Archive for June, 2019

Desperation

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

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What happens when the façade crumbles and all you’re left with is your own lies?

We may finally be approaching that point with this President.

The Trump administration started with a big lie about the size of his inauguration crowds. Now 10K lies later, his behavior is common knowledge but it continues.

The Mexican foreign minister said that no secret immigration deal exists and that there is no promise to buy more of our agricultural products.

A Homeland Security watchdog retired early after admitting that their audits of disaster response were altered to reflect the President’s claim of effectiveness.

He fired his own pollsters because their leaked polls contradicted his narrative that he was winning. Instead he blames the media.

He even denies that he said things that were recorded. He did call the Duchess of Sussex “nasty”. He was the person the appearing in the Access Hollywood tapes. He did tell an ABC interviewer that he would accept opposition research from a foreign power rather than notify the FBI because “everybody does it”.

He lied about considering firing Mueller and then lied about telling his chief counsel to lie about being told to fire Mueller.

He lied about his payoffs to coverup affairs.

Some people say that it doesn’t matter, that “everybody does it” and that he’s just a “salesman” and all salesmen lie.

The fact is that everybody doesn’t do it.

But worse, the suggestion that lying is OK is damaging to our moral fabric as a society. What happens when we can no longer hold our leaders accountable for telling the truth?

Yet that’s where we are. Truth has become a morally irrelevant term. The religious right has abdicated their normal role of being a moral scold and as a result lost all future credibility for any culture discussion.

Truth is now defined for some by tribe or affiliation. Truth is what agrees with your fundamental world view rather that your world view being informed by truth.

In a country that has some respect for the truth, people like Lenny Pozner would not have to go to court in order to prove that his son was murdered at Sandy Hook. Instead he has had to take conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones to court because his Infowars site was making money suggesting that Pozner’s son never died and Pozner was a paid actor. He also had to take the publisher of James Fetzer and Mike Palacek’s book entitled “Nobody died at Sandy Hook” to court to get them take the book off the shelves. They claimed it was a FEMA drill. He had to pressure Facebook to remove conspiracy theory videos that were leading to death threats against him. Lucy Roberts was sentenced to five months in prison for threatening Pozner and was banned from visiting any conspiracy theory websites in the future.

Lenny Pozner wasn’t interested in being a public figure. He was just a grieving parent that was forced to fight back against this culture of situational truth.

The scope of the hypocrisy is honestly breathtaking.

Trump says that the economy is great and getting better while at the same time browbeating the Fed to lower interest rates. The Fed raises rates when the economy is good in order to give themselves room to lower interest rates when the economy is bad. The stock market is going up because they anticipate that the Fed will soon lower interest rates. Why? Because the economy is getting worse.

Trump says that China is paying the tariffs that he has raised. At the same time he has a system where US businesses, who are really paying the tariffs, can request exemptions. If China WERE paying the tariffs, there would be no need for exemptions.

Trump claims that he didn’t receive any help from the Russians in 2016. Senate Majority Leader McConnell is blocking a vote on bi-partisan bills which would clarify what candidates should do in 2020 if they learn of any attempts by foreign powers to influence an election.

IMHO Trump and the Republican Party share blame for this culture because they have promoted it for political gain.

This is very dangerous territory and it is exactly where Trump wants us to be.

This culture allows Trump to claim that he can and would accept election help from a foreign power because “everybody does it”.

When asked whether or not a president can obstruct justice, he responded, “I run the country”.

This is the same response that Nixon gave to David Frost when he said that a President couldn’t do anything illegal because he gets to define what is legal.

Both Trump and Nixon felt that Article II of the constitution provides the President broad powers. That is basis for Trump and was the basis for Nixon’s claims that no crimes were committed.

There is no larger reason to conclude that Trump is unfit for office. He has expressed a willingness to do whatever he needs to do to stay in office. He has even suggested that he might defy the constitution and run for a third term if he has the opportunity. His motivations, in this case, don’t matter. His willingness to state that he was willing to challenge the constitutional term limit says all that we need to hear.

He simply can’t be trusted with the immense power that we have chosen to give the President.

Transparency

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

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President Trump won the 2016 election on the strength of his personality. Since then, he has forced all who support him to regularly re-affirm their loyalty.

Each crisis, gaffe, insult, unseemly revelation, or assault on democratic norms forces a choice. A long list of appointees left or got fired. Some went to jail. With each concession, his defenders get dragged deeper into an alternate reality of Trump’s own making where he is defending the country against an imaginary “deep state” army of traitors.

Despite numerous dead-end investigations chasing down one rabbit hole after another, there is no evidence to support this claim of organized secret opposition, but then proof was never really the goal.

The goal is to position Trump as the only reliable source of information for his supporters.

This reality distortion field allows him to claim that he doesn’t do cover-ups, even though he’s on tape approving the one that jailed his lawyer.

Everyone outside his reality distortion field KNOWS that US businesses and consumers are paying his Chinese tariffs. The Fed estimates it will cost every US family $831/yr. When Kudlow publicly contradicted him, Trump read him the riot act according to some sources.  Sources quoted in the Washington Post suggest that he is willing to put the economy at risk in order to get re-elected.  

President Trump is telling advisers and close allies that he has no intention of pulling back on his escalating trade war with China, arguing that clashing with Beijing is highly popular with his political base and will help him win reelection in 2020 regardless of any immediate economic pain.

In other words, Trump expects that his base will not hold him accountable for lying about tariffs and will not hold him accountable for the damage those tariffs are doing to individuals and the economy.  He believes that his base will re-elect him BECAUSE he is willing to confront China in a zero-sum celebrity death match.  They WANT to see this country assert itself on the international stage in a “might makes right” exercise.  This was the attitude that had us begin a foolhardy neocon mission to remake the middle east in our image and likeness.  Almost 20 years and trillions of dollars later we’re still mired down in Afghanistan, Iraq is still a mess, Iran is still a threat, Syria has collapsed, and Israel is still fighting with her neighbors.

He responded to criticisms by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by circulating a crudely altered video of her and questioning her health or sanity.

He accused Comey and McCabe of treason punishable by death and implicated Lynch and Obama. He demanded justice department investigations of his political opponents. His press secretary justified the investigations because of unproven claims that the President is already aware of “outrageous amounts of corruption” at the FBI. His AG agreed to investigate that “corruption” while at the same time acknowledging that he was unaware of any treasonable acts. He celebrated the fact that Kim Jong-un, one of the worst dictators in the world with whom he claims to have a close personal relationship, shared his same low opinion of the leading Democratic candidate for President.

This isn’t supposed to happen in a free and open democracy.

In his most stunning “through the looking-glass” moment, he claimed to be the most transparent president in history. He’s the one refusing to release his tax returns, divest himself of his business interests, appear before the Mueller grand jury, accept court losses, or agree that the constitution grants Congress the right to oversight.

His treasury secretary suggested that the 2016 election already decided the issue of releasing his taxes and the American people don’t care. He also suggested that the courts will decide what should be done, as they have done in the past. The reality, however, is that we haven’t had a situation in the past where the courts had to compel a President to release his taxes.  That’s because all candidates for President for the past several decades have voluntarily released their tax returns during their campaigns for office. Trump did not campaign on keeping his tax returns private.  He promised the American people that he WOULD release his taxes once the IRS had concluded their audits of him. The IRS has since declined to confirm or deny that he was under audit, but stated that a public release of a tax return would not affect the outcome of an audit. Beyond that, he is opposing all other efforts, by Congress and at a state level, to release any tax information. An audit doesn’t appear to be his primary concern. Currently a majority of Americans polled would like to see his tax returns released.

The result of all of this is a deepening divide between those who feel Trump is a welcome change and those who are aghast at the destruction he is leaving in his wake. Trump’s supporters believe he’s a victim. History suggests otherwise. We’ll get to vote on that in 2020. Healing our damaged democracy will likely take much longer.