Wednesday, March 22, 2017

When John Dean accuses you of a "Cover-up," you've got a real Problem. . .

Few people have as intimate a knowledge of political cover-ups as counselor to Richard Nixon John Dean. If you haven't already seen it, watch as Dean describes the Trump presidency in full-on "cover-up" mode. There is little question in my mind now that Trump has already committed multiple impeachable offences, and that is without even touching collusion with the Russians, something that John Dean seems to think is becoming ever more clear. The only question now is whether the Republicans will choose Party over Country and the Rule of Law. Unfortunately, the answer to that is painfully obvious. Frankly, as cynical as I am, even I didn't think that a democracy like the US (imperfect by any standard but still just about holding on) could unravel this quickly.

The depth of the political crisis in the US can be seen in the effort to push through the so-called "Trump-care" bill. At the moment it looks like it will fail to pass the House, and even if they do get the seven votes or so that they need to swing it, it looks like it is dead on arrival in the Senate. But here's the thing, if Trump-care fails it will not be because Republican lawmakers have rejected it because it will take literally millions of people off of Medicaid, Medicare, and their insurance, but because the most conservative Republicans in the House (the tragically misnamed "Freedom Caucus") think that it gives TO MUCH to the poor, the sick, and the elderly. This is how bad the US political system has become; the party in power is rejecting a conservative, Trump-sponsored bill because it tries to take care of society's most vulnerable. (And, keep in mind, that these Congress Members who are upset because the Republican establishment is trying to care for people, all call themselves devout Christians!)

The real question that is haunting us today is not "will Trump be impeached?" or "will Trump cause a war?" or even "is Trump mentally unstable?" The real question is - how long can a society last hat is actively promoting detached, callousness toward its own vulnerable citizens?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Trump is giving Rich, Corrupt, White men a Bad Name. . .

I find it very interesting that hundreds of Congressional hours (as well as the efforts of a special prosecutor) over a period of more than 20 years, were devoted to the Republican effort to discredit and indict the Clintons. And after all that effort the only thing anyone was able to find either of them guilty of was lying about having sex. Now, I don't think that the Clintons were entirely honest, but given the Republican's visceral hatred of them as well as the ideological drive of the Republican Party, I am certain that if there was any clear evidence of a crime, several indictments would have come down, even if those indictments had not led to guilty verdicts.

The thing that is most remarkable about recent events in Washington is that more suspicion and chaos surrounds Donald Trump's presidency after only a few weeks in office than surrounded the Clinton's over their whole political careers. The reason I think the comparison with the Clintons is interesting is not because I have any desire to defend them, but because the rightwing continues to be so vociferous in their attack on them for things that, when compared with Trump, make them look like a sweet retired church couple. Unlike the Clintons who often had a hostile congress to face, Trump has a bunch of sycophants who are desperate to either do his bidding or shelter him from prosecution so that they can use him to enact their despicable agenda.

Even before he came to office, Trump (unlike either of the Clintons) had a long history of legal misdeeds as well as bankruptcies used to shield him from his economic corruption. But the US is a deeply corrupt nation (both economically and politically), and I have little doubt that if Trump weren't so blatantly and offensively racist, misogynist, and just plain nasty, his present predicament would be considerably less dire. The rich (mostly white men) of Congress and the media are willing to overlook all sorts of malfeasance by their peers, as long as everyone plays nice.

But given how much bad-blood Trump has built up over the years, his malfeasance (much of which would otherwise fly under the radar) makes continual waves in the public sphere. The trail of Russian money and connections to Trump is actually shocking and beyond suspicious. And what makes it all more suspicious is the fact that Trump's dogged refusal to release his tax returns (which, if he had no Russian ties, would clear up much of his present problem) makes him look more than a little dodgy. Now, if you couple the known fact that the Russians were meddling in last year's elections, (something which they have been actively doing, like the US, for decades all over the globe) with the already known and suspected ties that a number of Trump's minions have had with Russia, it is really difficult not to draw conclusions about Trump's corruption. Now, I really think that people should keep in mind that if any type of collusion existed between the Trump campaign and the Russians, this is a scandal that would make Watergate look like a case of mistaken shoplifting of a Snickers Bar. Watergate was a relatively simple petty crime, breaking into an opponent's office to find clues about the political campaign. Here we are talking about collusion with a foreign, hostile and undemocratic power, to undermine a whole election. And in some senses we already know that collusion existed given that Trump had the gall to publicly call on the Russians to intervene by hacking computers in the US. Many people seem to forget that Trump's public request for Russia to hack emails in the US was a de facto criminal act on Trump's part.

I don't know what will happen over the next months and years. For all I know, the US system is so corrupt that Trump will continue to be able to hide behind the shield of government and limp from one scandal to another all the while enriching himself to the tune of tens of millions of dollars (which he has already made by charging the US government for him vacationing every weekend at his own country club). Perhaps the evidence will become too overwhelming even for his Republican lapdogs and Trump will face a real investigation and maybe even impeachment or prison (though that seems profoundly unlikely to me). But whatever happens, what the Trump debacle should remind all of us is that there is one standard for the rich, and one for all the rest of us and that wealthy white men can do almost anything and get away with it time after time.

As a small postscript, more signs of Trump's corruption have emerged in the past few days. This bizarre scandal is brought to you hear by the always interesting Rachael Maddow, and could be one of the big reasons that Trump is so afraid of any investigations. Having the president involved in this kind of thing has really reduced the US to a Banana Republic.