Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Tag: Donald J. Trump Page 1 of 2

Liz Cheney’s Last Stand: Another One Bites the Dust

Liz Cheney within the Capitol (Photo courtesy of the Denver Post).

The following represents Liz Cheney’s statement, in its entirety, as she took a stand against Donald J. Trump. It took 15 minutes to throw Cheney out. Now, over 100+ Republicans have announced that they may form a break-away party. Talking heads predict that this is an inflection point and the party may be beyond repair.

From this point forward, Teresa Hanafin of The Boston Globe fills you in, with Liz Cheney’s own statement as she was drummed from her position as #3 Republican leader in a 15-minute meeting in Washington, D.C. today, which saw her booed and which was poorly attended by the Republicans, themselves:

****************

Liz Cheney and backlash over her anti-Trump stance.

“This morning, US House Republicans sacrificed Liz Cheney on the altar of Trump, purging her from the ranks of leadership because of her refusal to lie about the 2020 presidential election.

Her belief in democracy and the rule of law is just too inconvenient for Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and his ilk, her insistence that the party grow up and stop groveling before the Mar-a-Lago narcissist too embarrassing.

They’re angry that she’s pointing out their moral bankruptcy as they support Trump’s continued assault on democracy. They’re upset that she’s highlighting their willingness to set aside principle in order to grab power.

So she had to go.

Even as Cheney’s principled stance has been universally praised by those not in thrall to Trump, some on the left aren’t willing to give her a pass, given her hard-right positions on just about everything.

She supported her father, former VP Dick Cheney, when he told another Big Lie about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. She favors waterboarding, insisting it isn’t torture. She said Hillary Clinton’s handling of her e-mails was worse than Trump’s disgusting comments about sexually assaulting women. She accused then-president Barack Obama of deliberately wanting to shrink the economy and weaken the US abroad.

“Liberals responded to Trump’s derangements by bathing the Bush-Cheney crowd in a flattering nostalgic light,” New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote. In Salon, writer Chauncey DeVega called Cheney “a friendly fascist” who supported virtually all of Trump’s policies.

She’s no centrist.

But as Jonathan Chait of New York magazine points out, these complaints from some liberals ignores just how profoundly significant her stance really is.

To place her policy positions on the same level as her fight for democracy, Chait argues, is to say that the rule of law is just another issue. He writes:

“Cheney’s decision to challenge the party on democracy is remarkable for several reasons.

“First, she is putting the issue squarely. Rather than softening her line or couching her stance in the logic of messaging (i.e., Trump’s rhetoric will hurt Republicans with swing voters), she is straightforwardly instructing her fellow Republicans that their current path is a menace to the Constitution and the rule of law.

“Second, she has absolutely nothing to gain and a great deal to lose.

“And third, the fact she is such a dogmatic right-winger on economic, social, and foreign policy gives her support for democracy more, not less, weight. The very point of her dissent is that support for democracy ought to be separated from policy outcomes.

“Republicans should not succumb to the temptation of siding with a would-be authoritarian merely because he promises to advance their policy goals. ‘He’ll undermine the Constitution, but give us low capital gains taxes and friendly judges’ is not a morally defensible trade-off.

“Democracy is the one question not subject to horse-trading.”

(You can read Chait’s entire essay here.)

Cheney addressed her GOP colleagues before the quick voice vote that removed her.

“If you want leaders who will enable and spread [Trump’s] destructive lies, I’m not your person. You have plenty of others to choose from,” she said. “That will be their legacy.”

“But I promise you this: After today, I will be leading the fight to restore our party and our nation to conservative principles, to defeating socialism, to defending our republic, to making the GOP worthy again of being the party of Lincoln.”

When Cheney emerged from the meeting, she told reporters that she would continue her fight to protect democracy, and that she would do everything she could to make sure that Trump “never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.”

Last week, I pointed you to Cheney’s essay in The Washington Post in which she made the point that Trump’s insistence that the election was stolen from him led to the murderous assault on the Capitol, and could provoke violence again.

Last night, she spoke to a mostly empty House chamber — the Republicans who had been giving speeches about “cancel culture” didn’t have the guts to stick around to listen to her — and talked about freedom, the Constitution, and duty.

LIZ CHENEY’S SPEECH IN ITS ENTIRETY:

Trump/Cheney/McCarthy: Three on a Match

Mister Speaker, tonight I rise to discuss freedom and our constitutional duty to protect it.

I have been privileged to see firsthand how powerful and how fragile freedom is. Twenty-eight years ago, I stood outside a polling place, a schoolhouse in western Kenya. Soldiers had chased away people who were lined up to vote. A few hours later, they came streaming back in, risking further attack, undaunted in their determination to exercise their right to vote.

In 1992, I sat across a table from a young mayor in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, and I listened to him talk of his dream of liberating his nation from communism. Years later, for his dedication to the cause of freedom, Boris Nemtsov was assassinated by Vladimir Putin’s thugs.

In Warsaw, in 1990, I listened to a young Polish woman tell me that her greatest fear was that people would forget, they would forget what it was like to live under Soviet domination, that they would forget the price of freedom.

Three men — an immigrant who escaped Castro’s totalitarian regime, a young man who grew up behind the Iron Curtain and became his country’s minister of defense, and a dissident who spent years in the Soviet gulag — have all told me it was the miracle of America captured in the words of President Ronald Reagan that inspired them.

And I have seen the power of faith and freedom. I listened to Pope John Paul II speak to thousands in Nairobi in 1985, and 19 years later, I watched that same pope take my father’s hands, look in his eyes, and say, “God Bless America.”

God has blessed America, but our freedom only survives if we protect it, if we honor our oath, taken before God in this chamber, to support and defend the Constitution, if we recognize threats to freedom when they arise.

Today we face a threat America has never seen before. A former president, who provoked a violent attack on this Capitol in an effort to steal the election, has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him. He risks inciting further violence.

Millions of Americans have been misled by the former president. They have heard only his words, but not the truth, as he continues to undermine our democratic process, sowing seeds of doubt about whether democracy really works at all.

I am a conservative Republican, and the most conservative of conservative principles is reverence for the rule of law. The Electoral College has voted. More than 60 state and federal courts, including multiple judges the former president appointed, have rejected his claims. The Trump Department of Justice investigated the former president’s claims of widespread fraud and found no evidence to support them.

The election is over. That is the rule of law. That is our constitutional process.

Those who refuse to accept the rulings of our courts are at war with the Constitution.

Our duty is clear. Every one of us who has sworn the oath must act to prevent the unraveling of our democracy. This is not about policy. This is not about partisanship. This is about our duty as Americans. Remaining silent, and ignoring the lie, emboldens the liar.

I will not participate in that. I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.

As the party of Reagan, Republicans have championed democracy, won the Cold War, and defeated the Soviet communists. Today, America is on the cusp of another Cold War – this time with communist China. Attacks against our democratic process and the rule of law empower our adversaries and feed communist propaganda that American democracy is a failure.

We must speak the truth. Our election was not stolen, and America has not failed.

I received a message last week from a Gold Star father who said, “Standing up for the truth honors all who gave all.” We must all strive to be worthy of the sacrifice of those who have died for our freedom. They are the patriots Katherine Lee Bates described in the words of “America the Beautiful” when she wrote,

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!

Ultimately, this is at the heart of what our oath requires – that we love our country more. That we love her so much that we will stand above politics to defend her. That we will do everything in our power to protect our constitution and our freedom – that has been paid for by the blood of so many. We must love America so much that we will never yield in her defense.

That is our duty.

 

Trump Power Grab Is Going On Now: Pay Attention

“Bee Gone: A Political Parable”

Trump exhorted his far-right army to mobilize for a sustained conflict over the election results. He refused to say whether he’d accept a legitimate loss. And he confirmed he’s expecting the Supreme Court to help invalidate countless legally cast ballots.

Can Trump can pull off one of his most-discussed means for rigging the election: getting a GOP state legislature to appoint substitute pro-Trump electors to the electoral college, regardless of the popular vote in that state? That’s what is going on right now.

Trump is telegraphing his scheme.

At the debate, Trump said he “can’t go along” with a result tallied up from millions of mail-in ballots, which will mean “fraud like you’ve never seen.” He urged supporters to “watch” the voting “very carefully,” i.e., to engage in voter intimidation. When his own GOP appointed cyber-security official, Christopher Krebs, who had done a good and honest job, testified that it was the fairest election in history, DJT fired him.“We did it right. Defend Today, Secure Tomorrow,” wrote Krebs, a former policy director at Microsoft whom Trump appointed to his role in 2017 after Russia’s 2016 election Interference campaign.

It is unconscionable that the man in charge of keeping foreign countries from interfering in our elections, who has, by all accounts, done an admirable job, is being punished for doing his job well. Trump is also playing with fire in replacing the Secretary of Defense and other high ranking officials, just as is done in tin-pot dictator countries before a coup d’etat. The Republicans in the House and Senate, so far, are simply going along with these anti-democratic acts and making excuses for the man-child orchestrating them.

Asked what he expects of the high court and his most recently appointed Supreme Court Justice Amy Conan Barrett, Trump said: “I’m counting on them to look at the ballots.” He is dragging his feet as long as he can, demanding recount after recount, even though none has changed the results. He is seeking to sow dissension in the ranks of his loyal-to-the-bitter-end followers and to get their public outcry to the point where red state officials will feel confident in saying that they are sending in their own electors for the Dec. 14th Electoral College vote. So far, only a few GOP Senators have had the cojones to even congratulate the rightful winner and I know of only two who have spoken out at all about any portion of this travesty.

We are in deep water, here, folks, and there doesn’t appear to be anyone throwing us a life line. The Senate won’t, as they demonstrated during the impeachment opportunity. Bill Barr won’t, as he’s the guy who helped Reagan out during Iran/Contra and has already demonstrated how he will work to undercut the Mueller Report by releasing his own Cliff’s Notes version early and supporting Trump in many other unethical ways.

“We have it totally under control.” (Jan. 2020)

Trump did also say he might not “need” the court to settle “the election itself.” But that only inadvertently confirms that he believes the court is at his beck and call to hand him the presidency, despite the fact that he lost the election by over 5 million votes. His supporters in Michigan have already tried to refuse to certify that their state vote went to the Democrat.

As far-fetched as it seems that a state legislature might appoint pro-Trump electors, it’s important to note that some Republicans are already claiming that the fictional mass fraud in large-scale mail balloting could serve as the justification for doing just this.

As one Trump legal adviser said, they might say: “We don’t think the results of our own state are accurate, so here’s our slate of electors that we think properly reflect the results of our state.”

And so, when Trump casts doubt on the legitimacy of a prolonged count after Election Day — as he did at the debate — he’s opening the possibility of using exactly this justification for precisely this endgame.

 

Nero Fiddled While Rome Burned; Trump Sulks While A Quarter of a Million Die

The editorial below appeared in the Nov. 12th Quad City Times and was written by Michael Gerson (WaPo). When you’re right, you’re right and I’m sure Gerson has said this better than I could:

************************

BEE GONE: A POLITICAL PARABLE

President Donald Trump will be remembered for many things.  For the audacity of his mendacity.  (* He just fired the head of the cyber security team).  For his ready recourse to prejudice.  For his savant’s ability to rile and ride social resentment.  For his welcoming of right-wing crackpots (QAnon?) into the Republican coalition.  For his elevation of self-love into a populist cause.

For his brutal but bumbling use of force against protesters.  For his routinization of self-dealing and political corruption.  For his utter lack of public spirit and graciousness even to the very end.

And, to be fair, for the remarkable achievement of winning more than 73 million votes with an appealing message, without significant achievements, without a discernible agenda for the future (and after 240,000 U.S. citizens lay dead because of his inattention to duty.)

But although Trump will be remembered for all these things, he will be judged for one thing above all: When the pandemic came and hundreds of thousands of Americans died, he didn’t give a damn.

How do we know this? It is not easy to read a man’s heart, but it is easy to detect that organ’s absence. Trump is not only refusing to provide leadership during a rapidly mounting health crisis, he is also sabotaging the ability of the incoming Biden administration to cooperate with leaders at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies.  By disrupting the presidential transition during an unfolding Covid-19 disaster, Trump is engaging in history’s most dangerous sulk.

Even before his re-election loss, Trump had trouble expressing empathy for victims of the virus and their families. Even after his own bout with Covid-19, Trump did not seem capable of feeling or imagining the suffering of others. (*We saw this in Puerto Rico when his sole presidential act was to throw paper towels to the suffering populace.)

This may reflect some psychological incapacity. But it also indicates a certain view of pandemic politics.

From the start, Trump did not believe the disaster itself was a true enemy.   Rather, he viewed the public perception of widespread disease as the real threat—the threat to his political future. So, the fewer Americans who believed in the disease’s spread, the better. And the less attention the victims of the disease received, the better.

This helps explain Trump’s own explanation given to the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward at the start of the pandemic.  “I wanted to always play it down,” the president said.  “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.” A panic, after all, might spook the stock market, or make him appear responsible.

This is a distorted way to view both illness and politics.  Interpreted as an attack on him, Covid-19 should be minimized.  In reality, the disease was—and is—an attack on the American public, which can be fought only by elevating attention to the disease and warning against indifference.  It was Trump’s monomania that dictated the path of denial and inaction.

At one point early in the unfolding crisis, a senior official urged Trump to take leadership and “own the problem.”  But that is exactly what the president wanted most to avoid.  As the danger became undeniable, the president doggedly denied it.  “It’s going to disappear,” said Trump.

The goal was not to calm the public, but to anesthetize it.

In this cramped and selfish view of the world, every Covid-19 victim who is highlighted by the media is perceived by the president as an attack on himself. And the public expression of sympathy on his part would be self-sabotage, an admission of his failure.

So when Trump recovered from the disease, he did not say, as former Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie did, “I should have won a mask.”  Instead, Trump pronounced himself “immune,” held dangerous largely mask-free rallies, and used his own recovery to play down the seriousness of the disease.

Covid-19 Test Site.

Recovery from Covid-19 did not change Trump’s perspective, and neither has electoral loss. The president is apparently too busy moping, golfing, fuming and lying to assume leadership during a spiraling health crisis. (*Today, however, he took time to fire the head of cyber-security for the election and to make an attempt to disenfranchise all of Detroit.).

He has roused only enough interest to take personal credit for a prospective vaccine.  Once again, Trump does not seem to regard Covid-19 as a threat to the country requiring responsible action  He sees the pandemic as an attack on his person to be downplayed or denied.

This is egotism, turned cruel and deadly. (*The nation’s Top Psychiatrists say that Trump is, indeed, a malignant narcissist. This means narcissism, anti-social personality disorder, paranoia and sadistic tendencies rolled into one and created to describe Hitler.)

The country will not be delivered by appealing to Trump’s better angels, who fled in disgust long ago.  It might help if elected Republicans stopped ignoring and enabling Trump’s lethal tantrum.  But the hours until noon, January 20th, still move too slowly.

 

Dan Partland (“Unfit”) Re-Scheduled for October 22nd on Weekly Wilson Podcast

Joe Biden in Independence, Iowa, on the Fourth of July, 2019.

My apologies to all who tuned in to hear me speak with Dan Partland, Writer/Director/Producer of “Unfit,” the #1 Amazon documentary that answers the question, “What the hell is wrong with Donald J. Trump?”

Due to technical difficulties beyond my control, my show was not on the air on 10/15, but Dan Partland has agreed to be with me “live” on 10/22. Trust me: you want to hear this man talk about the truths revealed in his excellent documentary. You can tape the presidential debate, since we already know, based on tonight’s town halls, that DJT will do his best to interrupt and ruin it, anyway. It’s a “live” call-in format so you can call in with questions at 866-451-1451.

Here’s my other thought for today, before I begin comparing the two town halls in a separate piece (to run later). It is page 705 of Jeffrey Toobin’s book “True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigation of Donald Trump.”

“He has betrayed our national security, and he will do so again. He has compromised our elections, and he will do so again. You will not change him. You cannot constrain him. He is who he is. Truth matters little to him. What is right matters even less. And decency matters not at all. I do not ask you to convict him because truth or right or decency matters nothing to him, but because we have proven our case and it matters to you. Truth matters to you. Right matters to you. You are decent. He is not who you are.” (Adam Schiff’s adjuration to the Senate during the impeachment of DJT).

“New York Times” Reveals Details of Trump’s Tax Records

The New York Times article (which I read) says Trump paid $750 in taxes in 2016 and again in 2017 but no taxes at all in 10 of the last 15 years. “A devastating picture of a president who is counting on the presidency to prop him up.”

That assessment is consistent with the reasons that were given back in 2016 about why DJT finally did what he had often threatened to do and ran for president. He didn’t expect to win, but he felt it would burnish his fading brand.

Keep in mind that Trump has $421 million coming due within 4 years, including a possible $100 million (plus interest) penalty on the refund he got in 2010 for $72.9 million on the $95 million he had paid over 18 years. (Now in dispute with the IRS). It seems that, if you were really and truly wiped out in a bankruptcy, with nothing to show for your former business, you could request a tax refund, BUT, DJT claimed to have lost everything in the financial collapse of his casino when, in reality, he got 5% of the new casino company, which presents a problem for the refund he received.

Trump has always been bailed out by his wealthy father. But Daddy is dead and Trump has not been a good steward of his money, let alone of our country’s money (The national debt has risen by $6.6 trillion on Trump’s watch.)

Very few of the 500 or so companies that make up Trump’s holdings are money-makers. After his good year on “The Apprentice” in 2014, for which he received 50% of the revenue, he bought many properties (something like 12 golf clubs) which was ill-advised. Only Trump Tower of all of his purchases seems to have made money ($20 million a year) and he still has paid none of the principal on the $100 million that is due in 2022. Trump personally guaranteed $300 billion in loans, and they are coming due.

True, there were temporary gains from his run, including an uptick in memberships to Mar A Lago which brought in an extra $5 million a year, but owning country clubs is not a very lucrative proposition and they have consistently lost money for him, including $315 million lost by such courses as Doral in Miami, which he bought in 2012. Trump’s Washington Hotel has also not been doing well, despite the unwritten rule that those paying court to the U.S. President should stay there. It has lost $55 million since opening in 2016.

One of the more troubling bits of information, besides the fact that Trump paid almost no taxes in over 15 years, is the additional information that he paid taxes to other foreign entities, such as the $156,824 he paid on his $3 million in income from the Philippines, or the $145,400 he paid to India on the $2.3 million he made there, or the $15,598 he paid to Panama. He also earned $1 million from Turkey in 2012. At one point, Trump was selling stocks and bonds to raise more money (he only has $873,000 left to sell) and he has always licensed his name ($427.4 to license his name and the image of Trump). The Donald used to like to brag that he “owned the Empire State Building.” He did own the land on which it sat once, but no more.

Then there was the practice of calling Seven Springs in Westchester County (Bedfford, NY) an investment property some of the time and a residence some of the time.

Also troubling: taking a $22 million property tax deduction when a 2017 law says you can only deduct $10,000 a year. Most millionaires in Trump’s neighborhood financially end up paying 24.1% of their wealth to the government, but Trump has always claimed that he has lost so much money that it wiped out his need to pay anything into the treasury. Practices like paying Ivanka “consulting fees” ($747,622) to travel to Hawaii and Vancouver, British Columbia are probably not going to fly with the IRS. Neither will the $1.1 million in “consulting fees” or the $5 million collected from the hotel deal in Azerbaijan.

As historian Douglas Brinkley said, “He’s an outlaw that’s in trouble.”

How quaint to realize that it was Nixon’s only paying $792.81 on his 1970 income of $200,000 that caused it to be considered routine for presidents to release their tax records, something which, until Trump, had occurred with regularity since 1973.

Reprint of Some Relevant Information

Trump has a long history of racist controversies

Here’s a breakdown of Trump’s history, taken largely from Dara Lind’s list for Vox and an op-ed by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times:

  • 1973: The US Department of Justice — under the Nixon administration, out of all administrations — sued the Trump Management Corporation for violating the Fair Housing Act. Federal officials found evidence that Trump had refused to rent to Black tenants and lied to Black applicants about whether apartments were available, among other accusations. Trump said the federal government was trying to get him to rent to welfare recipients. In the aftermath, he signed an agreement in 1975 agreeing not to discriminate to renters of color without admitting to discriminating before.
  • 1980s: Kip Brown, a former employee at Trump’s Castle, accused another one of Trump’s businesses of discrimination. “When Donald and Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor,” Brown said. “It was the eighties, I was a teenager, but I remember it: They put us all in the back.”
  • 1988: In a commencement speech at Lehigh University, Trump spent much of his speech accusing countries like Japan of “stripping the United States of economic dignity.” This matches much of his current rhetoric on China.
  • 1989: In a controversial case that’s been characterized as a modern-day lynching, four Black teenagers and one Latino teenager — the “Central Park Five” — were accused of attacking and raping a jogger in New York City. Trump immediately took charge in the case, running an ad in local papers demanding, “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” The teens’ convictions were later vacated after they spent seven to 13 years in prison, and the city paid $41 million in a settlement to the teens. But Trump in October 2016 said he still believes they’re guilty, despite the DNA evidence to the contrary.
  • 1991: A book by John O’Donnell, former president of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, quoted Trump’s criticism of a Black accountant: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.” Trump later said in a 1997 Playboy interview that “the stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true.”
  • 1992: The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino had to pay a $200,000 fine because it transferred Black and women dealers off tables to accommodate a big-time gambler’s prejudices.
  • 1993: In congressional testimony, Trump said that some Native American reservations operating casinos shouldn’t be allowed because “they don’t look like Indians to me.”
  • 2000: In opposition to a casino proposed by the St. Regis Mohawk tribe, which he saw as a financial threat to his casinos in Atlantic City, Trump secretly ran a series of ads suggesting the tribe had a “record of criminal activity [that] is well documented.”
  • 2004: In season two of The Apprentice, Trump fired Kevin Allen, a Black contestant, for being overeducated. “You’re an unbelievably talented guy in terms of education, and you haven’t done anything,” Trump said on the show. “At some point you have to say, ‘That’s enough.’”
  • 2005: Trump publicly pitched what was essentially The Apprentice: White People vs. Black People. He said he “wasn’t particularly happy” with the most recent season of his show, so he was considering “an idea that is fairly controversial — creating a team of successful African Americans versus a team of successful whites. Whether people like that idea or not, it is somewhat reflective of our very vicious world.”
  • 2010: In 2010, there was a huge national controversy over the “Ground Zero Mosque” — a proposal to build a Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan, near the site of the 9/11 attacks. Trump opposed the project, calling it “insensitive,” and offered to buy out one of the investors in the project. On The Late Show With David Letterman, Trump argued, referring to Muslims, “Well, somebody’s blowing us up. Somebody’s blowing up buildings, and somebody’s doing lots of bad stuff.”
  • 2011: Trump played a big role in pushing false rumors that Obama — the country’s first Black president — was not born in the US. He even sent investigators to Hawaii to look into Obama’s birth certificate. Obama later released his birth certificate, calling Trump a ”carnival barker.” (The research has found a strong correlation between “birtherism,” as this conspiracy theory is called, and racism.) Trump has reportedly continued pushing this conspiracy theory in private.
  • 2011: While Trump suggested that Obama wasn’t born in the US, he also argued that maybe Obama wasn’t a good enough student to have gotten into Columbia or Harvard Law School, and demanded Obama release his university transcripts. Trump claimed, “I heard he was a terrible student. Terrible. How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard?”

 

A Look Back at Thoughts on Quora 2 Years Ago

The obvious answer to “Who in history should never have been born?” would be Adolph Hitler, but, updating that, let’s also nominate Donald J. Trump. The harm he is doing is growing to proportions that may make it impossible to right the ship of state unless we intervene much more quickly than is currently happening.

“Bee Gone: A Political Parable”

It’s all well and good to talk about the Mueller investigation and hope it will bring an end to the chaotic madness that putting up with Donald J. Trump hath wrought, but a film I saw recently suggested that we only have until 2020 to reverse global warming (which is not a priority on Trump’s watch) and every day he undertakes some expensive initiative that is either poorly thought out, not thought out at all, or deeply divisive and destructive.

If you still need examples of these things, after the shootings and the up tick in hate crimes and the forest fires in California, you just aren’t paying attention.

Meanwhile, we have agencies that are responsible for such things as the underground radioactive containers (the Department of the Interior) that are either not being run at all or are being run by people who are proven enemies of the departments they now head up.

I pray that I am over-reacting and that the massive debt Trump has loaded our country with will magically disappear, but reality has a bad habit of rearing its increasingly ugly head.

*******

The above was my Quora answer of nearly 2 years ago—BEFORE the pandemic hit. Feel free to leave your civil comments and we’ll have a dialogue that might lead to some sort of consensus. Light, not heat.

RNC’s Disconnect from Reality

[Having just finished watching both the DNC and the RNC and doing a “live” podcast discussing both, I am reprinting here the observations of another, Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post.

I’ll ultimately put down my own thoughts about the two conventions, articulated “live” on Weekly Wilson podcast last night in discussion with author Michael Serrapica (author of “Conned Conservatives and Led-On Liberals,” a book about political propaganda), but here is part of Eugene Robinson’s column. Coming from a black citizen, the viewpoints offer more insight than my own :

In his first paragraph, Robinson called out what I  similarly called out in a Letter to the Editor of the Quad City Times published on 8/27, a rebuttal to a Sunday letter  from Lyle Miller that ran on Aug. 23rd. Said Robinson of the RNC show. I call it a DISCONNECT FROM REALITY of those swearing allegiance to DJT.

“What 176,000-plus deaths from COVID-19? What devastating shutdown and recession?  What double-digit unemployment?  What mass uncertainty over whether and how to open our schools?  What shocking police killings of African Americans? What long overdue reckoning with systemic racism?  Let me put it another way:  What country does Vice President Mike Pence live in?” wrote Eugene Robinson.

If you saw my letter to the editor in the paper yesterday in response to Lyle Robinson, I referred to his completely ignoring similar shortcomings and failings of the current administration as “a disconnect with reality.” What is wrong with intelligent people that they cannot see through this charlatan’s charade and how he is playing “the fear card” to try, by any means possible, to hold on to power? It wasn’t a coincidence that Melania Trump showed up looking like a Slovenian Prison Matron the night of her speech in the Rose Garden, the garden that she completely uprooted in order to use “the people’s house” for the Trump team’s purposes.

Robinson continued:  “During his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, Pence sounded as though he lived in some kind of fantasyland that perhaps had encountered a few tiny little bumps in the road.  His party has spent the week claiming to represent ‘the common man,’ but Pence spoke as though he knew next to nothing about the daunting challenges that Americans are having to deal with every day.  The most he could muster was an acknowledgement that ‘we’re passing through a time of testing,’ as though he were consoling a motorist after a fender bender.”

Pence did offer ‘our prayers’ for victims of Hurricane Laura’ and he acknowledged there had been deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, though not how many.  But his only pointed and specific words were his attacks against the Democratic nominee—‘You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America‘—and his full-throated endorsement of President Donald Trump’s ‘law and order’ rhetoric. The idea that “you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America” is complete and utter B.S. and any thinking person who was alive from 2008-2016 should be able to figure that out for himself or herself.

At this point, we could add that the violence we are all seeing and  experiencing in towns like Minneapolis and Kenosha is on Trump’s watch, with his apparent tacit endorsement, as it might help him cling to power if he can convince gullible Americans that the violence breaking forth on our streets right now is not on HIS watch, but try to lay it at the feet of a rival candidate who served honorably for 47 years, 8 of them as Vice President.

Robinson continued:  “The vice president rejected the idea of systemic racism, instead focusing on the protest and demanding its end.  He blasted ‘violence and chaos—rioting and looting—tearing down statues”–with no mention of why those things might be happening.”

It is a fair charge to say that DJT cares more about dead Civil War heroes than he does about living flesh-and-blood American citizens.

Continuing:  “Pence spoke from an iconic American setting, the site of the War of 1812 battle whose ‘rocket’s red glare’ and ‘bombs bursting in air’ inspired Francis Scott Key to write ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’  Fort McHenry is meant to symbolize national unity.  It was an act of defilement to use such a place for partisan political rhetoric intended to provoke division and fear.”

“But as far as this Republican convention is concerned, what else is new?”

“So far, the GOP has misused the White House—the people’s house— to have Trump and his acting Secretary of Homeland Security stage a naturalization ceremony, crassly reducing 5 newly-minted U.S. citizens to photographic props; have Trump pardon an African-American ex-convict Jon Pardon, as part of an all-out attempt to whitewash the administration’s shocking racism; and have First Lady Melania Trump deliver her convention address standing in the Rose Garden she recently renovated.”

We could interject here, “recently ruined.” The Rose Garden trees were planted by Jackie Kennedy in the sixties and the trees bore the names of other first ladies through the years, but they were all gone, dug up to make way for cables and microphones and bland-by-comparison flowers, so that Trump could squeeze 3,000 people into the Rose Garden, nearly all maskless and sitting in close proximity. If there are bigger ways to give the rest of the U.S. the finger, what are they? “Let’s rip out Jackie Kennedy’s garden and, instead, make this hallowed location a launching pad for the propaganda of our convention!” And that’s what 100% of the convention was about: propaganda. Truth rarely reared its head.

“Bee Gone: A Political Parable”

To continue:

“The party also had Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speak to the convention from Jerusalem, playing an active partisan role in a way no sitting secretary of state has done in living memory (because of the Hatch Act)—in the middle of a taxpayer-funded diplomatic trip, no less. Pompeo is supposed to represent the entire nation, but apparently he represents only the loyal Trump base.”

“Trump and his campaign aides see this ostentatious disregard for hallowed norms (and laws, like the emoluments clause of the Constitution) as elements of ‘the Trump brand.’ Despite being in office for 3 and 1/2 years, Trump still wants to cast himself as some kind of rough-hewn outsider willing to smash all the china, if necessary, to ‘get things done.’ It’s pure razzle-dazzle (or razzle-fizzle) designed to create the illusion of blunt effectiveness and to distract from the administration’s dismal, tragic failures.”

“Pence is supposedly leading the nation’s response to the coronavirus emergency. You would think that he, of all speakers, would at least try to deal with that crisis substantively, but you would have been wrong.”

“As Pence spoke, a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm was grinding towards landfall along the Gulf Coast—one of two to hit within days.  Thousands of people were trying to evacuate their homes near the Texas-Louisiana border and, because the Trump administration so bungled its response to Covid-19, they had to scramble for shelter and safety in the midst of a raging pandemic.”

“Meanwhile, Kenosha, Wisconsin, was under a tense dusk-to-dawn curfew following angry protests that were sparked by the shocking police shooting Sunday of yet another Black man, Jacob Blake, shot 7 times in the back in front of three little boys while attempting to get into his car. (and now paralyzed from the waist down). Pence apparently hadn’t noticed the reason for the Kenosha protests. And he apparently really didn’t notice the killing Tuesday of two protesters, allegedly by a 17-year-old White Racist vigilante and avid Trump supporter whose mother drove him and his automatic weapon to Kenosha from Illinois. “[The perpetrator, Kyle Rittenhouse, was even able to drive back home to Antioch, Illinois and spend the night in his own bed, while the police chief in Kenosha blamed the victims for “being out after curfew.”]

“Stable genius.”

Let’s be quite clear here: all of this completely unacceptable violence is happening on DJT’s watch. The buck stops there.

I’m old enough to remember violence of this magnitude in the sixties, as various civil rights and political icons were shot down and the Black Panthers movement armed to counter police violence towards people of color. Still, the circumstances, amidst a pandemic, with a president who tacitly condones and encourages such unrest, while claiming to be trying to control it, are very different.

Robinson goes on to say: “I wasn’t surprised.  Earlier in the evening the convention brought out Michael McHale, president of the Nattonal Organization of Police Organizations, to describe Biden (who authored the 1994 crime bill) and vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris (a former prosecutor) as—somehow (unbelievably)—anti-police—and to call DJT ‘the most pro-law-enforcement president we’ve ever had.'”

“Be afraid, America, be very afraid, said Eugene Robinson.

“What all of this actually reveals is Trump’s own naked fear. (Fear that he may lose because of his incompetence when handling his duties regarding the coronavirus and the subsequent economic downturn.) Even this night, masks were not being worn and social distancing was not being practiced, yet more evidence of this administration’s anti-science bent, which has contributed to the U.S. having 1/4 of the world’s deaths from the virus but only 4% of the world’s population. Trump has made us the leader of “civilized country with most deaths that could have been prevented,” but that was not what the evening’s script wanted you to believe.

Robinson sums up:  “Trump and the Republicans are pulling these stunts because they know that right now they are, according to polls, they are losing this election. Badly. And, deep down, I hope at least some of them realize that defeat is what they rightly deserve.”

Let us never forget P.T. Barnum’s words, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

Apparently, the Trump team thinks that they can bamboozle their way through inconvenient facts and lie their way to a second term. Be a critical thinker. Look around you. Do you see long lines at food banks? Do you have neighbors who are out of work and whose jobs probably will never return? Worse yet, do you have friends or family members who have caught this lethal disease and are gone forever? Today’s headline of the Quad City Times reads:  “Iowa breaks Covid-19 Daily Records.”

It’s not business as usual, folks, and we are NOT back to “normal.” And whatever “normal” we return to will been shaped by the incompetent response of the very people tasked to address it, who, instead, told us as long ago as January 22nd, “We have it all under control.” Trump  continued to spout this falsehood, even in the face of reality.

Don’t let the GOP disconnect with reality blur your own eyes and ears. Look around and ask yourself that old political question, “Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago?” The answer is clear, and that means change of leadership. Or, actually, getting ANY national leadership in the Covid-19 fight, for a change.

 

 

Biden: Building Back Better

(*The following Opinion piece is by famous Conservative columnist George Will and is being reprinted here after its appearance in the Quad City Times. Will writes for the Washington Post.)

Moments after becoming president on August 9, 1973, Gerald Ford said, “Our long national nightmare is over.” Having served a quarter-century in Congress, he understood that presidents are to “take care” that laws produced by the first branch of government are “faithfully executed.”  The nation in 1974 was eager for a collegial respite from the gladatorial strife that had consumed the country during urban disorders and the Watergate slew of scandals.

Joe Biden’s election will end National Nightmare 2.0, the nation’s second domestic debate in two generations. Thomas Hobbes supposedly said, is truth seen too late, and in 2020 the nation, having seen it in the nick of time, will select for the Oval Office someone who, having served 36 years sixteen blocks to the east, knows this: A complex nation cannot be governed well without the lubricating conciliations of a healthy legislative left.

Biden won the Democrats’ nomination by soundly defeating rivals who favored—or, pandering, said they favored—a number of niche fixations (eg., abolishing ICE, defunding the police.) He clinched his nominations earlier and easier than did the winners in the Democrats’ most recent intensely contested nomination competitions (Barack Obama against Hillary Clinton in 2008; Clinton against Bernie Sanders in 2016).

Biden does not endorse Medicare for All:  He understands, as some competitors for the nomination amazingly did not, that for several decades organized labor’s most important agenda has been negotiating employer-provided health care as untaxed compensation.  Similarly, Biden does not oppose fracking, which provides many of the 300,000 Pennsylvania jobs supported by the oil and gas industry, and many others in Ohio and elsewhere.  He understands, as some progressives seem not to, that presidential elections are won not by pleasing the most intense faction but by assembling a temperate coalition.

Biden has not endorsed packing the Supreme Court: When Franklin Roosevelt, after carrying 46 of 48 states in 1936, tried that maneuver, the blowback in the 1938 Congressional elections erased his liberal legislating majority in Congress, and coalitions of conservative (mostly Southern) Democrats and Republicans prevailed until President Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 landslide produced a liberal congressional majority—briefly.

Biden came to the Senate 8 years later, in the aftermath.  In 1965 and 1966, Democrats wielding lopsided congressional majorities (295 to 140 in the House, 68 t32 in the Senate) had hinged beyond majority public opinion.  Voters’ retribution included Republican victories in 5 of the next 6 presidential elections.  Also, Biden was Vice President in 2010 when the electorate, after just 2 years of unified government under Democrats ended it.

One of Biden’s closest confidants, who has an agreeable preference for anonymity, says that Biden was initially ambivalent about seeking the 2020 nomination but “Charlottesville put him over the edge.”  The confidant refers to the violence provoked by the August 2017 anti-Semitic demonstrators, and to Donald Trump’s assessment that ther were “very fine people on both sides.”

The confidant calls Biden “a relief pitcher—he’s warming up in the bullpen right now,” preparing an administration with “a broad array of people.”  The confidante recommends taking seriously Biden’s campaign slogan ‘Building Back Better.‘ The “Back” acknowledges the national desire for reassurance “that the world, as they knew it, is recoverable.”

With Vice President Joseph Biden (then Senator Biden) at the Jefferson Jackson dinner in Davenport, Iowa, caucus season, 2008.

Many of Trump’s current campaign ads portray a dark fraying America.  They evoke the “hell hole” America that DJT described in 2015 that presaged his inaugural address reference to “American carnage.”  Biden’s optimistic ads suggest that although it is not now, it soon could again be, “Morning in America.”

Trump apologists say that prior to Covid-19, all was well.  “All” means only economic metrics: An American is supposedly homo economicus, interested only in consumption to the exclusion of civic culture.  And never mind a pre-pandemic $1 trillion deficit–at full employment.

Such apologists insist that Democratic  administrations jeopardize prosperity.  So these apologists are not merely projecting their one-dimensional selves onto their more well-rounded compatriots, they are ignoring 120 years of inconvenient data (as noted by Jeff Sommer in the New York Times):  “Since 1900, the stock market has fared far better under Democratic presidents with a 6.7% annualized return for the Dow Jones Industrial average compared with just 3.5% under Republicans.”

Nixon’s “imperial presidency” included Ruritanian White House uniforms, which did not survive nationwide snickering.  Gerald Ford’s presidential modesty produced reports of something that was remarkable only because it was remarked upon:  At breakfast, Ford popped his own English muffins into the presidential toaster.

Forty-six years later, an exhausted nation is again eager for manifestations of presidential normalcy.

Donald J. Trump and His Racist History

Trump has a long history of racist controversies

Here’s a breakdown of Trump’s history, taken largely from Dara Lind’s list for Vox and an op-ed by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times:

  • 1973: The US Department of Justice — under the Nixon administration, out of all administrations — sued the Trump Management Corporation for violating the Fair Housing Act. Federal officials found evidence that Trump had refused to rent to Black tenants and lied to Black applicants about whether apartments were available, among other accusations. Trump said the federal government was trying to get him to rent to welfare recipients. In the aftermath, he signed an agreement in 1975 agreeing not to discriminate to renters of color without admitting to discriminating before.
  • 1980s: Kip Brown, a former employee at Trump’s Castle, accused another one of Trump’s businesses of discrimination. “When Donald and Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor,” Brown said. “It was the eighties, I was a teenager, but I remember it: They put us all in the back.”
  • 1988: In a commencement speech at Lehigh University, Trump spent much of his speech accusing countries like Japan of “stripping the United States of economic dignity.” This matches much of his current rhetoric on China.
  • 1989: In a controversial case that’s been characterized as a modern-day lynching, four Black teenagers and one Latino teenager — the “Central Park Five” — were accused of attacking and raping a jogger in New York City. Trump immediately took charge in the case, running an ad in local papers demanding, “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” The teens’ convictions were later vacated after they spent seven to 13 years in prison, and the city paid $41 million in a settlement to the teens. But Trump in October 2016 said he still believes they’re guilty, despite the DNA evidence to the contrary.
  • 1991: A book by John O’Donnell, former president of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, quoted Trump’s criticism of a Black accountant: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.” Trump later said in a 1997 Playboy interview that “the stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true.”
  • 1992: The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino had to pay a $200,000 fine because it transferred Black and women dealers off tables to accommodate a big-time gambler’s prejudices.
  • 1993: In congressional testimony, Trump said that some Native American reservations operating casinos shouldn’t be allowed because “they don’t look like Indians to me.”
  • 2000: In opposition to a casino proposed by the St. Regis Mohawk tribe, which he saw as a financial threat to his casinos in Atlantic City, Trump secretly ran a series of ads suggesting the tribe had a “record of criminal activity [that] is well documented.”
  • 2004: In season two of The Apprentice, Trump fired Kevin Allen, a Black contestant, for being overeducated. “You’re an unbelievably talented guy in terms of education, and you haven’t done anything,” Trump said on the show. “At some point you have to say, ‘That’s enough.’”
  • 2005: Trump publicly pitched what was essentially The Apprentice: White People vs. Black People. He said he “wasn’t particularly happy” with the most recent season of his show, so he was considering “an idea that is fairly controversial — creating a team of successful African Americans versus a team of successful whites. Whether people like that idea or not, it is somewhat reflective of our very vicious world.”
  • 2010: In 2010, there was a huge national controversy over the “Ground Zero Mosque” — a proposal to build a Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan, near the site of the 9/11 attacks. Trump opposed the project, calling it “insensitive,” and offered to buy out one of the investors in the project. On The Late Show With David Letterman, Trump argued, referring to Muslims, “Well, somebody’s blowing us up. Somebody’s blowing up buildings, and somebody’s doing lots of bad stuff.”
  • 2011: Trump played a big role in pushing false rumors that Obama — the country’s first Black president — was not born in the US. He even sent investigators to Hawaii to look into Obama’s birth certificate. Obama later released his birth certificate, calling Trump a ”carnival barker.” (The research has found a strong correlation between “birtherism,” as this conspiracy theory is called, and racism.) Trump has reportedly continued pushing this conspiracy theory in private.
  • 2011: While Trump suggested that Obama wasn’t born in the US, he also argued that maybe Obama wasn’t a good enough student to have gotten into Columbia or Harvard Law School, and demanded Obama release his university transcripts. Trump claimed, “I heard he was a terrible student. Terrible. How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard?”

 

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén