Tuesday, January 17, 2017

#NotMyPresident and Here's Why

I am crazy busy trying to pack for my first march since 1969.  But I had to stop and write.  Because this is important.

I have been listening to the debate about whether to appear at the Inauguration for a few days now.  Since John Lewis took a stand, the way he took a stand last year when he led the sit-in on gun control in the House, the way he has stood up for democracy and for the American people all the way back to Selma.  And the idiot who made great deals with Russia and the FBI and the republican party tweeted attacks against him.  Nothing clever, just his usual same old names and falsehoods.

This is the guy we are supposed to show up for on Friday.

His very attack on Lewis is the reason I won't be there.  I will not respect a man who mocks, who lies, who attacks other Americans.  Minorities, women, the poor.  People who are not like me, and people like me.  A man who will do anything to get what he wants, who will do anything to get revenge for a perceived slight.  A man who spent years accusing our president of not being American, and who did it for the notoriety.

I am as disillusioned by the members of the party he joined in order to win the presidency.  They have sold out.  Sold out their beliefs, sold out our country, sold out the Americans who elected them.  They have done this because they will always follow people they believe have more power, because they believe this alliance will allow them to keep their power and their fortune.  Paul Ryan has become a pathetic shadow of Trump.  McCain is trying to be tough, but I can hear him waffling every time he is asked about the incoming "president" or about a cabinet pick.

And then there are the people who Trump has chosen to flank him, to protect him, to defend him, to give him his ideas.  Neo-nazis, plutocrats, people with more power than he has, and people with less power that will do his bidding.  Smart and mean, or stupid and mean, but always mean.  Willing to cut down anyone who gets in their way.  Trump's kind of people.

I am listening to republicans and Trump's own chosen pretend to be appalled that Americans are questioning their leader's legitimacy after he questioned the legitimacy of Barack Obama.  Who are silent when Trump attacks the media.  Who will gladly give up the freedom of the press to follow a man who is as crazy and abusive as the worst third-world dictator.  I wonder how far they will go, just as I once wondered how Nazi Germany every was allowed to happen.

He was elected with a minority of votes.  He was elected by virtue of Russian intervention in our democratic process, with Putin continuing even today to feel free to comment on the validity of our government.  He has refused to be transparent about his wealth and property and his ties to foreign governments, and has refused to break any ties that would cost him fortune or power.  In fact, he has already used his presidency to increase his influence and wealth.

I can be sure that every accusation he made against Hillary Clinton is one of which he himself is guilty.

So there it is.  He is not my president because he is not democratic.  He will profit and grow his power.  He will deny us our constitutional rights, the freedom of our press, the freedom to worship as we choose, the right to protest.  When mockery doesn't work he will use force.

There is far too much at stake to stand by and let history repeat itself.  We all must take a stand.  We cannot talk in trite patriotic cliches.  This country was founded on dissent.  Our founding fathers knew that the most important principle is freedom of speech.  We have been allowing our liberty to be corroded by attacks on women's bodies, voting rights, religious freedom, and much, much more.  We have allowed the rich to buy our government while too many of us lack a living wage, decent housing and health care.  Our liberty is dependent today on whether we are afraid to disagree and dissent or whether we will stand up to the corruption that has been building for decades, and has concluded in the coronation planned for Friday.

I don't go to big events, but I will be at the march on Saturday, speaking in defense of my democracy.  I won't be at the inauguration of a despot, not there in the audience, and not in my heart.

Call it undemocratic.  I call it patriotism.

I haven't spent a lot of time composing this rant.  I surely wish I could have said it the way John Lewis said it, the way Barbara Lee said it, the way Gilda Cobb-Hunter said it, the way Luis Guitierrez said it.  But they said it for us, and for that I am thankful.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Make America Sick Again

When Paul Ryan was a teen, he fell in love with Ayn Rand.  It appealed to his narcissism, as it did mine at that age.  The difference between us is that I grew up and recognized the reality of the world around me.  Paul Ryan still obsessively believes that if you got it, you deserve it.  And if you don't, it's your own fault.

That spunky can do attitude defies the reality of living in capitalist America, where if you got it, you get more, and if you don't, it has gotten increasingly less likely that you ever will.

But Ryan is surrounded by like-minded haves, and like so many of our current members of Congress, just doesn't have any patience with the whiners and the takers who think they deserve things like housing and health care.  To that end, he is determined to prove that what we all need is tough love, forcing us to choose whether we are going to survive.  That philosophy has been echoed "bigly" by our incoming moron-in-chief, who believes he made it on his own, by virtue of his big brain and not his wealthy father and Vladimir Putin.

Republicans in the House have been chomping at the bit to get rid of Obamacare, and since they have been back in session they have shown a greater work ethic than they have for some years.  They have detailed plans on how they can do away with the Affordable Care Act, in conjunction with the Senate and the Orange-Haired Idiot, who babbled at his press conference about how the bill would be repeal and replace, at the same time, maybe within a month, maybe within a week, maybe within the hour, maybe time traveling to 2010, you get the gist.

Way back in 2009, at the end of the last era in which Americans hung their hopes on an idiot with a clever and duplicitous campaign, the state of health care was shameful.  To the point where Keith Olbermann, on MSNBC, had been highlighting and fundraising for Free Health Care Clinics.  I recall my horror that so many were uninsured that -- in America -- they waited in hours-long lines to see a doctor.  That so many diseases that could have been easily treated were left to fester, so many people made sicker and even left to die out of the greed and neglect that the wealthy and the corporate powers exercised.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard some privileged cretin (a republican member of Congress) talk about how we were just spoiled by being able to get health care whenever we needed it, because we never had to face the cost.  He told the harrowing tale of his son falling and hurting his arm, and he and his wife deciding they would just ice the injury and wait a day to see if they needed to bring him to a doctor.  What a guy.

A guy who has never had to watch a loved one get sicker, hoping that the tide will turn and they will get well without the exorbitant costs of medical care.  A guy who is pretty damned out of touch with the extent of out of pocket costs involved with health care today.  A guy who could get really fine medical care the next day if he chooses to wait to get his son looked at.

For that matter, there is a myth regarding all of us great mass of unwashed Americans that says that we demand to see a doctor whenever we feel a windchill.  That we have nothing we would love to do more than wait in a waiting room at a doctor's office or a hospital, so we can suck up medical expenses.  That it is our self-indulgence, and not the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, the mismanagement of our hospitals, the fact that many of us are forced to wait until a common condition becomes an expensive medical emergency, that has caused health care costs to skyrocket.

And people like Paul Ryan have swallowed the lies and distortions in order to continue to live in the pockets of their corporate donors.

Meanwhile, as Ryan and the right wingnuts work to take away health care from millions of Americans, they continue to carry the best taxpayer funded health insurance the country has to offer.

So why not insist that members of Congress be forced to accept whatever plan they chisel out of their rigid dogmatic principles?  Of all of us, they can certainly better afford it.  It may be a challenge to their fact-free ideology, and it might be tough for them to be living in the trenches having to make some of the same decisions the rest of us live with on a daily basis.  But getting in touch with the unbearably high cost of private insurance just might convince them that the "r" word they are looking for is not "repeal" but "regulate."

If you have Obamacare, or insurance from the health care exchange, or from the Affordable Care Act, you may not know that they are all the same.  This was one of many of those sleights of hand that republicans managed to pull off, while Democrats thought getting the work done for the people would be enough.  I will assume that if you are reading my blog, you know these are all the same thing.  But there are an awful lot of people out there who do not.  And they will be tragically surprised to learn that the guys they voted for have taken away their health care.  Right now, one of our tasks is simply to spread the word that whatever they call it, they are going to lose their affordable health insurance.  Unless they speak up.  And those rate hikes that incredibly happened just before the election?  Democrats never let them know that it was a much smaller increase than we have seen before the ACA.  Ooops.

In fact, this could be a great time to let people know how much better and cheaper single payer health insurance would be.  If the Democrats would only.  Because as long as the republicans are offering "repeal and replace" the thing to do is to offer Americans a "replace" that would work.  Of course, it won't happen while the party of profit and destruction is running things, but if they heard some enthusiasm building up for a single payer plan, maybe backing off on the "repeal" wouldn't seem like such a bad idea.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

How to Fight a Shitstorm

One of Trump's successful ploys is to throw so much shit at the fan that no one -- not the media, not the politicians, not we the American people -- can know where to begin to clean it up.  So if you are feeling overwhelmed, welcome to 2017.

But the worst thing we can do is ignore and avoid.  The quality of our lives will be far worse than we have seen before.  I have been refreshing myself by reading Joe Conason's biography of post-presidential Bill Clinton.  While I have been happily surprised at just how much good he has done (and again dismayed at how the right wing conspiracy has created doubt in Clinton's actions and motives), the book also is a narrative of Clinton trying to do good against the shitstorm that was the Bush presidency.  In my anger I am also finding some inspiration.

I don't do resolutions, but since the new year I have asked myself what would I like to accomplish, and answered with some actual practical goals.

First, I need to continue to educate myself.  While I was away, nothing changed, but the momentum of our enemies has grown.  I would be no happier if I did not know that right now the truly evil Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was following through on his plan to rid millions of Americans of their health care.  I need to know that Trump has continued to move on his plan to move Jared Kushner right into the White House so that he and Steve Bannon can each have one of his ears.  And I need to be aware of how the media is covering all this, as well as anytime a Democrat pops out of hiding to take a stand.

Second, I will do my best to pass on what I have learned.  Knowledge is going to be the way we arm ourselves in these days when the Trump Swamp is twisting the meaning of things like "fake news" as soon as we have grasped the fact that it exists.  We need to share what we know as quickly and widely as possible.  We need to find ways to share our knowledge with people with whom we don't normally communicate, and in a way that they are willing to hear us.

That does not mean that we should back away from the Democratic values we held during the presidential campaign.  When we try to compromise by giving up any part of what we believe, we fail.  That is what has given the right-wing power.  Rather, we need to recognize, as did Bernie, that most of us have the same concerns -- job security, health care, safety -- and we need to find ways to persuade others that we are all in this together.  That when the rich get richer, we all get poorer.  That when a woman's right to reproductive health care is taken away, men and children also suffer.  That when we attack someone because they are different, we jeopardize all our rights to pursue freedom and happiness.  So, my third goal is to persuade.

To that end, I am not going to beat on myself for not making phone calls, or going to demonstrations, or visiting my representative, or running for office.  These are really important jobs and we need lots more people to take them on.  And there are people out there who will, and some that have not yet but would do it with some information and encouragement.  Because we definitely need people to do all those things.  What I am going to do is continue to write.  I am going to blog, and post on Facebook, send letters to the editor, and learn how to more effectively use Twitter.

There is still a lot of shit hitting the fan, because Trump is a disorganized personality, and a bully, and now he has not just wealth but the power of the presidency.  He has loaded his cabinet and his staff with truly deplorable people, and his media contacts from Fox News to the National Enquirer will continue to paint false pictures of what is going on in Washington.  But we all can keep on top of this.  There may be multi-million dollar media corporations and members of Congress who can be bought with Trump's infamous combination of threats and flattery.  But if we really believe in democracy (and I do) we the people outnumber all them.  We can't change the mind of the angry or truly stupid Trump supporter, but there are a lot of them that were lulled into believing a master con artist, and they will soon recognize the con and be looking to understand what happened and looking for alternatives.  And if we do this right, progressives and Democrats will be there to offer a better choice.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Truthless Presidency

The first time I heard Donald Trump speak as a candidate, he said that Obamacare was so bad that even if you got hit by a truck you wouldn't be covered.  At that time I had been covered by the ACA for over a year and found that it wasn't just really "affordable," but it was the best coverage I had ever had.  The alarms went off in my head and haven't stopped since.

The man is a liar.  What we do with that is what truly concerns me.  We have never had a pathological liar as president, or even as far as I can recall, as a candidate.  I believe that, without both his celebrity and wealth, his apparent lies would have discredited and disqualified him from his first trip down that escalator.  When, by the way, he paid $50 per head for extras in the crowd.

But those who support Trump don't just support him, they crave him.  They feel about Trump pretty much the way I felt about Paul McCartney when I was 14 years old.  They would believe anything he said and follow him off any cliff, assuming he was fully aware of what he was doing and knew better than anyone else that it was the right thing to do.

Rationalization knows no better friend than the Trump supporter.  The proof of that has been over the past couple of weeks, as his past promises and claims have fallen by the wayside.

The most oft-repeated of course is that he would lock Hillary up.  In a cross between a WWF chant and one delivered at a Third Reich rally, the crowd couldn't wait for the moment they could start to yell, "Lock her up."  It had been a proud moment during the convention, and several speakers, some of whom are now in the Trump cabinet, ran with the cry.  In the true promotional spirit of the event, t-shirts had already been printed with the chilling slogan, along with Hillary behind bars and other similarly ugly and extremely un-American and undemocratic sentiments.

I would like to say that this was a new low in politics, but the Obama presidency was what truly set the animals free of their restraints.  Hitler mustaches on Obama's face along with obscene references to his ancestry have just become the norm for the supremacist lover of free speech over the past eight years.

And Donald Trump may not be "like smart," but he has an uncanny sense of what brings the crowds to the carnival -- and what shocks and intimidates his opponents.  So he caught a whiff of that mob mentality and harnessed the power.  It worked, too.  While the crowd went wild, the media spent a year and a half silenced while Trump ran rampant over the truth.  And while they lacked the spirit to defend the truth, they still, like deer in the headlights, kept the cameras on while the abominations grew.

If Donald Trump is a stupid man, and he is, his followers are mindless and devoted believers.  When he tells a lie, they believe it.  When it is proven to be utterly false, they still believe it.  When Trump and his minions finally admit the lie, the believers know that he had a good reason for telling it.

And he is happy to confirm it.  Trump, these days, has been inoculating his followers by simply explaining what he was thinking and that now he's changed his mind.  "Lock her up:"  "that plays great before the election -- now we don't care, right?"  And while the first reaction may be that of disorientation, it doesn't take long for his fans to get it:  he just said it to get elected, what a great idea.

Except that that may also be a lie.  When Trump starts to actually take heat for his ideas exploding in his face, I have no doubt "Lock her up" will resurface.  That herd of sycophants that comprises our republican Congress have already shown us that there is no expiration date on hating Hillary; it's been working for them for decades, with the enthusiastic help of the media.  Except that this time Trump will turn on Congress the instant it becomes expedient; a few days ago he called Paul Ryan "genius" and added, "now if he ever goes against me I'm not going to say that."

And so, having a presidential candidate prove that the brazen lie is the path to power, and do it more brazenly than the congress critters, has sealed the fate of this republic.  And our society.  The president can now ignore laws with the blessing of a congress that will accept, just as do his followers, whatever he tells us today.  And taking it from the Trump playbook, who got it from Putin, it doesn't matter if the rules change, wrong is now right and after all, might is right.

And, have I said, he is a stupid man?  So what he says today not only won't make sense today, but may change tomorrow, to something that equally makes no sense.  And the media will chase it like a dog chasing a bus.  Or, every now and then, by chance, he may say something that does make sense.  And then the media will marvel at the possibility that he may be beginning to figure things out.  Except that won't be the case at all.  Unlike W., who did begin to figure some things out, and was guided by some kind of moral imperative, Trump is guided by no such thing.  Trump is guided by ego.  And money.  Period.

The "liberal media", while doing mea culpas about the mistakes they made by giving him exposure during the election season, yesterday spent hours slicing and dicing and analyzing his 74 second "interview" in his own hall of power.  When I turned the TV on this morning, they were still talking about it.  Yes, they were snarky, but as Donald Trump knows, a camera is a camera, and they always work in his favor.  And he will continue to use the media, because he knows how to make news, and the media has hours to fill.

Once again, I end by urging caution.  And cynicism.  We can all get caught up in this era of truthlessness.  It took only days for the Trump minions, after the media uncovered "fake news" and its influence on the election, to start to call anything questioning Trump -- you got it -- "fake news."  It didn't start this year, or even with the internet.  George Orwell called it "newspeak" and we have heard it with every invented right-wing word or phrase that has been created to curb our critical thinking skills with emotional rhetoric.

With Donald trump as the figurehead, and white supremacists making their way to the White House, with a greedy and insecure republican Congress and fearful Democrats rewriting the election to urge us all to listen to the neglected white men, we are about to take a step backward that will cause us to topple off that cliff.

These days, when the biggest liars claim to be calling out liars, we need to search for our moral compass.  Black people are being killed by cops, and white people are yelling for more guns.  Despite Dylann Roof and PizzaGate, radical right-wing Christians are calling for Muslims to be registered and tracked.  Gun deaths in the US far outnumber those in other major countries, yet legislators dog-whistle abortion and curtail women's reproductive rights in order to detract from gun deaths as well as death caused by poverty.

There is truth out there, and we can track it down.  But we need to ask the right questions.  If something doesn't make sense, it often only takes a minute to track down the source on this amazing internet.  A headline sounds incredible?  Shocking?  Too good/bad to be true?  Track it to the publisher.  Some jackass gets an award -- or gets promoted for a cabinet position?  Find out what organization is giving the award, or how the promoter connects with the nominee.

And then share the information.  We all need to be fighting for truth these days.  We'll be getting our lies straight from the leader of this currently free country soon, and the media is as vulnerable as the next person, so it is up to us to question, to learn, to inform, and, yes, to keep our media honest.

1984 comes late, but we have been warned about the normalization of Donald Trump, and we don't have to let it happen here.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Hating Hillary

About a year ago I decided it was time to read Hard Choices, Hillary Clinton's account of her years as Secretary of State.  As I began to listen to the audiobook, I was aware that I was listening for signs of dishonesty, superficiality, dodging important questions.  My approach to the book astonished me.  I had read everything she had written up to then, and was thrilled, along with so much of America and the world, by It Takes a Village, which she wrote in 1996 as First Lady.  Of course, back then the attack machine was already in full swing, with Whitewater and the idiotic Travelgate investigations.  The rumor mill was churning out lies that she murdered Vince Foster (who had committed suicide).  But I was a liberal Democrat, the internet wasn't in full political porno mode just yet, and I saw all the attacks on the Clintons as politically motivated bullshit.

Hillary sounded good then, and as I listened to Hard Choices, I realized that nothing had changed.  She was still smart, honest and caring.  But now she had the knowledge and skills that made her sound indeed like a world leader.  She dealt with the chapter on Libya and the attack in Benghazi with honesty and integrity, and provided detail that made the tragedy come alive.  What had changed, tragically, was that all those years of lies and attacks had influenced my perception of her.

This presidential election has been, really, about two people whose personas have come from decades of media attention.  For Donald Trump, it began with a very conscious effort to mold his public image.  As told in some of the excellent biographies that have come out this year, notably, Trump Revealed, The Making of Donald Trump, and Never Enough, his need to break free of his father's more modest ambitions led him to set his sights on Manhattan real estate, and on becoming known around town:  known as a lady's man, as someone who hung around in the most desirable establishments, with the most important people, and mostly, as a man of great wealth and power.  With the aid of his father's money he got his foothold in Manhattan and obsessively pursued those goals.  There was absolutely nothing Donald Trump would not do to promote his successes, even lie.  Ghostwriter of The Art of The Deal Tony Schwartz claims he's never seen Trump pick up a book to read it, but he has "written" a dozen of them, all with co-authors.  It wasn't until this presidential campaign that we saw a number of objective biographies hit the shelves.

On the other hand, hate books about Hillary have been a cottage industry for decades.  She has not ever had the luxury of building a public image on her own terms.  Hillary's public career began as Bill's wife, in Arkansas, where she immediately became ostracized for having a mind of her own and daring to speak it.  From attempting to keep her family name of Rodham when she got married, to her independent work as an attorney, it seemed everything she did riled the people of Arkansas.  And there were no worse critics than the women.

As First Lady, and with Bill's enthusiastic support, she continued to set goals that had been beyond former First Ladies.  As the left-leaning wife of a centrist president, she was charged with developing a health care proposal and ended up getting battered with the full force of the animosity of the corporate fueled right-wing political machine.  Misleading headlines and a $20 million dollar advertising campaign sponsored by the health insurance lobby fired up the public, and led to the death of badly needed health care reform.




Oh, and while she was First Lady, the press never met an issue that was too petty to critique:  along with her name, there was her hairstyle, and of course, those pantsuits.  Throughout her campaign for president, the press couldn't decide whether to ask her about her emails or go on about what she is wearing.  They mock her laugh, then complain that she doesn't smile enough, and then Breitbart comes in and attributes evil connotations to her grin.

Especially interesting is that, for all the people who hate Hillary, the best you can get from them are vague but passionate claims that "She lies," or the one word "Benghazi."  How about asking somebody what was in a single email that cost us so much in tax dollars and goodwill.  And then contrast that to the criminal activity that has, is and will continue to go on during Trump's political life.

I would like to put this into a popular culture historical perspective.

Since he threw his silly hat in the ring, Donald Trump references seem to be everywhere.  I was listening to a 1993 book by the wonderful travel writer Bill Bryson recently.  There was something in his travels that he enjoyed so very much that he would "sell his grandmother to Donald Trump" in order to be able to take one home with him.  Funny at the time, I guess.

And then there are the movies and television.  I don't believe Trump has ever said no to a cameo.  And of course, his celebrity coup was his role in The Apprentice, which I am proud to say I have never seen.  But, as I said, you never know when he will pop up on the screen.

Because I do a lot of reading and writing about the horrific state of our country these days, my nightly movie watching has taken a radical turn into rather juvenile escapism.

A couple of days ago, the movie was Home Alone 2 (1992).  Spoiler alert, Macaulay Culkin ends up in New York City.  In the Park Plaza Hotel, he stops and asks Donald Trump where the lobby is.

The following night, for a change of pace, it was Hot Shots: Part Deux (1993).  A very funny spoof of Rambo, with lots of other movies tossed in, and featuring Saddam Hussein.  But for no apparent reason, during the big fight scene with hero Topper Harley and Saddam, the phone rings, Topper picks it up, listens, then says, "It's your wife, Hillary Rodham Hussein."  Turns out that all the female characters had the middle name Rodham.

Two candidates for president, one with a nurtured public persona, the other carved over the years with rusty knives by politicians and media.  Oh, and did I mention that one of them is a woman?

Samantha Bee, also a woman, and by the way, one who was passed over to replace Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, is burning up late night TV these days with her hysterically funny and passionate political diatribes.  On her last episode before the election, she narrated a memorable history of Hillary Rodham Clinton that tells her story far better than I have.




I still wake up thinking about what we could have had.  It happened this morning.  But then I remember that, if Hillary was now president, congress would be preparing to investigate and impeach her for her imaginary crimes.

And even knowing that the hate machine would grind on, she was willing to step up and fight for us.  And she still is.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Dems Are Asking: Is It Safe to Come Out Now?

I don't know about you, but I just keep asking myself these days, "Where the hell did the Democrats go?"  There was a Senate election in Louisiana last weekend, and just as with Patrick Murphy in Florida, nary a Democrat around to throw their support to him.  It was that important that, even though the republicans had already won the Senate, both Trump and Pence were out there stumping for their guy.  But no Dems.

And we here in South Carolina have resorted to sending thanks to republican Senator Lindsey Graham for taking a stand on investigating Russia's manipulation of our presidential election.  Meanwhile, google our own Jim Clyburn and all you come up with for news is that on November 30 he announced his support for Jaime Harrison for head of the DNC.  Try googling "Jim Clyburn Russia" and the lack of news will make you want to cry.

Or spit.  Which is what I have been doing a lot of lately.  With twitter rants that threaten to destroy US / Fill In Country Here diplomacy and major US businesses, our president-elect is just beginning to enjoy the power he will wield on January 20.  As we have come to expect, our Democrats in Congress, with a very few notable exceptions, are willing to crawl as one under a rock and wait till it all blows over, at which time we may well no longer have a democracy.

Let us take a moment to remember the Obama Inauguration in 2009.  At the very time we were tearfully welcoming in our hope and change president, republican leaders were secretly congregating to figure out how to block him from seeing any of that hope and change materialize.  And then they came out in public and said the same thing.  It was just that important to them.  So all we can conclude is that the threat of disemboweling all the positive change that Obama got through that obstructionist congress is just not worth sticking your neck out for.

And those brave Democrats who are speaking out against this clear threat?  The republicans have them in their sights.  Elizabeth Warren will be attacked at every turn.  Al Franken will be in the crosshairs.  Nancy Pelosi, well, they might leave her alone this time because her considerable power is already being eroded by those white men of the Blue Dog conservatives.

Way to stick together, Dems.  Don't ever disappoint us.

While creeps like Tim Ryan advise that the reason the Dems lost was that they didn't fawn over the white middle class enough, the Russians and Giuliani's New York FBI got away with the most egregious fowl play ever to happen in US electoral politics.  Trump was in charge of misdirecting the uninformed masses, Russia provided the props in terms of constant email leaks, republicans like Trey Gowdy gave the lies the guise of authenticity in Congress, and FBI Director James Comey was coerced into nailing the election with the last-minute sleight-of-hand that kept just enough Democrats away from the polls.  Meanwhile, idiots like Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd did the dirty work we all thought was the purview of Fox News by prefacing every damn news segment by saying that Trump and Clinton were the most disliked candidates in history, equating the proven crimes of Donald Trump with the mistruths being spread about Clinton.

And when our Democratic Party adds that all up, what do they come up with?  That Hillary didn't reach all those white voters; that she didn't show enough of herself; that people don't trust her; that she wasn't genuine; that blah blah blah....

Well, let me tell you, Party Dems.  You may be afraid to come out and represent all of us.  Or you may not think it is possible to reach out to all those white middle class working folk if you keep talking about what the rest of us need.

Or maybe you think that the country blames you for being in the "do-nothing" congress.  If that is true, it is because you have failed to speak up EVERY TIME the republicans blocked progress.  This should have been a piece of cake.  The republicans gave the narrative to us on a silver platter:  "Our economy has gotten stronger since the last failed republican administration in spite of the obstructionist republicans.  Just imagine if Obama had had a majority in congress that was willing to work with him to move the country forward -- imagine what he could have done."

But instead, in 2010, Blue Dogs lost in Kentucky and Texas (yes I mean you Wendy Davis), by backing away from both liberal issues and from President Obama.

And here they are, once again, after the incredible popularity of Bernie Sanders, talking about how they are going to cooperate with the takeover of our government by a plutocracy which purpose is to further the wealth of the few, predominantly the Trumps.  Admitted ties to Russia, and nobody on our side is yelling for the release of tax returns.  Remember Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign manager?  After he was found to have ties to the Ukraine, Trump let him go with a nod and a wink, and sure enough, now that he doesn't need your vote anymore, Manafort is back, bigger and dirty as ever.  For gods' sake, Democrats have been heard singing the praises of racist Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, likely our next attorney general.

So while Paul Ryan is scheming over taking away our social security and medicare (food stamps is small potatoes these days), the Democratic Party is waiting for the republicans to take front and center against the incoming corrupt regime.  That is, when they are not debating among themselves as to whether they should bring a gift or just wave a white flag on Inauguration Day.

Shame on you for not uniting to depose the biggest threat to the country we have had in our lifetimes.  Stop fighting over what you think Hillary did wrong and get it together to fight the real bad guy.  The voters will remember you if you do; if you don't they may never have the chance. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Another Sleepless Night

It is 5 a.m. and I am lying in bed, and I am crying.  This is not me.  Or, at least, it is not the person I was before November 8.  As I lie in bed, I think, desperately, about my options.  I am tempted to clear my DVR of all the MSNBC and CNN news shows I tape regularly; I listen to them during the day and they haunt me at night.  I think I might try a couple more Tylenol, or a cup of tea.  Then I decide to get up and post.

After a lifetime of being afraid of dying, I find myself relieved that most of my life is past.

I try not to think about my kids.

It is quite amazing, watching our democracy being destroyed.  We have seen the wealthy fighting with their many dollars to take over the whole thing for decades now, since they nearly lost the fight in the middle of the last century.  They won't let that happen again.  Irony is the policy that prevails as Trump lines up an anti-education billionaire to run the department of education, an anti-worker billionaire to head the department of labor, an oil billionaire to run the EPA (into the ground), a billionaire whose life goal is privatizing Medicare to head HHS,  a racist to run the department of justice, and for balance, a couple of idiots for HUD and the UN.

And these are not the scary appointments.  They are the ones that can take down our programs, but it is the military arm of our new cabinet that will take down our democracy.

Our furor enjoys his Victory Rallies (He wanted to call them "Thank You" rallies, but KellyAnne advised him to tone it down.).  He especially likes the cheers he gets when he proclaims General "Mad Dog" Mattis as his choice for secretary of defense.  His voice gets all funny when he says, "Mad Dog" and as much as I fight it, I can imagine him lying on his side of the bed getting hot over the thought of the Mad Dog.  "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet," is a quote for which Mad Dog Mattis is famous.  He has a lot of them.

On our own shores, Trump has picked paranoia and son, General Michael Flynn and Jr., for national security adviser, the latter more in an advisory role.  He was pursuing a security clearance for junior, who came close to blowing it by having his crazy tweets implicated in the incident of the nutcase who "self-investigated" the satanic cult hiding in a pizza parlor.  I say, came close to blowing it, because we all know that Trump sees the word "no" as only a temporary barrier, a challenge, one that money and influence can easily remove, and these days he has ever more of both.

National security adviser.  If you can continue reading after that, there is indeed more.  On the foreign front is Mike Pompeo, proposed head of the CIA, who can now continue to investigate Hillary with new purpose and energy.  Here on the home front, to head the already creepily named Department of Homeland Security, will be another retired general, John Kelly.  He will be in charge of rounding people up:  Hispanics, Muslims, and I imagine anybody that gets in the way of his round-up.  Maybe journalists and, I don't know, bloggers.  There will certainly be investigations of commie groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center.  And Kelly is the moderate of the bunch.

Also lined up to militarize these United States is David Petraeus, maybe for the big enchilada, Secretary of State.  But first they have to figure out what to do about his guilty charge for mishandling classified materials, leaking secrets to his lover.  Wonder where Jason Chaffetz and Trey Gowdy are these days?  I would think that after all the Sturm und Drang (yeah, I know how appropriate that is) over Hillary's emails, they would at least wake up long enough to make a statement of concern.

Here is the thing.  Trump is an insecure, obsessive narcissist who we know is motivated by revenge.  And he has -- oh, I haven't mentioned it yet? -- Steve Bannon as his Trump-whisperer.  This is how bad Bannon is -- Karl Rove and Glenn Beck have spoken out against him.  Bannon is the secular evil to Mike Pence's religious evil.  Bannon is Hitler's adviser, and Trump adores Bannon.  Bannon knows just the right way to flatter the leader of the once-free world.  He also knows how to rile the crowd.  Breitbart.com was his trial run for taking over the country.

I know where in Trump's brain the billionaires came from.  Helped along by the right-wing GOP and huge donations, those picks were no-brainers.  But the military, the military came from the kind of evil that is Steve Bannon.

I am thinking in phrases of 140 characters these days.  And hashtags.  When I wake up in the middle of the night I find myself thinking of tweets that I could send out like alarms to people who could save us.  To the Democrats, who at this point can't even get it together to fight for the one Senate seat up for grabs in Louisiana, much less fight for our democracy.  And who continue to want to prove that they aren't obstructionists.  To the media, who mostly I think we should give daily, "Most Inane Question" awards to.  Just how many times can you ask various Trump minions whether Mitt Romney is still being considered for Secretary of State?

My heart goes out to the Democrats who are smart and courageous enough to see this threat for what it is, and who plan on fighting.  And journalists who will in the days to come be risking their careers (maybe even their freedom; remember Judith Miller).  I hold great hope for Obama to come forward and fight to maintain the democracy he has already saved from the brink of economic failure.  And after a time, Hillary will join the fight.  But there may be a day, with all those generals and all those police forces that Trump courted with his vows of "law and order," when imprisoning political enemies in the United States of America becomes a reality.

No, I am not paranoid.  I know just enough history to see the signs.  Thinking that we are above the fray because we have a strong democracy means that our leaders, from the spineless Paul Ryan to the West Virginia "Democrat" Joe Manchin, would have to fight the abhorrent and extremely telling staff choices Trump has made.  And they won't.  Biden and Harry Reid have both made conciliatory noises pretending to like some of Trump's picks.  Will Dems run scared and choose someone safe to lead their party over progressive black Muslim-American Keith Ellison?  Boy, now is not the time to cower, folks.  (Note to media:  the most pressing issue about Ellison's bid is NOT whether he stays in Congress while he serves as DNC chair.)

Well, the sun is coming up.  I had an emergency piece of medicinal chocolate that I smuggled home from Denver before I began my blog, and I am hoping I will be able to escape through sleep for a couple of hours.  But we all have to keep returning to the reality of a Trump oligarchy.  We have to stop trying to find the good in the turd.  We have to keep trying things we've never done before, like appeal to the Electors to dump Trump.  We can't use ignorance as an excuse.  We can't let Democrats compromise us out of our democracy.

We can't let the generals take over.  And we have to #StopBannon.

Trump is an idiot.  But he is a rich and powerful idiot, and he knows how to buy smart and powerful people.