Criminal Negligence

Last Tuesday’s Presidential Debate at Case Western University was hosted by the The Commission on Presidential Debates  and the Cleveland Clinic, one of the nation’s finest hospitals. The established rules were simple and clear: Trump and Biden would not wear masks but would be separated on stage a safe distance, everybody else must wear masks.

Trump’s family entered the hall wearing masks, but brazenly removed them as soon as they sat down. They kept their masks off for the rest of the event. Below is a photograph of the Trump family onstage after the event.

Trump Family at Debate
Trump Family After the Debate

Vice President Biden’s wife, Jill, kept her mask on throughout. The photograph below shows Dr. Jill Biden wearing her mask, just as the Cleveland Clinic had requested.

Debate stage
After the Debate, Jill Biden Wears Her Mask

Between Tuesday and today (Friday), President Trump kept a busy schedule, campaigning at events where he and his MAGA supporters, crowded together in airplane hangers, refused to wear masks. Trump continued to publicly  mock the wearing of masks, claiming that the COVID-19 pandemic was just about over.

This morning (Friday) we awoke to this tweet.

Trump COVID-19 Tweet

Of course, the discussion all day on the news channels will be about who is potentially infected in the White House and beyond. Trump’s adviser Hope Hicks has been singled out as the Typhoid Mary of this saga. She became ill on Air Force One Wednesday evening and was immediately quarantined. Still, President Trump traveled to campaign events on Thursday, knowing that he might be infected.

The next few days will be a rather grisly death watch as we wait to see who else this foolish Trump family and their sycophants managed to infect.

Let me say at the outset that I wish President Trump and the First Lady a speedy and complete recovery. They will be getting the best medical care in the United States. 

That said, we’ve seen all we need. This campaign is over. The debates are over. It’s time to stop talking about Trump and vote. My absentee ballot arrives in my mail this afternoon.

Sample Ballot

To me, voting the Trump family out of the government is now imperative. Donald J Trump disqualified himself for another term due to his criminal negligence regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

He knew how dangerous it was in late January. Bob Woodward has tapes of him admitting this: that it was an airborne virus, that it kills 4 out of 100 infected, that even children may be vulnerable, that everybody should be wearing masks.

Yet, he lied to the American people in public, and mocked the wearing of face masks. We have all seen the videos of  idiotic MAGA types having toddler melt-downs when asked to leave stores that require wearing of masks. Worse yet, Trump and his minions never practiced even the slightest infection control during the summer.

Now all these people in the White House and the Republican Senate and House are looking at each other today, wondering if they will end up in the four out of a hundred group that will die from this disease.

The government has completely failed us. Trump has completely failed us, in more ways that I can describe this morning. We have to vote Trump and his family out of the government. We have to vote all his Republican enablers in the House and Senate out, every damn one of them – no exceptions.

Job one is to put a man of decency and experience into the Oval Office, and that would be Joe Biden. Sure, all our taxes will have to go up; it will take decades to repair the damage Trump has done to our country, but I know what I’m going to do.

Vote that criminally negligent Donald Trump out of the government.

 

 

Trump Riots, Part 1

On Thursday, January 30th, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa, President Donald Trump held one of his patented rage rallies for his adoring fans. Speaking for ninety minutes, Trump berated the usual enemies: Hillary, liberals, immigrants, reporters, etc. Seated to the President’s right in the front row, soaking up all the hostility, was Kyle Rittenhouse, a high school dropout from Antioch, Illinois.

This screen capture below from a C-Span video shows Kyle dutifully listening to Trump’s speech. Rittenhouse himself posted a live TikTok video from his seat, verifying that he was indeed there.

kyle rittenhouse at Trump Rally

Wendy Rittenhouse, Kyle’s mother, is 45-years-old, divorced, and works as a Nurse’s Assistant. Struggling to get by on her income and $85 monthly child support from her ex-husband, Michael, Wendy has filed for bankruptcy and sought a restraining order against a neighbor whose teenage son bullied her son Kyle.

Reporters have started to piece together Kyle’s story. With only two years of High School, he had worked as a lifeguard until idled by the Covid-19 lockdown. Kyle applied for entry into the US Marines, but recruiters rejected him right on the spot. His social media presence indicates a fascination with police work, joining some police youth programs that included ride-along and other activities. His Facebook and TikTok entries show photographs in police garb and military apparel. The most problematic feature of all of these online images was the ever-present AR-15 rifle.

The question is: who bought him that AR-15 rifle? At age 17, it is illegal in Illinois to own such a weapon or carry it around. Did his mother buy it for him? His father?

It’s a toxic brew. The middle child of a dysfunctional family, with no one to teach the obvious lessons of life: honesty, the importance of education, work ethic, respect for others, Kyle was a walking fertilizer bomb, waiting for someone to light the fuze. That person was none other than Donald J. Trump, President of the United States.

Kenosha, Wisconsin, erupted into street demonstrations after an August 23rd cell phone video hit the news showing the Kenosha Police shooting an unarmed black citizen, Jacob Blake, in the back seven times as he tried to get into his car. These street demonstrations started peacefully, but decades of experience show that these situations are a magnet for ne’er-do-wells, looters, and anarchists who jump at the chance to do some mayhem.

While Kenosha, Wisconsin, struggled with dealing with the demonstrations, looting, and destruction of public and private property, President Trump fanned the flames with his Twitter platform. Here’s an example:

Trump Tweets

After these Trump tweets, Kenosha experienced a new phenomenon, the arrival of armed right-wing militia groups. More disturbing is the apparent acceptance of these vigilantes by the local police. There is video evidence of Kenosha police encouraging these lawless groups, giving them water bottles, saying: “We appreciate you guys, we really do.” The protesters found themselves on the street with the police on one end and a band of right-wing militia vigilantes at the other end. Trump had lit the fuze.

That Tuesday night, August 25th, it all went wrong. Kyle Rittenhouse showed up with his Smith & Wesson AR-15 rifle and a first aid kit. He took up residence at a business that had been burned out, ostensibly to protect it. Reporters approached him and made this report.

On Tuesday night, Rittenhouse was with fellow armed men self-appointed to protect the streets of a city aflame, insisting he was there to render first aid and protect a business. But asked by a reporter to clarify whether his role was “nonlethal,” he cradled his weapon and pointedly disagreed. “We don’t have nonlethal,” Rittenhouse said.

 

Kyle became lethal minutes later. The first to fall was Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, of Kenosha. Rosenbaum, unarmed, chased Kyle into a parking lot. Kyle opened fire with multiple rounds, killing Rosenbaum. He left behind a fiance and a young daughter.

The crowd attempted to catch the shooter and get his gun, precisely what a good citizen should do in an active shooter situation. The next one to be killed was Anthony Huber, 26, of Silver Lake. He had a skateboard as his only weapon, and a shot to his chest extinguished his life. Remember, these AR-15 weapons explode internal organs, according to ER doctors. Huber left a daughter and a longtime girlfriend.

One other victim, college student Gaige Grosskreutz, was shot in the arm and is expected to survive. Video shows that Grosskreutz was carrying a handgun, but did not fire it. This clip from a cell phone video shows Anthony Huber (skateboard) and another man attempting to get the rifle from Kyle.

 

Scuffle

Several bystanders documented Kyle Rittenhouse’s shooting rampage. NBC News collected most of these videos and published this chilling report.

NBC News Video of Rittenhouse Rampage

Study this photograph. A seventeen-year-old high school dropout, rejected by the US Marines, looking for a fight. How many of him are out there, waiting to act out their militia fantasies. All they need is an autocratic leader to give them the green light.

kyle rittenhouse 2
Kyle Rittenhouse

I’ve written several blog postings about these AR-15 assault rifles and how their wide availability has weaponized the crazies among us. However, this time, there is a political aspect to events in Kenosha, Portland, Louisville, and several other cities. Trump is deliberately inciting this violence to steer attention away from his abject failure dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Don’t be fooled. Trump can’t be the “law and order” candidate when the civil unrest is on his watch. These are the Trump riots of 2020. It’s going to get worse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Daughter, The Entrepreneur

Liz Video
Liz Lynch Colosimo

My daughter, Elizabeth Lynch Colosimo, finds herself in a situation that so many of us can relate to, in these days of COVID-19. You wake up one day, and everything has changed.

She’s been furloughed from her marketing job, and it may never return.

She has a son who just graduated from High School, and two younger sons still in elementary school.

She’s been homeschooling the two younger boys, and that may continue well into the Fall. In other words, there’s no respite from the daily child care.

So, Liz is going to apply her marketing skills to reselling things on eBay and Amazon. Best yet, she’s going to publish a series of videos describing how she will do it.

I love both of my children dearly. If you watch the warmth and intelligence Liz projects in these videos, you’ll see why.

Can You Really Flip Items On eBay And Make An Income???

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 4th

Hamilton
Hamilton, the Musical

Today is July 4th, our Independence Day.

Thirty years ago, I’d be taking my son and daughter to the morning parade, to a local hot dog place for lunch, and then close out with the fireworks display on the Niagara River.

Today, I’m stuck in my Florida condominium, all my family out-of-town, restaurant dining and fireworks out of the question, as COVID-19 sweeps through Florida. So, what did I do today, patriotically?

I watched Hamilton on Disney Plus.

I’ve always wanted to see this famous play, but age and health issues have always made it out of reach. What a treat it was to see this magnificent musical translated to high definition 4K format, the multiple cameras and superior microphone systems making you feel you’re in the first row. If you have the Disney Plus streaming service, you’re in for a treat if you watch this movie.

It’s hard not to watch this movie about the founders of our country and not reflect on the unrest and racial animosity that plagues our nation today. What is the founder’s role in today’s unrest?

These men, Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Hamilton, and Burr created a country ruled by law, set forth in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, crafting documents that said: “All men are created equal, … and are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” These were lofty goals for a newly created country, and for that these men deserve our praise and eternal respect.

That said, we should honest enough with ourselves to admit that some of these men did not practice what they preached. Some of them were slave owners.

“All men are created equal” did not apply to the Africans kidnapped from their homes, brought by arduous sea voyages to the colonies, sold like cattle, and forced to work with no rights whatsoever. The sins of our forefathers brought a ruinous civil war, the Jim Crow era, and today’s nascent white supremacy.

I’m not for pulling down any statues of Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, and other founders. They put pen to paper creating an equal society. We should learn about their lives and honor their legacy for what they proposed.

At the same time, we need to redouble our efforts to create a truly equal society, where everybody has a shot, regardless of their ethnic heritage, color of their skin, religion, sexual preference, etc.

The founders were flawed. It does not dishonor them to fix things that they didn’t get right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gilead Gougers

Daniel O'Day Gilead Sciences
Daniel O’Day – CEO of Gilead Sciences

Ten years ago, the biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, invented Remdesivir as a hoped-for treatment of Hepatitis C. At the time, they decided to not continue development. Later, with government funding, the drug was re-purposed as an anti-viral, and Gilead spent about a billion dollars to develop and manufacture the drug as an anti-viral. So far, so good.

Now comes the COVID-19 pandemic. A clinical trial was conducted and the new experimental drug Remdesivir did fairly well. The study showed that the drug sped up hospital recoveries by four days. Note that the drug had no statistical impact on COVID-19 survival.

Remdesivir - Gilead Sciences
Remdesivir – Anti-viral drug

OK, we’ve got a treatment for the novel coronavirus. It’s not a silver bullet, but it is something we want in the hospital’s tool box. In the above photo, Remdesivir is dispensed in 100 mg vials. Each COVID-19 patient will require six vials.

So, what’s the price?

The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review stated that Gilead could recover all their costs through 2020 by charging $160 per vial (six vials = $960).

Gilead Sciences, in an open letter June 29th by their CEO, Daniel O’Day, announced a price of $390 per vial ($2340 for the required six doses). For US private insurance, the price goes up to $520 per vial ($3120 for the required six doses).

How Daniel O’Day arrived at his price is astounding. One would think that, in an emergency, you recover your costs ($160) and tack on a fair profit (say 15% tops or  $24). That would make a fair price for a single vial to be $184.

To me, this would be honest capitalism. You recover your development, manufacture, and distribution costs and tack on a fair profit. Yet O’Day is getting double the fair price for those uninsured and nearly triple for those with private insurance. How does he justify his gouging?

In his open letter, O’Day stated that “we would price a medicine according to the value it provides.” Well, that’s a hole you can drive a truck through.

He points out that the earlier discharge “would result in hospital savings of approximately $12,000 per patient.” Then he pats himself on the back and says “We have decided to price Remdesivir well below this value.” The Trump Administration has ordered 500,000 treatment courses at the stated price.

Suspicious? I am.

 

We Blew It

Discouraged Nurse
The Current State of our Health Care Professionals

As a nation, there’s no avoiding stating the obvious and dispiriting truth about the COVID-19 pandemic, “We Blew It.”

We had a chance to act, back in early January, when our intelligence agencies alerted us to the deadly pandemic coming out of China.  US Intelligence Agencies Report Pandemic on Jan 3rd

We could have, like the South Koreans, started a massive testing program, identifying those with the virus, tracking and locating all who they had contacted, and quarantining only those people. The rest of the population would go about their business, albeit wearing a mask outdoors until the crisis has passed. Sadly, we didn’t act.

Who caused us to fail so grievously? There’s an old adage: “Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan.” The orphan, in this case, is none other than President Donald Trump.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, previously the CEO of ExxonMobile, called Trump “a fucking moron” after a disastrous meeting with military leaders at which Trump insulted all the generals in the room. Trump fired Tillerson after one year of service, but Tillerson never denied that he made the “fucking moron” comment.

For me, I’d describe Trump in the immortal words of the character Ruth Langmore in the Netflix series Ozarks: “He doesn’t know shit about fuck!

Ruth Langmore
Julia Garner as Ruth Langmore from the Ozarks

All those stories about Trump being a narcissistic dotard and not knowing “shit about fuck,” is it “Fake News?”

To answer that, you have to know how journalism works and, more specifically, how White House journalism operates. An excellent example of a working White House correspondent is NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell, who has been on the White House beat for years.

Kelly O'Donnell
NBC News White House Correspondent Kelly O’Donnell

Journalism emphasizes the five W’s: Who, What, Why, When, and Where. The journalist gets to the bottom of any story by interviewing “sources” who are guaranteed anonymity to spill what they know. Professors teach that you never publish until you get other sources to corroborate the original scoop. When they do publish a juicy tidbit, it’s usually described as from a “highly-placed White House source.”

We see Kelly and her colleagues in action when they ask questions at a televised press briefing or at one of Trump’s helicopter harangues. At other times, she has an office in the West Wing and prowls its halls and those of the Executive Office Building next door. Kelly and her colleagues chat up the staff and visitors to the President’s Oval Office and pump them for information. That’s how it works, and Oh, how these people talk about their boss Trump.

What White House correspondents have found out about Trump over the last 3 ½ years is disheartening. All the President’s Men and Women describe a lazy man, who shows up for work at noon, refuses to read intelligence briefings, disdains science, and is prone to witless speculation such as “Can you nuke a hurricane?  windmills cause cancer, or can you inject disinfectants into the human body?”

Aides have learned to keep information given to the President to less than one page in length, with pictures of Trump to catch his attention. He apparently has the attention span of a goldfish and the intellectual curiosity of a tapeworm.

There have been scores of newspapers, magazine articles, and books about Trump’s incompetence. One book, “Fire and Fury,” written by Michael Wolff, whom Trump had foolishly given access to the White House staff, was positively incendiary. In an NPR review by Annalisa Quinn, she said in her review:  NPR Review

“I’ll get all the good stuff out of the way first: President Trump likes to eat cheeseburgers in bed; his hair is the result of scalp reduction surgery and deft, even architectural, styling; he has three TVs in his bedroom; his advisers speculate about whether or not he can read; Steve Bannon called Ivanka “dumb as a brick”; Trump called Sally Yates a “c***”; Hope Hicks and Corey Lewandowski had an affair that ended in a street fight; and Trump’s inner circle walks around in a state of “queasy sheepishness, if not constant incredulity” at the president’s behavior. You’re welcome.”

Rick Wilson
Rick Wilson, Scourge of Donald Trump

There’s no more celebrated critic of Donald Trump than Tallahassee’s Rick Wilson. Rick, a former Republican operative, is no angel. He engineered a campaign against Senator Max Cleland, a Vietnam war double amputee, claiming that Max was soft on terrorism. Yet, he has turned on Trump and seems to always get under Trump’s skin. Wilson is famous for the observation that “Everything Trump Touches, Dies.

In his book “ Running Against the Devil: A Plot to Save America from Trump–and Democrats from Themselves,” Rick opined:

“Trump’s short temper, lack of knowledge or experience in national security matters, and inability to see beyond the time horizon of his next tweet will, in the event of a more kinetic crisis, leave American forces and interests at risk. God forbid an American warship fails in battle, or a Special Forces unit can’t complete a mission. He’ll likely declare them enemies of the people and issue a tweet to mock their shortcomings. The bad guys know the same things our allies know: This is a weak man in a weak White House. He is unreliable, untruthful, and unmanageable. No matter how many flyovers and tank displays are arranged to keep him clapping like a toddler, and no matter how tough he talks on Twitter, they’ve got his number…and America in their sights.”

What’s more dispiriting is what has been revealed about Trump’s motivations for his actions (or inaction) about the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s only interested in what affects him, his family, and his business. Trump could care less about you and your family, for he’s the quintessential narcissist.

Had we a competent leader, the following actions could have been taken, starting in early January. Impossible, you say? Turns out, this is pretty much what the South Koreans did.

  • Immediately accept the World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 test recipe.
  • Order anyone who tests positive to “shelter-at-home.” Find and check everybody they have been in contact with and “shelter them at home” if needed.
  • Set up a simple government website to allow any business that has lost an employee to “shelter-at-home” mandates to continue to pay their salary (plus tips) directly from the US Treasury.
  • Provide funds directly from the US Treasury to tide businesses over during any temporary enforced shutdowns. So far, Secretary Steven Mnuchin has distributed those funds mostly to his wealthy friends.
  • Have Medicare cover any and all required COVID-19 treatments. Nobody would go bankrupt due to COVID-19.
  • Utilize the Defense Production Act (DPA) to compel pharmaceutical manufacturers to mass-produce these COVID-19 tests and distribute them everywhere (doctor’s offices, hospitals, etc.).
  • Utilize the DPA to compel all US manufacturers of personal protective equipment (PPE) to halt all overseas shipments and run these factories 24/7 to produce all the supplies our hospitals need.
  • Use the Army Corps of Engineers to expand hospital capacity in hot spots (this has been implemented in a few places).
  • Protect the imperiled. Provide funds and programs to prevent vulnerable populations, such as myself (elderly, pre-existing conditions) from being infected. Provide food delivery, checking on their health, and other needs.

Sadly, Trump didn’t do any of these actions (save for the Army Corps of Engineers and a hospital ship) before it was too late. He wasted two full months with inaction and foolish promises that the coronavirus would “just go away.”

On January 22nd, Trump stated: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” CNBC interview

That, of course, was BS as the virus was coming in from China, Europe, and cruise ships, and spreading like wildfire in the United States.

Now that the death toll is rising to disastrous levels, killing more in two months than in the entire Vietnam war, Trump has changed his tune. Today, it’s “let’s open the country back up and take whatever losses that entails.” Or, in other words, asking granny to take one for the team. Whatever the final death toll is, Trump intends to say something like, “It could have been 2 million dead, so that’s a huge victory for me.”

Trump
President Trump – Who Doesn’t Know Shit About Fuck

So, thanks to this moronic President, the country faces a conundrum: continue to shelter-in-place or open up and take the death toll as a necessary sacrifice for the stock market.

I had a 45-year career in electrical engineering, so by nature, I am trained to be practical. The proper response to a pandemic is to quarantine those who are infected. This is only possible with extensive testing, something that Trump refused to do. In fact, Trump never called for any “shelter-in-place” measures.

The governors of those states with the worst outbreaks ordered the “stay at home” quarantines (New York, Washington, etc.). When you don’t have enough testing to identify those infected, the only recourse is to quarantine everybody. So, most of the nation entered a lockdown.

The problem is that such a lockdown can only last for a couple of months before all hell breaks loose. We now have near-depression levels of unemployment. It’s just a matter of weeks before families, with no income or food, are going to get eviction notices. Even with the lockdown lifted, how many people are really going to gamble going to a department store, restaurant, stadium, or movie theater. The collapse of demand will worsen the recession. This is going to be a disastrous third and fourth quarter.

I’m in the worst COVID-19 risk group (elderly, pacemaker, diabetes, arthritis, and weight issues). My only strategy is to hide out in my condo and hope that coronavirus doesn’t come through my front door, and that I live long enough to see an effective vaccine developed.

There is one other thing I intend to do. That’s to vote Trump and his band of grifters and incompetents out on November 3rd. That will include every Republican, from dogcatcher to Senator, who are guilty of enabling this incompetent and corrupt President.

We blew it in electing a moronic reality show huckster to run the country. We blew it, in not correctly responding to a dangerous global pandemic. But there’s one thing we can’t blow. It’s time to…

Flush the Turds on November 3rd.

 

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren
Senator Elizabeth Warren

I was planning to vote for her in the Florida Primary, Tuesday, March 17th. To me, she was the “gal with the plan.” I’ve been following her for years; appreciated her determination to eradicate corruption wherever she saw it, from Wells Fargo opening new accounts for customers without permission, to the 1000% APR rates charged by the loan shark “Payday Loans” industry. She was articulate, quick with the facts, and a memorable debater (just ask poor Mike Bloomberg).

So where did she go wrong? She came in a distant third or fourth in every caucus and primary so far. What happened?

This is just my opinion, of course, but I blame her foolish alliance with Bernie Sanders on the Medicare for All, Free College, Free Child Care, Eradication of Student Loan Debt, and other lofty ideas. When asked in a debate: “How will you pay for Medicare for All?” Warren quickly changed the subject and didn’t answer the question. That’s when I knew she was probably finished as a candidate.

You can’t tax the rich to pay for Medicare for All. There just isn’t enough money in that pot. The sad truth is that every working American will have to pay significantly more taxes to cover such a program. Unfortunately, Fox News and other Republican media outlets have been preaching for years that any tax increase is a mortal sin; it just can’t be considered.

I worked in England for one month every year for twenty two years. I lunched with my fellow employees, got to know how their National Health System (NHS) works. They pay more than twice the price we do for gasoline. The result of this taxation is that everyone in England buys manual-shift wind-up cars that are tiny by American standards. They’re OK with that. None of them told me that they wanted to get rid of the NHS.

I also exchanged a series of emails with a Norwegian engineer, on a technical issue, for sure. But the emails eventually went to a discussion of his standard of living. He owned a nice house, has six weeks of vacation, a generous retirement, and cradle-to-grave healthcare. If he was depressed, his doctors would send him to a spa in Turkey to recover. The clincher in the discussion was his admission that over 50% of his income went to the Norwegian government. He also was OK with that.

In today’s political environment, try telling American voters that their taxes are going to be raised to over 50% of income. They’ll vote you out in a flash.

The best way to gravitate to Medicare for All is to sneak it in, over a few decades, as something called the Public Option. That’s a government program to allows you to buy  Medicare insurance coverage for, say $7,000 a year. That’s about what most employers shell out for medical coverage, usually with them paying 75% of that as an inducement for you to stay as employees, and you paying the remainder.

With this Public Option plan, many companies will eventually switch to the government plan because the Feds assume all the risk. Corporations will enroll you and your family and pay 75% of the premium as an inducement for continued employment.

The United States spent $3.65 trillion dollars on health care in 2018. That’s more than the entire GDP of Canada, or Mexico, or the United Kingdom. Changing the very nature of this industry overnight as part of some cockamamie “revolution” is pure fantasy.

If you watch a Bernie Sanders rally, you can see disturbing similarities to a Trump rage-fest. Both Trump and Bernie feed off the energy and abject adulation of the adoring crowds. Both make bold promises that neither have a clue how to implement.

It was a mistake for Elizabeth Warren to throw in with the Bernie crowd. Sadly, that’s what probably sunk her at the polls this week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Nancy Pelosi Trap

We’ve all seen it from the Rambo and Tarzan movies; it’s called the Punji trap. You dig a pit about six feet deep, fill the bottom with dozens of  sharpened bamboo sticks, and then span the top with thin branches, fern leaves, and so forth to disguise the pit. The unsuspecting enemy walks over the Punji trap and falls in, becoming a human kebab, very grisly and very effective. So the question is, has Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi laid a Punji trap for President Trump and the Republicans?

Trap.JPG
Punji Trap

Let’s start with a bit of history. In making a routine diplomatic phone call from the White House to newly-elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, professional staffers from the State Department and Intelligence agencies listened in, to take notes and maybe advise President Trump. During one of these phone calls, President Trump drifted far from the carefully-prepared topics. He attempted a shake-down of Zelensky to get Ukraine to investigate a nutty conspiracy theory, dreamed up by the Russians, to manufacture dirt on his most prominent political rival, Joe Biden.

You know the story, Trump withheld Congress-approved military aid until Zelensky agreed to announce these bogus investigations. One of the professional employees from the Intelligence services was so disturbed by Trump’s action that he filed a whistle blower’s report that Trump’s Attorney General tried to bury. In the end, Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Adam Schiff found out about it, and the impeachment of Donald Trump commenced very rapidly.

Nancy Pelosy Clapping
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

Now you might ask, why bother with impeachment when it’s evident that the Republican Senate will never vote to convict and remove President Trump? Trump is a raving racist and lunatic. Still, the Republicans love the gutting of government regulations,  the appointing of far-right, mostly unqualified judges, and the trillion-dollar tax cut for the extremely rich. So, there is no way they are going to vote to convict in the Senate.

In the shadow of guaranteed dismissal by the Senate, Nancy Pelosi pressed on, and the House of Representatives sent two articles of impeachment to the Senate floor. The House Managers, led by the articulate and quick-thinking Congressman Adam Schiff, made a masterful case against Trump, causing Republican Senator Lamar Alexander to admit:

It was inappropriate for the president to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political opponent and to withhold United States aid to encourage that investigation. When elected officials inappropriately interfere with such investigations, it undermines the principle of equal justice under the law.

Anyone who watched the impeachment trial (I watched as much as I could stand) knows that the White House lawyers and Republican Senators never defended Trump against the charges, they rambled on and on about process, most of their points being outright lies. Nobody defended Trump’s character or involvement in this Ukraine mess. He is as guilty as hell, even in Republican eyes. They say: “Maybe he is guilty, but I’m not voting to remove him from office.”

When the Republican Senate lets Trump skate away scot-free later in the week, is that the end of it?

Nope, not a chance. Nancy has sprung her Punji trap on the Senate Republicans. Here’s how it might work.

  • Trump will continue to get more and more lawless and crazy

Do you think Trump will stop lying? His weekly hate-rallies are getting more and more bizarre, with insults, sniffing (Adderall), slurred words, and unabashed racism. His policies, favoring his good buddy Vladimir Putin, will get more extreme. Look at how Russia is now calling the shots in the Middle East. Trump’s impeachment team did not disclose that Pat Cipollone, White House counsel  and member of the impeachment defense team, was himself a witness to the Ukrainian political scheme. That’s lying to Congress under oath and probably a reason to disbar Cipollone.

  • Trump’s economic policies only help the hyper-rich

The supposed tax cut went solely to the mega-rich, and by 2025 will increase taxes on the middle class. The stupid trade wars have been a bust also, with Trump backing down to earlier trade deals. Farm bankruptcies are incredibly high this year. Even the $25 billion Trump spent to bail out farmers went mostly to the big corporate farms. The family farms got screwed royally.

  • Trump’s hatred of non-whites will get worse

Trump’s immigration policies, already a paragon of cruelty, will get worse as the election approaches. His plans seem prompted by what works best at his rallies, so railing against immigrants of color will inevitably get worse, with the MAGA-hatted cult eating it up.

  • This situation will be portrayed as the fault of the Senate Republicans

Here’s where Nancy Pelosi’s trap is brilliant. Assuming that there’s a groundswell to vote Trump out, the Democrats can hang the yoke of the Trump impeachment acquittal on every Republican Senator up for reelection. They’ll say, for example, to Senator Cory Gardner: “Where were you when the nation needed you?” If Trump continues to get worse, Gardner will look like a spineless sycophant, a Trump lick-spittle. In swing states, this may make all the difference. It’s not that we have to vote out Trump. To repair the Trump damage to the nation, The Democrats have to get control of both the House and Senate. Only then will the country be healed.

Of course, this Pelosi trap requires one thing. President Donald Trump continues to get worse. Frankly, I think that’s a pretty sure bet. As we run-up to November, the slogan a majority will be muttering under their breath will be:

FLUSH THE TURD ON NOVEMBER 3RD

 Maybe I’ll buy one of these T-shirts.

Flush the Turd

 

 

Impeach the President

Trump_and_Stormy
President Trump and Stormy Daniels

Today is impeachment day. As I write this, the US House of Representatives is about to start debate and vote on two Articles of Impeachment against the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. The two articles are: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. You can read the actual articles here:   Articles of Impeachment

In our highly partisan political environment, the outcome is predetermined: The House will impeach the President and the Senate will quickly acquit him. So how did this happen?

On July 25th of this year, President Trump called the newly elected President of the Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to congratulate him on his recent election victory.

Zelenskyy.JPG
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine

On these kind of calls, a number of people listen in. Translators are essential, but Zelenskyy does speak English.  Those also listening are members of the President’s staff, representatives of the State Department and the Military, and other professional government employees. The White House released a call summary to the press, you can read it here:   Call Memorandum

To set the stage, President Zelenskyy knew that the $391 million aid package (Javalin missiles) was currently “on hold.” Without these anti-tank missiles, the Russian Army could quickly take over the Ukraine, if they wanted. So Zelensky addressed this specific issue:

President Zelenskyy:

We would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps, specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.

President Trump responded with a request for a favor, that being a Ukrainian investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

President Trump:

I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike. I guess you have one of your wealthy people. The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you are surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you said yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible. …

The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you ·can look into it. It sounds horrible to me.

As background, in 2014, Hunter had taken a cushy job with an energy company called Burisma making $50,000 a month as a member of the Board of Directors. While the optics of this are bad, there’s never been any evidence of any wrongdoing on Hunter’s part. The Crowdstrike mention by Trump is a real howler, a kooky conspiracy theory cooked up by the Russians. Read all about it here:  Russia Plants Crowdstrike Conspiracy Theory

When Trump hung up the phone on July 25th, almost everybody listening in on the call was shocked. Trump’s staff, according to sworn testimony, immediately locked up the recording, notes, and transcripts of the call on a super-secret server reserved for top secret data. They knew that the optics of the call looked bad.

The normal government employees who listened realized that Trump had veered from the planned agenda to what was essentially a mob-type shakedown of a foreign government for personal political gain. That started discussions about the call among themselves; these discussions triggered another government employee, the whistle blower, to write up a complaint and submit it to the Inspector General. Attorney General Bill Barr attempted to quash the whistle blower’s complaint, but somehow Adam Schiff got wind of it and demanded to see the whistle blower’s complaint.

Suddenly caught with his pants down, Trump quickly released the $391 million aid package to the Ukraine and released a call summary to the press, thinking that it was a “perfect call.” Nancy Pelosi authorized an impeachment investigation and Trump responded by forbidding anyone from the executive branch from testifying or releasing any requested documents. Fortunately, a few government employees defied Trump’s ban and testified before the House committees, essentially verifying all the whistle blower’s complaints.

So here we are. As I write this blog post, members of the House of Representatives are debating the two articles of impeachment: abuse of power, and obstruction of Congress.

Trump attempted to use the power of his office to coerce a foreign leader to start a bogus investigation of Joe Biden (a potential political rival) based on a Russia-inspired and totally debunked conspiracy theory. That’s abuse of power – attempting to get a foreign governments involved in our elections.

As a co-equal branch of government, the Congress has every right, guaranteed in our Constitution, to act as a check-and-balance on the Executive branch. Trump’s refusal to cooperate with lawful subpoenas for testimony and documents is a clear example of obstruction of Congress.

In my view, Trump is guilty as sin.

I accept that the trial in the Senate is already rigged. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made that clear. Nonetheless, I’m happy that in this dark hour for our democracy, at least some stood up and said “we won’t stand for this.” This will record for history that Donald J Trump is an impeached President, whose conduct was so abhorrent that the House of Representatives voted to eject him from the government.

Impeachment Hearings
Congressperson Jerry Nadler During the Impeachment Vote

If I was the Speaker of the House, I’d refuse to send the impeachment to the Senate on the grounds that Mitch McConnell has made it clear that the trial would be rigged. Nancy Pelosi should direct additional investigations into other possible grounds for impeachment, looking at Trump money laundering, violations of the emoluments clause, and hush money paid to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

Want to save our Democracy? Vote the Republicans out in 2020, from dog-catcher to President Trump.

Flush the Turd on November 3rd.

Greatest Economy Ever?

We’ve all heard him say it. “This is the greatest economy ever! Unemployment is at an all-time low. Stock market is at an all-time high. You’d be crazy not to vote for me.”

Trump01
President Trump Likes to Brag about the Economy

Now I will grant from the get-go that today’s economy is, in some ways, the best I’ve seen since I started work in 1968. That said, I’m not buying for a femptosecond that Trump had anything to do with it.

As Paul Krugman has said, “The stock market is NOT the economy.” Currently, about 54% of Americans own stocks, many of them indirectly in retirement funds and 401K plans that are invested in the stock market. Of that group, the upper 10% income group actively trades stocks and reap huge financial gains. 46% of Americans have no stocks at all. The stock market is generally a playground for the rich; a gambling operation that is rigged (I’ll save that for a later post).

The economy is not the stock market. The economy is the “Gross Domestic Product,” which is the sum total of all goods and services created by the American people in a year. Since our population is going up each year, you’d expect that the GDP would increase each year. In fact, that has been the case historically. A recent exception is the Bush crash of 2007 where the GDP actually went down.

President Obama inherited a crashed economy, frightening job losses, and a automobile industry on the brink of collapse. He pushed through a near trillion-dollar stimulus which reversed the Bush crash/recession, and saved GM and Chrysler with a government managed bankruptcy and bail-out. It took Obama one year to get the GDP back up to pre-Bush-Crash levels. Since then. the economy has been rolling along at a modest, but sustainable 2.5% increase in GDP. In other words, Trump has been riding the Obama wave and falsely taking credit for it.

Here’s a chart of quarterly increase of GDP since 1985; I have annotated it to show the performance of each administration.

GDP Growth Rate

What does this chart tell us? First, President Clinton did the best; curve fitting would put him in the 4% growth range. President Bush completely screwed up, crashing the economy, and driving the GDP growth to -8% range.

President Obama is the hero here. You can see the year it took him to restore the economy, and while his quarterly performance since has wider swings, a curve fit puts him in the 2.5% GDP growth range. Trump’s performance is just a continuation of Obama’s performance.

So the next time some MAGA cultist tells you that Trump is the savior of the economy, just reply, “Obama fixed the economy and handed Trump a stable, growing Gross Domestic Product. Thanks, Obama!