Separation

Trump wants to do away with the so-called “Johnson Amendment.”

This is an IRS rule that prohibits churches and non-profits from politicking from the pulpit. The current batch of radical Republicans think that is an infringement on their freedom of speech.

Fair enough. Let them exercise their First Amendment right. Cancel the rule and let them tell their parishioners how God wants them to vote. But they must disclose their donors (*cough* Koch Bros. *cough*), and NO TAX EXEMPTION FOR YOU!!!!

Donald Trump’s Conflicts of Interest

Donald Trump is planning to loot the United States Treasury.

This has always been the plan: to enrich himself and his family at the expense of the taxpayers. To gain more for himself he is likely to compromise the security of the country. Yes, he’s an incompetent, narcissistic sociopath, but THIS IS SERIOUS.
He is hiding his financial dealings, but now it comes out that “The president is the sole beneficiary of the Donald J Trump Revocable Trust, which is tied to his social security number as the taxpayer identification number, according to documents published online by the investigative nonprofit ProPublica.”

Read the article at The Guardian.

Negotiator-in-Chief

Kevin Drum notes that Donald Trump is a lay-down* at the negotiating table:

Donald Trump, two weeks ago: “Pharma has a lot of lobbies, a lot of lobbyists, and a lot of power. And there’s very little bidding on drugs. We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world, and yet we don’t bid properly.”
Donald Trump, today, after meeting with Pharma lobbyists: “I’ll oppose anything that makes it harder for smaller, younger companies to take the risk of bringing their product to a vibrantly competitive market. That includes price-fixing by the biggest dog in the market, Medicare, which is what’s happening.”

*car dealer talk for a pushover

Celebrity Apprentice

Apprentice-Prez
Welcome to Celebrity Apprentice President!
Our contestant is billionaire real estate mogul Donald J. Trump, and he’ll be gunning for the title of Best President Ever! Unlike all previous contestants, Donald has no prior experience in government, foreign policy or domestic policy, although he says “I’m, like, a smart guy.” Even so we’d say he’s got quite a job ahead of him. Let’s see how his first 10 days went, shall we?
  • Inaugural Speech: Whoa, what a downer! In a surprise move, Donald broke the tradition of new contestants trying to say something uplifting and unifying, at least for his very first public speech as Apprentice President. Instead he painted a bleak picture of a nation in decline, rampant with starvation and misery, and overrun by drugs, gangs, terrorists and immigrant rapists. And carnage! Interesting strategy, Donald!
  • Inaugural Crowd Size: Donald was mad the whole first weekend after he was inaugurated because it turned out that more people had attended previous inaugurations than his own. Heck, the Women’s March that was held the very next day was bigger than his inauguration — and Donald suspected that the March may have secretly been a protest against him, which made him even more crabby. He figuratively stamped his foot for three days, but the numbers didn’t change. So not much presidentin’ got done for a while, but the Trump administration did at least create a new category of lies, called Alternative Facts. These are facts that are not true in this universe, but may be true if you enter a parallel universe. Score one for Team Trump!
  • To make up for looking foolish, Trump then decided to issue a whole bunch of “Executive Orders,” based on his belief that he is elected King and whatever he says goes: He’s restarted the dead oil pipelines across U.S. land that is sensitive ecologically and culturally; fixed it so safe legal abortions around the world will be harder for women to get; raised the price of mortgage insurance for working class home buyers; signed an order “repealing” the Affordable Care Act (this doesn’t actually repeal anything, but it signals that he wants to take health care away from millions of Americans); cut off funding to American cities that won’t let their cops hassle immigrants, or otherwise do the job of federal immigration authorities; reduced the rigor of environmental impact reports so as to fast track construction projects; instructed the EPA to scrub talk of climate change from its website.
  • TV Face Time: Trump has finally made it clear that he intends to continue to hide his tax returns from the American people, but it’s not because he’s shy: he always makes sure television cameras are in the Oval Office to record his many signing sessions. Nice move, Donald, letting your base know you’re keeping those vindictive campaign promises!
  • Banning Muslims: Just kidding — it’s not a Muslim ban! Still, if his blizzard of Executive Orders weren’t enough to show the world who’s boss, he slipped another one in on Day 7 that we’re still trying to understand. But the main thrust seems to be that we don’t want any Muslims trying to sneak into the United States and blow stuff up. To ensure that he received maximum TV coverage on this one, he made sure not to tell the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of Legal Counsel or anybody at the State Department what he was doing, instead turning to new National Security Council member and white supremacist Steve Bannon to draft the order. So it basically didn’t make any sense, and — you guessed it — chaos ensued! At airports all over the world! Team Trump scores again!
Looks like Donald is on his way to the Presidentin’ Hall of Fame, if he can keep up this pace. But there are challenges ahead that will test his mettle: a Senate filibuster of his Supreme Court appointment, law suits against some of his more unconstitutional actions, and protests across the country and and around the world.
Stay tuned to Celebrity Apprentice President to find out!

Foxes in the Henhouse, Part 1

Will this be the cabinet appointment that finally makes it clear to the chumps who voted for Donald Trump that he has no intention of helping working people?andy-puzder

Andy Puzder opposes the minimum wage as well as regulations to protect workers, and 60% of all
Labor Dept. investigations of his company found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Get used to it, suckers: President Trump plans to reverse a hundred years of gains for wage earners in the United States.

A Way Forward?

The delay we must all now undergo as we wait a couple of months for the Trump Administration to get itself organized and finally take office is actually MORE suspenseful than the run-up to Election Day.

We knew what to expect from President Hillary. It would have been a simple matter of finding out whom she would appoint to carry out the expected policies. But throughout the campaign Trump’s many random and contradictory pronouncements and promises have muddied the water so thoroughly that no one is quite sure what he’s really going to do.

trumo-maga-hatI admit to a high level of apprehension about this — as I have written elsewhere, Donald Trump campaigned as a fascist, and 50 million people voted him into office. Forgive me if I now wake up screaming occasionally, from dreams of jackboots kicking in my front door. But one thing I have discovered is that if you step back from believing imaginary things that haven’t happened yet and study the situation as it really is, it is possible to start breathing normally again, and even to see a way to live with our new political reality. It doesn’t look like it will be a fun time, but it looks like we’ll survive it.

For one thing, I expect that being the (totally) out party will bring the left together – the moderates, the center-left, the really left and even a few of the radical left. We know what we want for the nation, for the world, for each other: freedom, civil rights, human rights, education, peace in the world, a healthy planet, a decent life. Lofty goals, and hard to achieve. We’ll need to pull together if we’re to have a chance of getting there. Losing all three branches of the federal government and a whole bunch of state governments ain’t a picnic, but it should focus our thinking in his regard. We must respect our institutions, but we must engage the opposition, and for the good of us all we must never surrender.

A thought that’s haunted me in the days following Trump’s victory is that those who voted for him must, to some degree, agree with him. Without going through the whole litany of regressive, unconstitutional, violent or ridiculous proposals he has made, can we stipulate that this is pretty scary? (If you really need a reminder, here you go.)

But I no longer think his supporters are all racist nationalists. Certainly some of them must be, and many of them are willing to tolerate that rhetoric and behavior, but here’s another possible explanation for why anybody might vote for someone as abhorrent as Donald Trump: They don’t take him literally.

They never did. They don’t expect him to do all the things he has “promised” to do as president. This doesn’t mean they wouldn’t like him to do some of them: jail Hillary Clinton, ban Muslims, round up all the undocumenteds and ship ’em back. They want those things, but they’ll settle for just getting their jobs back. They don’t know what happened to those jobs, but they know that politicians so far have not seemed willing or able to bring them back, and so they voted for a non-politician. Not only will he get those jobs back for them, because he is a self-made highly successful businessman, but as a twofer he will go to Washington, kick over the tables and piss on the floor. That will teach those effete politically correct career hacks a lesson they won’t soon forget!

In other words, they thought they were “sending a message” to the Washington Establishment. They just didn’t think it through, to the succeeding four years of a Trump administration. This is both dispiriting and encouraging. Dispiriting because how could that many voters be that ignorant and short-sighted?? Encouraging because maybe — just maybe –when I look at the faces in a crowd at the mall I won’t necessarily have to think “Half of these people are violent xenophobic racists.”

Don’t get me wrong. The prospect of a Trump presidency is still profoundly frightening and depressing. I know there is no school for presidents, no place where you can learn the job in advance. Except for a short period after the election and before the inauguration, when you are briefed for the first time on challenges no one but the president ever has to deal with, you learn on the job, period. But as President Obama has said, this particular student is uniquely unqualified for the job. He has zero experience in government, he seems to have a narcissistic personality disorder, a short fuse and the attention span of a child.

How can he manage the most powerful nation in the world?

We Are All Fascists Now

It should be noted that Donald Trump ran for president as a fascist and won.

So it looks as if half the country is fascist, although most of them would scream if someone called them that. Jailing opponents, rounding up undesirables, silencing journalists, torturing prisoners — these were all part of his campaign. These are the things 50 million voters want him to do. Can anyone stop him? We’d better hope.fascist-trump

Will Trump Really Jail Clinton?

lock-her-up

I have a sense that many Trump supporters think they are playing a game.

A lot of them had no idea what the issues were in the campaign, because their candidate didn’t really talk about them except in vague, tough-guy terms. It was, after all, a game. Now that their guy has won, they are jeering at the losers like any bleacher gang full of sore winners, trying to humiliate or anger us, while they hide behind U.S. government protection.

I hadn’t really thought much about Hillary Clinton being prosecuted for her many imagined crimes, but now I wonder if Attorney General Giuliani (or Christie) will actually file some charges. The new president doesn’t have a history of taking his promises seriously, so I kind of think not. The threat has served its purpose, and they don’t really have a case anyway, so why go to all that trouble? Trump’s base will move on to the next performance, whatever that may be. Some of them will be angry, because they were dead serious when they chanted “Lock her up!” But most of them will let it slide, and Mrs. Clinton will remain free.

New Reality

I had almost given up hope of fulfilling my lifelong dream of finding out firsthand what it would be like to live under a fascist state.

But it looks now as if I’m going to get a chance. Donald Trump is a fascist, and now he is president. His party also controls both houses of the legislature and soon they will have packed the Supreme Court with like-minded partisan ideologues. They’ll be able to pass any laws they want, and repeal any, too (I’m looking at you, Obamacare). Should anyone point out that something they’ve done goes against our constitution, the court will shoot that down.

definition of fascism

Of course we have to hope that President Trump will be a good man in office and work for the betterment of all people. But he pretty much ran on promises to do exactly the opposite of that, and the people who voted for him expect him to make good on those promises: killing off universal health care, banning Muslims, destroying Planned Parenthood, bombing “the shit out of” somebody, building a giant wall down south, and starting trade wars with our international partners, to name just a few planks of his “platform.” I know a lot of his supporters are willing to hand him complete authority as “the only one who can fix it,” and that is pretty much what they’ve done, but I don’t think they’ve thought that through, and we will all live to regret it.

Not that in a fascist state we will be able to do anything about it, but it seems to me the only patriotic thing to do is to oppose him at every turn. History will judge us harshly for what we did yesterday, but if we don’t stand and fight now, it will condemn us forever.

What Will Become Of Us?

NOTE: I wrote this before the election. Obviously, things didn’t turn out the way I expected, but I think it shows that I am a man of courage and integrity that I’m leaving it here, whenI could have easily edited it to show that I knew what was going to happen.


Now that it’s perfectly clear that Donald Trump is not going to be President of the United States, it’s time to reflect on what the next four years might be like.

Of course many of us are looking forward to the historic election of our First Woman President. I know I am, although I will miss the inspirational oratory of Barack Obama. But the Republicans in Congress are not going to back off their 8-year policy of total obstruction, which means Hillary Clinton won’t be able to get much done, even if Democrats take over both houses. The other side of that coin is that Republicans won’t either, as President Clinton will veto anything they try that’s truly damaging. In addition, the Republicans may lose their majorities in the House and Senate, or see them reduced reduced substantially, which will make the GOP even less effective in their crusade to:

  • lower taxes on the super rich…
  • …while allowing them to anonymously contribute any amount of money directly to their favorite political campaigns
  • get rid of all trade barriers
  • privatize Social Security
  • make abortion illegal and
  • prevent minorities from voting.

So expect another four or eight years of gridlock during a Clinton presidency, with a public more and more frustrated and angry about it.

But, you say, the worst fallout from the upcoming defeat of Donald Trump will come from the 25 million or so alienated and resentful die hard Trump supporters. They have shown over the past year that they don’t give a fuck about tradition, compromise or moderation. Trump is telling them now that the election will be “rigged,” meaning when Hillary Clinton wins on November 8th, she will have done so through chicanery, and will not be the legitimate president. These are people who are OK with Trump wanting to ban immigrants based on their religion; who believe it’s a good idea (or even feasible) to build a 2,000-mile wall across the southern border, and who beat up dissenters at Trump rallies. They have shown themselves to be animated by anger and they are potentially violent.

There’s been talk of Trump supporters going berserk if (and when) they lose the presidential election. Riots, insurrection, that sort of thing. And it’s probably true that many of those armed yahoos will be mad as hornets. It could be a real mess if they take to the streets.

But in the end, I believe they will just go home, turn on Fox News or the new Trump Network, and sulk. Once their leader — and their shot at taking the White House — is gone I don’t think they’ll be organized enough to accomplish anything really big. A lone wolf or two might attempt a “2nd Amendment remedy,” or burn something down, or occupy a federal building somewhere for a while, but as a movement, the wind will be out of their sails, and the Republic will stand.

On the other hand there are all those Republican leaders in Congress who have disavowed Trump. These traitors must be punished, and they surely will be, with ultra right-wing primary opponents in 2018. I have no sympathy for these establishment Republicans who are faced with the horrible choice of supporting Donald Trump or losing all of his fanatic supporters. They have used the crackpot wing of the party for decades to maintain power, and now the rabble has gotten sick of the false promises and has taken over the party. They may be ignorant, but they represent millions of votes. Establishment Republicans won’t ever again get those votes and will have to rely on support from moderates, including conservative Democrats. Conversely, Tea Party types will never get a vote from the moderates, and there you go: The GOP will be split in two. They will be the center right and the extreme right. Between the two of them they’ll probably keep control of the House and most state governments, but they won’t agree on much of anything, and unless they find a way to coalesce they won’t have a chance at the presidency.

I’m afraid that Donald Trump has poisoned the well that we all must drink from. His thoughtless, obnoxious rhetoric is “normalized” now, and President Clinton, who has been victimized for 30 years by false allegations, whisper campaigns, innuendo and phony investigations will face more of the same for four or eight more years. And Congress — spurred on by the angry, ignorant, resentful leftovers of the Trump campaign — will dutifully obstruct everything, cause debt ceiling and funding crises, vote repeatedly to “repeal” Obamacare, and generally make a nuisance of itself.

Buckle up, everybody.