doubt, that Republican fiscal conservatism and the hopes of the tea party have been turned on their heads.

Senator Rand Paul reminded me of Custer at the Little Big Horn, keeping Congress up all night by his refusal to shut up until, like Martin Luther at the church door, he hammered this point home.   How could the Republicans who skewered Obama about anything that would add to the deficit just add another 300 or 400 billion or so over the next two years? 

At least the tax cut plan could be defended with the rationale that the trillion plus to be lost in taxes over the next 10 years would be made up for by the revenue’s from a finally unfettered booming economy.   Seems mostly based on a hope and a prayer, but at least they pretend the added deficit will be paid for through an economy that gets huger and huger….

Of course, this club still called Republicans has really become the party of Trump which can no longer complain about tax and spend liberals when their answer to our financial issues is to not tax but still spend and, like a Hollywood movie, there will be a happy ending.  Funny that the Dems are now the one’s talking about overspending, or at least were before they got a huge junk of change in this budget for domestic programs they want, essentially in exchange for giving the hawks billions of dollars the military insist we need.

And, of course, Trump’s tweets imply it was he who got Congress to give the military what it says it needs, which when translated topsy turvy means he mostly got in the way with statements like the government should be shut down if an immigration deal wasn’t included.  An impossibility in right side up reality.  Unfortunately, as time goes by Trump’s propaganda machine will make it seem Trump made this deal happen.  Some will even want to throw him a parade.

Upsidedownism prevails and it keeps changing kaleidoscopically .

The Nunes Memo Doesn’t “Vindicate” Trump, but his Base Probably Believes Him

(If you have little idea of what the Nunes memo is, I suggest you look at this primer provided by the Washington Post.   The matter is too complicated for me to describe simply and shortly.  Or first read what I’ve written and go to the Post for details and clarifications.)

As you have probably noticed, the Nunes memo has been the foremost political story over the past few days, with Trump and his supporters claiming it proves FBI malfeasance in how it began to surveil the Trump team for possible collusion with Russia and for a cover up of that.  Trump’s claim that the memo “vindicates” him only may seem true if you abandon all logic, like Trump’s TV mouthpiece Sean “hysterical” Hannity, who claimed the memo makes Watergate look like stealing “a Snickers bar.”

The surest evidence that Trump is not vindicated is that Trey Gowdy, and three other Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee which Nunes Chairs, all asserted on Sunday talk news programs the memo had no bearing on the Mueller investigation.

Neither Trump nor Nunes could have been happy about that conclusion, but Gowdy is yet another Republican who has decided not run again in 2018, so I think he cares more about protecting his reputation as a lawyer than pleasing Trump.

Gowdy, who was a federal prosecutor, and who for years investigated the hell out of Hillary Clinton’s role in the Benghazi tragedy (discovering little, but doing great damage to her reputation) is the only one on that House committee to actually have seen the evidence given to the FISA court, selected to do so by Chairman Nunes because of his legal background.

Let me repeat.  Gowdy was the only one on the committee to be allowed to see the FISA warrant evidence, so his opinion should mean more that those both on the committee and elsewhere, especially when those opinions attack it like the plague.

And Gowdy concluded  “I actually don’t think it has any impact on the Russia probe.” 

Well it shouldn’t impact the probe, but Trump will continue to make the memo mean whatever he wants it to  (and his Greek chorus at Fox News and other conspiracy hot beds will amplify the nonsense).  Trump will certainly gather whatever alternative facts he can think up that maintain the illusion he is being unfairly prosecuted by those biased towards Democrats, while ignoring the inconvenient fact that all the top guys he has fired and/or criticized in the DOJ and the FBI are Republicans, most of whom he nominated.

However, this figures to muddy the waters enough to allow his base to support him whatever the conclusion of the Mueller probe.  It also might embolden Trump to find other ways to impede the that probe through additional firings, a topic I’ll save awaiting to see if it materializes.

Today the House Intelligence committee will vote on releasing the Democratic memo in response to the Republican one.  If released (which now seems likely), Trump will have five days to figure out what to do with it.  Who knows what he’ll dream up?

Meanwhile the government is scheduled to shut down again Thursday, which in reality is a more substantial topic, but more boring (kick the can a few more feet down the road anyone?), so the Nunes memo and its after effects seem likely to continue to get higher ratings.

CORRECTION:   When publishing this earlier today I mistakenly indicated Sally Yates, one of several high ranking staff in the FBI or DOJ who Trump fired or resigned, is a Republican as are the others.  No, she is a Democrat.   Sorry, but she is the exception.



WEB SITE:   https://americantitanic.wordpress.com/



A Recap of Trump’s State of the Disunion Speech and the Nunes Memo

Despite asserting in my previous post that I wouldn’t waste my time watching Trump  spew his twisted, vomitacious version of reality, I did against my better judgement.  I kept from upchucking by frequent surfing to college basketball games to regain my composure.  March Madness is coming up which I hope will be a refreshing, fun antidote for a few weeks to the daily craziness of Trumptopia.

The Washington Post fact checkers (There must be an army of them by now, one area of job growth the president can take credit for) describe about as much as you need to know when they say they “took a look at 18 of President Trump’s claims — job creation, wage growth, tax cuts and more — and found him stretching the truth, inflating the effects of his actions or taking credit for things that happened under his predecessor.”

In other words it was B. S. developed into an art form.  A story of how the Donald took what he called “carnage” in his first speech as president a year ago into the increasingly rich and vibrant society we live in now with the prospect of even more vibrance and riches in the years to come.

As long as we unite around him.  Applauding him and doing what he wants is his version of unity. I would add he emphasized unity at the beginning and then said all sorts of things to make those who dislike him already, dislike him even more, where that is possible.

For those who might want to look at one or more of those 18 claims dissected, go here.

The Nunes Memo basically asserts FBI partisan mishandling of its early investigation of wire taps tied to the Trump collusion investigation.  The Republicans act like they just want more “transparency” in the process, but since the Memo was developed over months by Republican Nunes it looks like a cherry picked version of the so-called truth.

Most importantly right now is the president wants to release it despite public warnings by the FBI.   “With regard to the House Intelligence Committee’s memorandum, the FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it. As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

Trump must be furious with FBI Director Wray for publicly opposing his wishes.  He might release the memo today, which figures to prompt a showdown with the FBI.  Even if he doesn’t release it, it figures to remain a big, ongoing story.