DONALD J AND JARED

Trump’s Circle of Trust

There is something not quite right about the relationship that President Donald Trump has with his family and his work. He cannot seem to separate the two. While the mingling of business and family might be common in some royal families, in America it’s viewed with some skepticism.

There are those who didn’t like John Kennedy appointing his brother Robert to Attorney General. And no one talks about Harry Truman giving his wife Bess a job in the White House. She rose to Chairman of the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, a position that garnered a paycheck, but according to biographers, not a position in which she actively participated.

Now, we have the President’s son-in-law positioned in a role of intense involvement and power: Senior Advisory to the President. There was stretch where Donald Trump was assigning young Jared a new job every other day, from bringing peace in the middle east to reorganizing the government to fixing the judicial system. Really?

We should remember Jared’s blast into business started with this headline: Kushner took over the family business when his father went to jail. And the person who helped put Charles Kushner behind bars was Chris Christie. You know the one who got passed over by the Donald. Jared was forced into running the family business at the age of 26 while his father was in federal prison convicted of illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion, and witness tampering.

I have just read the full six-pages of Jared Kushner’s statement to the Congressional Committee. This well-written document seems rather honest and direct. He’s 36 years old, but he seems to be traveling in a space way over his head. He forgets people, he doesn’t recall meetings, but worst of all, he didn’t even read the whole email that Don Jr. sent him. Jared, you have to read from the bottom up. This is the problem with top-down rich kids. And come on, how could you forget the name of the Russian Ambassador to the US?

He doesn’t remember meetings, but clearly remembers getting an email from Guccifer400, huh? Then he admits asking if there was an “existing communications channel at his (Russian) embassy” and mere sentences later, says, “I did not suggest a ‘secret back channel.’” He needs to get his story straight.

His last paragraph raised some eyebrows, “I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector.” This is one of those sentences written by a skilled attorney. “I have not relied…” doesn’t mean, I have no Russian investors in my properties. It could simply mean “I had no financial help while building or buying a property.” In fact, many Russian investors have bought or rented space in Trump and Kushner properties. They are customers.

Mr. Kushner needs to be placed under oath and questioned about the meeting with the banker on December 13, 2016. The bank is a state-owned property and the banker, Sergey Gorkov, gave Jared presents from his grandparents’ home in Belarus. Wait, the Kushners are from Belarus?  Is that the same Belarus once part of Russia which became a founding member of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1922. Oh boy, the story couldn’t get any richer.

So, Jared’s grand parents came from a Soviet bloc country and Donald Trump’s grand parents came from Germany. They are both second-generation immigrants. Of course, sons of different mothers, but this certainly makes the Trump anti-immigrant stance paradoxical.

Back to the President’s son-in-law, why does Trump need his daughter and Jared in the White House? What amount of insecurity do we, the American public, have to endure with Trump? We need him to make clear, objective decisions. The advice of family members can be tainted if they are more eager to please rather than providing truthful feedback. Ivanka could go on every Climate Change march and wear a skin-tight-fitting T-shirt that screamed Save the Planet and her father would ignore any action to help accomplish a better environment.

Jared, with his liberal views and democratic ways, is just a “yes man” and the “doer” while the Donald can jet around and scream to crazy-cult crowds of supporters. We know that Jared has contributed zero to the healthcare bill. As he said in his statement to the Congressional Committee, he’s so busy with thousands of emails, he doesn’t have time to read them all. He’s so busy, he doesn’t have time to do his job.

I almost laughed at the explanation about why the SF-86 had to be amended so many times. Jared Kushner’s excuse sounds like one of those ‘the dog ate my homework’ stories that so many parents and teachers have heard. Okay, you messed up kid, your assistant submitted a rough draft to the FBI. Wow, sure glad it wasn’t some important document.

All of this vividly reveals that Donald J. Trump and his associates are unaware of the laws of governance and uninterested in proper documentation. They are flying by the seat of their pants, and those pants aren’t even made in America.

In the movie Meet the Parents, Robert De Niro’s character, Jack Byrnes, introduces Ben Stiller’s persona, Greg Focker, to what Jack calls the “Byrnes Circle of Trust.” There’s this dialog: “See if I can’t trust you Greg, then I have no choice but to put you outside the circle. Once you’re out, you’re out. There’s no coming back.”

The difference between Trump and Jack Byrnes is when Trump sends someone away that he has endorsed in the past, he doesn’t send them out of the circle. He cannot admit he was wrong. He still speaks well of Michael Flynn, a person who could bring the Donald’s presidency to its knees. He says nice things about Sean Spicer. And maybe that is why he uses his family members as tools. Poor Don Jr. is a “good kid.”

It’s easier to be loyal to your family members than to those outside the circle of trust. Everyone will give Trump a pass on sticking up for his kids, but it’s getting harder to believe that Trump can shovel the same hackneyed phrases and conspiracy theories to all of the country without someone asking this question. Why do we want to be friends with Russia? Why is being friends with them so important to Trump and Jared? Are we worried more about protecting Belarus than the Ukrainian people from Russia?  Hey, just asking.

 


RATS LEAVING SHIP

Trump’s Creeping Corruption

When Donald Trump ran for President he promised us he would “drain the swamp,” which was a terrific marketing slogan. Part of the 10-square miles that make up Washington, DC was built on swampland so the language worked. What Donald didn’t comprehend was that once the water was gone he would have lots of angry alligators ready to take him down.

Surveying how Washington works, you find out that one cannot just come in and push all the institutions, customs and traditions aside. I’ve never thought of Donald Trump as anybody but a third-rate entertainer who is addicted to the roar of the crowd, the smell of the grease paint (or orange makeup). He doesn’t take anything seriously until he doesn’t get what he wants. Then he uses the claws of lawyers and influencers and pouts like a little spoiled brat.

As the clock ticks, we learn more and more about Donald Trump and his associates. Today (7-21-2017) it was disclosed that Exxon Mobil violated sanctions by doing business with Russia. The company, which at the time had Rex Tillerson as its CEO, was fined $2 million for this infraction. Immediately, Exxon Mobil announced that they would sue Steven Mnuchin and the Treasury Department, which Mnuchin heads. How can this be happening? During Tillerson’s confirmation hearing he was asked about this. So much for extreme vetting. Under any other administration, the now Secretary of State would be asked to step down during this lawsuit. How can he testify against the very government that employs him?

Ties with Russia seem to be woven into Trump’s words, actions and deeds. We have stopped sending arms to the rebels in Syria, which is what Putin wants us to do.

If the United States returns those two seize properties that were allegedly used for Russian intelligence, we will see that Trump truly is Putin’s puppet.  We were warned this would happen.

If Trump deletes the Magnitsky Act, which puts sanctions on Russia for Human Rights violations, that is just one more give-away to Putin by Trump.

The lack of transparency about Russia seems more like creeping corruption than good diplomacy. The first thing I would ask Trump is this.  What are we getting out of it, Mr. Big-Shot-Dealmaker?

When Trump rambled on in his New York Times interview (7-20-2017), he seemed to threaten the Special Counsel that his companies, his family’s and his own private finances were off-limits. The accused doesn’t get to the block the investigator’s vision while seeking the truth.

Now we learn that Robert Mueller has sent a letter to the White House saying they must preserve all the documents, text messages, voice mails and correspondence pertaining to the 2016 meeting with Don, Jr., et. al. and Russians. The plot thickens.

And if Friday wasn’t hot enough outside, inside the administration just got hotter. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, resigned. He told President Trump he vehemently disagreed with the appointment of New York financier Anthony Scaramucci to the position of Communications Director. Will we see more rats leaving the ship?

Whether true or not, it has been leaked, probably by Trump himself, that his team of lawyers are discussing how Presidential pardons work. Aren’t they getting the cart in front of the horse here? You don’t talk about how to get out of jail before you are caught doing the crime.

As our great Orange Leader disparages his Attorney General in the interview with the Times and seems to fail to understand the old yarn about not hanging out your dirty laundry.  He is circling his wagons with more loyalists. Trump being loyal to the people around him is one royal LIE.

The theme has been heard before from the Donald. If a legal mind or someone in the judiciary makes a decision against our 14-year-old leader, he wars against judges with his words. He is not fit to be President and something must be done.

The creeping corruption is slowing working its way to the very man who could end it all, just by telling the truth. Those who stay by his side will be dragged into this mess. Time to be a patriot and get away from this madman. Absolute corruption, corrupts absolutely.

 


HEROES & VILLIANS

The Undisclosed Trump

Robert Mueller has a lot of work to do. The press is drilling to find their “deep throat” and the drip, drip, drip of facts surrounding the presidency only lead to more questions. We know that there is, indeed, a connection between the campaign and Russia, but we still don’t have the complete story.

What Congress must do is pass a law that says anyone running for President and every President in office, must disclose all their financial entanglements. We have never had a leader with this much money and as high an international business profile as Donald Trump. One could ask, can anyone with that many on-going enterprises be outside of the window of conflict of interest? We might be able to know if the tradition of releasing tax returns should become codified by a law.

Lawyers can argue that the President is above the normal conflicts rules and laws because we wouldn’t want his every judgement to end up in the court. That would be extremely distracting, but we have to hold the man in the White House to ethical standards. If not, then we need to rewrite the laws to make him or her more transparent than private companies or sole proprietors. The president’s position is not a limited liability corporation, he’s the leader of the country and the people deserve to his debtors and cash flow.

Donald Trump has pulled another con by saying that his sons will run his businesses, without a firm trust or sell off. He brought his daughter, who still has her own company, into the White House along with his son-in-law.  Why? Was it so he could control them or protect them? Under this unique arrangement both Ivanka and Jared should release their complete income tax returns and financial entanglements as well.

If I really trusted Trump I wouldn’t be asking for this kind of information to be made public. The President of the United States has said some things on twitter, in public and in his proclamations and executive orders that beg the question, why did he say that? Why can’t our great Orange Leader simply release of all the material and prove that he was born in America, ah, I mean, that he has no connection to Russia.

Mr. President says that the “Russia thing with Trump is a hoax” and “This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history.” Really? Why would this be “FAKE NEWS” when his own son put it on the front page by releasing his emails? We have no idea how many emails Don Jr. and the Trump campaign have deleted, but I am sure someone has them.

The Donald cannot get out front of this story because he keeps throwing more wood on the fire. If he wants a story to go away he should stop talking about it. Maybe Trump has a blood clot in his brain.  That could explain his misuse of the bully pulpit. The simple truth is he’s not getting anything done

We should be able to see the President’s medical records for the safety of this country. For someone so important, we have a right to know if he is hiding any deep and dark medical secrets that could affect the way he governs. It’s only fair that the American understand as much as they can about the person holding their trust. And of course, if he has some creeping disorder or disease, like Ronald Reagan endured, then we the people should have a legal path to replace him. We know the amazing military record of a real American hero, John McCain; let this President release his medical records so we can see what kept him out of military service.

Donald Trump never talks about his mother. This bothers me greatly. I have never respected a person who seems to have no connection to the lady that brought him to the dance. I wonder what that means? He needs to disclose the things that gave him this distorted view of his wealth, fame and ego. He likes to keep too many things secret, which makes him “unpredictable.” Do we really want a fickle leader? If he made a capricious move with some of the bad guys in the world, he could get us into a war.

Donald Trump worships money. He has proven he will lie, cheat and steal to get more of it. He will sue his way out of any situation that damages his weak self-esteem. He will attack people, even if they are innocent, with all the fury of a madman. He is just what many say he is, unhinged. But most people agree on one point, he is not forthcoming.  He thinks that secrets have value, and maybe so, but there is a cost to pay for keeping them.

TRUTH; the American people deserve honesty, openness and truth from its President. The art of the lie might be making some people laugh, but for most citizens in the country his lack of candor is slowing eroding trust, even in his base. People are starting to admit that this President lies. Perhaps they feel okay with their guns and Bibles right now, but in the end, they will be screwed just like the sub-contractors of a Trump building. Those who voted for Trump will have to come to the realization soon, that Donald J. Trump is not Making America Great.

 

 

 

 


OBAMACARE vs. TRUMPCARE

Trump Alone Can Fix It, Except Healthcare

Well, here we are again. The Democrats gave the country the gift of healthcare and like an addict, we do not want the Republicans to take it away. After 7-years of complaining about Obamacare, the elephants in the room forgot to actually pen an alternative bill. No one was working on a rewrite of the plan?

But the blame this time sits in the lap of the 45th President of the United States. Donald Trump has brought nothing to the debate and his actions are embarrassingly superficial and valueless. His language about how the plan will be “beautiful” and “really great” are terms he could have used for one of his beauty pageant contestants. His lack of understanding of healthcare was exposed when he admitted that healthcare was “complicated.”

If all those great and “really smart” people that Trump brought into his cabinet and administration were really smart and great, they would have revised the 906-page Affordable Healthcare Act and made it a better law. But no, they were so busy signing executive orders they took their collective eyes off the ball.

As we watch this drama and dysfunctional relationship between Congress and the White House play out, we learn how little influence Donald Trump has on the process. The Congress must stand behind their work while getting an earful from their constituents when they hold town meetings. Some say that people are being bused in from out of their districts to do these protests, but we are talking about a national bill, right? Why would it matter where the people come from if they are against a healthcare act that will affect all Americans?

This whole episode has vividly exposed the great divide between Republicans. We hear little about those snarly Tea Party people, but they are still around and they are against anything the government might do that has any hint of helping people. We are also seeing the imaginary line between “normal” GOP members and the neo-conservatives. The reason I use the “neo” prefix is because they aren’t old line conservatives like Ronald Reagan, who never walked away from a tax increase that could fix a problem. These new conservatives, like Rand Paul, seem to have some deep-seated reason to not like a good idea. Might Rand Paul be a plant in the Senate for doctors?

Trump should be listening to the CBO scores because the organizations and lobbyists that are paid to protect groups like kids and retired people use the data to send emails to millions of people.

Scare headlines like: Pregnancy to cost 425% more under Donald Trump’s health plan compared to Obamacare, are being splashed on the front pages of newspapers all over the world. Why? Because most of those countries have a single-payer system and they find Trump’s battle with healthcare to be rather humorous. See, they have already solved that problem.

The Donald has once again showed his lack of understanding about how government works and how Congress moves like a turtle. If he was a bit wiser he would have gone right into rebuilding US infrastructure, moving forward with something that would have helped commerce in our country. Most products move on rail, road or runway and if they are in disrepair the economy suffers. Healthcare, in its present state, keeps people at work and that helps the country. Why kill it?

How can the President of the United States sit by and let this happen? It’s as if he is powerless and has no ability to fix what is there now. He really doesn’t care. Just listen to him: “Let Obamacare fail. It’ll be a lot easier, and I think we’re probably in that position where we’ll just let Obamacare fail. We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it.” Once again, it’s blame the other guy and let the people suffer. The atrophy of this “leader” is demoralizing.

This morning (7-18-17), USA Today ran a story asking the question, Will Trump exercise? “He’s 71, holds down an incredibly stressful job, and is overweight. He doesn’t exercise. His eating habits are less than ideal. And to top it off, he doesn’t get enough sleep.” The good news for Trump is that he doesn’t smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. But after rolling back all the nutritional standards on school lunches, he’s guilty of being part of the problem on healthcare in more ways than one.

The anxiety and stress that Donald is feeling with his new job is the same as the stress he has created for undocumented people and those with pre-existing conditions. Clearly, Donald J. Trump is bad for the health of America. Wait until we discover more lead in the drinking water somewhere in America. In short, Trump hasn’t fixed healthcare for America, he’s made it worse.

 


PROOFLESS PRESIDENT

Poor Donald the Victim

Missouri has a great nickname, The Show Me State.  They say that people from Missouri have a devotion to simple common sense. In 1899, Representative Willard D. Vandiver said, “Frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I’m from Missouri.”

When Donald Trump and his father, Fred, were accused of violating the Fair Housing Act in New York in the early 1970s, the Human Rights Commission claimed that Trump rental agents had used a code on applications to note if the applicant was African-American or Hispanic so they could prevent them from renting a Trump property. The company was sued by the DOJ in 1973. The case was settled out of court and Trump claimed he did nothing wrong. He had no proof of the Feds’ accusation nor did he have proof of innocence.

He then created the Trump Foundation which, according to public records, has raised $9.3 million from outside sources. Trump hasn’t put any money into the Foundation since 2008, but that is not the problem. The organization never registered the charity with the state of New York. Vince and Linda McMahon, the wrestling people, gave the Foundation a bunch of money, and now Linda runs the Small Business Administration, a political appointment. Was that a long-term pay to play scenario?

It has been alleged that Trump diverted taxable incomes (personal and business) into the Foundation by urging people who owed him money to pay it back directly into the foundation. Without tax returns from Donald J. Trump, we cannot disprove that the Foundation was laundering money. Again, no proof of innocence.

According to the very well-written book, The Case for Impeachment by Allan J. Lichtman, Donald Trump and his organization broke laws by trying to put a casino in Cuba when there was a total embargo on that country. They spent $68,000 in Cuba to explore investment opportunities. The embargo disallowed money to be spent in Cuba. Was Trump changing the rules on travel to Cuba, really just a way to hurt the Marriott corporation’s current efforts to build hotels there?  Again, no proof of innocence.

Lichtman also points out that “Trump was fined $200,000 by New Jersey regulators for removing African-American and female employees from the crap tables at the request of a high roller.” Again, no proof of innocence.

We all know about Trump University, which turned out to be a scam to defraud hopeful students out of their hard-earned money for nothing of real value or opportunities in real estate. Trump claimed no wrong doing, but settled out of court. Again, no proof of innocence.

Trump building projects have exploited undocumented workers. Look no further than the Polish undocumented laborers who were employed on the demolition project for the buildings removed to construct Trump Tower. According to Time magazine, “The men were putting in 12-hour shifts with inadequate safety equipment at subpar wages that their contractor paid sporadically, if at all. A lawyer for many of the Poles demanded that the workers be paid or else he would serve Trump with a lien on the property. One Polish worker even went to Trump’s office to ask him for money in person, according to sworn testimony and a deposition filed under oath in a court case.” Again no proof of innocence.

For years Donald J. Trump claimed that President Barack Obama was not born in America and his crusade of delegitimizing the 44th President. Trump claimed he hired investigators who went to Hawaii and then had the audacity to call victory when Obama finally released a copy of his birth certificate. Trump never apologized for his unproven farce, but his statement on the issue had no empathy or comprehension of the damage his charges caused. He simply said, “President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.” Again, no proof of innocence.

And that brings us to his biggest cover-up of all. His public denials that no one in his administration met with any Russians during his campaign or transition to the presidency. He lied, or if you want to give him the benefit of the doubt, he had no idea what his comrades were doing while he wasn’t in the room. Really? I thought he was on top of everything.

He keeps tweeting that this “Russia-Trump story” is a “hoax” and he uses language like, “With all of its phony unnamed sources & highly slanted & even fraudulent reporting, #Fake News is DISTORTING DEMOCRACY in our country!” (7-16-2017)

When reading the Don Jr. emails, I keep asking myself, did they make this up? It’s so revealing and stupid that it really does feel like “FAKE NEWS.” But it’s not and it proves that Donald Trump is not the victim here. If Jared Kushner didn’t tell candidate Trump about that meeting, he should be fired. Again, no proof of innocence.

There is not much “frothy eloquence” from those in power right now, but they need to step up and show us something. They must prove they had nothing to do with the possible desecration of our election process. Hey, Trump, the longer you wait to explain what really happened the more your lies collide with each other in the ether of history. So far, I have seen no proof of his innocence.

 


THE WHITE HOUSE IS NOT A FAMILY BUSINESS

Whatever Happened to Nepotism Rules?

Nepotism is the practice among those in power of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs. The law is pretty clear in our government and it applies to anyone hired in the executive, legislative or judicial branch:

A public official may not appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement, in or to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control any individual who is a relative of the public official.

This isn’t “Fake News”, it’s 5 U.S. Code § 3110 – Employment of relatives; restrictions.  I don’t believe that not taking a paycheck, negates this rule. It says “appoint to a civilian position.” The appointment alone is not allowed.

Why does Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter, have an office in the White House?  Why is her husband, Jared Kushner, a top adviser and “employee” of the White House? They said they put their companies in a trust, although many ethics experts say that they haven’t done enough. Trump, the President himself, is benefiting from money flowing from foreign governments through his properties, but the issue and violation of the Emoluments Clause, will be covered at a later time.

Let’s focus on nepotism for this article. Why is this important? Why is there a rule that prohibits this? One problem that can arise from the government advertising an opening at one of its agencies, interviewing applicants and then hiring a less qualified person to serve in the position. It’s bad business and shoddy business practice to hire the lesser able person.

Another possible violation can occur if someone is passed over and claims they didn’t get the job because of something other than their talent and qualifications. That could trigger a lawsuit based on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which, of course, bars discrimination because of race, color, sex, religion or national origin. You may not be able to prove the intent, but the embarrassment of a court battle would cost the country money and time.

A further problem can result when a senior male employee marries a lower ranking female member of the team. Who has to leave the agency, the senior male, or the woman? This opens up the possible legal problem of sexual discrimination. In the case of Ivanka and Jared, you don’t have that problem, but we do see the complications when offspring are given responsibilities.

The situation with Donald Trump, Jr. and his meeting with a Russian attorney exposes the President to the fact that he will probably lie for his kids, just as easily as he lies about so many other things. If Don Jr. was a mere employee of the campaign, like Paul Manafort, Daddy Trump would have thrown him under the bus. Parents don’t usually do the right thing with their kids, instead they do the right thing for their kids. Think about what Trump Sr. said about his son, “He’s a good boy.” He’s almost 40-years-old Mr. President, but you see him as a “boy?” And the praise for all his transparency was so father-like, while today (7-14-2017) we learned that there were two other people in the room during the meeting; previous undisclosed. What are they hiding?

According to Forbes Magazine, “Kathy Wiseman, a founder of and consultant at Working Systems, thinks everyone should be careful in such a situation. Wiseman advises family businesses and organizations, bringing them both sociology and 30 years of business experience. She estimates that nepotism among top executives works out only 40% of the time.”

So, if nepotism causes problems or at least complications and discomfort 60% of the time, why are we the people allowing Donald Trump to instate less qualified people in positions around him without anyone charging forward and waving 5 U.S. Code § 3110 in his face? Who checks the White House on the matter of employment?

We broke away from a King and a kingdom in 1776. Part of what the rebels here in the 13 States wanted to avoid was an unelected king operating freely and unchecked above the law. Their solution was to create a revolution and break away from the tyranny of Kings. Royalty is based on bloodlines and the children of Kings and Queens get to take over when the parent expires. Does the US now live in that world?

Why are any of Trump’s kids involved in this administration? Perhaps the President needs his “blankie” of his children blindly supporting him and telling him he’s right. But this is only going to end in problems. Don Jr. and the exposure of his emails is just an example of why there is a rule about hiring your kids. And one could ask, what does Ivanka do? What is her job description? As a tax payer, can I see that?  NEPOTISM is bad for business and worse for the United States.

I find it rather remarkable that seven months into this administration we hear the words, “innocent”, “unethical”, “illegal” and “hoax” more often than a normal White House would produce. We can only hope that the Democrats find some believable messenger between now and 2020. The king has no pants and not a lot of regard for the law.

 

 


TRUMP GOT PLAYED BY PUTIN

Rookie President, Rookie Mistakes

We are starting to see things the way they really are. The President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, has a way of throwing things to the side with short little bursts of belligerence and denials. Trump is not an experienced politician. He might be a decent marketer and silly entertainer but, like many famous people, he lacks basic common sense on many levels.

When he recently (7-12-2017) recorded an interview with televangelist Pat Robertson, Trump talked about his “very great” meeting with Vladimir Putin. Trump said claims that Russia wanted to help him win the election is an illogical conclusion. Really?

The Donald said that Putin would have been happier with Hillary Clinton in the White House. He bases his opinion on the Trump administration’s buildup of the military and attempts to become a player in exporting energy. The Donald speculated that this “competition” with Russia makes Putin uneasy and Hillary would not have taken such steps. Huh?

The more we hear from this President, the more we realize that he has no fib filter. How can we possibly believe Agent Orange’s words about his meeting with Putin? Did they discuss sanctions? We don’t know. Did they talk about what could happen in Syria if Assad is dethroned? We don’t know. So much for being transparent, Mr. Trump.

Experts warned Trump that Putin would deny any wrong doing in the 2016 US election.  They also said that Putin would agree with Trump that cyber-security was a major issue and would suggest a joint task force, or “unit,” be established to work on the problem together. Our great Orange Leader fell for that hook, line and sinker. He even proudly announced it, until he heard loudly from thoughtful and fearless Senators that it was a colossally stupid idea. Then, he retreated with a tweet.

The mystery through this whole Russian interference fiasco is the disconnect from reality. When did evangelicals, hardworking middle-class Americans and classic Republicans decide that Russia was our friend? We don’t sell Russian cars here in America. We don’t back Russian aggression in eastern Europe and we certainly don’t like that Russia’s allies are Iran and Syria. So, in what world do these people live?

The Russia Supreme Court firmly recognizes only the Russian Orthodox Church and has banned Jehovah’s Witnesses by labeling them an extremist group. They have criminalized preaching, praying and evangelization outside of registered religious sites. Why wouldn’t Trump bring this issue up with Putin when he had his grand meeting? He didn’t. He didn’t talk about Human Rights at all. I guess it’s a lower priority for a guy who slams journalists, while talking with another guy who kills journalists.

We can now read and study the emails between Donald Trump, Jr. and what was presented as “opposition research” from a foreign adversary. Baby Donald said, “If it is what you say, I love it!” and now his old man says that anyone would have taken that meeting.

While the President was defending his son, the Senate was examining Christopher Wray in a hearing for his approval as the next FBI director.  The senior Senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, made sure Wray knew his position on the meetings with known Russian operatives, “You want to be director of the FBI, pal. So, here’s what I want you to tell every politician: If you get a call from somebody suggesting that a foreign government wants to help you by disparaging your opponent, tell us all to call the FBI.” Graham, a Republican, was very clear what someone should do when something like this happens in the future. Was that a teachable moment, or what?

Putin probably pulled the strings and suggested his people get in touch with Trump’s people and of course, the best avenue to Trump and his associates would be through a business partner. Donald Trump has lied about not having any business in Russia and he keeps that fabrication alive with his inability to embrace the investigation into the Russian meddling into our elections. In short, Donald, Sr. is acting like a guilty person and Donald Jr. is showing the world that he is an inept fool.

Some say that Don Jr’s mistake was just a rookie mistake. His actions were certainly naïve, but driven by a need to please his father. Most people believe that he told his father about the meeting before or shortly after it happened. Only one Donald will have to admit that under oath. Surely, Don Jr. will take the Fifth.

It’s not so much that Don Jr. is a rookie, or that Jared Kushner left the meeting early, or that Paul Manafort’s experience might have been dulled by his rude cellphone addiction during the meeting, but it’s clear that the candidate in the campaign was a just as much a rookie.

Donald Trump can’t fire his son.  This presents a dilemma of epic proportions to our President. He can say only that his son is innocent. Sad!

The real winner in all this is Putin. We have to watch Trump carefully now. Four months after Donald Trump fired Preet Bharara, who was then Manhattan US Attorney, a money-laundering suit was settled for nearly $6 million against a Russian owned Cyprus-based company. Some in the know say that the amount paid was nothing compared to what could have been retrieved in court. Did Trump and Sessions pull strings for Russia?

Trump was played by Putin and this will continually be a shadow on the President’s term in office. As a player on the opposing team once said of Putin’s preference for president, “Well, that’s because he’d rather have a puppet as president of the United States.”

People are asking could’ve Don Jr. be that naïve.  I ask, can Donald J. Trump be that stupid?

 


RUSSIA! RUSSIA! RUSSIA!

Shameful Abuse of Stupid

The idiom, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” is what first came to mind when I read the emails that were sent to Donald Trump, Jr. He believed they were sent by a Russian government lawyer who was willing to give him dirt on the Clinton campaign. What was a weekend of misdirects from Don Jr. finally turned out to be his release of the emails the New York Times was citing on the affair.  By the way, his release came only minutes before the Times divulged the emails.  Coincidence?

Another fact that whooshed through my brain was the old P.T. Barnum line, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” This is true in business and, I guess the Circus, but in politics and governance that is only a semi-fact. Trump has always fed fact fragments and partial truths to the press, believing deep down inside that they are stupid enough to print it. Worse, the Donald believes that citizens are gullible and unaware, and, therefore, will believe anything he says.

This news of a meeting in the Trump Tower between Don Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, was documented in an email that the New York Times craftily obtained. This revelation was clearly bad news for the Trump White House, because their defense has always been that they never met with Russians. Well, the cat is now out of the bag and a conspiracy has been revealed. Even with Don Jr. protecting his Dad, this stinks like a dead skunk on a country road.

Maybe Donald Trump and his extended DNA believe that only children and fools tell the truth, but when you become President of the United States, you are expected to be honest. The oath that the President elect takes, says:  I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Now, I might be accused of being presumptuous here, but I do believe the framers were assuming that the President would always tell the truth. Right?

The defense of little Don-Don is quite fantastic. Lawyers are paid to spin, deny and deliver a positive verdict for their clients, but wait, why do they all have different attorneys? Oh my, does this mean, they are agreeing that something is there? Are they afraid of individually being in legal jeopardy? Clearly, the release of Don Jr’s. own emails can be called “transparent” by his father, but in fact, the son of a POTUS released the missives to get out in front of the Times story. This is much like James Comey releasing his notes to the New York Times before the President claimed something different was said at their meetings.

The legal team’s disguise was constructed on the basis that Don Jr didn’t know who he was meeting with and the event was so insignificant that he never told his father who was then the candidate for President. In fact, Jared Kushner also “forgot” to include the meeting in his security clearance form. It has been said that he amended that form which started the press inquiries into what was discussed at that meeting.

The President’s plausible deniability will be based on Kushner, Manafort and Don Jr never telling him about the meeting, but there is a way to find that out? They all need to be put under oath.

The meeting with the Russian operative was thought to have some meat, thus the CC to Manafort and Kushner. All three men attended the meeting.  At least Donald Jr and Jared Kushner can make sure they have their story straight, but Paul Manafort, a person who received millions of dollars from a Kremlin backed candidate in the Ukraine, surely has his own lawyer and perhaps a different recollection of the meeting.

The government could very easily “turn” Manafort and Michael Flynn against the President himself if they squeeze the vice tightly and make it clear there could be jail time. If I am reading this right: Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both. That is the Logan Act and surely, Manafort and Flynn have discussed sanctions with the “agent thereof” the Russian government. Would protecting the President be worth three years in jail?

Now I know that the Trump Teams will defend this “little” twenty-minute meeting with nothing of value was exchanged.  Even though the content of the emails clearly shows Don Jr’s delight at the prospect of getting what they are terming “opposition research” from this Russian lawyer, time will tell if that was only one meeting, or were there a series of meetings or communications? Indeed, the “so-called” research ended up at the doorsteps of Wikileaks and was published, so we do know something happened in the late summer timeline that Don Jr desired in writing.

Today (7-12-2017) Donald Trump tweeted, “My son Donald did a good job last night. He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!” The President was referring to an appearance on the Fox News channel where he admitted to Sean Hannity, a known Trump operative, “In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently.” Good boy, good boy, sit, roll over, good little Donnie. Here’s a little treat, now go back to your office and shut up. So much for “Witch Hunt” Mr. President, you cannot escape from the truth with flashy jargon.

One of the most irritating things that our President and all his men and women do is deflecting to the past.  It’s like a child getting caught and then, responding straight from an over-grown amygdala, “Bobby did it first Mommy.” Even Donald Trump, the father, cannot stop this repetitive invective for things: “Why aren’t the same standards placed on the Democrats? Look what Hillary Clinton may have gotten away with. Disgraceful!”

The only change of tone was the use of the phrase “may have gotten away with,” which psychologists say is one typically used when threatened with the truth.  It’s an attempt to throw doubt on someone else. In this case, however, Trump seems to be less cavalier and a bit more legalistic with his words saying “may have.”

The word Russia is being said more and more each week as the forces claw their way closer to the truth. We may have to step on some “stupid” to get the facts, but we will get there. And as we get closer, more and more Republicans will realize that their party has been hijacked and they will surely start to get into position to take it back. Republicans are tired of hearing the chant of Russia, Russia, Russia and the American people will settle for a President Pence to get this behind us.


FAKE NEWS vs. REAL JOURNALISM

Trump’s Attempt to Muddy the Waters

Back in February, 2017 Trump tweeted: “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” Then he deleted that tweet and posted something similar, but took ABC off his enemies list. Trump, obviously not a student of history, missed this fact: Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin used the term “enemy of the nation/people” to refer to those who disagreed with the Bolshevik government. Did you write that one, Steve Bannon?

Trump went on a rant July 1, 2017, after receiving heavy criticism from both sides of the political spectrum due to his attacks on MSNBC talk show hosts, “The FAKE & FRAUDULENT NEWS MEDIA is working hard to convince Republicans and others I should not use social media – but remember, I won the 2016 election with interviews, speeches and social media. I had to beat #FakeNews, and did. We will continue to WIN!”

And on that same day, Mr. President continued, “My use of social media is not Presidential – it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL. Make America Great Again!”  Along with his jingoistic rhetoric, Donald Trump, like so many other power-hungry leaders around the world, wants to control the media. He attempts to distort whatever truth is left and brands his lies as official doctrine. And the term Modern Day rings like “Modern Day Prophet” for those following along in church.

For those of us who were schooled in the trade of journalism, we take the responsibility of our craft seriously. The Fourth Estate is usually reserved for the printed press and credible broadcast news teams. The Fifth Estate, the newer term, stands for groupings of outlier viewpoints in contemporary society, such as bloggers and journalists publishing in non-mainstream media outlets and social media. The right of center to Alt-Right people use the term “mainstream media” as a pejorative term, whereas, Breitbart represents what was called “Yellow Journalism” in the 1950s.

The “fourth estate” comes from the European concept of the three estates of the realm: the clergy, the nobility, and the commoners. The Press was supposed to hold the three other estates to a standard with information gathering, storytelling based on truth and distribution to everyone equally. Yes, the King could read that he had no pants.

We know that Donald Trump has tapped into a raw exposed nerve in the disadvantaged and struggling middle class. With much of America moving away from reading the newspaper and getting their news from the internet, the line of what is credible or legit has become extremely blurred.

The price of entry into the newspaper business in most cities is so great that even large companies attempting to bring a new paper to market have an uphill, if not impossible, climb. With the internet providing more outlets than needles on a porcupine’s back there are plenty of free opinions and micro-targeted sites that can sanction what consumers think.

This tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories even has its own term: Confirmation Bias. It is so important to be right in today’s society that many people spend hours of every day watching a news channel that corroborates their baseline beliefs. Fox News leans to the right, while MSNBC leans to the left. That is their branding positions and, depending on who is in power, they will have better ratings.

CNN, the new Trump target, has decided like many channels and programs that there are millions of people who don’t like Trump, so that is a built-in audience. The sad part of all of this is that I haven’t mentioned journalistic integrity or award-winning writing. Those are less important in this instant gratification world. Trump produces ratings and it doesn’t seem to make a difference if you are building him up or beating him down.

THE LATE SHOW with STEPHEN COLBERT on CBS-TV has increased almost 30% according to TV News Desk (7-6-2017) and you can chart his increases with his direct aim at Trump. The Donald, whether he likes it or not, is easy to parody because of what he says and how his administration attempts to govern. Writing jokes and monologues about Trump has a built-in benefit, because if you manage to get under his thin skin he mentions you. Better yet, if he attacks you, your ratings go up even more.

I may be in the minority but I think the “news” that the President maligns is less news than fake. To our great Orange Leader, when confronted with anything that makes fun of him, or puts him down, or (can I say this?) bullies him, he launches into an overly emotional rebuttal.

The people doing the real investigative journalism are at the newspapers. Think about it, every major break or leak has come from the newspapers. The Michael Flynn lies came from the newspapers. The Comey meetings with Trump came from the newspapers. And the ethics conflicts of Kushner and the Trumps all come from the print medium.

The TV journalists at CNN are hampered by the overload of trying fit real journalism into a small box of endless talking heads and opinionated “experts” who, at times, do more harm than good. Stop and think about it, do we need Rick Santorum giving his opinion on what the news means?  He’s a failed neo-conservative right-winged politician spewing nothing by RNC talking points. What about Sean Hannity? Well he couldn’t write a lead to save his life.  Then, of course, we know what happened to poor old Brian Williams. These are the people most Americans would say represent the “news” business.? Really?

The one investigative reporter I want to hear from isn’t a journalist at all. His name is Robert Mueller. I would like to hear his story, in fact, now that would be BREAKING NEWS!


AN OPEN LETTER TO THE BASE

Dear Donald Trump Fans

It is unlikely that you are reading this, but if you are, I just wanted to say a few things to you before you slap on the little red baseball cap or “Lock Her Up” T-shirt and jump in your car and drive to the next rally. I know that you are as American as I am and you really do want this country to be successful, but we have to talk. This isn’t funny anymore.

You probably haven’t gotten a raise in years. I get that, it’s horrible. In some cases, your raise was eaten up by the banking crisis that was created by greedy bankers with an immoral disregard for the common man and your mortgage. I get that, too. In other cases, your employer may have used the whole age of financial insecurity as a way to justify keeping the workers’ wages where they would produce profit for the owners, not your long-term benefits.

Donald Trump was hyper critical of Obama and Bush and government in general, maybe that is why you like him. His anti-government, anti-immigrant, anti-free trade, anti-anyone else, make him a leader who really respects the rule of law. As long as that law lines up with what he wants to do, he will apply it. When it doesn’t, he will attempt to break the law; it’s who he is.

He’s for state’s rights, until those state’s right interferes with his grand plan to remake America in his image. Go ahead, admit it, you are just as radical as those people who marched against the Viet Nam war, oh, you’re not, sure fooled me.

Trump say he is really going to change things, but do you really listen to what he says and then match that up with what he does. He kept saying that he was out for the blue-collar worker and he preaches he wants to bring back manufacturing to those places that once boomed with industry, BUT HE IS AGAINST INCREASING THE MINIMUM WAGE. Gee, why wouldn’t he fight for you on such a simple thing as a few more bucks an hour?

Donald Trump has yet to explain being nice to Russia is a good idea. He has yet to demonstrate that a country that doesn’t give a rat’s ass for the American worker, would be someone we have not be afraid of? Trump seems to be afraid of most things that are NOT AMERICAN, except PUTIN WHO IS NOT AMERICAN.

He has confused you with his mantra that he didn’t collude with Russia in the attempt to disrupt our election process? Trump did eventually admit that Russians did launch a cyber-attack against our beloved country. You did hear him say that, right? RUSSIA IS NOT OUR FRIEND AND YOU SHOULD BE ASKING TRUMP WHY HE HASN’T DECLARED CYBER WAR AGAINST THEM.  If Trump is so strong, why are Russia, Syria, Iran and North Korea not changing anything they are up to?

Many Trump supporters believe that Donald Trump is a great Commander-in-Chief, but when he launched 59 tomahawks into Syria for their use of chemical weapons, the airport was up and running a few days later. WHY DIDN’T WE TOTALLY DESTROY THE AIR BASE IN SYRIA? Some strike, huh?

Now I know, you think Congress is useless institution and if you believe your leader, the court system is just as rigged, but aside from God, who do you believe in? Now, I have been quite critical of your addiction to the cult-like Trump dogma, but I want to have a man to man with you, or, ah, man to woman with you.

I have always asked the question, why do rich white guys always think they can fix things? They think that because no one confronts them when they are wrong. Let’s zero-base this thing, Trump’s Base people. You claim the Donald is smart because he got rich being a great business person, right? You said he would make a good president because the country would benefit from a strong businessman running the country like a business. Well, okay, let’s work on that premise.

YOU DO REALIZE THAT DONALD TRUMP IS $315 MILLION IN DEBT, RIGHT? Why? If he so rich, why would be carry any debt? Now, let’s see how he stacks up with other great American born success stories. Donald Trump is worth $1.4 billion, while Warren Buffet, the head of Berkshire Hathaway is worth $76.1 billion. Mr. Buffet disagrees with Donald Trump on many issues. Last time I checked, Warren Buffet pays his taxes and carries no debt at all. So, why wouldn’t we be listening to Buffet before Trump. While we are on the subject of wealth equals smarts: Jeff Bezos is worth $84.3 billion, Bill Gates is worth $88.7 billion and Mark Zuckerberg comes in at $63 billion. You should be listening to them. Beating he IRS system is more important to the Donald than paying his taxes on time like you do.

Now, let’s address the big fat orange elephant in the room. When Donald Trump screamed it was okay to smack protestors at his rallies, you were on his side. Of course, when he said, “It’s time for us to take our country back!” you liked that message. You also are enabling him with his war against the press, but then, you don’t trust that much anymore. In Donald You Trust.

You like the idea of America First because you truly, deep-down inside believe that immigrants and African-Americans and gay couples and people with a liberal progressive agenda have taken advantage of you personally. In many cases, you have been enabled by your evangelical leaders. When did church folk decide that white Christians are more important than the poor? WWJD?

When you say you want to take your country back, you seem to be immune to the reality of history that North America. Our land was stolen from the native peoples by European colonists. The colonization of America was simply people with guns and horses taking land from people who didn’t have guns. Probably why you want to keep your hands on your guns and the 2nd Amendment. I get that, too.

What really made America great were waves of immigrants from all over the world who came here to have a better life. DONALD TRUMP’S GRANDFATHER CAME FROM GERMANY FOR A BETTER LIFE. The Donald is more immigrant that those who want to take their country back. His mother was not born in America, she was born in Scotland. That makes the Donald only second or third generation American, depending how you’d like to split hairs.

Now we come to the most important issue for the Trump loyalists. We must talk about what you really want. What is it that you really want? Are you just in this for “endless winning”? Or are you, like most Americans, interested in more jobs, better healthcare, a better, safer life and an opportunity for your kids to do better than you did? DOES THAT RING TRUE?

Donald Trump has spent most of his time with rich people and famous people and the urban elites. I am sure he paid for an abortion more than once in his life. His political and moral positions change when they get in the way of what he wants. We know that he gave money to the Washington elite, he admits it. Donald Trump will attempt to bounce between helping rich people and his kids first, then, if there is anything left over, maybe he’ll throw you a bone. You don’t have to believe me, you just have ask, IF TRUMP WAS SO GREAT, WHY ARE YOU STILL PAYING MORE FOR MEDICINES AND INSURANCE?

The debacle in Congress over the healthcare bill is just an example that we don’t send someone to drain the swamp, because in Washington, the swamp must be navigated by someone with a map. Our government was designed so that one person could never dominate it. WHAT DO YOU WANT, A RAISE AND LOWER TAXES? OR DO YOU WANT DONALD TRUMP TO SPEND ALL YOUR MONEY ON A WALL?

As strong as you think Trump is you must start to think and realize that he’s just a rich, silver-spoon-in-mouth golfer who fooled you once, twice and again and again. Just ask yourself, “Are things better?” And if they are not better now, when will they get better? You can say he’s not a miracle worker and “please give him a chance.” But remember, HE TOLD YOU HE WAS A MIRACLE WORKER.