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Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Current location: PA
Member since: Wed May 11, 2005, 10:48 PM
Number of posts: 10,499

About Me

I love spending time with my grandchildren and gardening.

Journal Archives

revisionist history seeks to make Republicans who preceded Trump look better than they ever were

Residual Rancor and Rage for Reagan, Romney, Dubya, Cheney, and Other Wingers Now Credited With Being Better Than They Ever Were

You may have noticed a bit of revisionist history going on that seeks to make Republicans who preceded Trump look better than they ever were. As we all know, Americans have very little sense of history. Even history that ain't that old fades fast. And with the glut provided by modern information systems, our memories get taxed beyond capacity to retain even stuff that happened a few weeks ago. Then, too, there are so many demands on our always flighty attention spans that most of us lose the thread, misplace the plot, and fail to keep track of the characters even as the narrative is still being written or played out.

So, is it any wonder that distinctly villainous people who turned up just a chapter or two ago can readily be re-drafted and transformed into versions of themselves we'd readily find unconvincing if we still had the tools of memory, history, or attention spans that would allow us to recall just what a bunch of venal or dishonest shits they were clearly shown to be when they first commanded the stage.

Remembering them at all might not even be that important except for the fact that all these (and other assholes) have been remarkably quiet during the incredibly crazy time of Trump. At a time when Dubya, and Dick, and Jeb, for instance, had almost nothing to lose by raising their voices about the threat Trump posed to the country they always claimed to love, they haven't said a damn thing. I mean, really, these guys already owed the country some serious acts of atonement what with the mess they left in their wake. From Katrina to the massive debt of the Iraq war, not to mention lots of people who died early and unnecessarily, the Bush bros and the Dastardly Dick Cheney should have been on Fox every fuckin' day telling their right wing brethren that nothing Trump was doing was going to make America great again. Au contraire, mes amis, Trump ain't on your side.

I guess they couldn't bring themselves to do that for the sake of their country because, though Trump wasn't really on the side of the rabble who turned out for his rallies, he was still delivering the goods to the rich and powerful, making it pretty damn hard for the rich and powerful to speak up or speak out, no matter the ultimate consequences or the disaster that was unfolding.

Back in the 90s, during the Clinton administration, Cheney was going around crying gloom and doom about deficits, but when he and George Herbert Walker Bush's son ascended to the White House, Cheney went around telling Republicans that "deficits don't matter." Then, when Obama was in office and had to try to dig us out of a deep hole dug by Bush, Cheney, and unscrupulous bankers, deficits began to matter a whole lot again, and Republicans were beside themselves with worry about the national debt, blaming Obama for reckless spending. But then, presto change-o, Trump was elected and deficits don't matter a damn again. Deficits are measured on a sliding scale, ya see. The right wingers spend like sailors on leave, about to depart for a war zone. The deficit balloons. Trump wastes money beyond the imaginations of most people, and nearly all the captains of commerce, corrupted politicians, con artists on K St., and Republican rats, active or recently retired, are quiet as monks who've taken vows of silence.

Just for the record, lots of the scoundrels who worked for Bush/Cheney also took jobs with Trump. Just for the record, Bush also tended to offer garbled and idiotic comments on a daily basis (Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.), though he didn't tweet, thank God, bird brain though he was. For the record, Dick Cheney spent much of his time defending torture, a pre-cursor to Stephen Miller and his ilk in terms of dedicated advocacy of fascist cruelty. And, just for the record, by the time Regan reached his second term, he was, like Trump, showing daily signs of severe mental deterioration. And, like Trump, Reagan was busy leaving a legacy of assaults on the environment through deregulation, veiled appeals to racism, and wealth redistribution benefitting the already-rich at the expense of the majority of Americans. Reagan screwed the country with an affable actor's smile while Trump fucks us all spitefully and sadistically, but the violation seems much the same. Victor Cantu, a writer friend of mine, describes Trump as "Miracle Grow for hatred," but Nixon was also a pretty good compound for growing hate and suspicion between Americans dating all the way back to his first political campaign when he painted his opponent, Helen Gahagan Douglas, as a subversive and a "pinko." (Younger readers may not know that a "pinko" was a right-wing fearmongering term that defined liberals as "reds," only slightly less determined to destroy us than the dirty Commies who were, lest we forget, mostly Russians.


The electoral college is in trouble

The electoral college is in trouble

The assumptions underlying a controversy are often more important than the controversy itself.

Take the case of our blithe acceptance of the electoral college. There is nothing normal or democratic about choosing our president through a system that makes it ever more likely that the candidate who garners fewer votes will nonetheless assume power. For a country that has long claimed to model democracy to the world, this is both wrong and weird.

And there is also nothing neutral or random about how our system works. The electoral college tilts outcomes toward white voters, conservative voters and certain regions of the country. People outside these groups and places are supposed to sit back and accept their relative disenfranchisement. There is no reason they should, and at some point, they won’t. This will lead to a meltdown.


This means that the country could render a negative verdict on Trump’s time in office by swinging away from him in a big way — and he would still be president for four more years.

Defenders of such a departure from one-person, one-vote say that if Democrats run up big leads in a few states and regions — especially California but also, say, New York, Illinois and New England — that shouldn’t count. Their strained claim is that a president is somehow more “representative” of the country if he wins by eking out tiny margins in several Midwestern states. This transforms our democracy into a casino. If you narrowly hit the right numbers in some places, you take the pot.

What they are really defending, without explicitly saying so, is the idea that states with a higher percentage of white, non-Hispanic voters should have a disproportionate influence on who becomes president.

As a short-term strategic matter, Cohn is right to stress the importance to the 2020 result of states that were closely divided in 2016. But while I have great affection for the Midwest, I see no just reason for an individual voter in California having far less power than an individual voter in, say, Wisconsin or Michigan.

And the system’s bias toward white voters only encourages Trump’s habit of dividing the country along racial lines. So in addition to being undemocratic, the electoral college encourages a particularly odious politician with no interest in uniting the country to do all he can to promote minority rule.

At some point, the majority will rise up. If Cohn’s worst-case-for-democracy scenario materializes, 2020 could be that year. Our founders admitted that the electoral college system they created in the original Constitution was defective by altering it with the 12th Amendment in 1804 . It’s time we followed their lead in showing the same willingness to scrap a system that is sending us headlong into a national crisis.

Is the GOP still the "party of Reagan"? Oh, very much so.

Donald and Ronald


Joe has a real need to say that today's Republican Party - Trump's party in his eyes - is significantly different from the party he supported and served, which was, he routinely says, "the party of Lincoln and Reagan".

President Abraham Lincoln died more than 150 years ago. The "Solid South" was so enraged at him for beating them in the Civil War and at his party for ending slavery that they voted Democrat for the next 100 years. Then the Democrats started supporting civil rights for people of colour. The Republicans saw the opportunity, courted them and flipped them. The Solid South is now theirs. It has been a long time since the Republican Party has been "the party of Lincoln". Let us put that aside.

Is the GOP still the "party of Reagan"? Oh, very much so. And I was recently reminded exactly how much while re-reading a book I wrote during his presidency back in the 1980s: "You Get What You Pay For". As I flipped through the pages, I found myself saying, over and over again, "that's just like Trump".

Joe constantly points out that Trump started his campaign with racism, riding down the escalator, attacking Mexicans. Joe thinks this illustrates a difference.

But Ronald Reagan also started his presidential campaign with racism. He chose to make his kick-off speech in the heart of the Solid South, in Mississippi, quite near where three civil rights workers had been murdered. He said, "I believe in states' rights." It was the biggest dog whistle of the day, code for segregation, and the crowd cheered.

He continued: "... we have distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended to be given in the Constitution to that federal establishment." It had been the Republican Party that had tried to impose integration after the Civil War. Reagan was making it clear that his party was completely divorcing itself from Lincoln's vision.

It was not a one-off. Reagan ran against the "welfare queens" and against "the strapping bucks" who stood in front of you at the supermarket, buying steaks with food stamps, while you made do with hamburger helper, earned by the honest sweat of your brow. It was a brilliant strategy that turned government programmes into handouts to minorities with money stolen - through taxes - from good white people.

It was called the Southern Strategy. Reagan did not invent it. But he sold it with warmth, charm, and a smile.

What he brought to the presidency that was really original was making up stories and never being embarrassed that they were not true. He made up a tale about a mysterious stranger who gave the Founding Fathers the courage to sign the Declaration of Independence.

He loved the tale of a bomber pilot who decided not to parachute from his shot-up plane in order to stay and comfort a wounded member of his crew as they plunged to the ground and received the Congressional Medal of Honor ... posthumously ... and told it often, although it had only happened in a movie.

He said that he had been present at the liberation of a concentration camp during World War II, though he had never left Hollywood.

It used to be that being caught in a lie harmed your credibility, but Reagan, for the most part, got away with it. In doing so he set a new standard that opened the tarnished road that Trump rides down on today.


So, Joe, and all the ex-Republicans, and the upright Establishmentarians, Trump may be vulgar, Trump may be abrasive, but in terms of racism, corruption, and destruction, he is Mr Reagan's true heir. Trump's Republican Party is what it has been at least since the 1980s, only more so.

Are we nuts yet? I think I am.

Notes from the Cuckoo's Nest: Am I a Russian? Are You? And What about That Guy over There?


According to Engel's reporting, there are armies of Russians in front of keyboards cranking out this stuff in a concerted effort to get Americans to hate one another, mistrust one another, and generally lose faith in ourselves, our system of government, and our fellow Americans.

And it's working, ain't it? The Russians have a man in the Oval Office, a guy who loves Putin, loves the love letters he gets from Kim Jong Un, and is undermining our intelligence services, ignoring the threat to our democracy, and lending all his efforts to further divide this country until it cracks.

And it's cracking, ain't it? The evidence is written in blood, written in rallies, written in the miasma of corruption and barely-concealed criminality that covers the waterfront from pedophilia to presidential malfeasance and nonfeasance, from pardons to prostitutes to stripping away of regulations meant to protect us from pollution of air and water. Add to that the creeps like Tucker Carlson and the always-odious Ann Coulter, telling us that the threat of white supremacy is a hoax, or that even a mention of background checks by Trump is a blow against the empire.

And don't it just begin to seem that very real daily malevolence is at work here. We get up, turn on our computers or our TVs and up pops the latest shooting, scandal, or presidential pally boy and pervert found dead in his cell under the most suspicious of circumstances. How can we bear such times and live?

Can we trust what we read? What we're told by anyone anymore? I'm so gaslighted and fucked over by now that I'm beginning to think I might be a Russian agent myself. I do know I've spent a lot of time sowing division with things I write, so maybe I'm working for Putin now. Maybe it's not just discourse between citizens in a democracy now. Maybe calling out the racism and decrying the corruption and ugliness of the right wing is doing nothing more than furthering the progress toward the cliff we all seem to be heading for in this once-fairly-ok country Trump promised to make great again. You know, like back when black people were charged poll taxes or made to pass impossible tests in order to vote, or when they had to drink from separate water fountains, attend separate schools, or piss in separate rest rooms. Or back in those great days when women couldn't get credit in their own names unless their husbands co-signed for the spoiled bitches.

I gotta tell ya, I'm an old man now. I've been through the political wars since I was still in my teens. I've done my tiny bit to combat the right wingers across the spectrum of their perfidies and predations against minorities, against working people, against common decency, against the raids on Social Security and the assaults on sanity, the environment, and a more viable future on this planet. Like so many others, I was sickened and appalled by the massively wasteful war in Vietnam, the virulent and persistent racism, and the constant rip offs of the treasury. Like so many other people of good will who wanted so desperately to love our country, I was disgusted by Nixon and Kissinger, by the bumbling Gerald Ford who pardoned his boss and told us our "long national nightmare" was over. I was nauseated by Reagan's phony role-playing when he cast himself as an archetypical American hero, affable, likeable, and good natured, though he was a dark and maggoty figure, wriggling with deeply embedded racism of the kind he shared with Nixon in late-night phone calls to that pathologically damaged human being. Like many others, I lent energies to opposing the nuclear buildup of the '80s, opposed wars little and bigger, from the invasion of Grenada to the war in Iraq. I lived through decades being told that the Russians were coming, that they were not our friends, and they were not bearing gifts. I shuddered when Reagan made an on-air joke about launching nukes their way. I hung my head as I watched the dumbing down of the presidency under Reagan, then the bred-in-the-bone privileged stupidity of sub-mediocrities like George H.W. Bush and Dan Quayle, his hand-picked white bread VP, the dim-witted son of money who corrected a grade school kid who had correctly spelled "potato." I opposed Clinton's welfare reform bill, and went nuts when he signed off on repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act that would later help the bankers to pillage the country and bring the entire world to the brink of financial collapse when the big money thieves stole so much they nearly brought down the entire house of cards. And, like so many, I was sickened and appalled by the dim-witted George "Dubya" Bush and his merry band of neo-con henchmen and enablers, many of whom would later turn up again, undiminished, in the Trump administration. It was truly horrifying to see a man like Dick Cheney defending torture after getting us mired in Iraq, needlessly and criminally, even as his old outfit, Halliburton, pocketed billions for doing bad work and endangering American solders in the process. Like so many others, I remember Rumsfeld sending soldiers to Iraq in unarmored Humvees because that crooked administration was so eager to go to war they couldn't wait, excusing the lack of concern for the troops by saying "you go to war with the army you have, not the army you want." This was from a Secretary of "Defense" in charge of the most expensively funded military force in the world, where so much money disappeared without a trace.

And now, along with my fellow baby boomers, I went from diving under desks in grade school to now seeing Russians in the White House woodwork. Don't bogart that joint, my friend, pass it over to me.

I thought we'd seen it all, those of us who've been on this long strange trip since the Cold War. But now it seems like we ain't seen nothin' yet. Despite the craziness we've witnessed, nothing could have prepared us for what we've seen in the past three years, a massive exhibition of mind fuckery far beyond the imagination of the most gifted, addled, or paranoid writer of fiction. It's a screenplay that would have been laughed off the screen, with a cast of characters too bizarre to make it into a Marvel comic book, with a dastardly orange super villain with cotton-candy hair, a murderous Korean shrimp who writes him love letters, and cunning Russians attacking us at the most vulnerable points of our nation's original sins of slavery, racism, and distance from our ideals.


Are we nuts yet? I think I am.

Reporting directly to Donald Trump's personal lawyer, two operators waged a brazen

Two Unofficial US Operatives Reporting To Trump’s Lawyer Privately Lobbied A Foreign Government In A Bid To Help The President Win In 2020
Reporting directly to Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, two operators waged a brazen back-channel campaign that could thrust another foreign country to the center of the next US election.

Two unofficial envoys reporting directly to Donald Trump’s personal lawyer have waged a remarkable back-channel campaign to discredit the president’s rivals and undermine the special counsel’s inquiry into Russian meddling in US elections.

In a whirlwind of private meetings, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — who pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into Republican campaigns and dined with the president — gathered repeatedly with top officials in Ukraine and set up meetings for Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, as they turned up information that could be weaponized in the 2020 presidential race.

The two men urged prosecutors to investigate allegations against the Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden. And they pushed for a probe into accusations that Ukrainian officials plotted to rig the 2016 election in Hillary Clinton’s favor by leaking evidence against Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chair, in what became a cornerstone of the special counsel’s inquiry.

They also waged an aggressive campaign in the United States, staying at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, and meeting with key members of Congress as they joined in a successful push that led to the removal of the ambassador to Ukraine, after she angered their allies in Kiev.

Meanwhile, the two men — who both have troubled financial histories — rose to prominence in Republican circles, meeting with party leaders while injecting hundreds of thousands of dollars into top Republican committees and dozens of candidates’ campaigns.


Have a seat. This is upsetting


YES, COLLUSION Mueller Missed the Crime: Trump's Campaign Coordinated With Russia

Mueller Missed the Crime: Trump’s Campaign Coordinated With Russia
The special counsel will testify before Congress next week. He needs to answer for historic legal and factual errors.

Ever since the release of the Mueller Report, countless commentators have implored everyone to just #ReadtheReport. The problem is not who is reading it—the problem is the report itself, and its many errors.

Robert Mueller made a significant legal error and erroneously cleared President Donald Trump and his campaign of wrongdoing on campaign coordination with Russia. Mueller’s errors meant that, first, he failed to conclude that the Trump campaign criminally coordinated with Russia; second, he failed to indict campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates for felony campaign coordination (see in a concise timeline below); third, the 10 acts of felony obstruction in Volume II fell flat among the general public because it lacked compelling context of these underlying crimes between the campaign and Russia. On top of these errors, the former special counsel said he deliberately wrote the report to be unclear because it would be unfair to make clear criminal accusations against a president.

The bottom line is that the Mueller Report is a failure not because of Congress or because of public apathy, but because it failed to get the law, the facts, or even the basics of writing right. When Mueller testifies before Congress on July 17, he should be pressed on all of this.

The DOJ’s initial appointment explicitly tasked Mueller with investigating campaign “coordination,” and it is not too much to ask that he get the law of “coordination” right. The report stated that “‘coordination’ does not have a settled definition in federal criminal law. We understood coordination to require an agreement—tacit or express.”

However, Congress purposely sought to prevent such narrow interpretations: in 2002, it passed a statute directing that campaign finance regulations “shall not require agreement or formal collaboration to establish coordination.” The Federal Election Commission established the regulations for the implementation of the statute: “Coordinated means made in cooperation, consultation or concert with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate,” with no need to show any kind of agreement.

Outside spending for coordinated communications is an in-kind contribution, and foreign contributions are completely prohibited. And Congress made the criminal penalties unmistakably clear: “Any person who knowingly and willfully commits a violation of any provision of this Act” commits a crime. The Supreme Court upheld these limits in McConnell v. FEC with crucial observations about the functional role of suggestions, rather than agreements: “[E]xpenditures made after a wink or nod often will be as useful to the candidate as cash.” This timeline is full of suggestions far more explicit than winks and nods.

As the Supreme Court acknowledged, this is not about bribery and quid pro quo; it’s about outsourcing a consistent campaign messaging and expenses to known allies. It seems Mueller did not hire any legal experts with experience in campaign finance regulation. Given that this investigation was about campaign crimes, this appears to a revealing oversight with serious consequences.

In addition to ignoring these rules, Mueller also made a major organizational error: Volume I separates the events of Russian hacking from the actions of the Trump campaign. The entire point of a “conspiracy and coordination” investigation was the relationship between the two. The ongoing pattern of signal or invitation with response, of cause-and-effect, gets utterly lost in the hundreds of pages of details, the siloing of each character, and especially in the omissions and the errors.


Seth Abramson Connects the Dots

Seth Abramson Connects the Dots

During this whole Trump election ordeal, there have been several data points that made no sense at all to me. Three in particular have been haunting:

Why would Kushner be put in charge of “Middle East peace”? He had zero experience and zero skills in that area.

Why would Kushner seek to get a secure communication channel that could not be traced by the NSA or CIA?

WTF was going on with that Seychelles meeting that featured a rogue’s gallery of Arabs and Russians, plus everybody’s favorite mercenary, Erik Prince?

Abramson comments on a new NYTimes story. The story seems rather vague, but Abramson is able to connect dots with his own background. Suddenly those three above questions make perfect sense. Here are the points Abramson makes on Twitter:


If Abramson is correct in his inferences, and I think he probably is, suddenly those three questions at the top of this post make sense. Specifically:

Kushner was put in charge of “Middle East peace” not to broker a deal, but to carry out the wishes of these 6 nations that were part of the organized attack on America.

The need for a secure channel becomes obvious, as this is treason beyond anything ever known in this country.

And the Seychelles “rogue’s gallery” is not a collection of rogues after all. It is a meeting of the key players in this attack
Why is this not getting more attention? Even on the NYTimes it is already on the back pages.

Not Impeaching Trump Is Riskier than Impeaching Him

Not Impeaching Trump Is Riskier than Impeaching Him


Impeachment proceedings provide the Democrats the opportunity to establish a compelling narrative of Trump’s extraordinary malfeasance. Such hearings undoubtedly would include first-person accounts from the witnesses on whom Mueller relied, such as former White House Counsel Doug McGahn, detailing Trump’s repeated and felonious abuse of office to obstruct the investigation into Russian interference on his behalf in the 2016 Presidential election. (As Mueller’s report explains, obstruction of justice is committed by an obstructive act, such as firing FBI Director Comey, executed with the intention of obstructing an official proceeding, such as the FBI investigation -- regardless of whether act succeeds, e.g., whether it stops the investigation).

Impeachment hearings also would describe Trump’s numerous covert and discrediting links to the Russian government. Those would include his pursuing a real estate project in Russia while he was running for president and his senior campaign staff meeting with a Russian government agent to secure assistance with his Presidential campaign. Trump repeatedly lied in public to conceal these links. Given the numerous ongoing counter-intelligence investigations pertaining to Russia, and criminal prosecutions spun off by Mueller, it is likely additional evidence of such links would be disclosed in impeachment hearings.

The importance of these covert and discrediting links, regardless of whether they are criminal, is that like the “pee tapes” rumored to be held by the Russians, they provide the Russians leverage over Trump, i.e. the Russians could disclose his secrets. Absent some such leverage; it is difficult to explain Trump’s conduct towards Putin and Russia, such as his destruction of notes held by any American present at his meetings with Putin, and his obsequiousness in Putin’s presence. Few Americans will approve of Trump once he is shown to be, in a sense, “Putin’s poodle.”

While impeachment proceedings likely would show even more grounds for impeachment, such as Trump’s violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause -- an offense akin to bribery -- the bottom line is that impeachment hearings will demonstrate Trump needs to go. The retort that hearings won’t matter, because Trump’s “base,” presumably referring to his typical 40% approval rating, is unshakeable is manifestly wrong. Base is what is solid, and the 40% is not. For example, only 25% of voters strongly approve of Trump’s performance. That suggests a considerable portion of Trump’s supporters, as is typical for those of any president, can be switched.

The Democratic leadership maintains impeachment without removal would mobilize Trump’s base in 2020. Yet, as the political scientist Jeffrey Isaac has observed, Trump’s base is and will remain mobilized by his ceaseless racist and jingoistic incitement, regardless of impeachment. Conversely, impeachment proceedings likely will reduce Trump’s current support, perhaps down to his true base.

Mitch McConnell threatens to block everything if Trump loses in 2020

Mitch McConnell threatens to block everything if Trump loses in 2020
Mitch McConnell is already threatening to bring the country to a screeching halt if voters get rid of Trump.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is threatening to kill popular legislation and policies if voters elect a Democratic president in the 2020 election.

"If I'm still the majority leader in the Senate [in 2020], think of me as the Grim Reaper," McConnell told voters in Owensboro, Kentucky, on Monday. "None of that stuff is going to pass."

That stuff McConnell is so eager to kill? Popular progressive ideas like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All, which would help to clean up the environment and provide even more access to affordable health care. Even if voters reject Trump and the Republican agenda in 2020, McConnell is determined to do what he wants rather than what the voters want.

"I guarantee you that if I'm the last man standing and I'm still the majority leader, it ain't happening," he said. "I can promise you."


Now McConnell is openly stating he will resort to the same tactics again. If America elects a Democratic president, McConnell will do everything in his power to stop the will of the voters. Again.
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