Gagging from the Smoke of the Trump/Russian Connection

As I have indicated often in posts, I have low regard for our “president”, so low I turn E. B. Browning’s verse on its head:  “How do I loathe thee, let me count the ways.”

So, of course I have enjoyed watching D. Trump, Jr. and the White House Trumpeteers squirm while trying to figure out the right lies to tell about a meeting Jr. had months ago with a Russian lawyer regarding dirt on Hillary Clinton.   However, like many Americans I really have had enough of the constant clatter about the Trump teams collusion with the Russians.  I love steak, too, but I don’t want to eat it every day, let alone every minute.

I would feel differently if there wasn’t the Mueller investigation under way.  I have confidence that he and his crack team of investigators will find a number of fires from which all of today’s smoke stems, and the Trump team will be scorched in the process.  That will be great, but much of that won’t takes place for months to come and by then we may all be sick to death of the subject and need a marathon viewing of our favorite sit coms just to perk up a bit.

MSNBC and CNN are so obsessed with any shred of evidence that casts more doubts on the Trump administration and their Russian connections that I have been driven to watch FOX more than usual.  Sure it feels like traveling to Trump world as the network takes every opportunity to build him up, but since the other two cable stations are constantly tearing down his administration I actually don’t mind it so much.  At least Fox is not focused entirely on one single subject.  You know what they say about variety being the spice of life.

I envy bears their ability to hibernate.  I’d like to hibernate through this winter of our discontent and wake up to find Trump either impeached or at least more commonly seen as the laughing stock he deserves to be.

The G19 Plus One

If you guessed our boy king was the one, you guessed right.  There was the G19 meeting and also the Donald Trump show.   The G19 affirming the Paris climate accord and showing a general desire for free trade and the Donald paying no attention to either and conducting a bunch of photo ops with the heads of some of these states.  Sure he had meetings with them, but who knows what came out of each, if anything.

Of course the meeting that drew the most attention came with Vladimir Putin which many in the media deemed as “momentous”.   Momentous showmentous.  How momentous can it be when two of the world’s foremost liars get together?  Smile and shake hands without wrestling?   Show harmonious body language?  Post meeting statements show they even have different stories when it comes to Russian meddling in our elections.  The interpretation of our Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was that the Donald “pressed” the Russians on the point, while the Russian interpretation was he “accepted” Putin’s denials.

Tillerson tried to clean up the difference by suggesting it was wise not to stick with the issue, but to move on to possible areas of cooperation.  Apparently they came to some agreement on a cease fire in the southwest corner of Syria, which is pretty measly all things considered….and that is hoping against hope it will hold, unlike all previous cease fires there.  At best it is one baby step, with a good chance of the baby falling on his head.

As to whom to believe about Trump’s pressing Putin on election tampering, I believe the Russian account simply because it makes more sense.   Trump has continuously called assertions of Russian election tampering a “hoax” and demeaned our intelligence agencies in the process.  They say they know.   He keeps saying nobody actually knows.  Something he did again the day before in a speech in Poland.

Does this sound like a guy who would get on Putin’s case on election tampering that surely helped him?  When has he ever really gotten on Putin’s case for anything?  He saves that for our withering allies.

Things have become so wacky in the kingdom of Trump that usually smart people have begun to imagine things.   Veteran political insider and regular CNN guest David Gergen praised Trump for acting “presidential” in his meeting with Putin because they reportedly dealt with issues of hacking and cyber attacks and working together in Syria.  He also liked the fact the meeting lasted much longer than projected suggesting it showed they delved deeper into the issues.

No David, it shows nothing.  First, the idea that they would meet for a half an hour or so was ridiculous, given that interpreters were involved cutting actual discussion time to more like 15 minutes.  So, a two hour plus meeting was really about an hour plus.  Given the complexity of these matters, do you really think, David, they dug deeply into anything?

And reportedly no notes were taken, so how will we ever know what was actually said?  There were only six guys in the room.   Two presidents, two foreign secretaries and two interpreters.

David apparently was only half blind as later in the day he said on CNN that this was the first time he had seen an American president come to a G20 meeting “no longer regarded as the world leader.”  Now that’s the real news.

In a few short months Donald Trump has knocked America’s long held world stature off its pedestal.   The attention our boy king gets by seeming to act presidential is laughable in comparison.  It reminds me of that commercial………   “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV….”

Playing the president on TV doesn’t make you the president, either.  Even if you have garnered all the trappings.

Believing in America on the 4th of July

July 4 is normally a joyous weekend celebrating the birth of our nation.  I realize thoughts of barbecues and the beach usually grab more of our attention than thoughts of our political origins, but we have a president who shows no respect for American political institutions, or even what I believe to be the best of our American character, so July 4 takes on a more serious demeanor this year.

Donald Trump distains the press and tends to appeal to our worse instincts, such as the tendency to blame others for our problems, especially others who look different than ourselves or practice a different religion or are of certain nationalities.

The way Trump drums up hysteria is somewhat akin to what happened to the Japanese Americans, over 100,000 of whom were interned as threats after Pearl Harbor despite virtually no evidence.   Showing a better side of the American character was the small town of Gallup, N. M, where the town’s sheriff said, “They are citizens here, and we are not going to round them up.”

This linked story in the LA Times is about Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura, who was a Japanese American teenager in Gallup at the time and would later earn a Medal of Honor in the Korean war.

While much of America was falling prey to hysteria, this little town did us proud.   There is little that Donald Trump advocates in tweets or through his mouth pieces that make me proud to be an American.  He keeps touting “America First” and I hear a little boy crying “me, me, me.”

Trump keeps pretending he is making America great again, while what he is actually doing is placing a pall over our institutions and what’s left of our common sense of reality.  When I think of Trump world I envision Gotham City.

The story is fairly long, but you can skim much of it.  I like best the early part about Miyamura’s childhood in Gallup.


Have Fact Checkers Become Obsolete?

The NY Times has come out with an analysis of Trump’s early days in the White House that “verifies” a hundred or so lies he’s told as president.  I’m glad they did it and that they plan to continue to uncover Trump’s lies.  I believe it will be useful over time, but at the moment I don’t care much.

I’m interested in what could make Trump supporters jump ship and a log of Trump lies isn’t likely to do it.  Yes, polls do show that the percent of Americans who think Trump is not honest has jumped from 53% to 60% since the election and maybe the revelations of fact checkers helped with that.  But my sense is many of his backers don’t believe exactly what he says anyway.

They just think it works because it has so far.  Trump has maintained the image of a winner.  Yes, he’s a vulgar bully, but he’s their vulgar bully, their battering ram against the powers that be.  And don’t bother to point out that rather than draining the swamp he’s added alligators of his own.  Their minds are made up and you are not going to confuse them with facts.

At this point you either believe most of what Trump says is B. S. or you believe his B. S. about fake news and all the rest, OR you think of his B. S. as a host of cunning maneuvers to win yet again, and since he’s gotten this far you’ll keep the faith until the end.

There is a nihilism in many Trump voters in that they think, what the hell, the same ‘ol  same ‘ol isn’t going to work for me and at least with Trump we get to watch those in power fidget and get frustrated and angry like we are.   As rocker Kid Rock observed months ago, “if the businessman doesn’t work out we’ll put someone else in.”

So, while I’m impressed by the “truth” project of the Times, it’s greatest value may come after Trump falls, falls in a way that chips off all but his most fanatic fans, falls because it is hard not to notice how badly he has mucked things up.

It has been commonly noted that we have reached an age of post truth, post fact politics.  If facts don’t matter, fact checkers can’t matter much.

Hopefully, some day they will again.

P. S. –  Thinking of the fact checkers I recall the “book people” in the dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451.  In a world of complete conformity and apparently completely fireproof, the work of the firemen is to burn books not fight fires.  Books because they have the propensity to prompt questions and in turn nonconformity.  In reaction a group of rebels form in the woods and each memorizes a book to hopefully be passed on until some better future time.  For us it will be a time when a degree of shared political reality can be reestablished.

HEALTH CARE: The Republicans are so Shakespearian

To be “hoist with one’s own petard,” is Shakespeare’s way of saying “To be undone by one’s own schemes.”  It fits the Republican attempts to come up with a replacement for Obamacare.   It makes me so happy.  Probably not in the long run, but for the moment.

It is a wonderful illustration of how different it is to actually try to create something as opposed to trashing something else.   All I’ve heard for seven years is how bad Obamacare is and how they would repeal and replace it.   Well, mostly repeal, they didn’t get around to figuring out what to replace it with.  It was easy to seem like they knew how do to it, until they actually got the chance, much to their surprise I’d say.

But that was their big promise, so they stuck themselves in the butt with it.

Obamacare needs a lot of fixing, but both House and Senate Republican plans don’t fix much of anything except give back more money to the rich and, more important for the moment, they don’t satisfy enough party Congressmen to get anything passed.

That’s because the Republican party has come to stand for little more than grabbing power and holding on tight.  Of course, there are exceptions.  Ohio governor John Kasich being one, but so few as not to matter in the whole picture.   I think the Republican party lost its identity during the G. W. Bush years and all they could salvage was to become the Un-Obama party.  Anyone willing to trash Obama was welcome.  Donald Trump come on down (Do you recall how the other Republican contenders vilified him in the primaries?  They seem unable to.)

Agreeing on doing something concrete is a whole different story as I learned in my 20s when joining an amazing group of high school students who had started their own school, dissatisfied with the public schools.  I was one of the designated teachers, but the school was truly free in that I couldn’t demand anything of students.  I could only try to persuade them.   It was frustrating but taught me much about humans working together.

The relevance here is that the kids and teachers at this school could all agree on the many things wrong with public schools, but when it came to agreeing on what we would do and how we would operate each day, we could not agree on much.

And that is the Republican managed Congress right now.   To call it “controlled” is an overstatement.  The party, once known for its discipline as compared with the Democrat’s comparable anarchy, can’t even control itself.

Maybe the Republican inability to pass a replacement plan will lead to the two parties actually making some improvements in Obamacare.   It would actually make both parties look better.  Stranger things have happened.

Like Donald Trump became president.

The Donald Can’t be Beat: He must Self-Destruct

As long time readers likely know I don’t love the Dems, but am a Dem by default because I, for the most part, despise the Republican Party,  increasingly so since they made a pact with the devil in his earthly form of Donald Jerk Trump.   What gets me about the Dems, though, is how they keep talking about needing to improve their message after losing to Trump…………

Trump won because his message was a fantasy that expressed the frustration and anger among many at what they see as the loss of the America they’ve known….. Like pounding a pillow in a Gestalt Therapy session, Trump is a vehicle to express their resentments.   Also, he promised the moon and everyone started imagining an abundance of cheese sandwiches coming their way.

It is not that the Republicans had a real message that beat the Dems.   The problem is many Americans believe in the possibility of simple solutions that will fix our complex problems…..or at least improve their lives.   And our boy king, as I like to think of him, has a treasure trove of simple solutions.

Or along the lines of the fairy tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes,”  for our political stalemate to really change the basic Trump fan (which you do know is short for fanatic, right?) has to come to see he is naked as a jay bird.

What concerns me is it’s unclear how many of those fans have absorbed so much of the cool aid as to leave them permanently blind.

We’ll have to wait and see.

The Shootings Yesterday: A New Political Low

I sit here not knowing what to say.   Sad to say, I can understand the guy who decided on a simple solution to solving our political problems:   Shoot everybody you don’t like.   It is so simple and so attractive in this age of gyrating complexity and dwindling shared truths.   It is a way to become a hero in your own mind.   And you know you are going to get the nation’s full attention.   So, in a way you win the celebrity game even though you won’t likely be around to see it.

To me the Beatles captured the feeling:  “Happiness is a warm gun.”

It is a moment when all of your frustrations, resentments and pain can find a moment of glee.   Instead of being small and impotent on the national stage, you become all powerful.   Finally you can make others pay for your misery.

But if you have a bit of sanity left think of this.   Your trying to kill Republicans, some on the other side, as unhappy as you, will try to kill Democrats.  And the killing will go back and forth endlessly like the Hatfields and McCoys.  Like the Israelis and Palestinians.  Like the Sunni and the Shia.

How is this going to make things better for anyone?   Please think about it.

P. S. – I’m happy the Republicans and Democrats in Congress our playing a game tonight.  I wonder if they’ll put it on television.   Just seeing them playing together might help us better come to our senses.