On the first day of October, 2017, a lone gunman named Stephen Paddock fired more than 1,100 rounds from his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, ...into a crowd in the area below, who had gathered for a concert. Paddock had several weapons, and made use of a so-called bump stock on his semi-automatic weapons, converting them to the equivalent of something approaching a machine gun. He killed 59 people that day, and injured in excess of 500 more innocent victims. In the aftermath of this shocking tragedy, a public outcry came for legislation or federal rules that would regulate or prohibit bump-stocks. After a time, however, in spite of the public desire for action, Republicans in Congress--many of whom had taken money from the NRA in past elections--showed little interest in passing legislation that would ban bump stocks. The issue seemed to fade away, and the President never brought it up for discussion again. Nearly five months passed.
Last Friday, a mass shooting occurred at a high school in Florida, resulting in the deaths of 17 teenagers. A bump stock device was NOT used by the shooter in this case. Public outrage matched public sorrow over this tragedy--but this time, teenagers, some of whom will be voters before long, not only voiced their anger at a White House and Congress unwilling to move on more effective gun legislation--they organized and found articulate spokespeople to help a make this tragedy a media story capable of "legs"--meaning it would run in successive new cycles. Our President at least claimed (hopefully he was sincere) to be saddened by the event--but by today (Tuesday), had little to show for his sadness or concern other than Tweeting a claim of "prayers and condolences." The students were not having it, and have kept up the pressure on our federal government to do the right thing. Feeling that pressure, Trump hastily announced this afternoon that he was directing Attorney General Sessions to propose regulations to ban bump-stocks.
I do not want to find reasons to blame Mr. Trump when he is showing signs of trying to do the right thing...but the fact remains, 59 dead bodies and 500-plus injured people ought to have been enough to motivate him and the Congress to action. Why did it have to take the additional 17 dead teenagers--whose deaths were not caused by a bump stock enabled weapon-- before Trump would act? Are we to believe that this is what he means by "actually mak(ing) a difference?"
Well...duh. Bob Mueller's indictments continue a methodical building of a strong case. And isn't it typical and ridiculous and frankly UNpresidential that Donal...d Trump's response to this indictment was only to Tweet out:
"Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before
I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong- no collusion!"
As usual, the President reads (and I use that word when applied to Trump advisedly...maybe "skims" would be a better choice) what he wants to see. He sees "2014" in the indictment and believes that if they started this before he announced his run for the Presidency that therefore they couldn't have intended to help elect him. The Huff Post article attached below has a copy of the 37 page indictment. If you go there you will find at the bottom of page 16 and the top of page 17, Mueller making it clear that this operation generally began in 2014, AND that by 2016 had clearly focused upon helping Trump win and ensuring Clinton lost.
Trump also claims in his Tweet that there was no impact on the US election from Russian interference. Here he is twisting and perverting Rod Rosenstein's (who announced the indictment to the press) words. Rosenstein said there was “no allegation in the indictment of any effect on the outcome of the election.”In the indictment! That doesn't mean the Russian operation had no effect on the election; it simply clarifies that this indictment is not making that claim. The consensus of opinion is exactly the opposite. Reading the indictment against these Russian players makes it clear that this particular action is limited to their actions and only intended as a part of a larger mosiac.
Judge this President by his words and actions. Today he was confronted by serious charges that a foreign adversary intentionally and criminally engaged in a successful operation to subvert our democratic process. A President who whined and made false claims about voter fraud to explain why he really didn't lose the popular vote (yes, he did)--who thought the purity of voting was so significant he should establish a sham commission to investigate it (it more recently disbanded) said NOTHING..ZERO...NADA today when confronted with detailed evidence of a successful operation to subvert our election. He did not make a statement condemning Russia. He did not initiate sanctions.
His silence was deafening. Don't over-think this. The evidence is clear as to the Russian operation, and yet our Commander in Chief is still giving Putin and Russia a pass.
The carnage continues. Could it be that she took this preemptive step because she knew the president intended to fire Rod Rosenstein, and that his removal would...'ve forced her into the number two position at the DOJ, and put her squarely within President Trump's crosshairs? If she had replaced Rosenstein, she would've been in charge of the Mueller investigation. Our president has already shown a predisposition to apply inappropriate pressure in places it does not belong.
Sean Hannity of the Fox-Trump Network promised the "Nunes Memo" would expose the "biggest case of abuse in U.S. history." A day later, the promised bombshell is... proving to be...
1. All hat and no cattle?
2. All foam, no beer?
3. All lime and salt, no tequila?
4. All wax and no wick?
5. All crown, no filling?
6. All green, but no Hulk?
7. Big hands, little...well, you know. Feet, I meant feet!
Please feel free to add your own...
Trust me on this: the so-called "Nunes Memo" (odd because Nunes reportedly did not write it--his staff did) will prove to be...nothing of substance. This is Old... School hucksterism: claiming that people will be amazed and beguiled by what awaits behind the curtain! The long, slow tease to make you think that what will be revealed is somehow worth waiting for. Kind of like Trump himself making a big speech for a big real estate deal with his name on it in Baku (he licensed the use of his name for The Trump Tower Baku) that never opened, and likely led to fraud and money laundering by the Mammadov family, some of whom served in the Azerbaijan government. Lots of big promotion. But no there, there. Oh, and corrupt as H..E...double tooth picks!
Sadly, many news people have played along with the build up to the release of this memo, knowing this was great for ratings. But in the end, this will be a cosmic letdown, with nothing more significant in evidence than emails exchanged between two then-FBI agents grousing about Trump. And all to create an environment in which Trump could publicly rationalize a justification to fire Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and replace him with a Trump loyalist who would close down the Mueller investigation. Think that through: Coordinating with the release of this memo, Trump is trying to create an opportunity to remove the man who is investigating him for criminal conduct tied to Russian interference with our democracy. I hope that outrages all Americans.
Fortunately, what is reportedly the basis of the memo's claim to justify its charge of inappropriate bias by the DOJ in obtaining a FISA warrant to surveil Carter Page is easily rebutted by a timeline I will share once the memo is released.
While sipping a coffee to wake up and tending to a sore knee this morning, I reflected for a moment about past empires in history – – Persian, Assyrian, Greek a...nd Roman, to name but a few--and how they all grew so large they eventually succumbed to the same fate: implosion from within. In particular, I thought about the Roman Empire, which eventually collapsed from its inability to control its vast territorial gains. Julius Caesar was Rome's last emperor--and given the fate of the empire, is often blamed for what followed.
There are no real empires in today's world--although the land grabs by Russia in Crimea or the emergence of China do create a pause for thought. In many ways, oddly, the United States may actually be the better comparison. While TODAY we are not in the business of conquering countries and absorbing them into a growing empire (yes, I know--exceptions for Hawaii, Puerto Rico and of course the plight of Native Americans), it is accurate to say that since the end of WWII and our use of atomic bombs to end our war with Japan, the U.S. has enjoyed unparalleled relationships and influence with other countries around the globe. Our military might, the strength of our economy and the relative stability of our democratic government have been the primary drivers in creating this hint of a modern empire.
All of which begs the question: are we in the U.S. modernity's Roman Empire? Are we doomed to the same changes and fate as history's past empires? And is Donald Trump--who seems to behave more like an emperor than a President in a Democracy--and who in the course of only one year has lessened our global influence and done so much damage to our relationships with our allies abroad--the new modern emperor, a Julius Caesar presiding over the end our global status?
About to give an interview for KGO ABC television, reviewing Jerry Brown's 16th and final State of the State address from this morning – – and reflecting back o...n his long career in politics. Whether you are conservative, moderate, liberal or progressive – – how do you see Brown? How does he rank in comparison to other California governors in your adult lifetime?
Brown, who has now served four terms as governor, entered his second era of being a two-term governor in 2011, inheriting a budget deficit of $27 billion and 12% unemployment. In 2018 he finds the state with a $6 billion surplus, and unemployment levels down to a few clicks above 4%. He also governs a state that has the world's sixth largest economy. But how much of this is due to his governance and management, and how much of it reflects the larger world that we live in?
His two important legacy projects – – high-speed rail, and a infrastructure project design to deliver water from Northern California to Southern California through a tunnel will require more funding and leadership from the next person in Brown's office. His ongoing disagreement with Donald Trump both in support of sanctuary cities and a sanctuary state, as well fighting climate change, will also be important issues for his successor.
Tonight the Washington Post is reporting that President Trump, while in a meeting with then acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe asked the acting Director whom he ...voted for in the 2016 election. Can you imagine your boss or supervisor doing that to you in your place of work? What's next, asking you about whether or not you were religious, and what religion you ascribe to? McCabe claimed he did not vote. Without making reference to the Russia investigation or any of the other criticisms of our president, I am frankly flabbergasted by this behavior if the story is accurate.
McCabe has been in our President's rhetorical gun sights since then, even though he has said he will take retirement soon. On a fairly regular basis, McCabe has been a regular target for the Tweeter in Chief on Twitter. Perhaps someone should acquaint our presidential Twit with a law called The Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA) of 1978, created to provide rules and procedures for federal civilian employees.
The CSRA divided the Civil Service Commission (CSC) into the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). The MSPB conducts studies of the federal civil service and hears appeals of federal employees who have been disciplined or otherwise separated from their positions.
Of relevance here: any personnel actions which discriminate against federal employees based on marital status, political activity, or political affiliation are strictly prohibited by federal law under the CSRA. Last time I checked: FBI workers are federal employees, and asking a question like this, much less making pronouncements about removing him from the FBI sound like illegal discriminatory actions to me.
Which nitwit is giving the President legal advice? Maybe the president's stable of less than impressive lawyers should be added to the list compiled by nutty conspiracy theorists inside the GOP who fear the existence of a "deep state," dedicated to removing President Trump from office. Frankly, failing to step in and advise the president against doing these kinds of things means he is left to his own instincts – – and in ignorance of the law, he constantly violates it. It may not have to be Robert Mueller who gets the president out of office. It may instead be the sheer incompetence of his so called legal team.
Sorry Mr. Trump, but you can't call this fake news when it comes from your Twitter feed or are those words spoken from your mouth on FOX news. In the recent pas...t you advocated for a federal shutdown. And a few years ago you opined that history will record that a President is ultimately responsible for government shutdowns.
This requires one more post. "Shithouse" instead of "Shithole?" Really? That distinction was the basis of the completely unbelievable denial by 2 GOP senators w...ho claimed with straight faces they did not recall the president saying "shithole countries" when referring to Africa or Haiti. Maybe we should add the terms "Shithead" and "Shit-for-brains" to this wildly informative and intellectual discourse? Meanwhile, our president spent the weekend insisting he was the least racist person news reporters would ever interview. Wow. If he was the least, we're in serious trouble. In truth, if you want to get a sense of how Trump feels about race, you could look back at his statements after the tragedy in Charlottesville when he equated neo-Nazis and white supremacists with civil rights protesters. Or, you could note that today Trump skipped a tradition his predecessors--Republican and Democrat--had been only been too happy to follow in the recent past. These predecessors used the occasion of MLK day usually to offer a form of public service in Dr. King's memory. But not our Donald Trump. He spent the free part of his day playing golf. His priorities are really, pretty clear.
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I think it was the summer of 1965, the first time my mother inadvertently overheard me dropping the F-bomb on my bro...ther Lou, as we raced around the backyard. As I recall, I shouted this in exclamation and frustration. We were playing frisbee and when he threw it to me, it sailed over my head, over our fence, and into the cow field behind our housing development in Turlock. I screamed the F word out loud...loud enough for Mom to hear it in the house. You should know that my mother rarely loses her temper--even to this day.
But that day lingers clearly in my memory because of the way her face was quickly at one of the windows to the rear of the house, crimson-flushed and frowning in anger. Through the screen she ordered me inside. My mother was the sort of person who would take home an unopened bar of soap from any hotel our family stayed in. She reasoned that everything was expensive and that the cost of the soap bar was already factored in to the price of the room. Over time, given my father's busy academic travel schedule, we had stayed in enough hotels and motels for my mother to acquire a drawer filled with petite rectangular soap bars.
On that morning she made sure I knew she meant business when she grabbed my right earlobe, walking me to the bathroom and opening...the drawer! As the long-suffering parent of three boys, she was also skilled at doing several things at once--like for instance sorting through and selecting the biggest bar in the drawer while she admonished me for invoking the F bomb.
I remember vividly her unwrapping of it, rinsing it off once (which confused me--but she could be a tad anal about cleanliness) and ordering me to hold it in my mouth. Even at seven years old, I understood this was symbolic and not intended as literal. Cracking wise with my mother, I think I even said something to the effect. But with the soap resting on my tongue, "What does soap in my mouth have to do with not saying that word?" came out as:
"Vabda shope irma mobth habada
biff nob spaydin dawuh?"
I giggled--causing the soap bar to fall out of my mouth, which only enraged her.
It was about at that point that she reminded me that there were some words that should never be said aloud--and that the F bomb was high on that list, atop which was the N word. It was then that she told me I was a shameful "Potty Mouth."
Her admonition did have an effect on me in the moment--but I will confess to having uttered a few F bombs since 1965. Okay, maybe more than a few. Usually in private, and often mostly as an expression of anguish. As I grew older, I remembered the point she was trying to teach me about picking my moments and audiences within which to make certain utterances, lest I become the Potty Mouth she feared I would be.
I thought of Mom and the bar of soap yesterday as I read the story about President Trump referring to Africa and Haiti (and perhaps a few other places) as "shithole" countries. For Trump's unwavering loyalists, it was easy to dismiss all of this as a frustrated utterance or exclamation. People, after all, say things that are worse in traffic every day. Nobody alters the arc of a news cycle for someone screaming an expletive to another driver. In social media, some Trump defenders suggested this was much ado about nothing.
But for me, it was different. Very different. Consider the messenger. Then consider the message within context. Donald Trump is without doubt disliked by many more voters than by those who like him. Nevertheless, he is our President--whether we like it or not. And while he continues to challenge and reinvent norms of behavior for a President, usually in ways that many of us frown upon--he is at the same time the face of our country, both home and abroad.
On many issues, his status as president entitles him to speak for us. And even in this era of declining US influence abroad (often because of Trump's "Make America Great Again" isolationist message), other countries still listen to learn what our president has to say. It often appears he is unaware of his reach--but I fear he is aware, and just doesn't care. When what he said about "shithole" countries got out, the world heard him and collectively shuddered.
Trump self-described his coarse language as talking "tough"--but he misread us at home, as well his global audience, and particularly countries in Africa and those who reside in Haiti, all of whom perceived this in a context of demeaning racial slurs. He as much cemented that when he asked why we couldn't admit more Norwegians, which is to say, more white people, to the United States?
The real tragedy is that he says things like this and gets away with it--the only consequences being negative news stories which Trump promptly dismisses as "fake news." The stories run in normal news cycles, before Trump says something different--and again very controversial--distracting reporters from the old statements and shifting to the new outrage of the day. In short order, new news stories cause us to forget what he said before. Repeat ad nauseam.
For me, Donald Trump is my mother's worst fear for me, come true in the person of another. If she saw him, she would call him "Potty Mouth." Indeed, with each day and each new verbal misfire, he continues to cause damage it will take us years to repair.
So--I say: no more of this, POTUS. Henceforth, you should be known and disparaged as POTTYMOUTHUS. And to my mom: you might need more than one bar of soap this time.
Making CC member Desley Brooks responsible for a $550,000 punitive damages award seems like a just outcome, but it really disturbs me that our Oakland city gove...rnment should have to pay one cent of a $3.8 million personal damages award for the same case, even if the city's liability insurance will cover all or most of it. Does anyone really think that insurance isn't going to be more expensive going forward? Call me an outlier, but why shouldn't our representatives be one hundred percent responsible for their own bad behavior?
More breaking news!!! Assuming that criminal indictments are forthcoming, Donald Trump may be getting ready to return to private life in a way that marries up t...he two things he is undeniably good at: reality television and branding. Sources speaking on condition of anonymity are suggesting Mr. Trump will star with some of his family in a remake of the popular Teletubbies television show, this time rebranded as The Teletrumpies. Trump will assume the role of Tinkywinky, now called Trumpydumpy. He posed today with Tinkywinky's famous red purse, which Trumpydumpy now calls his "meaty man bag," as well a portrait showing him reading a book--so long as it has lots of pictures to help him "understand those big boring words."😉
Our tax dollars at work. Here we have our president's pathetic attempt at foreign policy or diplomacy. Late today he tweeted:
"North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un j...ust stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!"
Men Who claim to have "a big button" usually have a very small button, or no button at all. I think all of us are past applying a simple freshman year course in Freudian analysis to Donald Trump. Often his delusions are harmless and mostly embarrassing to himself. But this kind of language, being provocative about nuclear weapons in no specific way, invites misinterpretation and/or miscalculation--the kind that can lead to a nuclear exchange by accident. This is not a game. Not only is he way out of his depth (and honestly, I find it hard to believe Generals Kelly or McMaster approved of this – – but they have no control over his tweeting), it is becoming harder by the day to determine which of these two "leaders" are more reckless and immature. They almost seem interchangeable in their race to the bottom.