Monday, September 30, 2019

The rich aroma of flop sweat is reeking its way out of the White House. Is this finally, actually, really-and-truly the beginning of The Trumpster’s end?

It's possible that he's not just running scared, he's running terrified
I live in the middle of Manhattan and don’t open my windows much. Just lift them a crack and in comes a cacophony of blaring horns, wailing sirens, clanking garbage trucks, plus dust, carbon monoxide, and disagreeable weather that’s usually too hot, too cold, too damp, or too damn something.

But this evening is different. Google is telling me the temperature as I write this is 66 degrees — Goldilocks weather. And so, late this evening when the streets had quieted down a tad, I hefted open the window a couple of inches. 

And whammo!

The stink from 
Pennsylvania Avenue

Into my cramped living quarters, ten stories above ground, drifted the unmistakeable aroma of flop sweat. And I know where it’s coming from.

It has wafted its way here all the way from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC. You don’t have to see the stuff dripping down the President’s face and streaking his orange makeup to know this this time, at last, he really is in desperately deep doo-doo. Or at least probably.

I’m talking, of course, about the whole Ukraine thing. You know how badly Trump thinks he’s been hooked, harpooned, and netted by the frantically hysterical quality of his responses.

• He has accused Representative Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, of treason, for the treasonous crime of going about his Congressional duties.

• He has accused the New York Times of treason for reporting the news.

• He has demanded, in contravention of the law, to know the identity of the whistleblower who had the temerity — the treasonous temerity! — to blow the whistle from a place of safety, just as the law says whistleblowers should. (Well, Trump didn’t use the actual word “temerity,” probably because it’s not part of his limited vocabulary, but that’s the drift  of his furor.)

• Of course, Trump has also accused an FBI operative of treason, too, because of that agent’s involvement in the Russia probe. But that’s old-ish news.

Treason, treason, treason—
what does it all mean?

Notice that those accusations of treason are popping up quite a bit?

Inevitably, whenever Donald Trump accuses someone of a crime, you can scratch around a little and detect the distinct aroma of Trump’s own criminality. Evidently, he never outgrew the game that my generation and his played as six-year-olds. If somebody called you a name, or accused you of something naughty, you’d recite in a sing-song voice,

“I’m rubber, 
you’re glue, 
whatever you say bounces off me
and sticks on you.”

This, we all thought, would magically transfer our own guilt to the body of the accuser.

The thing is, the rest of us outgrew that kiddy stuff. Trump still uses it as a magic talisman. Whatever he thinks he’s in trouble for, he accuses somebody else of having done that exact thing. That, he appears to think, wards off the evil eye of justice. As a matter of fact, so far it has worked. 

But “so far” may finally be used up. Nevertheless, the word “treason” now hovers above the mess Trump created. And if he’s playing the rubber-and-glue game with it, it deserves some investigation.

Will the buzzing gnats
drop a dime on Trump?

It also turns out that Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s civilian lawyer, and William Barr, domestic Attorney General, have been buzzing around like gnats on secret and likely improper or illegal “diplomatic” missions to futz with evidence.

Those are some mighty big names, with some powerful reservoirs of knowledge, who could turn on Donald Trump if it’s a matter of their hide in the hoosegow or Trump’s, a few cobblestones down the road.

Plus there’s the little matter of that Super-Duper-Extra-Double-Secret server in the White House, on which the Trumpster’s sycophantic minions have stored conversations with Vladimir Putin and others. Who knows what an airing of those conversations might reveal? Might it be the treason of which Trump has accused others? Just asking.

Of course, The Trumpster to date has led a charmed life. The spirit of Roy Cohn hovers over him, a malevolent guardian angel protecting Trump from truth, justice, and overdue bills from small and badly stiffed building contractors. He could, once again, get away with everything.

But this time, also maybe not.

Okay, time to shut the window.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Past impeachment, what should be done about Donald Trump and his band of contemptuous stonewallers?

The late Helen Gahagan Douglas. Who was she 
and what does she have to do with all of this? 
Keep reading.
I promise, I’ll offer my answer to the question of what to do about Trump and his bunch in time. But first, let’s step back into history. 

Here are two quotes:

“Our people would again be polarized in their opinion.” And furthermore “Richard Nixon and his loved ones have suffered enough.”

Those seem to be the two best excuses that President Gerald Ford could come up with when he pardoned Tricky Dick Nixon, on September 8, 1974, for the various crimes known as Watergate.

Never mind that from the very beginning of his career, long before Watergate, Nixon was a merciless bully who, for example, thuggishly maligned the woman he ran against for the Senate, Helen Gahagan Douglas, an actress turned politician. 

The big smear

Nixon attempted to smear her, all but called her a subversive traitor “pink down to her underwear,” and had others launch anti-Semitic memes against her because her husband, the actor Melvyn Douglas, was Jewish. In fact, she was nothing more nor less than a New Deal Democrat. But the lies and innuendos worked. He beat her.

Never mind that during Watergate he tried to cover up a patently illegal burglary aimed at seeing what he could get against the Democratic party.

The poor baby "had suffered enough." And besides, prosecuting him for his criminal activity might polarize the nation all over again.

And so, Nixon retired in shame, but very comfortably, to his estates in San Clemente, California, and Saddle River, New Jersey until he died, meanwhile making a handsome living writing books. Like many depots and would-be despots, he never saw the inside of a prison, although he most assuredly belonged in one.

Have we learned our lesson yet? 

Except in times of World War, this nation is always polarized to a greater or lesser extent. And the cure for it is not to pretend it doesn’t exist, or that it will go away if only we don’t lock up the bad guys. The cure is to prosecute the people whose crimes caused the polarization, so that others will be less tempted to follow their example in the future.

It’s now looking increasingly as if the House will impeach Donald Trump, even if it knows the Senate is not at all likely to convict him.

What will happen
when the pendulum swings?

In time, the political makeup of the United States will change, as it always does. Whether it’s next year, or half a decade down the road, the pendulum will swing again. And when it does, the best inoculation against more of what we have today is to set an example by making sure that the petty thugs and bullies around Donald Trump, and Trump himself, do some serious prison time for the damage they’ve done to the United States of America and to the body politic.

With that in mind, in addition to impeaching Donald Trump, Congress ought to hold in contempt all the stone-wallers who contemptuously defied Congressional committes, starting with Corey Lewandowski. Maybe Attorney General Will Barr will refuse to enforce the contempt citation — grounds for Barr himself to be cited. But when the tables turn, perhaps the first step a Democratic attorney general might take would be to enforce the citation. Let that hang over their heads for a few years.

And when, whether by election, term limits, or a surprise removal after impeachment, Donald Trump is no longer President, let us not hear a word about how the poor baby has suffered enough. Instead, I hope, law enforcement should instead find a way to insure that he dies of old age in the slammer, along with the sycophants who enabled him and blocked for him.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Well okay, time for a little entertainment

From You may need to sit through a TV commercial first. Worth it for what follows:

And while we're at it, there's also this:

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

No, Mr. Trump, you can’t just revoke an act of Congress without Congressional approval. That’s a coup d’├ętat.

Donald Trump treats the United States Constitution as if it's a piece of this.
(Photo: Wikimedia commons)
Just when you think he can’t get any worse, Donald Trump proves that after worse, there's more worse. And after that there's even worser. Ad infinitum.

The New York Times reports that Trump plans to roll  back California’s authority to set stricter auto emissions rules.
That draft Trump rule also included a plan to revoke a legal waiver, granted to the state of California under the 1970 Clean Air Act, allowing it to set tougher state-level standards than those put forth by the federal government.
Uh, small problem. If the president can revoke acts of Congress, then law, and Congress, and democracy have no meaning any more. We have been plunged into an absolute dictatorship, or perhaps an absolute monarchy, where the president makes and revokes laws according to his own whims.

Never mind that so much as even suggesting California’s pollution rules should be rolled back could be headlined around the world with something like: Trump To Planet Earth: F.U!

Never mind that there’s no sane reason to move in the direction of more pollution and more CO2 omission and more fossil fuel consumption when the very existence of life on earth is at stake.

But at least pay attention to this:

Donald J. Trump has just wiped his bottom with the Constitution of the United States and is now attempting to flush it down the toilet.

And the question is, will the obsequious lickspittles whom Trump and other Republicans have appointed to the court go along with this abomination? Or will they somehow assemble enough collective spine to put a stop to it, and smack down this flagrant abuse of the Constitution pronto?

Monday, September 09, 2019

I can’t stand it any more. I just can’t. I can’t. Get Trump out of my damn newspaper! Get him off my TV! Get him out of my computer!

In 15th Century Prague they got rid of disagreeable government officials the
old fashioned way — they threw them out of windows. These days you'd better vote.

I know I’m old. I know I’m cranky. I know, I know. But enough is enough already, Donald. Stop it! Just stop it!

I looked at the York Times today and what did I see?

The Auto Rule Rollback That Nobody Wants, Except Trump,” which has to do with Trump's insistence that we emit more CO2 and other nasty stuff from our cars, even though even the car makers don’t want to do this.

Commerce Chief Threatened Firings at NOAA After Trump’s Dorian Tweets, Sources Say, which is of course about how no weather forecaster who works for the government is permitted to contradict the nonsense vomiting out of the presidential mouth. If he says the hurricane’s gonna hit Alabama, it’s gonna hit Alabama and don’t you dare say otherwise. If he says it’s snowing in Atlanta in July, be a dutiful little weather forecaster and come out with your snow shovel to shovel the imaginary snow.

Trump Declares Afghan Peace Talk With Taliban ‘Dead.’ This would be about those peace talks that Trump was holding without bothering, until the last minute, to mention them to the President of Afghanistan. Then he called them off after some Taliban thugs did what Taliban thugs always  do and killed 12 people, one of whom was American. Trump’s little speech on that matter could be turned into the lyrics for a Broadway musical. Here are his words:

They are dead
They are dead
As far as I’m concerned
They are dead
You can’t do that.
You can’t do that with me.
So they are dead 
As far as I’m concerned.

This needs to be set to music. Leonard Bernstein, where are you when we need you?

And meanwhile, in other news…
“Dozens of Bahamas residents hoping to seek refuge were kicked off a ferry headed for Florida because they had no visas.  About which I need say no more concerning Trump’s Department of Homeland Security.

How do we get rid of this guy? If the voters can’t vote him out because…Electoral College.

If the Senate won’t convict even if the House impeaches because…Moscow Mitch.

If the U.S. Attorney General won’t enforce Congressional subpoenas because…How do you think he got his job and keeps it?

So we may be stuck with another four years of this guy. But I think you'd better make damn sure that on the morning of election day, everybody gets out and votes. 

Monday, September 02, 2019

Memo to Beto O’Rourke and Stacey Abrams: You both may be too insane to be President of the United States

A likely presidential candidate from either party
You have to be crazy to run for President of the United States. 

To do the job effectively, you have to be willing to be the constant target of accusations and insults. You have to have your own life, past and present, under constant scrutiny by the press and opposition researchers. You have to be charming to people you loathe. You have to work a long, stressful day. You have to be willing to accept responsibility for the lives — or the snuffing out of the lives — of millions of people. If you suffer so much as a bout of constipation it’ll probably make the newspapers. 

You want that job? 

Then you’re nuts.

The least crazy presidents in this nation’s history were generally those who never intended to be president. They were crazy enough to be politicians, but not crazy enough to run day and night for a bed in the White House. Instead, they got sucked into office by a vacuum left when a president died.

There were three of those in my lifetime. Lyndon Johnson was the exception to the Rule of Crazy, a raging bundle of frustration who kept us in Viet Nam and escalated the damn thing, when he should have pulled us out and instead paid more attention to his one good idea, The Great Society.

But Harry S.Truman and Gerald Ford were both quite sane by presidential standards. Both were relatively ordinary people with an interest in politics but no great desire to be the top guy. Both weren’t bad presidents.

Is it bad to have a crazy President? Well, given that we almost never have a choice, I’d say it's simply a fact of life, and also that it depends on what kind of crazy you’re talking about. 

Nixon was crazy bad, covering up for Watergate by day, walking around the White House and talking to presidential paintings on the wall by night. Trump — you know, “the very stable genius” “the king of the Jews” and on and on —  is so insane, the imagination boggles. But other Presidents, from Lincoln, to Roosevelt, to Jack Kennedy and Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama were crazy for running for the job, but still not bad, or pretty good, or in at least one case possibly great presidents.

Which brings me finally to you guys, Beto O’Rourke and Stacey Abrams. 

Both of you know you’ll never make it, at least this time around, as winning candidates for president. Both of you live in states where Republican Senate seats are up for grabs and there has been a perceptible shift in sentiment from red to blue. You both stand a good chance of succeeding in a Senate race. 

Without a Senate majority, a Democratic President of the United States will be hamstrung. Your Senate wins could get the Democratic presidency into a position where progressive forces could really get something done in this country. Yet both of you, although you’ll never win the presidential nomination for 2020, have refused to run for the Senate.

Abrams has at least declared her interest in the vice-presidency. Perhaps she’s banking on some elderly Democratic president, like Joe Biden, dying in office, leaving the presidency to her by default.   O’Rourke has essentially said he’ll take the presidency or nothing.

Both have thus proved not only that they are crazy, but that they are too crazy, too willful, too disinterested in any thing save their own careers to run for the Senate.

Yeah, you gotta be nuts to be president. But you gotta be beyond insane to refuse to support the person who will be if he or she is a Democrat, or to rein in the current nut in the White House if the Democrats don’t make it.

If you two plan to continue flying off into a personal, careerist snit, you’re each, in your way, as egotistically nuts as Trump. And the diminishes the possibility that many Democrats will ever again vote for you for anything.