White Trash In The White’s House

If anyone ever asks me, on some future date, why I refuse to call Tr-mp “president,” why I refuse to acknowledge his legitimacy and fitness for the office, why I consider him to have, perhaps permanently, cratered the dignity of the presidency, and why I consider him to represent the worst of America, I will simply point to this picture of him and Ted Nugent:

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Or perhaps I’ll point to this one:

Image result for sarah palin and ted nugent flip off picture of hillary clinton

These are pictures of classless people. And they spent four hours in the White’s House with an even more classless Tr-mp, talking about, according to Ted Nugent, “pretty girls.”

Three years ago, Larry Womack of The Huffington Post wrote this about Nugent:

In fact, in the case of Nugent, we have even come to see alleged child sexual abuse as some sort of eccentricity or harmless vice. Can you imagine anyone else who had been accused of having sex with a 12-year-old, written a song about raping a 13-year-old and adopted a 17-year-old so that he could have sex with her going on to campaign alongside all the most conservative “family values” candidates? […]

Would governors and congressmen hit the campaign trail with that guy? Would they send their children to his “Kamp for Kids” — and professional snipers? What would they say about almost any other man? They wouldn’t call him a creep or a redneck. They’d call him a pedophile.

Instead, Nugent is embraced as some sort of down-home firebrand. He’s a redneck rock star; sex with kids is just part of the package! Sarah Palin says that if a candidate “is good enough for Ted Nugent, he is good enough for me!” Congressmen invite him to the State of the Union.

Besides all that, we have the gun-worshipping, warmongering Nugent’s admission in 1977 that he had an elaborate plan to dodge the Vietnam War draft:

Then two weeks before, I stopped eating any food with nutritional value. I just had chips, Pepsi, beer — stuff I never touched– buttered poop, little jars of Polish sausages, and I’d drink the syrup. I was this side of death. Then a week before, I stopped going to the bathroom. I did it in my pants. Poop, piss, the whole shot. My pants got crusted up.

I don’t have to rehearse all the stupid, nasty, racist, bigoted things that crusty pants Ted Nugent has said, but here are a few of them:

“If Barack Obama becomes the next president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year. Why are you laughing? Do you think that’s funny? That’s not funny at all. I’m serious as a heart attack.”

“I have obviously failed to galvanize and prod, if not shame enough Americans to be ever vigilant not to let a Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN community organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama to weasel his way into the top office of authority in the United States of America.”

“I was in Chicago last week. I was in Chicago and said, “Hey, Obama you might want to suck on one of these you punk.” Obama, he’s a piece of shit, and I told him to suck on my machine gun. Let’s hear it for him. And then I was in New York. I said, “Hey, Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch. Since I’m in California, how about Barbara Boxer, she might want to suck on my machine gun. And Dianne Feinstein, ride one of these you worthless whore. Any questions?”

Those are the words of a man whom Sarah Palin—a classless quitter cynically brought into American politics by a tainted John McCain, thereby helping pave the way for Tr-mpism—embraces and celebrates. Those are the words of a man with whom she proudly stood in the White’s House, in front of a portrait of the former First Lady—the same one Nugent called a “worthless bitch” and suggested she “ride” on his “machine gun”—and mocked Hillary Clinton. And Palin stood there and posed with Ted Nugent in front of that portrait with the permission of Donald Tr-mp, who might have been the one Nugent was referring to when he told the New York Times that someone asked the three of them to “extend their middle fingers beneath the portrait.”

The term “white trash” goes back a long way in American history. It has had a lot of meanings over time. Certainly, somewhere in the extended pedigree of that word Donald Tr-mp and his vulgar, boorish, clownish friends can be found. Alongside the misogyny, the racism, the xenophobia, and general bigotry of these people, there is the simple fact that they are unrefined, unpolished, unsophisticated, ill-bred schmucks who, by their very presence, disgrace what is fast becoming the trashiest house in America’s neighborhood.

The Tr-mp Doctrine? Are You Kidding?

“The Trump doctrine? Don’t do what Obama did” 

—Chris Cillizza, writing for CNN

People forget that we are technically still at war with North Korea. In July of 1953, fighting on the peninsula stopped due to the signing of an armistice agreement that was supposed to “insure a complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peaceful settlement is achieved.” There has been no “final” settlement and there have been plenty of “acts of armed force” since 1953.

In 1956, the old Soviet Union first introduced the North Koreans to nuclear technology, via training its scientists and engineers. The Soviets continued over the years to help Image result for korean peninsula at nightnurse North Korea along in this and in other ways (along with the Chinese). In the late 1950s, under President Eisenhower, the U.S. introduced real nuclear missiles into the mix, which was a abrogation of part of the armistice agreement (click on this link for an interesting look at “How the Korean War Almost Went Nuclear” in 1950, under Truman; for a look at Ike’s mixed views on the use of nukes, read Chapter 12 from Ira Chernus’s “Faith and Fear in the Fifties“).

Since Eisenhower’s actions in the ’50s (George H. W. Bush unilaterally withdrew all tactical nuclear weapons deployed in South Korea in 1991), the biggest worry in the region has been the nuclear issue and whether the North Koreans would become a big-time nuclear power. With the collapse of the Soviet Union after 1989, North Korea essentially lost one of its lifelines. It became poorer, more desperate, and more dangerous. The American Security Project put the situation in these terms:

This begins the rebalancing of power within the North-South Korean dyad later noted as one of the systemic factors driving North Korea’s nuclear program.

Since then, various attempts were made to curb the development of that nuclear program and the testing required. Threats were issued, deals were offered, joint statements were made. But all those things depended on the assumption that there are reliably rational actors on the North Korean side. There is little evidence of that, however. Early in 2013, the North conducted another nuclear test, causing the UN to issue a resolution, complete with sanctions, condemning the test. As the BBC reported back then,

South Korea’s ambassador to the UN, Kim Sook, said it was time for North Korea to “wake up from its delusion” of becoming a nuclear state.

“It can either take the right path toward a bright future and prosperity, or it can take a bad road toward further and deeper isolation and eventual self-destruction,” he said.

US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said the sanctions would “further constrain” North Korea’s ability to develop its nuclear programme.

She warned that the UN would “take further significant actions” if Pyongyang were to carry out another nuclear test.

These responses, the sanctions and the threat of more sanctions, is what people mean when they use the term “strategic patience” toward North Korea. After all, it is either patience or war, a war that would result not just in the deaths of American soldiers stationed in the region (and more soldiers that would be subsequently deployed there), but potentially hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of South Korean civilians living in places like Seoul, which sits about 30 miles away from the border with the North. The Seoul Capital Area, which includes the city of Seoul, is home to around 24 million people, making it the fourth largest metro area in the world. Resuming the war with North Korea would mean certain death for an uncertain number of civilians. Thus, strategic patience.

Since Tr-mp has no experience with patience, strategic or otherwise, the first time we officially heard from this administration on the matter was from a very inexperienced diplomat who also happens to be our Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. He issued a warning in March that our “policy of strategic patience” with North Korea “has ended.” Out came another middle-school tweet from Tr-mp:

North Korea is behaving very badly. They have been “playing” the United States for years. China has done little to help!

On April 9, we found out that an American Navy carrier strike group was headed for the waters near the Korean Peninsula. Tr-mp, sounding like Kim Jong-un, the dangerously wacky kleptocratic criminal running North Korea, told Fox Business Network:

We are sending an armada. Very powerful. We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier. That I can tell you.

“Armada?” Tr-mp was either displaying his extensive knowledge of 16th-century Spanish-English warfare, or he just thought the word “armada” sounded cool. Likely, it was the first time he had uttered the word in his life, unless he used it during his promotions for the History of European Conflicts and Their Affect on Real Estate Acquisitions, a little-known part of the extensive course offerings at Tr-mp University.

In any case, besides his strange use of Spanish words, there have been, of course, the stupid and dangerous Tr-mp tweets. He said on April 11:

I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!

North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.

Those two tweets sound like a teenage hacker got into Tr-mp’s Twitter account and, with Lee Greenwood’s godawful song playing in the background, decided to exercise juvenile notions of toughness, sort of like using the word armada to describe a U.S. carrier group. But, no, those were Tr-mp’s words. And they constitute threats, even if they are playground threats. The New York Times, being the New York Times, referred to this sort of dopey diction as “intemperate talk.” Well, okay. Whatever you want to call it, they are threats. The Times editorialized the obvious:

It would be risky for Mr. Trump to let overconfidence and bombast, expressed in tweets and public statements, box him into some kind of showdown with the North’s ruthless leader, Kim Jong-un, who has displayed similarly macho traits. South Korea, Japan and even Russia have urged both sides to avoid a devastating miscalculation.

Mike Pence, lapdog for the “broad-shouldered” testosteronic Tr-mp, is obviously not afraid of “devastating miscalculation.” Echoing Tillerson, he told the world, while standing on the South Korean side of the demilitarized zone:

All options are on the table to achieve the objectives and ensure the stability of the people of this country…There was a period of strategic patience but the era of strategic patience is over.

But that wasn’t the scariest thing Pence said. This was:

Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan. North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region.

I don’t know about you, but a man-crushed Pence using Tr-mp’s “strength and resolve” to challenge the crazy leader of North Korea doesn’t bring me much comfort that this thing will end well (even if we remember that Tr-mp ordered that cruise missile attack on Syria while having chocolate cake at Mar-A-Lago and he had nothing to do with the MOAB use in Afghanistan). So, we have the image, broadcast widely, of a tough Pence “staring down” the North Koreans at the demilitarized zone while offering tough Tr-mp talk, but then in comes our National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster, who is supposed to be the adult in this administration. It was widely reported what he said on ABC on Sunday, during an interview with Martha Raddatz: “this problem is coming to a head.” Uh-oh. That short quote makes it sound like our strategic patience really has run out. War seems inevitable if North Korea doesn’t give up on its nuclear program, an issue that’s been around since the 1950s. Tr-mp’s recent statement that “North Korea is a problem, the problem will be taken care of,” wasn’t just bluster.

Except here is what McMaster said in context:

RADDATZ: You know, you sound very confident. President Trump of course sounds very confident. But one final question on this: every president since Bill Clinton has said the U.S. will not tolerate a nuclear armed North Korea, and North Korea has only grown stronger in their capabilities. So why do you think President Trump will have a different outcome?

MCMASTER: Well, as you mentioned, this is a problem that has been passed down from multiple administrations. But our president, I think, it’s really the consensus with the president, our key allies in the regions — Japan and South Korea in particular, but also the Chinese leadership — that this problem is coming to a head. And so it’s time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully.

And so we’re going to rely on our allies like we always do, but we’re also going to have to rely on Chinese leadership. I mean, North Korea is very vulnerable to pressure from the Chinese. Eighty percent of North Korea’s trade comes from China. All of their energy requirements are fulfilled by China.

So in the coming weeks, months, I think there’s a great opportunity for all of us — all of us who are really under the threat now of this unpredictable regime — to take action short of armed conflict, so we can avoid the worst.

Now, if you look back at the history of our relations with North Korea on the issue of their obtaining nuclear weapons that actually work, what McMaster said sounded very much like what everyone else has said. In other words, what he said sounded very much like strategic patience. Earlier in that interview he said about “Tr-mp’s aggressive tweets”:

MCMASTER: I think it should make clear to the North Korean regime that it is in their best interest to stop the development of these weapons, to stop the development of these missiles, and to denuclearize the peninsula. And so I think while it’s unclear — and we want to — do not want to telegraph in any way how we’ll respond to certain incidents, it’s clear that the president is determined not to allow this kind of capability to threaten the United States. And our president will take action that is in the best interest of the American people. […]

I mean, what Kim Jong-Un is doing is a threat to all people in the region and globally as well. I mean, this is someone who has said not only does he want to develop a nuclear weapon, but he wants to use it to coerce others. He’s said that he was willing to proliferate nuclear weapons once he develops them. And so this a grave threat to all people.

Again, those words could have come from George H. W. Bush or Bill Clinton or George W. Bush or Barack Obama. All of them recognized that no matter which little freak is running North Korea that a nuclear North is “a grave threat to all people.” That is why there has been a lot of tough talk over the years but a lot tougher practice of strategic patience. McMaster seems to know the value of that patience. His boss, though, doesn’t. His boss, an unhinged tweeter, thinks he can tweet his way through this tough problem, perhaps break his adversary’s will with words like “armada” or threats like “North Korea is looking for trouble.” But on the other side, there is Kim Jong-Un, himself also clearly possessing a basketful of personality disorders. He just might read Tr-mp’s tweets both literally and seriously, not merely seeing them as the rantings of a seventh-grader going through a tough, late puberty. Calling the North Korean regime “unpredictable,” McMaster said of Kim:

This is someone who has demonstrated his brutality by murdering his own brother, by murdering others in his family, by imprisoning large numbers of people in horrible conditions for no reason, for political reasons.

Tweeting stupid comments aimed at playing a game with someone like Kim Jong-un, someone who does appear to do things “for no reason,” or at least no discernible Image result for kim jong unrational reason, is a dangerous game. Conducting diplomacy around the North Korea nuclear problem is hard enough for the few professionals still around the State Department who are trying. It’s almost impossible to conduct such diplomacy when an amateurish, even childish, man in the White’s House has his finger on a keyboard that can provoke a military crisis in an instant.

Rather than act like they are fast running away from the doctrine of strategic patience, when there appears to be no better place to actually run to, perhaps the adults in this administration ought to demand of the “president” that he practice some strategic silence on Twitter.

Before someone, a lot of someones, get hurt, if the Korean peninsula catches fire.

Friedrich Nietzsche On Tr-mp

“Being is an empty fiction.”

—Nietzsche

If you’ve ever taken a philosophy course or read an introductory book on philosophy you know something about Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic philosopher known for his doctrine that “change” is the underlying reality of the universe, captured in this famous statement:

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.

The great 19th-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche affirmed this observation:

Heraclitus will remain eternally right with his assertion that being is an empty fiction.  The “apparent” world is the only one: the “true” world is merely added by a lie.

As we have seen lately, Tr-mp and his policy positions are a river flowing. He is not the same politician today that he was year ago. He is not the same politician today he was two weeks ago. And we know he will be yet a different politician two weeks hence. There is no “true” Tr-mp, nothing to hold on to, nothing about him that is real except his mindless modulation and mutation, his careless contraction-expansion-contraction, his numbing novelty. Tr-mp is an empty fiction.

We have now watched him metaphorically stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and murder his previous assertions about NATO, kill his prior criticisms of China’s currency manipulation, shoot down his past promise to stay out of Assad’s business, assassinate his old position on the Export-Import bank, and liquidate his past dislike for Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen and turn it into love. Oh, and he now has a gun aimed at Steven Bannon, who helped get him elected but has lately been in the way of “family” business.

Today we find out that, after holding numerous and contradictory positions on healthcare and the health insurance system, Tr-mp may have a new plan:

Tr-mp threatens to undermine Obamacare to get Democrats to negotiate

That ABC News article says:

Since the failure of the GOP health care bill in the House nearly three weeks ago, President Donald Tr-mp has suggested letting Obamacare explode to bring Democrats to the negotiating table.

Now, he’s threatening to push the detonator.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal Wednesday, Trump suggested the federal government would hold back key subsidy payments made to health insurers offering insurance to low-income Americans.

“Obamacare is dead next month if it doesn’t get that money,” Trump said. “I haven’t made my viewpoint clear yet. I don’t want people to get hurt.”

He doesn’t “want people to get hurt.” That’s today’s Tr-mp. Tomorrow’s Tr-mp could override today’s Tr-mp and we could see what Republicans have wanted to see and tried hard to accomplish ever since the Affordable Care Act was passed: the murder of Obamacare and the collateral damage that will come with that killing. But don’t bet on that happening. Tr-mp told the Journal the purpose of his threat:

What I think should happen and will happen is the Democrats will start calling me and negotiating.

The alleged master of The Art of the Deal (a book he continues to get credit for writing even though he did not write it) thinks he might set himself up for a big deal with Democrats, who being the good-hearted folks they are, won’t let Tr-mp hurt millions of Americans and will come running to work things out with him and the Republicans. If nothing else proves Tr-mp has no talent for deal-making, it is this pitiful and quite nasty attempt to hold millions of Americans hostage to get what he and Paul Ryan want. Jonathan Chait explains why this is a dumb political strategy:

If the exchanges collapse, the public backlash will redound to the benefit of the opposition party. Democrats may have a strong humanitarian rationale for preserving the system, but their political interest runs in exactly the opposite direction. Trump is threatening Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to meet his demands or else he will give them a majority in Congress.

This whole thing is insufferably stupid. We have a president who is lost in the complexities of governing, who is facing an ocean of problems without a seaworthy ship. To move from philosophy to literature, Stephen Crane, in his most famous short story, “The Open Boat,” wrote:

A particular danger of the sea is the fact that after successfully getting through one wave, you discover that there is another behind it. The next wave is just as nervously anxious and purposeful to overturn boats.

Image result for ocean wavesIf only Tr-mp could figure out, like the characters in Crane’s story, that the waves he faces, the issues that face each and every occupant of the White’s House, are not really out to get him, not bent on overturning his boat. They are simply problems to confront and, if possible, solve. And they should be confronted without threatening to hurt millions of Americans just so Tr-mp can make a deal, just so Tr-mp can claim a win, just so Tr-mp can prove he is more than an empty fiction.

But he’s not. He is Tr-mp.

CNN’s Jeff Zucker And The Election of Tr-mp

Every now and then I post a short piece on this blog just in case the world blows up and the only thing left on what’s left of the Internet is this blog. I want future historians to know who the good guys and bad guys were, at least as far as I’m concerned.

On the day an ultra-reactionary named Neil Gorsuch, forty-nine years old, becomes a life-long justice on the Supreme Court, my in-case-the-world-blows-up entry comes courtesy of The Atlantic in an article by Derek Thompson (“The Donald Trump Show Is Eating Television”). If you are like me, you still can’t believe Donald Tr-mp is pretending to be our president. You still can’t believe a man so unfit for the job, so unfit for the job in so many ways, is nevertheless making decisions, signing orders, shaping policies, and is the face of the United States around the world.

Someone, besides the deluded or misinformed or frustrated or tribalistic voters who put him and his kleptocratic family and cronies in office—via a strange, anachronistic, undemocratic electoral system that has twice rewarded the popular vote loser in the last five elections—has to be responsible for Tr-mp sitting in the White’s House, right? Right. And that someone is a man named Jeff Zucker. Here are the first three paragraphs of Derek Thompson’s enlightening piece for The Atlantic:

In the years before the 2016 election, cable news was approaching a demographic cliff and an existential crisis. Average primetime viewership on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC had declined by about a third between 2008 and 2014. The median age of each channel’s viewers had crept into the late-60s or early 70s, as younger consumers turned to websites and social-media feeds for their daily news morsels.

But in 2015, Donald Trump descended an escalator, a slow-motion meteorite crashing into the earth with biosphere-altering potential. One cable-news channel immediately recognized how the impact could change the landscape of cable news and politics.

Image result for jeff zuckerCNN president Jeff Zucker conspicuously transformed his network into the 24-hour Donald Trump Show. Rivals scoffed, but the decision paid off. The network’s primetime viewership rose 38 percent in 2015. Meanwhile in that same period, Fox News’ audience flatlined, and MSNBC’s primetime viewership actually declined. As Jonathan Mahler writes in The New York Times Magazine, Zucker was perfectly positioned for this moment, given his familiarity with Trump’s telegenic antics. As the former president of NBC Entertainment, Zucker had broadcast “The Apprentice,” overseeing a tabloid villain’s journey to boardroom hero.

As you can see, and as you probably already figured out, one of the biggest reasons we have Tr-mp is because of corporate media greed, which spread to other cable news outlets. And, as The Atlantic reminds us for the record, “Zucker was the first executive to run the Trump Show all day, every day.”

Back in 2010, New York Times columnist and Clinton hater Maureen Dowd wrote a column on Jeff Zucker about his failures in the television management business and how he always “failed upwards,” in the words of a TV writer Dowd quoted. Zucker’s gigantic failure as president and CEO of NBC Universal—NBC went from first to last while he was in charge—was a focus of Dowd’s piece. She quoted “a honcho at another network” as saying,

Zucker is a case study in the most destructive media executive ever to exist. You’d have to tell me who else has taken a once-great network and literally destroyed it.

It’s one thing to play a part in destroying a television network. It’s quiet another to play a part in taking a once-great country and turning it into a place that a television-tabloid creature like Tr-mp can rule. If there are history books in the future, and providing we have a future in which those books can exist, Jeff Zucker’s name will appear in the sad chapter written about the 2016 election. His name and Tr-mp’s name are forever linked.

How 59 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles Saved The World—And Made Tr-mp A Hero

I listened to thousands and thousands of words from hosts and guests on MSNBC this morning. There was Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Bob Woodward, George Will, John McCain, Marco Rubio, David Ignatius and numerous other voices. Here is what I learned after all the talk from politicians and “experts”:

1. Tr-mp is now a hero among our Sunni “allies” like Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

2. Tr-mp’s domestic poll numbers will certainly go up now—but that had absolutely nothing at all to do with his decision to bomb Syria and possibly start yet another U.S. war in the Middle East. Oh, no. Tr-mp had a genuine change of heart after seeing those pictures of poisoned kids. This had nothing to do with his historically low approval numbers. And Tr-mp has a new-found strength. He can “reset” his administration. He now has a chance to win the hearts of the American people. Those 59 cruise missiles not only blew up an airfield, they apparently destroyed our memories of just how deranged Tr-mp is and how the Russians helped put him in power. Can’t wait for the next poll to come out and see how much damage those missiles did to our collective brain.

3. By bombing one airfield in Syria, Tr-mp fixed all the problems Obama created with his failure to bomb Syria after all that “red line” talk in 2013 and all of his reluctance to get us caught up in another war. By God, the world will change now that Tr-mp has fired off 59 cruise missiles. China will respect us. North Korea will take notice. Russia’s Putin, who we were told by John McCain, respects “power” and is a “pragmatist,” will begin to look at the United States differently now. Barack Obama, who apparently is responsible for every bad thing that has happened in the world since Moses was a baby, is gone and “there’s a new sheriff in town.” And this new sheriff has cruise missiles and he ain’t afraid to use ’em.

4. Speaking of McCain, apparently Tr-mp’s national security team is McCain’s dream team because he gets to talk with them all the time and they listen. Which means, of course, that John McCain may get to be POTUS after all and he may get his war with Syria that both he and Lindsey Graham have wanted for some time now. McCain characterized last night’s bombing as “the end of the beginning.” More tough action must follow. He never told us, though, just how many Americans should die in the war he’s been aching to fight for years. Or how long we would be there fighting that war. Or how much it might cost. Or whether Congress should, uh, authorize such a war.

5. Bob Woodward, whose mind has deteriorated with age I suppose, used the opportunity this morning to tell us how engaged Tr-mp has been (!) with states like Egypt and Saudi Arabia and so on. It is part of Tr-mp’s broad strategy (!), Woodward suggested, to change the dynamics of the Middle East mess (again, that Obama created with his fecklessness). Woodward and others on the panel this morning believe this Tr-mpian strategy (!) and the bombing last night will give new confidence to the Sunni players that the U.S. can be a “reliable partner” and they may now be willing to “step up” and get involved in the mess.

6. Meanwhile, there’s “the mess” in the Middle East. I heard thousands and thousands and thousands of words this morning—praise of Tr-mp, speculation, more praise of Tr-mp, analysis, more praise of Tr-mp—all based, as I said, on the unchallenged premise that Barack Obama’s weakness did much damage to the world and that Tr-mp’s bombing Image result for tomahawk missilesof Syria, his willingness to show that when he says someone has crossed a line, by God, they will pay a price for it. All those words I heard in some form or another, but, amazingly, I did not hear one word, not one single word, about the one action that helped, more than any other thing, get us into this mess in the first place. In all the talk about a “destabilized” Middle East, in all the talk about an emboldened and powerful Iran, there was not one mention of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney starting, on false pretenses, a war with Iraq, a war which did much of the destabilizing and caused many of the problems we see today. Not a word. Nothing. Again, it is as if those 59 cruise missiles destroyed significant parts of our collective memory. “The mess” is all Obama’s fault and Tr-mp is now the man who has gone a long way in fixing it by lobbing a few missiles at Shayrat Air Base in Syria.

7. Finally, just to clear things up, let’s talk about that 2013 decision by Obama—mentioned countless times last night and this morning on all the cable news shows—not to bomb Syria, not to do what Tr-mp did last night without congressional approval. First, things are a lot different today than they were then. A lot has happened in those four years, including hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of refugees (which Tr-mp still doesn’t want to bring to the U.S.). Second, there is Congress. As Sebastian Murdock reminded us this morning, all the giddy congressman and Senators praising Tr-mp’s actions last night had their chance to weigh in when it mattered in 2013, after President Obama decided not to take unilateral action himself and instead wanted Congress to also own what might have happened if he had bombed Syria. Murdock wrote:

In 2013, when a sarin nerve gas attack left more than 1,400 dead outside Damascus, President Barack Obama went to Congress to get approval to strike.

In a whip count from ThinkProgress, 183 Republicans were against bombing the country. Only 12 Republicans, including then-House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), sided with the president to launch a strike. Ultimately, Congress did not appear to approve the strike, with 243 Congressional members swaying towards voting “No.” Obama ultimately decided to postpone the vote.

Murdock also reminded us of how Tr-mp, the Woodwardian strategic genius he is, felt about the matter in 2013. In August, Tr-mp tweeted:

What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval.

Well, there obviously was no prior approval from Congress to bomb Syria last night. But there is plenty of praise today, especially from those who didn’t want any part of the decision four years ago. Murdock included this gem:

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) was one of the members of Congress who was against Obama’s plan. But he didn’t seem to have much to say in response to the news of Trump’s strike:

chaffeetz tweet on bombing

It’s amazing how the world works. Or how it doesn’t.

Susan Rice To The Rescue

“Susan Rice is the Typhoid Mary of the Obama administration foreign policy.”

Senator Tom Cotton, Republican from Arkansas

 

Now that Susan Rice, former National Security Advisor for perhaps the last sane occupant of the White’s House we will ever have, has spoken (“I leaked nothing to nobody”), it is time to get a few things straight.

Image result for susan rice on andrea mitchell todayOne thing is the obvious, the expression of which is sad for the country but nevertheless true: Donald Tr-mp is dangerously unhinged. I have said that so many times and in so many ways that I know some people get tired of hearing it, but it is the first thing to understand about the dire situation our country is in at this existential moment. The man pretending to be our legitimate president is nuts.

The second thing to understand is that the dangerously unhinged man in the White’s House has slandered good people both before he got elected and since. He has accused President Obama of a very serious crime, with absolutely no evidence. He has used his Twitter account to essentially accuse Susan Rice of a very serious crime, of which there is also exactly no evidence. He simply has no problem believing the serial IQ killers at Fox and Friends over his own intelligence agencies. Nor does he have any problem believing any other right-wing conspiracy kook who happens to write something favorable about him, or unfavorable about someone he doesn’t like, or write something that might, in his twisted mind, validate his paranoia and temporarily soothe his pathological insecurities.

The third thing to understand, and perhaps most disturbing of all, is that now Tr-mp has some Republicans in Congress aggressively coming to his rescue, offering up the possibility that his slanderous accusations against both Obama and Rice have some credibility.  Senator Rand Paul, perhaps one of the most despicable senators in the Senate, if you don’t count Mitch McConnell, tweeted:

Smoking gun found! Obama pal and noted dissembler Susan Rice said to have been spying on Trump campaign.
https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-04-03/top-obama-adviser-sought-names-of-trump-associates-in-intel 

Of course there is no evidence for that. All there is evidence for is that Rice was doing her job as the National Security Advisor, by going through proper channels of “unmasking” the names of Tr-mp transition people in the intelligence reports who were having conversations with Russians, so she could better understand what was going on. There was nothing unusual about this, as many people in the intelligence community have publicly acknowledged. In any case, the very columnist Paul linked to contradicted what Paul (and Tr-mp) have slanderously tweeted. Eli Lake wrote in his article:

Rice’s requests to unmask the names of Trump transition officials do not vindicate Trump’s own tweets from March 4 in which he accused Obama of illegally tapping Trump Tower. There remains no evidence to support that claim.

Remember, a delusional Rand Paul tweeted: “Smoking gun found! Obama pal and noted dissembler Susan Rice said to have been spying on Trump campaign.” That accusation is utter bullshit. And, as I said, it is slander. But apparently, after you spend the weekend massaging the putter of Agent Orange on the golf course or in the clubhouse after the match, slander in the name of Tr-mp becomes much easier to commit.

The last thing to understand about all this mess, at least for now, is what former Ambassador Michael McFaul said on MSNBC today. He worked three years for the National Security Council before he became ambassador to Moscow. He said he has dealt “with a lot of classified information.” And he said, echoing what Susan Rice said herself:

The reason we’re talking about this is that White House officials in the Tr-mp administration leaked classified information about Susan Rice asking to mask or unmask. Now, I just listened to a House Intelligence Committee—I heard many, many people speak for hours about how leaking is bad. I agree with that and I want to make sure your viewers understand we would not be talking about this were it not for the fact that Tr-mp administration officials leaked classified information.

What McFaul said is essential to understanding the deflection going on here. There must be something serious going on, something criminally serious going on, with the Tr-mp-Russia investigation that would require such extraordinary means to try to protect Agent Orange, or someone or several someones in the weird gaggle of garish gangsters that comprised his transition team. It will take some time to find out the details, but the outline is becoming clearer every day:

1) Tr-mp is crazy and he and many of those around him are corrupt.

2) Too many Republicans are willing to overlook both the craziness and the corruption, and,

3) the game is to divert attention away from the craziness and corruption by invoking the name of the most evil villain known to Republicans, aside from Hillary Clinton and Barack Hussein Obama: the demonic Susan Rice.

The truth, eventually, will come out, despite attempts by the liars in the White’s House, their enablers in Congress, and the conservative media complex spreading propaganda all in support of a man and his Putinesque posse who are hell-bent on using the presidency and its trappings to make as much money as they can before they are thrown out of power, either by the force of law, or by the judgment of We the People.

Agent Orange: Putin’s Greatest Weapon

CNN’s big story yesterday (“US officials: Info suggests Trump associates may have coordinated with Russians“) began this way:

The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Tr-mp communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, US officials told CNN.

This is partly what FBI Director James Comey was referring to when he made a bombshell announcement Monday before Congress that the FBI is investigating the Tr-mp campaign’s ties to Russia, according to one source.

The story made clear the obvious: “The FBI cannot yet prove that collusion took place, but the information suggesting collusion is now a large focus of the investigation, the officials said.” It is obvious the FBI cannot yet prove such collusion, because if it could, charges would be recommended. But something else is obvious to me. Look at this paragraph from the story, referencing FBI Director James Comey’s appearance before Congress earlier this week:

In his statement on Monday Comey said the FBI began looking into possible coordination between Tr-mp campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives because the bureau had gathered “a credible allegation of wrongdoing or reasonable basis to believe an American may be acting as an agent of a foreign power.”

What is obvious here is that we already know at least one American who has acted as “an agent of a foreign power.” His name is Donald J. Tr-mp. The foreign power is Russia. The leader of Russia is Vladimir Putin. Tr-mp has said quite a lot about both Putin and Russia. Here are some examples:

“Look at Putin—what he’s doing with Russia—I mean, you know, what’s going on over there. I mean this guy has done—whether you like him or don’t like him—he’s doing a great job in rebuilding the image of Russia and also rebuilding Russia period. Forget about image.” (October 15, 2007)

“Putin has big plans for Russia. He wants to edge out its neighbors so that Russia can dominate oil supplies to all of Europe. Putin has also announced his grand vision: the creation of a ‘Eurasian Union’ made up of former Soviet nations that can dominate the region. I respect Putin and the Russians but cannot believe our leader allows them to get away with so much…Hats off to the Russians…”(December, 2011)

“I do have a relationship [with Putin], and I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today. He’s probably very interested in what you and I am saying today, and I’m sure he’s going to be seeing it in some form.” (November, 2013)

“I believe Putin will continue to re-build the Russian Empire. He has zero respect for Obama or the U.S.!” (March 21, 2014, three days after Putin annexed Crimea)

“Well, he’s done an amazing job of taking the mantle. And he’s taken it away from the president, and you look at what he’s doing. And so smart. When you see the riots in a country because they’re hurting the Russians, okay, ‘We’ll go and take it over.’ And he really goes step by step by step, and you have to give him a lot of credit. Interestingly, I own the Miss Universe pageant. We just left Moscow. He could not have been nicer. He was so nice and so everything. But you have to give him credit that what he’s doing for that country in terms of their world prestige is very strong.” (April 12, 2014, less than a month after Putin annexed Crimea)

“They say it wasn’t them. It may have been their weapon, but they didn’t use it, they didn’t fire it, they even said the other side fired it to blame them. I mean to be honest with you, you’ll probably never know for sure.” (October 14, 2015, responding to U.S. intelligence assertions “with confidence” that pro-Russian separatists shot down a commercial airliner over Ukraine, killing 298 people)

“I will tell you that, in terms of leadership, [Putin’s] getting an ‘A’ and our president is not doing so well.” (September 29, 2015)

“It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.” (December 17, 2015)

“If he says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him. I’ve already said, he is really very much of a leader. I mean, you can say, ‘Oh, isn’t that a terrible thing’ — the man has very strong control over a country.” (September 7, 2016)

This next one deserves a video clip. It has to do with the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Federal Security Service (FSB) officer in Russia who turned on his superiors because he found links between Russian government officials and Russian mafia groups. After he fled to London and obtained asylum, he worked as a consultant for British intelligence. He also wrote about how the FSB used murder and mayhem in Moscow to make Vladimir Putin more popular, after Putin was corruptly handed power by a corrupt Boris Yeltsin. In November of 2006, Litvinenko was almost certainly poisoned to death by the FSB, on the orders of Putin, according to an official British inquiry. Technically, and gruesomely, he suffered cardiac arrest resulting from acute radiation syndrome, which he got from ingesting a fatal dose of polonium 210. Here’s how Tr-mp responded to that British inquiry in January of 2016:

“I don’t know if he did it,” said Tr-mp. “The fact is he hasn’t been convicted of anything,” said Tr-mp. “Many people say it wasn’t him,” said Tr-mp. “So who knows who did it?” asked Tr-mp. This man, so willing to give a killer named Putin the benefit of every doubt, is the same man who viciously and publicly demanded the execution of five teenagers, four black and one Hispanic, who were accused of raping a jogger in New York’s Central Park in April of 1989. The five kids were convicted. But it turns out they were falsely convicted, as DNA evidence later showed. They spent more than ten years in prison for a crime they did not commit. Less than a month after the alleged rape, and more than a year before the trials, Tr-mp paid for a full-page advertisement in all four major New York newspapers: “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” shouted the headline on the now infamous ad in 1989.  As Jamil Smith wrote:

Image result for BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!Rather than call for civic healing, Trump’s ad called for blood. Indulging in a classic myth about law enforcement and ignoring the more systemic causes of crime, Trump wrote that “if the punishment is strong, the attacks on innocent people will stop.” Calling for enhanced police powers, he then scoffed at the idea that compassion should be shown toward youth in urban areas who commit offenses. “I no longer want to understand their anger,” his ad reads. “I want them to understand our anger. I want them to be afraid.”

You can see how Tr-mp has a Putinesque affection for the use of fear as a means of manipulating and controlling the population. After all, it is partly how he managed to sneak into the White’s House. Even after the Central Park Five were exonerated, even after the city of New York reached a $41 million settlement with them, Tr-mp would not budge from his original, fact-free, authoritarian position:

They admitted they were guilty. The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same.

Even in the face of absolutely contrary evidence Tr-mp continued slandering these men. Yet, he will not speak ill of a real killer, Vladimir Putin. That makes it easy to see why people like Slate’s William Saletan calls Tr-mp “Russia’s press secretary.” About Tr-mp’s peculiar affection for all things Russian, Saletan wrote:

Tr-mp has engaged in this behavior all along. He has exploited the material Russia hacked and leaked. He has minimized Russia’s misconduct. He has disputed, and often scorned, evidence of its guilt. He has ignored U.S. intelligence. He has bragged about Putin’s admiration of him. He has mocked Democrats and Republicans who side with U.S. intelligence against Russia.

All of this, and much more, can plausibly be related to what the Russians are doing here and elsewhere around the world. They are weaponizing information, particularly false information. And they are using weaponized information to muck up politics in democratic countries. It is political warfare. And it is quite obvious that Tr-mp has been their best asset, their most effective information weapon. He has praised Wikileaks (“I love Wikileaks,” he said in October of 2016 and at other times), which Russia successfully used as an information weapon against Hillary Clinton. According to ThinkProgress, Tr-mp entioned Wikileaks 164 times during the last month of the election. On October 12 he said:

And one of the big advantages of me having a rather large microphone, and meaning a lot of people are listening, is that I can talk about Wikileaks and we are live, it’s amazing. Boom boom boom.

Boom boom boom. Those are Putin’s information bombs going off, detonated by Donald Tr-mp, who a few weeks later bombed his followers’ faith in our democratic experiment:

The Wikileaks revelations have exposed criminal corruption at the highest levels of our government.

All of this is bad enough, all of this unpresidents Tr-mp, all of this makes him illegitimate. But I still can’t get over what he said on July 27 of last year, which I will publish again:

I have nothing to do with Putin. I’ve never spoken to him. I know nothing about him other than he will respect me. He doesn’t respect our president. If it is Russia, which it probably is not, nobody knows who it is.

But if it is Russia, it’s really bad for a different reason. Because it shows how little respect they have for our country when they would hack into a major party and get everything. But it would be interesting to see — I will tell you this, Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens. That will be next.

Somewhere around the time Tr-mp spoke these quasi-treasonous words, the FBI began its investigation into possible ties between the Tr-mp campaign and Russia. You can talk about Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Roger Stone, and anyone else you want to in connection with this distressing and dangerous affair. But at the center of it all is Donald J. Tr-mp, the man who attacks anyone and anything with little or no evidence, but cannot find it within his disordered brain to call Vladimir Putin what he is: an authoritarian killer who is doing his best to undermine democratic governance in order to revive a Russian Empire. And the reason Tr-mp won’t call out Putin is because the ruthless Russian killer helped make Donald Tr-mp president and Donald Tr-mp knows it.

As usual, the Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, put all this in its proper context:

Many of the Tr-mp campaign’s personnel, including the President himself, have ties to Russia and Russian interests. This is, of course, no crime. On the other hand, if the Tr-mp campaign or anyone associated with it aided or abetted the Russians, it would not only be a serious crime, it would also represent one of the most shocking betrayals of democracy in history.

As far as I’m concerned, Tr-mp has aided and abetted the Russians. The moral record is clear, even as the legal record remains in doubt. All you have to do is open your mind to the stunning fact that we have a man in the White’s House who has acted, deliberately or due to a defect in his mental health, “as an agent of a foreign power”—Agent Orange.

Agent Orange.jpg

Tr-mp Leaks When He Speaks

Among the emerging Democratic Party stars in Congress is Rep. Adam Schiff, of California. He’s the Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee and has been a leading anti-Tr-mp voice, speaking calmly and intelligently and authoritatively, Adam Schiffparticularly when it comes to Tr-mp’s unhinged tweets about Obama’s nonexistent wiretapping of Tr-mp Tower. The congressman has put a lot of pressure on his Republican colleagues to take the danger of Tr-mp seriously.

Just this morning, Schiff pointed out something Tr-mp said on Fox last night that I confess I missed the first time:

I just want people to know, the CIA was hacked, and a lot of things taken — that was during the Obama years.

Schiff pointed out that Tr-mp has the power “to declassify whatever he wants,” which, I might add, includes anything and everything if he completely loses his mind—just one fact among many that makes Tr-mp too dangerous to contemplate sometimes. And because Schiff cannot declassify anything he wants, he was limited to accusing Tr-mp of only possibly blurting out classified stuff:

In his effort to once again blame Obama, the president [sic] appears to have discussed something that, if true and accurate, would otherwise be considered classified information.

Schiff can’t confirm Tr-mp revealed classified information because Tr-mp could have Jeff Sessions and the FBI throw him in the hoosegow, thus the appears to have discussed…classified information.” Schiff is no dummy.

In any case, the Democratic congressman added a little jab that he could get away with:

For anyone else to do what the president [sic] may have done, would constitute what he deplores as “leaks.”

I think it is accurate to say that much of what comes out of Tr-mp’s disordered mind could be fairly characterized as “leaks.” Like when the oil pan gasket on  your car is damaged and oil gets all over your driveway. In that case, you can either get the damned thing replaced and stop the leaks or you can put a piece of cardboard under your car to stop the leaks from mucking up your driveway.

As we all can see, the gasket on the mind of this 70-year-old man is beyond repair. We need a giant piece of cardboard, if we are to keep the dangerous orange goo off the country’s pavement. The leaking can’t be stopped, whether we are talking about nutty conspiracy theories involving Obama or about obviously true events like the hacking of the CIA (or a leak by a contractor), the revelation of which, you will notice, Tr-mp used to attack Obama rather than his friends at Wikileaks, who posted the stolen material online.

A patriotic American would think Tr-mp, if he were going to openly confirm to the world the legitimacy of the security breach at the CIA, would attack the Russian-loving Julian Assange, who is acting as an agent of the Russians. But nope. Assange and Wikileaks—and the Russians—have all done too much for Agent Orange. He is in their debt every day he sits in America’s driveway and leaks.

“Your Microwave Can See You Naked,” And Other Tales From “How To Create And Exploit Fear And Grow Rich And Powerful”

“There was an article this week that talked about how you can surveil someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets, any number of different ways. And microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera. So we know that that is just a fact of modern life.”

—Kellyanne Conway, counselor to Tr-mp

Every day we see and hear almost nothing but propaganda, some of it strange and dark, from Tr-mp and his regime and his enablers in Congress. Trashing the Congressional Budget Office’s estimates of killing Obamacare is just one example (the CBO, by the way, is headed by a conservative Republican economist and critic of Obamacare). Another example is the attempt by Sean Spicer to reinterpret what Tr-mp meant when he accused President Obama of a crime. There are countless cases of such surreal attempts to ignore or, more often, invent an alternative reality.

Some people call this stuff gaslighting. Some call it deflection. Others call it simple obfuscation, designed to draw attention away from the Russian scandal or the Tr-mp family grifting and Emoluments Clause violations or the administrative incompetence—or Tr-mp’s personality disorders. But because I spent more than 20 years listening to talk radio—as a conservative—I know exactly what it is we see and hear. It’s an attempt to radicalize Americans, at least enough of them to make a good living, or in terms of Image result for microwave and conwaypolitics, to retain political power and achieve reactionary policy goals. These people sell conspiracies, they peddle half- and quarter-truths as gospel. They tell lies. They radicalize Americans so they can use them, either to get their money or their votes.

And I have bad news. It works.

We can trace nearly all of what we see today back to Rush Limbaugh. He went national with his divisive, propagandistic, profitable radio show in 1988. I was there with him from the beginning. Every day. First it was two hours, then it went to three. I was a believer. I was a dittohead. I had been educated in conservatism by intellectuals like William F. Buckley and George Will and Joseph Sobran. But I was, to tell the truth, radicalized in my formerly rabid conservatism by Limbaugh.

It was the Limbaugh model—distort and skew the news to promote far-right politics and demonize Democrats—upon which Roger Ailes, who once tried to make Rush a television star in the 1990s, based the idea of Fox “News.” Debuting in 1996, Ailes’ Fox enterprise became the number one cable “news” channel in 2002 and has remained there ever since. It turns out, as Ailes learned from Limbaugh’s financial success, that disseminating disinformation and propaganda, turning the Democratic Party into an America-hating institution, and radicalizing conservatives, is a lucrative business. According to the Pew Research Center, Fox “News” enjoyed a profit in 2015 of some $1.5 billion, well ahead of CNN’s $381 million and MSNBC’s $227 million.

About the same time Fox “News” was beginning its televised assault on the truth, hijacking journalism for the radicalization of the right, a former 7-Eleven night clerk and telemarketer named Matt Drudge began to make his mark on the Internet. The Drudge Report began as a small email newsletter dabbling mostly in showbiz, “part gossip and part opinion,” as Wikipedia describes it, that Drudge ran out of his tiny two-room apartment in a run-down part of Hollywood. It morphed into a news aggregation site, began focusing on politics, and gained prominence by first revealing, early in 1998, that Newsweek was sitting on a story about someone named Monica Lewinsky. We all know what happened to Bill Clinton after that. What happened to Drudge is that outing Newsweek, assisting in the right-wing assault on the Clinton’s, made him a superhero on the right. His intentional and ongoing disdain for journalistic standards, of standards of any kind, is demonstrated by a story published by Media Matters in 2013 involving Drudge and a crazy conspiracist now linked to Donald Tr-mp:

Matt Drudge has long been conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ biggest ally. According to a Media Matters review, the heavily-trafficked Drudge Report has promoted at least 50 separate articles at Jones’ Infowars website in 2013, and has linked to at least 244 different articles on the site in the past two years.

Drudge announced this week that he had privately told friends that 2013 would be the “year of Alex Jones.” Considering Drudge’s penchant for promoting Jones and his Infowars website, those comments are more of a promise than a prediction.

Drudge missed the exact year that the kooky Jones—on whose program Tr-mp has appeared, whom Tr-mp has called “amazing,” and to whom Tr-mp said “I will not let you down”—would rise to prominence. But that wasn’t the point. The point was and is to make money off misinformation and propaganda and lies, which is a reason to promote people like Jones. Mediaite reported that in July of last year, DrudgeReport.com “netted a combined page view count of 1,189,670,000 for the month and held its position as the #3 media publisher in the country.” This stuff works, people.

Now we come to Breitbart.com, “the platform for the alt-right,” as Tr-mp’s chief strategist Steve Bannon, who recently resigned as the chairman of the extremist site, once called it. The founder of Breitbart.com was no stranger to Matt Drudge, as Reason magazine pointed out:

Andrew Breitbart describes his job function as “Matt Drudge’s bitch,” but he’s being modest: He’s the man behind the curtain at The Drudge Report, stirring up the site’s signature mix of scandal, box office returns, wire stories, and political tidbits.

Even though Andrew Breitbart is dead, his site lives on and is still spreading Drudge’s sludge, as this story from October of 2016 demostrates:

Drudge Warns: Impending Hillary Sex Scandal

That story was ostensibly about a tweet Drudge sent out:

drudge and hillary and ellen

The real point of the Breitbart story and the Drudge tweet with a photo of Ellen DeGeneres, a well-known lesbian, was to get the following “scandal” and “political tidbit” into the minds of conservative readers who may not have known about it or had forgotten it:

A rumor circulated in the 1990s saying that Clinton was secretly okay with her husband’s extramarital affairs because she was secretly a lesbian, but there has been no truth to the rumor.

This isn’t the first time Clinton has been accused of cheating on her husband.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump accused Clinton of cheating on her husband, but he didn’t say with whom or provided any specifics.

“Hillary Clinton’s only loyalty is to her financial contributors, I don’t even think she’s loyal to Bill if you want to know the truth,” he said during a rally in Pennsylvania on Oct. 1. “Really folks, why should she be?” he asked, a reference to Bill Clinton’s womanizing and accusations of sexual abuse.

Propagating such tripe radicalizes conservatives, make them regular customers, and gets them to pass stories like these among their friends and family and coworkers, which generates income. So does labeling the mainstream press as “fake news,” something Tr-mp and his followers do now without even blinking.

Conservative media, of which Tr-mp is now a part, use these methods to divide the country and exploit and monetize the differences between us. For an increasing number of cynical politicians on the right, the methods are meant to divide the country and benefit from a fevered following of fanatics, those who will express their radicalization by voting against their own economic interests and, in more extreme cases, taking to violence or, as we have seen lately with the attacks on Jewish centers, expressing ancient hatreds.

Just stop and think of where we are right now:

♦ The special counsel to Tr-mp has essentially warned Americans that their government may be using microwave ovens to spy on them.

♦ A United States congressman from Iowa, praising a right-wing Dutch xenophobe who thinks European civilization is being transformed by Muslim immigrants, said, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” He then went on CNN and made matters worse by doubling down on his message. And we barely heard a negative peep from his fellow Republicans.

♦ According to the Anti-Defamation League, “Since January, 161 bomb threats have targeted Jewish institutions across the country.” Another ADL article notes: “White supremacists, emboldened by the 2016 elections and the current political climate, are currently engaged in an unprecedented outreach effort to attract and recruit students on American college campuses.”

♦ One of Tr-mp’s top strategists, Steve Bannon, a self-avowed Leninist who wants “to destroy the state,” thinks Western Civilization is in a Holy War not just against violent Islamist extremists, but with Islam itself, a religion that has 1.6 billion followers around the world, including 3.3 million here in America, some 4000 of whom are currently serving in the U.S. military.

♦ Sean Hannity, a radical radio guy spawned by the success of Rush Limbaugh and who crossed over to TV as a popular host on what masquerades as a conservative “news” network, on Thursday claimed there were “Obama holdovers” in the government “hell-bent on destroying” Tr-mp. He told the Tr-mp regime to “purge these saboteurs before it’s too late.” The next day the purging began with the firing of U.S. Attorneys. None other than Geraldo Rivera called Hannity “the second-most powerful, influential person in the country” because  he talks to Tr-mp every day and, more frightening, Tr-mp listens.

♦ Worse, Bloomberg news posted a video story today with this headline and description:

Alex Jones Preaches Conspiracy Theori♦es, Trump Listens

Alex Jones is one of the most famous conspiracy theorists in America, calling events like the Sandy Hook shooting, the Apollo moon landing, and 9/11 “false flags.” One of his biggest fans? Donald Trump. This Bloomberg Profile looks at how Alex Jones went from extremist fringe to a major source of information for the president of the United States.

♦ Our Secretary of State is sometimes unaware when foreign diplomats are visiting Washington, takes foreign trips without the press, and generally has no staff to help him understand the complexities and nuances of diplomacy.

♦ Wikileaks has released potentially devastating intelligence-gathering secrets, and Agent Orange is more worried about The Apprentice’s ratings. In fact, Kellyanne Conway’s allusion to spying microwaves was in the context of Wikileaks—think: Russia—trying to undermine our national security and our democracy.

♦ Tr-mp delusionally claimed Obama committed a serious felony, referred to the former president as either a “bad” man or a “sick” man, and close to half of the country is willing to believe him.

♦ Tr-mp claims, almost every time he talks about the economy, that it was a “mess” when he took over. Journalists, weary of correcting every lie, every day, don’t even bother to address this one anymore.

♦ Before Tr-mp was in power, the employment numbers were phony. After he’s in power, they are indisputable evidence of his governing genius.

♦ The Office of Management and Budget director, former congressman Mick Mulvaney, has not only told lies about Obamacare, but he accused the Obama administration of “manipulating the numbers” in order “to make the unemployment rate…look smaller than it actually was.” He offered no evidence for this claim, of course, but it is part of radicalizing a segment of the population to doubt the facts and believe the unbelievable.

♦ And speaking of radicalism, that same Mick Mulvaney championed the 2011 government shutdown, believed such shutdowns were “good policy,” and, as a congressman, would have cut government spending to the point that it could be drowned not in Grover Norquist’s infamous bathtub, but in Tr-mp’s gold-plated shitter. During hard economic times, he proposed dramatic cuts in government spending, including defense spending, so much so that John McCain voted against his confirmation as OMB director.

♦ The Speaker of the House has called the GOP bill to repeal and replace Obamacare an “act of mercy.” Here are examples of Republican mercy: some 24 million folks, many of them elderly and living in nursing homes, will lose their health coverage; older Americans will pay a lot more for their insurance; CBO estimates monthly health insurance premium for a single 64-year-old who makes $26,500 would jump more than 700% (from $1,700 to $14,600)”; defunding Planned Parenthood “would leave many women without services to help them avoid pregnancy, resulting in thousands of additional births”; oh, and rich people will get $600 billion in tax cuts over ten years.

All this and more that is happening around us is radical stuff. There is no doubt about it. And none of it could happen without intentionally radicalizing enough people in the country—not a majority but enough— to make it all possible.

Many of us outside the various fundamentalist tribes have wondered how a culture can exist in faraway places that promotes the idea that people should strap explosives to their torsos to kill and terrorize those who don’t share their theological beliefs. Now we can see how that can happen. It starts with radicalization. It starts with convincing ignorant or unsophisticated or vulnerable people that what they see and hear is false, unless it comes from the radicalizers. Microwave ovens can see what we are doing. Our televisions are spying on us. Only the regime’s numbers are real numbers. “Mercy” means taking away healthcare from millions and giving away millions to billionaires. And on and on.

We have not seen and will not see American radicals on the right strap on explosive vests and blow up people in the town square. Theirs is a different brand of radicalism. What we have seen are these radicals collectively strapping Tr-mpism to the chest of America and threatening to politically blow up the place if they don’t get what they want.

Our job, as resisters, is not to let them terrorize us into submission or to numb us into pessimism and paralysis. Tr-mpism is explosive. It is dangerous. But we can fight it and win. We can protect the truth, respect the facts, and insist that our friends and family and others around us do the same. Then when election time comes, we can vote and strip the radicalizers of their power, if not their ability to make money by radicalizing the gullible.

 

Tr-mp. Russia. Scandal. Won’t Go Away.

A new Quinnipiac poll released yesterday found the following:

Voters disapprove 54 – 32 percent of the way President Donald Tr-mp is handling U.S. policy towards Russia…

American voters support 66 – 30 percent an “independent commission investigating potential links between some of Donald Tr-mp’s campaign advisors and the Russian government.” The only listed party, gender, age or racial group opposed is Republicans, opposed 64 – 30 percent.

A total of 61 percent are “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about President Tr-mp’s relationship with Russia. A total of 62 percent of voters say alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election is a “very important” or “somewhat important” issue.

As the great Steve Benen pointed out this morning:

Health care and wiretap conspiracy theories have helped push the Russia scandal off front pages, but the controversy continues to move forward in a way the White House should find alarming.

The Russia scandal may be off the front pages, but it was front and center on the Rachel Maddow show last night. In case you missed it, watch and learn and then wait:

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