Music for CPAC and America’s bigoted Administration

The organizer of the Conservative Political Action Convention (CPAC), Dan Schneider, called Richard Spencer and his cadre of white nationalists (aka the “alt-right”) a “hateful, left-wing fascist group” got me thinking about this song. Well, that and how poorly the current Administration is doing lately with respect to bigotry. You know, broadening the deportation guidelines to include pretty much everyone from south of the border, the immigration and travel ban, reversing the guidance on equal access to restrooms for transgendered men and women, and the like.


(this version was put up by TMBG themselves, BTW) Continue reading

Donald and Michael Flynn during the campaign (image credit: Yahoo News)

Donald attacks the media, FBI, and intelligence agencies over Flynn’s “resignation”

A real President would promise to find out just how deeply Russia has influenced his Administration. Then there’s Donald Trump….

Donald and Michael Flynn during the campaign (image credit: Yahoo News)

Donald and Michael Flynn during the campaign (image credit: Yahoo News)

Three days ago, I wrote a post I titled “After Michael Flynn’s resignation, Donald will be out for blood.” In it, I wrote

Donald lost tonight, and every time he’s lost he’s gone on Twitter or stood before an audience to rant against whoever was responsible for his loss. I anticipate that Donald will attack the media again for reporting the facts about Flynn and his Russia contacts. And I expect he’ll instruct his new Attorney General to figure out who in the FBI was investigating Flynn, and who leaked the information that Flynn was being investigated….

Two days ago, we learned that Donald knew about Flynn’s Russia contacts, and that Flynn had lied about them, since January 26. And supposedly, Flynn was asked to resign because of “eroding trust” between him and Donald. Riiiight.

I don’t know about anyone else, but if I found out my National Security Advisor had been lying to me and was susceptible to blackmail by foreign powers as a result of it, I’d have fired him almost immediately, not waited two weeks until the media broke the story and forced my hand. Because, you know, national security. But maybe that’s because I take stuff like this seriously, rather than treating the Presidency like a business investment. Continue reading

Michael Flynn (image credit: Politico)

After Michael Flynn’s resignation, Donald will be out for blood

Donald doesn’t lose well. I doubt he’ll ignore the role of the media and FBI leaks in Flynn’s resignation

Michael Flynn (image credit: Politico)

Michael Flynn (image credit: Politico)

Michael Flynn, Donald’s now former National Security Advisor, resigned from his position this evening. In a statement, Flynn said he “misled” Vice-President Pence about a phone call Flynn had with the Russian Ambassador to the United States in which the two discussed having Donald lift sanctions imposed on Russia after the invasion and annexation of Crimea.

Flynn’s contacts with Russia had been under investigation by the Justice Department since Donald took office, if not before then, and the fact that Flynn was being investigated had been widely reported in the media. In fact, the Washington Post reported just tonight that the FBI considered Flynn a blackmail risk due to his lying to Pence.

Continue reading

Quotes from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against Donald’s immigration ban

9th_circuit_sealToday a three judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that they would not overturn the injunction blocking most of Donald’s immigration and travel ban Executive Order. I read the entire ruling, and I’ve extracted several key or amusing quotes from it below. Many of these were quotes that I posted first on Facebook, but I wanted to collect them all in one place.

As I said after DeVos was confirmed, “We cannot let our defeats demoralize us into inaction any more than we can permit our victories to lull us into a false sense of security.” But for tonight, enjoy the 9th Circuit’s very polite yet firm rejections of pretty much everything the Administration argued. Continue reading

Equity is another word for fairness (image credit: King County)

What is a liberal? Fairness is my core value

Liberals should talk about our values. And we should start with fairness.

Equity is another word for fairness (image credit: King County)

Equity is another word for fairness (image credit: King County)

Over the last few years, I’ve read liberals saying that we need to talk about our values more openly, to own them, to assert that they are just as much American values as conservative values are. But I’ve never been comfortable talking about my values. Partly that’s because I’m an introvert. Partly because sharing such important stuff about myself feels a bit like everyone’s nightmare of showing up to give a presentation and realizing you’re naked before the crowd. And partly it’s because some of my values have shifted over the years as I’ve matured and experienced more of life, and I’m sure that some of them will shift again in the future.

But since Donald’s election I’ve been thinking about my values a lot. I’ve already chosen to fight for my values via my writing, and I’m prepared to fight for my values by putting my personal safety on the line if need be. So I figured that, if I’m going to be willing to risk my career or my physical well-being, I’d better be damned sure I know what my values are.

After a great deal of thought, I’ve finally realized what my core value is. The one value that matters more to me than any other. The one value against which all my other values are weighed, and from which most of my values spring. The one value with which I weigh the character of everyone I encounter.

Fairness. Continue reading

Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos (image credit: Slate)

Betsy DeVos’ confirmation was a defeat, but the greater battle for America’s future continues

Fighting Donald Trump’s agenda is a war, and there will be both victories and defeats

Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos (image credit: Slate)

Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos (image credit: Slate)

Today the Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary. She’s one of the least qualified people who has ever been nominated to the position, and she demonstrated such during her confirmation hearing. And for those of us who reject vouchers for private religious schools, who support children with special needs, who want to keep guns out of schools, and who support teaching our children critical thinking skills, this was undoubtedly a loss. And a painful loss at that.

But as with any conflict, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

As painful as the DeVos confirmation is, it’s only a skirmish in the greater war. The greater battle is stopping DeVos from implementing Donald’s education agenda. Continue reading

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Dark thoughts about Donald and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

What would happen if Donald sent thugs to try to make the judges of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals an offer they couldn’t refuse?

9th_circuit_sealOn Saturday, a federal judge in Washington issued a nationwide injunction against the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department and blocked them from enforcing Donald’s travel/immigration ban. On Sunday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to immediately block the lower judge’s injunction until it could hear a full appeal later this week (possibly as early as tomorrow).

To give you some idea of how dark my thoughts have become since Donald took over (in case worrying about being nuked in my sleep wasn’t bad enough), on the way home from skiing today I found myself wondering if Donald would send law enforcement/thugs to threaten the judges on the 9th Circuit in order to get them to rule in his favor. Continue reading

From Lydon Johnson's "Daisy" ad (image credit: Smithsonian Magazine)

One parent’s worries about raising children in Donald’s first 12 days in office

My very own Daisy moment, courtesy of Donald Trump’s first 12 days in office

From Lydon Johnson's "Daisy" ad (image credit: Smithsonian Magazine)

From Lydon Johnson’s “Daisy” ad (image credit: Smithsonian Magazine)

Donald Trump was sworn in on January 20, 2017. Today is February 1. In that period, I’ve fallen asleep twice wondering if I’d wake up to a bright flash followed by a shock wave that turned my home to burning splinters around me and my sleeping family.

I’ve started wondering if this is what it was like for my parents, learning as children to “duck and cover” under their desks in the event of a nuclear attack. Whether this level of daily stress was normal during the Cuban Missile Crisis and other low points of the Cold War. They’re still alive – maybe I should ask them. Perhaps their perspective could help allay some of my fears. Then again, do I really want to know that they think “it’s worse now than it was then,” if in fact that’s what they think? Continue reading

Seamus Kennedy’s folk songs of conflict and immigration

We will need protest songs for Donald’s presidency, but listening to Seamus Kennedy’s folk songs of conflict and immigration on the drive home yesterday was a good start.

My family and I went skiing yesterday. On the way home, we listened to a lot of wonderful music by Seamus Kennedy. As is his style, it was a mix of jokes, traditional folk music, Scottish and Irish ballads, and irreverent musical humor. Two of the songs had me softly crying while driving home, and I had to ask my wife to skip a third (and to be prepared to skip another). The songs were about immigrants and conflict and families torn apart.

I’ve collected those songs and a couple of others I heard yesterday below, in case anyone is interested. Continue reading

democracy-in-america

The overlooked battlefield in the war against the press

democracy-in-americaThe war against the press will be fought at the local and state level, but the war at the federal level will get the most airtime.

CNN reporter Jeremy Desmond asked Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, under fire because of four deaths at his jail, for an interview. On Friday, Clarke replied on Twitter:

Donald Trump has labeled CNN as fake news. When Pres. Trump says CNN is ok again, then I might.

The sheriff — an elected public official — has refused to respond to a press request for an interview. This particular sheriff has a nationwide reputation as a supporter of President Donald and has been considered for a position in the Donald administration. Continue reading

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If they lie, journalists should stop covering the White House. Let the interns do it.

sean-spicer-white-housePresident Donald’s press secretary boldly and bluntly lied to the White House press corps last week. Yawn.

Well, so what? Politicians and their spear carriers have prevaricated, evaded, fibbed, misinformed, misdirected, and dissembled since the dawn of government.

But Sean Spicer lied. He did not disguise the lie. He told lies easily contravened. He did so acting as the representative of the president of the United States. He did so just days after promising he wouldn’t lie.

Media navel gazers pounced. Continue reading

faux-journalism

Dear NYTimes – “easily debunked facts” are not facts at all

The sooner the New York Times realizes it needs to identify the Administration’s lies as “lies” in print, the better

The New York Times‘ Jim Rutenberg, author of the Mediator blog, wrote a post yesterday titled “‘Alternative Facts’ and the Costs of Trump-Branded Reality.” The article focused on how Sean Spicer, Donald’s Press Secretary, and Kellyanne Conway, Donald’s spokeswoman, have already engaged in an “aggressive use of falsehoods” and that attacking the media might not serve the administration’s long-term goals. Continue reading

I’ve been keeping my powder dry

Donald TrumpThere’s an old phrase that comes from the 1800s – “keep your powder dry.” It harks back to a time when firearms were fired with black gunpowder, and wet gunpowder wouldn’t fire. The idea was that you wouldn’t be able to use your gun when you really needed it if you let the powder get wet.

Since the election of Donald Trump to be the next President of the United States, I’ve been very busy with work and family, and I’ve been largely focused on what amounts to self-care for my mental and physical health. After all, I’m no good to my family, friends, or coworkers if I’m always fried, mentally and/or physically. And I haven’t been writing much.

What I have been doing is keeping my powder dry.

Today is Inauguration Day. Continue reading

Build the Wall Trump

Narcissism, promises, and job approval: They might not mix well for President Donald

An inability to focus on consequences that do not center on him. Check. An absence of empathy for others. Check. A lack of impulse control coupled to a need to lash out at perceived offenses (and offenders). Check. A vainglorious view of himself. Check. An ever-present, almost childlike, need for praise. Check.

Build the Wall TrumpPresident-Elect Donald is a narcissist. That’s the conclusion of Alan J. Lipman, a clinical psychologist, chronicled in a commentary on CNN. But we already know that, don’t we? We’ve seen it repeatedly at his rallies and in his Twitter rants. But so far, he’s insulated himself from the consequences of his narcissism. Even past Republican critics, such as the speaker of the House, and big-money donors who did not support his candidacy are falling in line, creating an imaginary unity.

President-Elect Donald’s egregious behaviors have become acceptable because so many legislators and donors have too much at stake (power, influence, government contracts, etc.) to suggest the emperor-elect is naked.

But there’s one judge of presidential behavior, character, and leadership President-Elect Donald has yet to face — George Gallup’s question:

Do you approve or disapprove of the way ____ is handling his job as president?

Continue reading

wikileaks-netbook-globe-01-03

Donald hires Nikki Haley

 

wikileaks-netbook-globe-01-03Nikki: We need to talk about the United Nations.

Donald: My gut feeling is they’re trouble.

Nikki: You have no idea. They think the United States is their biggest threat.

Donald: Even though we pay the bills?

Nikki: Actually, China pays the bills since George W. Bush.

Donald: Then tell them we’ll start picking up the tab again.

Nikki: That’s not how it works. China pays the bills in exchange for influence, at this point bordering on control.  Continue reading

mistressgate

Kellyanne Conway exposes Mistressgate

mistressgateKellyanne Conway, Donald Trump’s newly minted Counselor to the President, has been struggling recently to answer the sorts of double-standard personal questions from interviewers that frequently plague women. Now, granted, she brought some of that questioning on herself. But one of her latest answers opens a new, but not unexpected, can of worms for Team Donald.

Kellyanne appeared on the Trump-friendly “Mornings With Maria” on the Fox Business Network. Maria Bartiromo asked her if she would have enough time to do her job and still be a full-time mother. Kellyanne defended her decision by saying,

“I don’t play golf and I don’t have a mistress so, I have a lot of time that a lot of these other men don’t.”

At first, I was going to let this issue slide. Then Jason Miller, who was just appointed White House Communications Director on December 22, resigned on Christmas Eve, giving the traditional “there’s more to this story” reason: “I want to spend more time with my family.” A Trump advisor, A.J. Delgado, accused Miller of resigning from Team Donald because he’s “The 2016 version of John Edwards.” In other words, A.J. accused Miller of having a baby with his mistress.

And there it is: Mistressgate.

And so, Kellyanne, trusted counselor to Donald, I have a few follow-up questions for you. You may answer them in any order. Continue reading

Earthrise from Apollo 8, December 24, 1968 (image credit: NASA)

When reaching out to better understand my fellow Americans, facts are non-negotiable

Reality has facts, however poorly we see them sometimes. Reaching out to understand someone else’s experience requires common ground, and for me, that common ground must be based upon a shared understanding of objective facts.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about how I was living in a bubble that distorted my perspective on America. The point was that, while I’m living in a bubble, I’m hardly the only one, and I gave an example of a grandfather from Vigo County, Indiana, who felt that his America was populated by “real people,” as opposed to the presumably fake or inauthentic people in New York City, Los Angeles, or Chicago. But after reading several excellent comments on that article that provided suggestions how to reach people – listen, talk with instead of at, stop dismissing, denigrating, and demonizing – I realized that there is a limit to my ability, even to my willingness, to reach out and have a meaningful discussion.

Facts. They exist. And they’re a non-negotiable entry point for any bubble-piercing attempts I’m going to be involved in.

Let me give a few examples of what I mean. Continue reading

wikileaks-netbook-globe-01-03

Donald hires Rick Perry

wikileaks-netbook-globe-01-03Rick: We need to talk about Zika.

Donald: The shrunken head disease in Brazil?

Rick: It’s showing up in Tea Party states like Florida. It’s a way to make the population non-viable for national defense. There’s a reason the Japanese are choosing not to have children.

Donald: You’re saying the Chinese are behind it?

Rick: They tell me you’ve gone rogue. Is it true?

Donald: There’s an old Indian parable about an woman who brings a frozen snake into her house, and it bites her, and as she’s dying it says, “You knew I was a snake.” Continue reading

wikileaks-netbook-globe-01-03

Donald interviews Rex Tillerson

wikileaks-netbook-globe-01-03

Rex: We need to stop the CIA from briefing the Electoral College.

Donald: People are already saying I’m a tyrant. Won’t it look worse if I come out against an informed electorate?

Rex: The chances of swaying thirty seven electors is practically nil. Everyone knows it. What they don’t know is that the Chinese have moles everywhere. If 538 people get briefed on what the CIA knows and how they know it, all our methods, tactics, even some sources are compromised. The chance of a secret getting out is equal to the square of the number of people who know it. If ten people know, that’s a 100% chance. If 538 people know, we might as well broadcast the briefing via satellite to every corner of the world. Continue reading

wikileaks-netbook-globe-01-03

Donald hires Scott Pruitt

wikileaks-netbook-globe-01-03

Scott: We need to talk about hog farms.

Donald: I love bacon. They say every slice of bacon takes three minutes off your life. At this point I died in 1795.

Scott: North Carolina, under Chinese control, recently enacted a law making it a crime to record video on private hog farms.

Donald: It’s private property. They should be allowed to do what they want without activists making them look like Darth Vader.

Scott: They’re dumping raw animal waste into the drinking water. There are signs along the highway that say, ” Foreign owned hog farms are polluting our water.” They’re paid for by North Carolina hog farmers. Continue reading