The seeming out of the blue firing of FBI Director Comey fits a consistent pattern of President 45 to keep the news media distracted by a new outrage before the previous one can be explored to any depth. The stated reasons for the firing, the mishandling of the Clinton email investigation last summer, which cited many of the same criticism that many Democrats and former Justice department officials leveled at Director Comey at the time, seems sophomoric in its attempt to deflect criticism given that he praised Comey’s action to reopen the investigation in October, just prior to election day. While there is general consensus that the Director’s action to violate Justice Department guidelines had undue influence on the election, the question remains, “Why now?”
A little thought reveals the most probable reason. Comey had erred in his judgement but he is seen by most as a principled person. Having broken internal Department of Justice guidelines about publicly discussing evidence when no prosecution is planned he would reasonably be expected to do the same regardless of the findings in the Russian investigation. In short, Comey was a wild card that the president and his enablers could not control. Given the delays and lack of enthusiasm on the part of Republicans, it is likely that all direct evidence of collusion between the president and the Russians have been covered up and if the worst occurs someone in their organization is prepared to “take the fall” if necessary. Removing Comey will increase the probability that little circumstantial evidence, including his financial ties to Russian oligarchs, will become public.
We have all been treating the president as a bumbling idiot but he a ruthless tyrant and he will continue to exercise the power of his office to his own benefit until his enablers, the Republicans, decide that protecting the country and our way of life is more important than their control of congress.
It seems that every day we are confronted with a new outrage from our president. One day he’s accusing the former president of illegally wiretapping him while he was a candidate, the next day defending a serial misogynist, the day after that, congratulating foreign leader on anti-democratic actions or outright killings of drug suspects. Throw in the lies, faux pas, seeming ignorance of history and childish response via tweets to criticism and you get a view of the last 100 days in America. All this is going on while in the background we have an ongoing FBI investigation into his campaign’s connection with the Russian interference in our election and his continued conflicts with his businesses and refusing to disclose the extent of his business connections with foreign entities. Continue reading “Holding Enablers Accountable”
“Large Sections of Australia’s Great Reef Are Now Dead, Scientists Find”. The headline says it all. The famed Great Barrier Reef, one of the natural wonders of the world is dying. It had been predicted for some time that this would happen should the oceans continue to warm. However, this level of destruction was not expected to happen for another 30 years.
It is obvious to all thoughtful people that the cause is climate change brought on by human burning of fossil fuels. The adverse impact will extend far beyond the destruction of corrals and the sea life that depends on them. We are witnessing the melting of the ice caps and rising sea levels which will destroy coastal habitats as well as changing and extreme weather patterns that will adversely affect our agriculture and living patterns.
The Paris Climate Accords was significant in that the world had finally agreed to act to reduce human contribution to acceleration of the warming of the earth. The switch to green sources of energy had begun as the industry began to become a significant source of employment. Then along comes Trump (didn’t really want to talk about him) who pans the Paris Accords, appoints EPA detractor, Scott Pruitt, to head the agency, approves pipelines that carry tar sands oil and roll back auto fuel efficiency standards; all within the first two months of taking office.
We must not allow the Washington sideshow to distract us. We will survive the shortsightedness of this administration in the short term but the long-term implications are not good. This may well be an Extinction Level Event, ELE, in not so slow motion. History will not be kind to these men and the earth may not be kind to mankind.
I’ve been away for a while suffering from “Trump Fatigue”. Civil Rights champion Fanny Lou Hamer’s oft quoted remark “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired” is quite appropriate for this situation. It was my sincere intention to write about the Republicans in the NC legislature making a cynical push for a US constitutional convention to restrict federal interference in state issues while, at the same time, they are enacting laws like HB2, changing the city council structure of Greensboro and attempted takeover of the Asheville water system. But no sooner than I can begin to refocus, here come another bombshell intended to destroy the work for which Ms. Hamer and so many others have fought and died. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, our new Attorney General and chief protector of our constitutional rights has unabashedly begun his quest to “Make America Great Again” by returning us to a time when that was true for him and people like him. What a country!
When will this madness end? The senate, in an unprecedented 51 to 50 vote approved a demonstrably unqualified nominee, Betsy DeVos, to be Secretary of Education. Two Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, along with the 46 Democrats and 2 Independents to oppose the nomination creating the 50-50 tie that was broken by the vice president who sided with all the other Republicans. I characterize this as madness because it is clear that Ms. DeVos’ lack of qualifications and the welfare of the Education Department were not foremost in the minds of the Republicans. Instead, this is a blatant exercise of partisan power. Continue reading “Something Has To Change”
Yesterday Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated last year on the death of Antonin Scalia. McConnell and the Senate Republicans then disgracefully refused to consider President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, for more than 10 months. As much as the instinct for revenge to strike back seems appropriate the Democrats should resist. They should all symbolically refuse to vote for Gorsuch but they should not filibuster his nomination. My reasons are as follows:
- Gorsuch appears to be a reasonable choice for a Republican president. He is not, however, a thumb in the eye choice like Jeff Sessions, Betsy DeVos, Tom Price, and Andrew Puzder.
- Gorsuch’s selection does not represent an ideological shift for the court since he is replacing someone of his own ilk.
- Despite his dismal poll ratings, Trump is currently at the apex of his power, particularly with his Republican base. He continues to feed that base with his largely symbolic executive actions. As such, Republican senators still fear him. As time goes on and his base began to see his incompetence and feel the effects of his policies his popularity will certainly erode.
- Should another appointment opportunity occurs and Trump puts forward a truly disgusting candidate, Democrats would be in a better position politically to go all out to oppose such a nomination. Additionally, Republican senators, facing a weaker president, would be less inclined to change the rules on cloture for SCOTUS nominations.
There is no guarantee that such a strategy would work for the Republicans are in the majority and have demonstrated that they have no ethics. But if one is going to fight to the death let it be for a reason for which one is willing to die.
We’re two days into the Trump administration. The sun still shines and life goes on as usual. Amid the dark dystopian message in his inaugural address, the continued propagation of “alternative facts” in his address to the CIA, and the devious campaign to discredit the main stream media, we see small green shoots of hope. First the Women’s March in Washington, DC, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and other US cities as well as foreign capitals around the world foretells, should it be sustained, an encouraging level of resistance to the Trump agenda. Additional in Davos, Switzerland, site of the summit on climate change, we see signs of other countries taking up that mantle of leadership of the Climate Change Initiative that Trump has threatened to abandon.
Admittedly, we have a long way to go (1459 days and counting) but, thankfully, it is more probable that most of the horrors that we imagine will not come to past. As President Obama aptly remarked in his last press conference, “…the only thing that is the end of the world is the end of the world.” It could very well be that Trump is the shock we need to kick start the change that Dr. King dreamed and President Obama hoped would come.
Each time I hear the TV promo announcing the inauguration of Donald Trump as 45th president of the United States I get this surreal feeling that I am dreaming and will soon wake from this farcical nightmare. The feeling quickly passes and I realize that this is real and America is really about to install a man with no public service experience, who’s been shown to be an egotistical, misogynistic bully, whose mental fitness is questionable and worse of all, may be an unwitting foreign agent. If this were any country but America one could imagine the powers that be stepping in to stop this slow motion catastrophe. A French commentator on a recent news program observed that he was surprised not to see riots in the streets.
But America is not (yet) a banana republic. Either Americans are so sanguine about the role of government in their lives that its leaders are irrelevant or their faith in the resilience of the American system is such that it can survive any challenge. I believe that the true answer is somewhere in between. We have become so conditioned and stratified and so many political divisions exist within the populace, having been nurtured for decades by politicians, that there is no consensus on what would be an appropriate action. There are the rabid Trump supporters who believe in the blather he utters; those who revel in his seeming “thumb in the eye” of the establishment; those in the congress who see his ascendancy as a chance for power, and those, like myself, who are still immersed in disbelief and are unsure of how best to proceed. The result is that we simply watch; some believing that he will follow through on his rhetoric, some hoping that the office will change him and he won’t be as bad as it appears, some believing that he can be controlled, some resigned to survive the worst and the rest praying that this won’t be the end of civilization as we know it. A big bet has been placed on the American experiment. It survived the first big test, the Civil War. Will it survive the “Donald”?
Our President-elect’s odd reaction to the relevation that the Russians orchestrated the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) computer systems and the strategic release of information designed to hurt Secretary Clinton and to help him is disturbing. Given his history, the generally accepted explanation is that he is just being true to his ego-centric nature. Any information that suggests that Trump is not as great as he thinks or that attacks his credibility is automatically discredited. For the soon to be leader of the free world, that adolescent attitude would be concerning but, unsettling as it may be, an even more sinister explanation exists. Could Trump could be, even unwittingly, an agent for a foreign power? Continue reading “Our Manchurian President”
Last July, expecting no doubt a resounding defeat in the fall election, conservatives Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam wrote a sobering analysis, A Cure for Trumpism, of what was wrong with the modern version of conservatism in the US and provided an outline of how conservatives might change to remain relevant going forward. I encourage you to follow the link and read the article. The piece addressed trade and globalization, immigration, international security, taxes and the social safety net and in many ways tracked the path to the future desired by many of those of us on the left. Now that the unthinkable has happened; Trump wins, the Republicans have control of both houses of congress and are poised to tip the balance on the Supreme Court; the question is what path will conservatives follow?
Needless to say, the signs are not encouraging. The leadership team that Trump is assembling consists largely of corporate billionaires, retired generals and domestic hardliners, many of whom have a documented distorted view of the world. Each day the news is filled with stories of changing alliances and growing instabilities abroad and radical proposals on taxes, opportunities for corruption and shredding of the social safety net on the domestic front. Winning has a way of changing one’s perspective, particularly for those who tend to focus on today rather than on a future tomorrow. Failure to heed the advice that stresses national interest abroad and national solidarity at home will insure that the win is merely a temporary, albeit possibly generational, setback.