Monthly Archives: January 2017

CDC Warns of New Potential Pandemic


Spoiler:  The first and last paragraphs of this post are admittedly fake news.  Everything else is 100 percent true.

Atlanta, GA, January 30, 2017–The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports signs of a new and potential dangerous pandemic originating in Washington, DC.  The affliction was introduced to the Nation’s capital recently by a New York real estate mogul and reality show host who established residence in the federal district earlier this year.  Symptoms include rampant narcissism and pathological lying.  CDC warns the malady is highly contagious as evidenced by the number of individuals, who having come in contact with the initial carrier, now exhibit similar behavior.  CDC sites the following examples as the basis for their findings.

The extent to which this syndrome, dubbed DJT (Duh Jive Truth), can be transmitted without physical contact was demonstrated last Friday by Donald Trump’s underling Mike Pence, who is seldom if ever seen in proximity to his keeper.  At the March for Life rally in Washington, D.C., Pence praised Trump for ensuring federal funds would never be used to cover abortions.  Sound familiar?  Maybe because this prohibition has been in effect since passage of the Hyde Amendment in 1976.  But that would never stop the narcissus-in-chief and his second-in-command from taking credit for it.

Speaking of narcissists, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, during an interview Sunday on Fox News, made the ban on Muslims all about herself.

I was stopped many time — weren’t you? — after 9/11. I didn’t resemble or share a name with or be part of any kind of terrorist conspiracy, but this is what we do to keep a nation safe. (Fox News Sunday, January 29, 2017)

Kellyanne, you were not STOPPED.  Like every other person who boards an airplane these days, you were screened and waved on to your gate.  Were you ever separated from the rest of your traveling party?  Were you ever physically detained in a holding area?  Did you ever miss your flight?  People living with DJT, like Conway, often experience reverse psychological projection.  Instead of seeing their own behavior in others, they adopt the legitimate fears and apprehension of others as their own in hopes of garnering sympathy.  Do not be surprised if Conway next claims she was stopped and beaten by the police after being pulled over for a broken tail light.

But if you really want to know how debilitating DJT can be, look no further than poster boy Sean Spicer.  The White House press secretary has been criticized for carrying Trump’s water on a number of false claims.  Pundits have wondered how anyone could ask his chief spokesperson to do that.  CDC suggests Trump is not responsible. Once infected with DJT, Spicer is acting on his own when he informs the press and American citizens Trump had the largest inaugural audience EVER, the boss only lost the popular vote because of zombies and imaginary Latin Americans, and a Muslim ban is not a Muslim ban.  One CDC official used a Seinfeld episode to explain how DJT affects its victims.  Prior to taking a lie detector test, George Constanza (Jason Alexander) counsels his friend, “Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.”

CDC, as yet, has not developed an antidote for DJT.  In the interim, CDC suggests the major preventative currently available is a free and aggressive press.  As one CDC researcher recommended, “Take two First Amendments and call us in the morning.”

For what it’s worth.


Hey Pussies, Grow Some Balls


Let me be clear, the term “pussies” is NOT in reference to female body parts which Donald Trump believes are subject to eminent domain.  Women have already shown they have pretty big testicles.  By all standards, the Women’s March on Washington was a success not just in the nation’s capital, but around the world.  Attendance exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations and the message was clear.  Women’s rights are non-negotiable and women will be watching.

The “pussies” mentioned in the title of this post are the duly elected 535 Democratic and Republican members of Congress who have so far abdicated their responsibility to protect the Constitution from being bulldozed by the current occupant of the White House and his entourage of enablers.  Sadly, Congress needs to be reminded the first three words of that venerable document  are “We The People.”  So when “we the people” petition the government, those in power have a responsibility to listen and when necessary Congress has the power in Article II, Section 8 to respond to the public will.

Among its authority, Congress, not the president, has the power “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes (Article II, Section 8, Subsection 3).”  Therefore, an executive order which restricts the movement of people into the United States is in  direct violation of the separation of powers.  Equally important, “we the people” are opposed to such a ban by a margin of 52 to 36 according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll.  A similar CBS News/New York Times survey confirmed only 35 percent of voters in the last election favored even a temporary ban on Muslim immigration.

Pussies, do your job.  This morning Congress should immediately pass legislation declaring the executive order is a violation of the Constitution and shall be immediately suspended.  And if vetoed, both houses must override the veto by large margins.

And while you’re at it, “we the people,” not just the media, want to see Donald Trump’s tax returns to ensure there are no conflicts of interest which place his personal interests above the public welfare or are violations of the Emolument clause (Article II, Section 9, Subsection 8).  According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, 74 percent of Americans believe Trump should release his tax returns.

Pussies, you have the power to make this happen.  Article II, Section 8, Subsection 18 of the Constitution states Congress is authorized “to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”  There is no exclusion for the president.  Therefore, this morning the joint leadership of the Senate should announce they will not act on any further cabinet, sub-cabinet or White House appointments until such time as Trump releases his tax returns for the past five years.

Two weeks ago, Trump accused civil rights icon John Lewis of being all talk and no action.  As usual, he picked the wrong target.  Not only did Congressman Lewis risk his life during the civil rights movement, he more recently led the 2016 sit-in on the House floor to force a vote on gun control, especially broader background checks, something 90 percent of Americans supported after the Newtown massacre.  That is what Congressional leadership looks like.

Congressional pussies, your marching orders are no difference that those issued by Ben Bradlee to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in All the President’s Men.

You guys are probably pretty tired, right? Well, you should be. Go on home, get a nice hot bath. Rest up… 15 minutes. Then get your asses back in gear. We’re under a lot of pressure, you know, and you put us there. Nothing’s riding on this except the, uh, first amendment to the Constitution, freedom of the press, and maybe the future of the country. Not that any of that matters, but if you guys fuck up again, I’m going to get mad. Goodnight.

If you do, regardless of ideology or party affiliation, America will owe you a lasting debt of gratitude.

For what it’s worth.


Trump Is NOT Hitler


He is Frank Underwood.

Once again, we should be paying attention to the lessons of history.  As the oft-quoted saying goes, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  The best example which proves the case is the Marshall Plan. After the fall of the Axis powers, Allied governments understood humiliation of the defeated would only result in the rise of new demagogues rallying their countrymen under a banner of nationalism.  While no one would argue Adolph Hitler or Nazism was a good response to what ailed post-World War I Germany, historians recognize conditions in the Rhineland, including the imposition of wartime reparations, hyper-inflation and high unemployment, were a perfect storm which contributed to the rise of an authoritarian ruler.  In 1932, German voters, who legitimately feared for their economic and social well-being, made a bad but somewhat logical choice supporting the Nazi party, leading to Hitler’s appointment as chancellor.

Here’s what makes little sense to me. If the United States was going to have a similar swing towards authoritarianism, one would have expected it to come eight years ago.  In 2008, world financial markets were facing collapse, the value of personal assets (pensions, homes and stock portfolios) were tanking and unemployment was approaching double-digits.  Yet, voters elected a candidate who offered hope, not draconian measures to counter despair.  At the end of eight years in office, President Obama left his successor with a much healthier economy and less foreign military engagement than he inherited. Unemployment is now 4.7 percent, the Dow stands three times higher than it did in January 2009 and housing values have rebounded in most of the country.  American service men and women are not daily casualties.  There has been no equivalent to 9/11.

Which brings us to Donald Trump and Frank Underwood.  In the final episode of Season 4 of House of Cards, Underwood appears to be a presidential candidate headed for defeat.  Then Frank and his wife/running mate Claire join in a game of chicken with the leader of ICO (the fictional equivalent of ISIS) resulting in the violent death of an American hostage.  Underwood’s response, “We do not submit to terror. We make the terror.”  Such a statement might be viewed as a warning to ICO.  However, one suspects Underwood hopes the electorate will be as rattled as the ICO caliphate.

Similarly, in Trump’s alternate world, if conditions do not justify support for authoritarian rule, change the conditions.  Manufactured chaos is the order of the day.  Consider the following analysis by Mother Jones reporter Kevin Drum in which he questions whether there is a method in what looked like an amateurish roll-out of the immigration ban.

In cases like this, the smart money is usually on incompetence, not malice. But this looks more like deliberate malice to me. (Trump advisor Steve) Bannon wanted turmoil and condemnation. He wanted this executive order to get as much publicity as possible. He wanted the ACLU involved. He thinks this will be a PR win…Bannon thinks middle America will be appalled that lefties and the elite media are taking the side of terrorists.

A word to the wise.  If you are in a Washington Metro station and you see Steve Bannon, don’t stand too close to the edge of the platform.

For what it’s worth.


How Much LANGER Can This Go On?


One of the challenges of writing a blog, particularly one which focuses on politics, is finding fresh perspectives on under-reported events.  The last thing you want to do is be part of an echo chamber.  For that reason, I have tried to avoid piling on where other reporters and pundits have done a sufficient job of making a case against the current occupant in the White House.

However, there is always a breaking point.  So rather than trying to be original, my goal in this post is to start connecting the dots between what Donald Trump says and the way different pundits are addressing his comments.  The particular event which triggered this post was Trump’s use of an example to fortify his claim (though widely discredited) he would have won the popular vote if not for 3-5 million illegal votes cast for Hillary Clinton.  Ironically, the first person charged with voter fraud during the 2016 election was Terri Lynn Rote, a 55 year-old Trump supporter from Des Moines, Iowa.

During a Monday White House reception for the bi-partisan leadership of Congress, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked what evidence Trump had to justify the claim of massive voter fraud.  According to several attendees, Trump used the example of professional golfer Bernard Langer, who he said is a friend and had told him about his voting experience in Florida on election day.  According to Trump, Langer was not allowed to vote while watching others who did not appear to be eligible voters (Trump suggested they were likely from Latin American countries) were allowed to cast provisional ballots.

Langer’s daughter Christina responded to Trump’s claim as follows:

He is a citizen of Germany. He is not a friend of President Trump’s, and I don’t know why he would talk about him.

In other words, within a single, short narrative, Trump again chose “alternative facts” over reality.  To paraphrase Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “How much do I lie to thee, let me count the ways?”

  1. Langer is in the United States on a permanent residence status and is therefore barred from voting.
  2. Therefore, Langer had no reason to be in a line on election day.
  3. Therefore, he would not be in a position to judge who else in line might be an ineligible voter.
  4. Therefore, he was not blocked from voting.
  5. Although Langer has played golf with Trump, he is neither a friend nor supporter.

Five lies in a single anecdote.  Possibly a new Trump record.  What the Lyin’ King didn’t realize is his anecdote, if actually true, makes the opposite case.  A non-citizen was blocked from voting.  And questionable voters had to go through the provisional ballot process.  The voting integrity process works exactly as it is designed to do.

I thought about calling this post, “The Man-Child Who Cried Wolf,” but Bob Cesca, managing editor of The Daily Banter, beat me to it.  Yesterday, on the Stephanie Miller radio show, he explained why lying about the little things will have serious future implications.  Cesca expects there will be a real crisis when Trump needs Americans to believe him about the perceived threat and his chosen response.  The longer and more consistently Trump and his minions present lies as reality, the less likely he will be able to rally Americans behind any course of action regardless how legitimate it might be.

Which brings me to Keith Olberman.  After observing the first few days of the new administration, he believes Trump represents a clear and present danger to the future of the United States and the planet.  In commentary for Gentleman’s Quarterly he warns any attempt to oust Trump from office must not be seen as a liberal, Democratic plot.  Rational conservatives and Republicans must be part of the group that walks into the oval office and says, “Enough is enough.”

But how does one make that happen? Olberman suggests we forego disagreements about policy in the short term.  Instead, based on Trump’s behavior since the inauguration, we approach Trump supporters and only ask one question.  “Can you look me straight in the eyes and honestly say there is not something seriously wrong with this man?”  Olberman admits that a small segment of Trump supporters are as unstable as their leader and will never join the movement.

But we do not need everyone.  Sometimes one is enough.  Remember, it was Barry Goldwater who told Richard Nixon he needed to resign.  Surely, there is at least one more Barry Goldwater among the Republican faithful.

For what it’s worth.


Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places


One of the reasons I started this blog was to force myself to think about things I did not understand.  At the top of my current list is the question, “Why would the working, middle class expect an alleged billionaire (remember net worth is equal to assets MINUS liabilities) who has stiffed workers and small businesses to represent their best interests?”  Then I realized I should have also been asking a similar question about the previous administration.  “Why would the working, middle class look to a Harvard educated, community organizer who never spent a day on a shop floor to protect their salaries, job security and retirement pensions?”

Samuel Gompers cph.3a02952.jpgThe above is not meant to disparage the career choices of either Barack Obama or Donald Trump.  But as past president and current occupant of the White House, these individuals have to constantly balance multiple interests.  If I want someone to represent my economic future, I want my own hired gun.  I want someone like Samuel Gompers (1850-1924), founder of the American  Federation of Labor (AFL), who when asked during contract negotiations what his workers wanted, he simply answered, “More!”

Keeping in mind correlation does not equal causation, it is hard not to believe there is not some linkage between the decline in union membership and dissatisfaction among middle class Americans they are being left behind in an otherwise growing economy.  In 1954, 34.8 percent of wage and salary workers belonged to unions (Current Population Survey).  By 2010, the last available census numbers, the percent of union membership dropped to 11.3 percent.

While both major political parties continually promise to improve the lot of the middle class, neither has done the one thing that would have really made a difference, protecting the institution which truly represents much of middle-class America.  Instead, for the past 40 years, Republicans have demonized unions as a scapegoat for the failure of trickle down economics. But let’s be brutally honest.  The Democrats stood by and watched. Instead of protecting the true representatives of the working class, Democratic candidates were more interested in promoting government policies which they hoped would translate into votes.

The graphic below, created by NPR, shows the percentage of current union membership by state.  One can’t help but notice many of the states which tipped the electoral college in Trump’s favor have the lowest level of union representation.


And Republican governor and legislators in several mid-western states continue to do all they can to erode the power of both private and public sector unions.

Just imagine if any political party had been equally aggressive about protecting union representation as the Democrats have been on protecting voting rights.  Or if law suits had been filed as often to challenge threats to workers organizing as the Republicans have to undercut the Affordable Care Act.  Strong unions, not government nor corporations, should be leading the charge on economic issues important to the middle class.  Government’s role and corporate America’s moral obligation should only be to ensure they have a meaningful seat at the table.

I still believe James Carville was right when he reminded then presidential candidate Bill Clinton, “It’s the economy, stupid.”  Perhaps the opportunity for bringing Americans together again is not identity politics, but economy politics.  A movement where factory workers who are told their jobs will disappear without major concessions while executive salaries skyrocket, women who demand equal pay for equal work, hamburger flippers who deserve a living wage and undocumented workers who, in fear of deportation, accept sub-minimum wage compensation come together and support each other.  Just as Samuel Gompers founded the AFL to promote harmony among various craft unions to minimize jurisdictional conflicts, leadership by the workers, of the workers and for the workers is sorely needed.

Too bad the slogan “Workers Unite” is already taken.

For what it’s worth.