Bloomberg vs. Bernie et al: A Dem Debate Worth Watching?

I have seen much of most of the Democratic primary “debates,” which have largely been a yawn, a game of survivor cutting down the dozens in the field to a more manageable number.   As I said in my last post, zillionaire Michael Bloomberg’s investment of about half a billion dollars into an ad campaign has rocketed the late entrant into contention with Bernie for the lead, though there are still signs of life in others who I’m sure you’re familiar with.

Wednesday’s verbal battle should be more interesting than the previous ones, as it has different dimensions and higher stakes.  I’d say all of the participants have some kind of chance to get the nomination for this one reason.  If Bloomberg believes another candidate has a better chance to beat Trump, he could supply all the money needed to whomever he chooses.

While the main event seems likely to be Bernie vs. Bloomberg, the other candidates will get in their own punches to stand out, in that they also will criticize Bloomberg’s leap frogging the election process.  However, they do not want to make him an enemy as perhaps his wealth could smile on their chances down the line.

His throwing lots of dough Bernie’s way is hard to imagine, since Bernie’s main theme regarding Bloomberg is you shouldn’t be able to buy an election.  That would certainly be an odd combination, but I imagine Bernie would be able to rationalize it.  How else would they get the ton of money Trump has already raised?

And beating Trump should be the absolute priority.

The Pseudo Senate Impeachment “Trial” of Trump

Always so many political events coming so fast in Trumptopia and this week the whirlwind is swirling even faster than usual.   The Democrat’s first primary in Iowa today, tomorrow Trump’s state of the union speech and then the rest of the week finishing up the details of Trump’s impeachment acquittal.

What to take away from the impeachment proceedings.   Well, first of all Trump’s acquittal in the Senate was preordained as it requires two-thirds of the Senators to convict him, something that was never going to happen given that 53 of the Senators are Republicans.

Of course “everybody” knew this, but the Dem’s were pretty much forced to impeach Trump because there was so much evidence showing his abuse of power (and obstruction of Congress) that they had to take a shot at it in the hope their charges would sway that slice of American undecided voters along with firing up their base.

Frankly, I don’t know who was swayed where, though I give praise to the House Democratic efforts as being far more persuasive than those of the Republicans.   The Democrats relied on convincing witnesses and records while the Republicans relied on procedural arguments, distortions and distractions.  Because they had little in the way of evidence to back them up.   Really, Trump did something wrong and it was obvious if you paid close attention to the proceedings.

Republican Lamar Alexander admitted as much late in the Senate “trial”.  He dismissed the arguments of the Trump team saying he was convinced that Trump abused his power regarding pressuring Ukraine to provide dirt on the Biden’s.   He called Trump’s actions “inappropriate,” but he asserted they did not rise to the level of impeachment.  He thought it best to leave that issue to Americans at the ballot box.

A clever position to be sure, but his conclusion that the charges did not reach the level of impeachment is debatable.  However, that debate has been squelched by the Republican majority.  New evidence keeps coming forth, much of it as snippets from a book by former Trump top security adviser John Bolton that contradict many of the claims of the Trump team.  Bolton has offered to testify, but the Republicans have closed down the option for any more records or testimony, so this will have to move to the court of public opinion.

More information is likely to come out (and eventually Bolton’s book), a continuing thread from the impeachment hearings that I will return to in my next post.

The Ukraine Hearings: A Big Battle Over Truth Begins Soon

I ended my previous post by saying I planned on delving into the clash in narratives between Trump’s largely made up story of his glorious presidency and a historical analysis based more on facts and respect for the ideal of truth.

What was I thinking?   I soon realized that I was stuck in the view of Eli Stokols of the Los Angeles Times“I don’t know if America has the bandwidth to process everything that is going on.  I certainly don’t.”  

Me neither.

I can at least start out by saying Wednesday will kick off the public impeachment process, a major battle of the two narratives with open hearings before the Democratically controlled House Intelligence Committee.  To work through my writer’s block, I’m stealing a brief summary of what’s going on and all the TV coverage from Benjamin Kail of masslive.com.

In brief this is what is going on:

“Democrats and Republicans in the House have questioned current and former Trump administration officials and diplomats behind closed doors over the last several weeks. An anonymous whistle blower claimed earlier this year that multiple White House officials grew concerned that the president in July illegally leaned on the president of Ukraine, using military aid as leverage, to secure help in the 2020 election.

Deputy Secretary of State George Kent and Bill Taylor, a former ambassador and top diplomat in Ukraine, will testify together Wednesday, while Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, will testify Friday, CNN reported.”

You can reach the site which has more information and  TV networks and times here.

Tackling the Lord of Chaos, i. e. Donald Trump

It has been almost a month since I have posted.  Trump has become such a master of muddling our minds, that it is tough to find something simple to say that matters.  For months now, with the help of, among others, the evilly reincarnated version of the once respected Mayor of New York, Wack-Job Rudi, Trump has managed to create a version of reality that has successfully challenged a traditional version of one based on facts…..not perfectly, of course, but with a respect for the truth, a concept Trump cares nothing about.

Why bother to learn the truth when you can so easily make up your own story?  And many people believe you.  Even when you are proven wrong, you just keep repeating the lie and like spaghetti tossed at a wall, some of it sticks.

Meanwhile those who feel compelled by that north star rational ideal feel forced to combat you factually, in the midst of which Trump spins another fable or two.  It only takes a minute or two.  The press exhausts itself trying to keep up.

Months ago, his mistress of spin, Kelly Anne Conway lifted up the curtain of this pint sized Oz when introducing the notion of “alternative facts”.   Normally excellent at evasion, Kelly Anne accidentally revealed the mind set of her boss in stark terms.   A view of reality based on alternative facts, ones that he just makes up.

Donald Trump has told thousands of lies, the more the merrier over the course of his presidency, but to call him a liar underestimates his deepest epistemological sin.  That is he just makes shit up.  Constantly.   And he keeps repeating his fables.  His biggest sin is that he is a fabulist.  He invents elaborate dishonest stories about the nature of things and who is to blame for what’s wrong.

He creates his own Trumptopia, attractive to those who resent and fear and want others to blame for their unhappy situations.  Even when Trump does not replace a fact base sense of reality, he manages to confuse us enough to the point he creates such fatigue in trying to sort out fact from fiction, that most of us tend to just give up.

Not Msnbc’s Rachel Madow and her ilk, of course, which might include many of you.  Rachel is obviously very bright and extremely hard working, but here is the rub.  Lengthy analyses of current political events only make dyed in the wool liberals smarter.  It makes the rest of us want to learn less.

Liberals place too much faith in the lingering Age of the Enlightenment when it comes to politics where irrationality plays a much bigger roll than liberals seem to concede.  Especially among 5 – 10% of those undecideds who will tip the electoral scale next November.

I used to read serious books about politics, but have stopped.  Why bother?  An increased knowledge, including important nuances, only means something to those who already share most of my political mind set.  People who still have faith in well reasoned argument.

I’m not much motivated to speak to the choir, even though my imagined readership seems more likely to sing hallelujah than not.

I’m here mostly to try to sort out some political facts and fictions.   Here amidst my muddle, I’m simply trying to make the point that two views of political reality are now in contention, two narratives.   One based largely on facts.   The other based on alternative facts that Trump either makes up or twists or exaggerates.

Not that I think that conclusion is a surprise to most.  But I think it deserves being delved into more.  And I plan to.

The Trumpification of the Fourth of July

Remember the good old days when the Fourth of July was a moment of family barbecues and general celebration of our nation’s independence from England back in 1776?    Presidents have stayed out of it and let the rest of us celebrate as we may.  Even last year was that way, but Trump had barely begun to mark his territory by pissing on everything.

As NPR has stated:  “For this Fourth of July, President Trump has added an address from the Lincoln Memorial, tanks stationed in the area, an extended fireworks display and military aircraft flyovers.”

The tanks had to be hauled in on trains because they are too heavy for the Washington roads to handle.  They figure to have the look of props in a play.  Immobile, they aren’t all that impressive.  Silly even when compared with the rows and rows of moving vehicles most other autocrats display.

NPR mentioned the added cost of Trump’s celebration.   I wouldn’t quibble about that if it were somehow a unifying effort but instead it is simply the latest  Trump try to celebrate himself and divide the rest of us.  If that were not the case there would not be a VIP section close to the stage filled by Republican donors and dignitaries and hardly anyone else.

Of course, Trump will say something about honoring our founding fathers and our military, but as usual translate that in reverse to say he is there to honor himself.  As the Wall Street Journal has put it:  “President Trump will take on a starring role in the capital’s Fourth of July festivities with a speech from the Lincoln Memorial that aides are pitching as a patriotic salute to the military but his critics fear could inject politics into a typically nonpartisan celebration.”

In order to stomach this so I can dissect the performance later, I will pretend to be playing a game of Where’s Waldo.   Looking for how many ways Trump will pretend to honor others and play the unifier while actually focusing attention on himself and his achievements, while swiping at the Dems wherever convenient.

Get Mueller to Testify and Then Let’s Consider Impeachment

I still stick with Speaker Polosi’s insistence on a slow go to impeach Trump believing, like her, that first more Americans need to be persuaded of Trump’s unfitness for the presidency before they will favor impeachment.

Ari Melber, one of the sharper analysts at MSNBC, got to the heart of the awareness problem:  He has said:  “Mueller brought a book to a twitter fight.”  The four-word tweet has won the battle of narratives over the painstaking 448 pages of the book.  In a world of mind numbing information, we gravitate towards the simplest “truths”.

To combat Trump’s distorted mantra of “no collusion, no obstruction” it is essential for Special Counsel Mueller to testify before Congress.  Even if he just reads from his report.  Seeing him actually saying those words is a big step beyond hearing others restate them.  Fairly or not, Mueller’s integrity it rated much higher than the media who cover him.

A book cannot beat a twitter mantra, but TV, or a movie, can at least give the Dems a chance to square the narrative.  Americans want to see the movie rather than read the book.  That’s pretty much what we are as a nation now.  So many distractions, work wise or pleasure wise, that hardly anyone reads serious books anymore.   Including me (except for works of history that read like fiction.)

A TV show still can get our attention, thus the necessity for Mueller to testify on TV.  It would be best if he did so voluntarily, but he has been so adamant about staying clear of politics that he has yet to show that willingness.  He believes the report says everything needed.  He doesn’t seem to see that pointing to a book is no longer the right way to present the report.

The Democratically controlled  House Judicial Committee seems hopeful he will see the necessity for him to reiterate the message publicly, but he might need to be subpoenaed to do so.   I have no doubt he would comply with a subpoena, given his allegiance to law and order, just the opposite of the president.

It would help a lot if McGahn, Trump’s former White House attorney would testify, too.  He is quoted often in the Mueller report describing Trump’s attempts at obstruction and I’d like to hear his voice at least repeating some of it on TV, but so far he has fought a subpoena at Trump’s behest.   Odd, in that Trump has called his quoted statements lies.

Hope Hicks, Trump’s former long time personal assistant is actually supposed to testify to Congress tomorrow, Wednesday, in a closed door session.   But I think she will dodge questions where she can given her closeness to Trump.

Mueller, McGahn and Hicks would make a nice trifecta if they all fully testify, but Mueller is the most important.  Fortunately, he is also the one who can be most counted upon to testify.

I just hope it is sooner rather than later.

Trump is Driving Me Crazy and the Trip gets Shorter each Day

Not exactly, but with all the thoughts he prompts with his outrageous distortions, he produces  outrage fatigue, lying so often and changing his tune so frequently, everything blurs together.  He has taken us past a “post truth” politics to a post reality politics.

If you haven’t been driven totally nuts, you may have noticed how the boy who would be king said in an interview there was nothing wrong with receiving information from foreign agents, it just being more opposition research.

He changed his tune a couple of times at least, after even a couple of Republican senators gently chided Trump for basically saying to all the world, send us your dirt on my opponents.  The last version I heard was his claiming in front of the three nodding heads on Fox and Friends that of course he would notify the FBI, because no one loves America more than he does.

I could go on and on, but that would clearly get me closer to the loony bin and prevent me from writing at all.   I just want to make this point, a suggestion as to how to interpret Trump’s words.   Whatever he says, just flip it to the opposite.   So, when Trump says “no one loves America more” than he does, just switch the “more ” to “less”.

He cares so much about himself, there can’t be much love left for the rest of us.

And when he says “believe me”, as he often does, translate it into “don’t believe me”.  And if he says it twice, really don’t believe him.  When he says he has solved a problem, it really is he hasn’t solved the problem:  he just wants us to think so, like in the case of North Korea and its nukes.   Remember how he said after that first meeting with his bosom buddy Kim Jung Un that we could sleep easier because the nuclear threat was gone?

Not only is it not gone, it is undiminished, and is likely even stronger.  But no problem, president deranged Don still believes in Kim Jung Un, and his own ability to sway him.

I just can’t wait till he tells us how he has solved the Iran problem.