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Friday, April 19, 2019

Please don't stop now

  I was struck by a portion of Michelle Goldberg's piece in today's New York Times.  She wrote, "Many people, having worked frantically to deliver the House to the Democrats in the midterms, are exhausted... Outrage is hard to sustain no matter how justified." Goldberg is right.  I wish she were wrong.  In recent weeks I have spoken to too many strong Democratic supporters who are done with politics at least for this year and into next year.  This is what frightens me.
          We are living through the most catastrophic presidency in our lifetimes and perhaps in the history of our country.  As patriots we must continue to do everything we can to end this scourge.  There is a danger that tRUMP can be reelected.  There is a danger that the Republicans can retake the house.  The way those things will not happen is if we maintain the energy that won in 2018.  So please maintain the energy and ask everyone you know to do so.  If that happens we win.  Then we can rest.
   
        Let's put our current position in perspective.  We have lived with the tRUMP election for two years and six months.  We have lived with his presidency for two years and three months.  This means we are more than half way through this nightmare if we beat the lunatic in Nov. 2020.  If we lose in 2020 we are about 1/4 of the way through tRUMP. So I am going to continue to write and on occasion to solicit.  I hope you will continue to read my e mails and forgive my solicitations.  We must win in 2020.  Then we can be exhausted.
        Now for a couple of comments on current news.  tRUMP is calling to "get rid" of judges.  Fascism 101.  tRUMP is purging the cabinet.  Dictatorship 101.  tRUMP wants to again separate children from their parents.  Psychopathology 101.  tRUMP's babbling is becoming more pronounced.  Dementia 101. 
         As tRUMP continues to break the law, advocates such as the ACLU and attorneys general across the country continue to fight for the rule of law.  And judges are denying tRUMP his illegal agenda.  Perhaps John Roberts" most significant  statement during his tenure on the Supreme Court was his rebuke of tRUMP for suggesting there are Obama judges.  Our institutions are holding. So let's do whatever we can to win in 2020.  Thanks for listening.
                                                                   Richard

Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Trump Contagion

Jeffrey D. Sachs, Bandy X. Lee, and Ruth Ben-Ghiat  
Project Syndicate    |    March 25, 2019
 
US President Donald Trump’s growing rages may partly be the result of cognitive decline, suggested, for example, by his deteriorating ability to form complete sentences, use complex words, and maintain a coherent train of thought. What is certain is that Trump is putting the world at risk.

NEW YORK – Mental health professionals and others have been trying to warn the public about the dangers of US President Donald Trump since his election. Trump’s extreme narcissism, sadism, lack of empathy, and admiration for despots are on daily display. Some may wish to see him as a self-absorbed clown, but he is a clear and present danger to the world who must be prevented from leading (or misleading) it to disaster.

With the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, the dangers have greatly multiplied. While we have not seen the actual text – only a version of it rendered by the president’s political ally, US Attorney General William Barr – Mueller’s purported conclusion that Trump did not collude with Russian President Vladimir Putin will likely embolden Trump to attack. What makes the Mueller claim especially disastrous is the reality of tacit collusion staring us in the face. Trump ran his 2016 campaign while secretly trying to score a real-estate mega-deal in Moscow (and, as usual, lying about it to the public). He publicly opined on canceling sanctions against Russia while pursuing this deal.

Trump will feel enabled in his vindictiveness and delusions of grandeur. In recent weeks, Trump repeatedly taunted a dead US senator and uttered not a word of regret for the 50 Muslim worshipers slaughtered in New Zealand by a white supremacist who referred specifically to him in a manifesto justifying the massacre. When criticized, Trump spends days raging against his foes on Twitter. He uses rallies and other public occasions to model a politics that regards humanitarianism and compassion as weaknesses rather than fundamental human values.

Trump’s growing rages may partly be the result of cognitive decline. Over time, for example, his ability to form complete sentences, use complex words, and maintain a coherent train of thought appears to have eroded. There is documented history of his father’s dementia.

What is certain is that Trump is putting the world at risk. He has now withdrawn from two nuclear treaties, one with Iran that was agreed to by the entire UN Security Council, and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, in place since 1988. His absurdly incompetent diplomacy with North Korea lies in tatters, with that country now warning of a new round of nuclear tests.

Under Trump, the US government, alone among all 193 United Nations member countries, has repudiated the global effort to combat climate change, leaving Americans without sane leadership as climate crises grow in intensity. His response to Hurricane Maria, which left more than 3,000 dead in Puerto Rico, was one of contempt for and neglect of the victims, as was his response to the mega-fires that ravaged California last year, claiming dozens of lives, and to the mega-floods now causing catastrophic losses throughout the Midwest.

Trump’s worldview is echoed by white extremists around the world. Data show a surge in hate crimes in the US since the day after his election, including a doubling in the number of killings by white supremacists, as well as widespread schoolyard bullying in his name and a record number of mass shootings and gun murders. The mass murderer in the Pittsburgh synagogue, the “pipe bomber” who sought to assassinate major Democrats, and the recent mosque shooter in Christchurch, New Zealand, are all examples of the influence of Trump’s echo chamber of violence. During his campaign, he famously boasted that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and not “lose any voters.” Since then, he has repeatedly endorsed violent behavior through taunts, incitement, and, most recently, a warning that his armed followers could spring into action upon his command.

This type of sadistic leader-follower relationship has cost millions of lives in the past and plunged countries into war and ruin. But it has never before played out in a country with thousands of nuclear weapons and troops in more than 100 countries around the world. Yet, even now, many continue to mistake Trump’s attraction to violence as mere political tactics, rather than the product of a deranged mind.

Since the start of his administration, Trump has followed the authoritarian playbook by attempting to rule by decree, most recently through his reckless declaration of emergency powers to build a wall on the US border with Mexico. He must be stopped before he launches a war, perhaps with Venezuelaor with Iran, or before his armed backers step up violence against his political opponents. The 2020 campaign could easily devolve into street violence at Trump’s instigation.

This assessment – and Trump’s own behavior – implies five steps that should be taken without delay.

First, the House of Representatives should start impeachment hearings. Trump is responsible for the same campaign finance illegalities that are sending his erstwhile lawyer, Michael Cohen, to prison. He has repeatedly and recklessly broken finance and tax laws through money laundering, the false valuations of assets, and chronic underpayment of taxes. The public release of the full Mueller report may add further grounds for impeachment.

Second, Congress should urgently reclaim the clear and unambiguous constitutional right to declare war. Sadly, Congress has effectively ceded this authority to the executive branch. Yet the authority to launch a war, especially in the case of a nuclear-armed power, must never be entrusted to only one person. That would be true even if the US had a sane president.

Third, mental health experts must fulfill their responsibility to protect society’s health and safety by explaining publicly, where necessary, that Trump is not just a conniving politician, or a forceful leader, but a mentally unstable individual capable of creating widespread harm. It is both their right and their professional obligation to bring critical information that enables lawmakers to protect the country.

Fourth, the media need to go beyond covering Trump’s mood of the day to covering his mental instability. The real story is not just that Trump lies relentlessly, or that he is cruel and bigoted, but that he is a threat to others.

Lastly, Americans need to organize politically to prevent another election debacle in 2020, perhaps one that Trump will try to stoke through cries of fraud and calls to his followers to violate the rules of democracy. If Trump is not impeached (as he should be), every effort must be made to preserve democracy and protect society from his destructiveness.
 
https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/five-steps-to-counter-trump-by-jeffrey-d-sachs-et-al-2019-03

Mueller Report

I have spoken with and emailed with several friends who are profoundly depressed by the fact that Mueller will not issue any more indictments.  We are bewildered.  How could there not be indictments of tRUMP, his son and his son in law based upon what has already been made public.  We want to nail these crooks

        Today's NYT and Washington Post have great editorials and op eds that put the Mueller report into perspective.  We already have tRUMP's national security adviser, his campaign manager, and his personal lawyer as convicted felons. In the Cohen indictment the SDNY called tRUMP a felon (Individual 1).  Mueller has already found that Russia interfered in our election to help get tRUMP elected. The SDNY continues to investigate tRUMP's  felonious financial dealings.  They can indict. Remember Allen Weiselberg has given testimony to the SDNY under a grant of immunity. Congressional investigations will cover ground not within the purview of Mueller.  I have no doubt that the N.Y. Attorney General will issue more indictments.  While tRUMP may claim the N.Y. attorney general is part of a partisan witch hunt,  he can't escape facts.

          I am waiting for whatever details Barr decides to release.  It is foolish to speculate now.   I have almost zero confidence in Barr.  I hope i'm wrong. But tRUMP's criminality is beyond question.  It will be exposed for the remainder of his presidency.   We have somehow endured more than half of his presidency (Yes, we will win in 2020).  The House is a stopper for much of tRUMP's agenda.  The Mueller report is a blip, albeit a big blip.So stay tuned for another year and a half of exposure of tRUMP scandals. Take care all.  So don't be depressed.  Watch basketball.  Go Blue.

                                                                         Richard 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Trump's dirtiest deal

    In last week's trip to Washington, I happened to drive down Pennsylvania Avenue.  The optics of Individual 1's dirty deal are so obvious, I felt I had to write.  The FBI headquarters building occupies an entire city block on Pennsylvania Ave.  It is located between The White House and the Capitol.  It is about a block away from the Trump Hotel.  The land on which it sits may be the most valuable land in all of Washington.  The headquarters is a crumbling overcrowded mess.  It accommodates about 7,000 of the FBI's 11,000 employees.  The rest work in various buildings in D.C. and the suburbs.
          The FBI has been looking at plans to build a new headquarters in a D.C. suburb since 2011.  After receiving several proposal the Government Services Administration (GSA) settled on the best proposal.  The present building and land would be sold for hundreds of millions to a private developer.  The developer would demolish the headquarters and build a hotel and commercial complex on the site.  The developer would also build a new FBI headquarters in the suburbs.  The new building in the suburbs would accommodate all 11,000 employees.  Then Chump got elected.
       On January 24, three days after being sworn in, Individual 1 met with the administrator of the GSA.  This is bizarre by itself. Who ever heard of a brand new president making it a top priority to meet with the head of the GSA? In May the GSA announced it was abandoning the existing plan and announced a new plan to demolish the existing building and build a new building on the same site.   The head of the GSA testified before a Senate panel  in  April, 2017 . She claimed that the reason for the change of plans was because the FBI asked to stay in the old site.  The administrator did not disclose that she had met with individual 1.  Now that this information is public, she has refused to say what was discussed at the meeting.
        Please understand that the change of plans represents a huge financial benefit to individual 1 and a huge cost to taxpayers.  First, of course, he will not have a competitor directly across the street from his hotel.  Second, with the FBI building in place, presumably some additional business will be generated for his hotel.  By the way, the new plan will costs hundreds of millions of dollars more than the old plan.  The new building will still require about 3,000 employees  to work off campus.  And finally, the new plan will require FBI employees  to relocate twice.
         In late October, 2018 Elijah Cummings and four other representatives sent a letter to the GSA asking for a detailed account of what was said in the January 24 meeting.  As far as I know that letter has never been answered.  Guess what, now it will be.  Cummings will make this investigation a priority.  He is going to have the GSA administrator under oath.  It will not surprise me  if it is revealed that she lied the first time when she testified that the change of plans was at the request of the FBI.
        Ryan Zinke, made national news with his dirty deal involving land in Whitefish Montana.  Zinke's deal was small potatoes compared to this.  If Chump talked about the deal with the GSA administrator, he  and she clearly violated ethics rules.  I am not a  criminal lawyer, but it seems to me that there must have been violations of criminal law. 
         The GSA administrator is  Emily Murphy.  I assume she has never before been embroiled in any ethical controversy.  It is amazing how Chump dirties everyone he deals with who was not dirty before.  It is not easy to have a Chump deal called the dirtiest of all.  I think this qualifies.  Thanks for listening.
                                                                                              Richard
                                                                                       
P.S.  It is sickening that the sociopath in chief has caused hundreds of thousands to go without pay.  He could not care less. His time is coming.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Delusional Vs Pathological liar

  Our family recently had a debate as to whether Individual 1 is merely a pathological liar or if he is delusional.  In the end we concluded he is both. 
        The inspiration for the debate was Chump's statement that privately several past president have told him that they wish they had done what he is doing in promoting "the wall."  This is beyond a lie.  It  sounds delusional.  According to all known sources, individual 1 has not spoken to any former president since he took office.   It is inconceivable that any of the living presidents, including W would have endorsed what he is doing. He can't possibly think that anyone would believe him.  Is it possible that  swimming around in his head this really happened?
       Then there is the pathological lying point of view.  His thousands of lies have been well documented.  The one that I most recently focused on was his statement that the president who had the greatest election victory ever cannot be impeached.  Bragging is one thing.  This is beyond bragging.  As a perfect rejoinder to Chump there is Richard Nixon.  Without question he would have been impeached  had he not resigned.  In 1973 Nixon won 49 out of 50 States' electoral votes.  Less than two years after the election he was gone.
          Chump has lasted longer than Nixon even though he is far more venal and far less competent.  That is because Chump has had a complicit Congress.   That has now changed.  It may be that Chump will survive for two more years.  But with all the material already available, and more to come,  Congress  or the criminal courts can get rid of Chump more quickly than Nixon.  Stay tuned.

                                             Richard

Saturday, January 5, 2019

An incredible day, three incredible women

Greetings from Washington.  Yesterday Kathryn and I joined in the festivities around the swearing in ceremonies of the new Congress.  We watched the ceremony on a screen in Elissa Slotkin's new congressional office.  We shuttled back and forth between Elissa's office and Haley Steven's office with a stop at Andy Levin's. Having never done this before I thought you might  want to get a first hand description of the day.
        Elissa and Haley are two of the three incredible women I will discuss.  The third is Nancy Pelosi.  Pelosi's name was put into nomination by Hakeem Jeffries, a congressman from NY.  His speech was beautiful.  See if you can find it on you tube. He is a rising star. He described Pelosi's incredible accomplishments.
           After the vote Pelosi also gave a magnificent speech.  She highlighted all of the important issues the new Congress will tackle.  She was gracious in reaching out to Republicans.  She even quoted Ronald Reagan in a quote I had never heard.  Reagan said something like" if we close the door to new Americans, our leadership to the world is lost. "   By the way, Reagan also agreed to amnesty for illegal immigrants.   Pelosi also gave high praise to George H W Bush for signing the Americans With Disabilities Act.  Pelosi vowed to have  open debates with a willingness to listen to all sides.  As I recall she never mentioned Chump or any potential investigations.  Her speech was gracious while at the same time setting forth Democratic priorities.  
        To set the scene, there are three congressional office buildings with multiple entrances.  There were long lines of celebrants waiting to get in.  The mood was jubilant.  Elissa and Haley opened their offices for afternoon receptions.  Unfortunately, Haley and Elissa could only pop in for a few minutes because they needed to get back to the House for important votes.  They also had evening receptions.  Again the could stay for only a short time because the continuing resolution bills were scheduled for a vote at 9:00.
       The events were filled with Haley and Elissa's families, friends and supporters.  For me the best part was hearing from people who had known them forever.  They said that they were not surprised by Haley's and Elissa's successes.  The successes were predictable from childhood.
      I am speaking of only three incredible women.  The Democrats have about 90 women in Congress.  Each is incredible in her own way.  I think the Republicans have about 13 women in Congress.  It was an amazing sight to see one side of the house filled with women and many people of color.  The other side  was primarily filled with old white men.
       There is one other woman who needs to be described.  She is less than incredible.  Liz Chaney, the daughter of Dick, made a speech endorsing Kevin McCarthy for speaker of the House.  Liz has famously feuded with her sister Mary who is married, gay and has two children.  Liz opposes gay marriage.  Liz has said she has a "disagreement" with her sister.  Mary has said this is not a disagreement.  It is purely a difference between right and wrong.
        She gave a disgustingly partisan speech.  There was not even a fake effort at bipartisanship.  She explained that McCarthy would fight hard to protect America from the stranglehold of socialism.  And for me, the most disturbing line was when she said that McCarthy understood that our rights are derived from God.  This person is considered a rising star in the Republican party.  
          I think there will never be a more euphoric event than Obama's first inauguration.  But there was euphoria aplenty in this event yesterday.  Individual 1 is largely responsible for the landslide election of Democrats.  He seems to be getting crazier by the day.  But in my view the checks and balances of our system is working.  With the election of a new Congress we may have turned the corner.  It sure looked like it yesterday.  Take care all.

                                                                          Richard

Friday, December 21, 2018

Our country, our democracy, in mortal danger

I am frightened. Seriously frightened for our people, our nation, and yes,
myself, in a way I never have been before.
We have a President of the United States who delights in sowing chaos and
threatening this nation’s stability at home and abroad.
               What he is doing and saying is also
threatening to tear our country apart.
               Not just destroy our alliances
and respect for us abroad. Not just ruin us financially, though he is doing
those things too.  He is destroying
respect for our government.
               Yesterday, for example, when it
was clear that Congressional leaders in both parties had reached agreement on a
continuing resolution to keep the government running for six weeks, Donald
Trump had what is being aptly described as a temper tantrum.
               Trump loudly bellowed that he
wouldn’t accept the deal, that if he didn’t get his way and the billions he
wanted for his crazy border wall, he’d shut the government down.     
The day got worse after that. Trump, often with
jeering contempt, regularly rejects the advice of those close to him on matters
of policy they know more about.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis, the one cabinet
member who still commands widespread respect, resigned after the President
decided to pull our troops out of Syria. As he often does, Trump totally ignored
the military and diplomatic advice of someone who knows far more about both
things than he ever will.
When that became public, Trump, after first lying and saying
his defense secretary was just retiring, next said that he might pull our
troops out of Afghanistan as well.  For
the first time, I actually began to wonder whether Trump is an agent of or
being blackmailed by Russia.
Regardless, he seems emotionally about two and a half
years old.
We have never seen anything like this before. I
remember the Cuban Missile Crisis, and my sixth-grade teacher telling us there
was probably going to be a nuclear war. I remember Watergate, and wondering if
Richard Nixon would obey the U.S. Supreme Court. I remember worrying about
nuclear war again under Ronald Reagan, and September 11th and all
that followed.
 But it never
occurred to me that any of those Presidents were mentally unstable, or willing
to put their own petty and spiteful emotional needs ahead of what was best for
our nation.
But that’s where we are now. I had thought I would
talk today about the pettiness and spitefulness of the Republicans in the
Michigan legislature, who spent much of this lame duck session doing things
like trying to take power away from the offices of governor, attorney general
and secretary of state, all jobs the GOP lost decisively in last month’s
election.
They made it harder to protect the environment, and
took pay and sick leave benefits away from low-income workers, after preventing
a state vote on the issue.
But what they and Trump are doing are part of an ugly
trend nationally.  Yes, we have an
accidental President who is clearly the most unfit man in history to hold that
office.
Yes, he has stirred up and given legitimacy to the
worst elements in the American soul, from racism to irrational hatred and fear
of immigrants.
Beyond him, however, we have a generation of politicians
who couldn’t care less about the common good, about democracy, who gleefully
delight in making it harder for Americans to vote, or in making sure the people
can’t overturn laws they hate.
This is a greater threat to America than any external
threat we’ve ever faced.
We have to hope we will do better at facing and
fighting it next year.
Jack Lessenberry | December 21, 2018, https://lessenberryink.com/author/jack/