“Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain,” It Was Just Me!

President Trump read some words to the press this afternoon. It can’t be called a press conference as no questions were allowed. He read from a script, probably written by someone else to keep his own words from the public.

Trump gave a glowing summary of the last week during which he claimed he raised “hundreds of millions” for NATO and everyone was pleased. He didn’t insult anyone like he did Angela Merkel when she was out of the room. He met with the Prime Minister of Great Britain and they got along famously (Trump tried his best to oust her from the government in a newspaper interview with one of Rupert Murdoch’s papers). The closest he came to telling the truth was when he mentioned he and the Queen of England walked in front of her honor guard. More accurately he stepped in front of the 92-year-old Queen, showing he has no respect for anyone or anything.

He finally came to his closed-door meeting in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin, claiming they resolved most of the problems of the world. They jointly stepped in front of press microphones and Trump claimed the Mueller investigation is “a witch hunt,” and of course, “there is no collusion.” Trump let us know Putin “strongly denied” meddling in the US Elections. And that Trump, “didn’t know why they would.”

In today’s “clarification,” Trump tried to say after reviewing the transcript and watching the video, he meant to say he “didn’t know why they wouldn’t.” And added for effect, it’s what you call a double-negative. To believe his new version, we would have to disregard everything he’s both said and failed to say about Putin and Russia since his campaign began. Even when he grudgingly acknowledged Russia did “attempt to meddle” in our elections. He couldn’t help but add, “it could have been others as well.”

When the statement ended, someone shouted three times, “Will you publicly condemn Putin?” Trump thanked everyone for coming and slinked away. It’s increasingly clear, that while Trump is publicly the President, Putin is the man behind the curtain pulling the strings.

Donald Trump And The Harry T. Upshaw Defense

Harry T. Upshaw (the T is for Tyrone) is a long time friend of mine. From time to time he would have the occasion to make the following statement, “If you didn’t put your hand on my shoulder while I was doing it… it wasn’t me!” His theory was that no matter the allegation, however strong the proof. If you weren’t an actual eyewitness that got his confirmation at the time that you saw him doing what he was doing, he would deny it. Donald Trump is doing his best imitation of Harry T. Upshaw after his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump is still unable to admit that Russians, under the direction of Putin, interfered in the 2016 Presidential Election. Last Friday, his own Justice Department issued 12 more indictments against Russian military officers containing extraordinary detail. It listed the twelve Russian officers by name, down to the level of which computer they used while transmitting funds or creating personas or coordinating with unnamed Americans to influence the results. Trump was briefed in advance about the pending indictments and still went out of his way to call the ongoing Special Counsel Investigation, “a witch hunt.”

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Immediately after the press conference in Helsinki where Trump threw his own Intelligence Agencies under the bus, saying he had no reason not to believe Putin’s denials. He also managed to say the words, “No Collusion” several times as if each subsequent repetition made it more believable. Not long afterward, a Russian woman, Maria Butina, was arrested in the United States with a new indictment spelling out her attempts to influence Republicans and funneling money through the National Rifle Association (NRA). The indictment refers to several unnamed Americans and represents the definition of collusion.

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Trump’s lies were never credible before, they were just something someone who believed in his agenda could hang their hat on as they ignored his words and deeds. We are now witnessing treason right before our eyes. Back to Harry Upshaw, that defense of his only worked if someone was willing to let it go. The question is, will the American public and in particular, the Republican Congress who thus far has been aiding and abetting, finally put their collective hand on Trump’s shoulder and remove him from office. The other option is to let Russia continue to call the shots.

 

Why The Open Supreme Court Seat Gives Democrats A Better Chance At The Senate

In a bombshell announcement, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said he was retiring from the Supreme Court. There had long been speculation he’d retire, his wife allegedly wanted him to retire. He will turn 82-years-old in July. Without meaning to disparage, he was old and tired and that was reflected in this last session where he seemingly rolled over and let the partisan right-wingers have their way. Even his concurring opinion in support of Trump’s “Travel Ban,” a meager 1 and 1/2 pages indicated his effort was gone. Kennedy had apparently retired long before his announcement.

Immediately, Trump, McConnell, and many top Republicans started drooling at the thought of what they could do with an untouchable partisan majority once they inserted another like-minded Justice to serve 30-40 years or more on the bench. They could undo Roe v. Wade, outlaw gay marriage and eliminate Affirmative Action. Planned Parenthood… gone! This most recent session gave us a glimpse as to what the new SCOTUS would look like. They approved a “Travel Ban” which was an ill-disguised Muslim Ban in its third iteration, they severely wounded public unions by eliminating their ability to collect dues from all workers they were required to represent. They looked the other way on “Partisan Gerrymandering” which in most cases is “Racial Gerrymandering” by another name. Out of the other side of their mouth, they said; “Racial Gerrymandering” is bad and rejected the Texas version of it, The new Court, not much different than the current one, will take away rights from women, gays, minorities, workers, and students. We don’t have to guess at their intentions, they are happy to tell us who they are and what they plan. And that will be their undoing.

While the Democrat Party has mostly been a pushover in times like these. Even the initial comments from the elected leaders are focusing on Republicans not “being fair” when not applying the same standard about holding confirmation hearings so close to an important election. Frankly, they sound like they’re whining and when Mitch McConnell points out that “Mid-Terms are different than a Presidential election,” he’s right. The same President will be in place before and after the election and would be in no way compelled to consider any result of the election when making his appointment and sending him/her to the Senate for confirmation. A far more compelling argument is that the current President is a target of an investigation and has a conflict of interest in appointing a Justice that might ultimately hear his case. Another possibility is that he’s demonstrated an unusual deference to the Russians he may or may not have conspired with, we should wait for the investigation to be concluded before possibly letting Vladimir Putin select our next Supreme Court Justice.

But it won’t be Democrat leaders who carry the fray, it will be the people. It will be the women, even many of the 53% of white women who voted for the serial sexual harasser, pussy grabbing adulterer that didn’t give them pause earlier. They will recognize that killing Planned Parenthood not only limits options for abortion but takes away the only source of Healthcare for an astonishing number of women, particularly in rural areas. The LGBTQ community will be reinforced in the knowledge that their hard-fought rights, many decided on the swing vote of Anthony Kennedy, are in jeopardy. Any Black people who hadn’t yet decided what it was they had to lose under a Trump administration will have noticed Trump and Jeff Sessions bringing back mass incarceration and expanding voter suppression. Hispanic voters will have noticed people that look like them having their children separated from their parents, some likely to never see them again. Muslim voters are now more than an ocean away from friends and relatives, they are separated by laws no less racially based that those that interred the Japanese during World War II while Germans and Italians with whom we were also at war, were affected in much smaller percentages. Young people will see that individual rights have been pushed aside for corporate rights and that they are doing worse than their parents as a result.

At Planned Parenthood, phones are already ringing off the hook because the man who promised he’d make overturning Roe v. Wade a litmus test when selecting a Justice, is preparing to do it again. He lived up to his promise on his first choice, Neil Gorsuch, and will no doubt do the same on his second. Hispanics who have traditionally not turned out at the polls in representative numbers will be there, perhaps remembering the cries of the children, calling for their mothers. Reliable Black people will be there again, hoping to get in line next to someone wearing a MAGA hat. Muslims will turn out, Native-Americans who don’t see the humor in “Pocahontas” being used to ridicule Elizabeth Warren about her lineage. And then the women, some of whom stood by while Republicans came for all the other groups, now see that Trump, and the Republican Party, have come for them.

While Democrat leaders are calling on deaf ears for “fairness.” Americans are mobilizing against a Court and a Republican Party gone too far. These will be votes against the Republicans as opposed to for Democrats and Democrats would do well to start standing for something as opposed to only being against Trump. Democrats and even the people may not be able to stave off the confirmation of the type of Justice many of us fear. They can take back control of the House and Senate and begin to legislate fixes instead of not doing their job which has been true for the past two decades.

The Democrat Party has an excellent chance to re-take the House of Representatives and in what originally looked like dire straits, have a better chance than before of controlling the Senate as well. In a new day without the filibuster. They can perhaps pay less heed to civility and more to the people. It will require less whining and more organizing. The upcoming elections will be won by getting out the vote and the people have been energized to a level not seen before. The leaders of the Democrat Party need to lead or get out of the way because the people are coming.

How “Shithole Countries” Organized A Trade War And Brought Trump To His Knees

Their covert communications were never intercepted because the CIA, FBI, NSA et. al., were never looking in their direction. The target date was September 1st, late enough in the United States growing season that they’d have no chance to respond. They gave no notice, sending out a tweet on August 31st announcing their 100% export tariffs/duties on all goods from their countries going to the US. Half of America was confused, not recognizing that America even bought goods from those countries, some the same names as those whose children we were separating children from their parents at the border. Guatemala and Honduras were on the list. Peru, Chile, and Mexico participating as well. Costa Rica had joined in along with several African countries. Trump immediately responded with a tweet, “Shithole countrees think they can mess with the US? We don’t need their goods or there people! MAGA!” The countries raised the export taxes to 200%… it was on.

August 31st was a Friday and the announcement came after most in the White House has gone home. Chief of Staff John Kelly was still there, working on the same plan he’d been refining for a year. How to quit and retain his honor if Trump did just “one more thing.” The problem was his honor was lost long ago. He still dreamed though. An aide showed him the tweet and he ignored it to go home for the weekend. He told the aide, “Let someone else worry about it.”

Grocery stores were the first to understand the significance of the export taxes. They were at the end of the US growing season. Much of their fruits and produce was already coming from those countries; cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelons, bananas, grapes, peppers, and more. Jewelers recognized how much of their diamond and gold supply came from Africa. Egyptian Cotton had long been branded as the world’s best, now all these things had tripled in price. The stores all raised their prices at least double while simutaneously cutting their profit margins. They called their trade groups, Congressmen and lobbyists. They demanded action, this cannot stand!

No one in the Administration even knew who to talk to on the other side? Most of their embassies were unstaffed. John Bolton wanted to bomb someone and Mike Pompeo had no contacts. The countries hadn’t even issued any demands or contact information. Their only line of communication was through Twitter where any negotiations would have to be conducted in public. Finally, they picked Jared Kushner to respond with a reply, “What do you want?”

The response came a few hours later, “What is your plan to reunite the families you separated?” This set off some scrambling in the White House and three hours later a meeting with Trump in the Oval Office was held. Trump asked, “So what is our plan?” Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “Don’t you think it’s a little late to be asking that? This was your idea. You’ve had me saying for three months we know where every child and parent is, do we?” Trump looked at Jeff Sessions, “Do we?” Sessions said, “I think HHS has control of the lists?”  Trump asked, “Where’s Alex Azar?” John Kelly said, “He quit twenty minutes ago, matter of fact, I’m out the door too. I can’t think of a better time.” Kelly turned and left the room, slamming the door behind. Sarah Sanders said, “How am I supposed to explain this to the press?” Trump said, “Just make something up… you always do.”

Across America, grocery prices had gone up an average of 30%, stores which operated on thin margins anyway were now losing money because of their increased shrinkage from throwing away out of date product they miscalculated people would buy at higher prices. Mexican Restaurants were shutting down which got the attention of Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen and Sr. Advisor Stephen Miller who frequently dined at Mexican restraunts on days they’d been especially cruel to Mexicans and those who looked like them. Unexpectedly, the NRA was hearing from its members that gun sales were way down. It seems even the drug cartels and gangs south of the border had stopped buying guns at gun shows, utilizing the loopholes Congress would never close. Even the drug lords were upset at the way the children were treated at the border and agreed to stop their purchased until this matter was concluded.

The NRA applied pressure to all the members of Congress they owned which was basically all of them, they demanded an immediate end to the export taxes, but no one knew what the countries wanted yet? Mid-terms were approaching and all the backlash was accruing to the Republicans who supported Trump or said nothing when the children started being taken away. The menu at Mar-a-Lago had been decimated, most of the fruit and vegetable dishes were no longer offered along with the some of the steaks. Trophy wives were upset about the lack of diamonds and gold suddenly, they didn’t sign on to be team players, their expectation was they’d get paid, so they cut off their husbands, adding more pressure to the situation.

Trump’s approval rating was down to 18% among all Americans yet surprisingly still hovering at 77% among Republicans. That figure was misleading because over half the party had now left and become Independents or Democrats but the remaining ones were still loyal. Trump himself finally tweeted, “What du you want?” The reply came immediately, “1. Reunification of all the children taken from their parents 2. Removal of any tariffs introduced since you’ve been President 3. Fire Stephen Miller 4. Resign or be Impeached?

All of Congress had read the exchange and internal huddling indicated Impeachment would be no problem, the NRA had given them the green light. Mitch McConnell made the trip to the Oval Office to tell Trump he couldn’t survive an Impeachment vote. Trump… broken and bowed, acknowledged he had no choice and agreed to all the demands. He fired Miller first whom he blamed for all his racist policies, although he’d harbored them himself all his life. The tariffs were renounced by tweet, the process of reuniting children began although the ultimate success was unclear as they had no idea how to connect several of the families. Further negotiations indicated the demand would be considered met after 90% of the families were reunited with clearly outlined plans to keep working on the rest. Talks almost broke down when Trump admitted “a few children had died while in custody.” An agreement was made that no pardons would be issued for the rest of Trump’s term and no future President could pardon Trump or his staff or the export taxes would resume. Also, because Trump often lied, Impeachment proceedings began in the House of Representatives, giving Trump some impetus so he could quit rather than be dragged out.

A month later, people were eating their fruit salads, bananas and the East Coast had pineapple again. Mar-a-Lago was closed and up for sale. It seems for the first time in a while, no Russians were lining up to buy a Trump property. The entire Cabinet resigned along with Trump, Gary Pruitt, and Wilbur Ross were both arrested on the White House steps on a variety of charges. Indictments came down for Erik Prince, Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, Jeff Sessions and since he was no longer President, Donald Trump as well. Contracts were signed with Court TV and The Comedy Channel to televise all the trials. Most of the families were reunited and the US had agreed to provide counseling as needed which was in every case. Because the countries south of the border had learned to utilize each other’s goods and services and not depend on the United States, their economies improved and the US started experiencing negative immigration as people returned to their countries. The cartels and gangs had engaged in discussions with their countries leaders and stopped persecuting the people The cartels went into agribusiness of legal crops. The gangs became the primary work force and took up agriculture somewhat grudgingly. The pay was much less but they had a higher life expectancy so there’s that.

As for Trump himself, he was convicted of multiple financial crimes including money laundering, fraud, insider trading, and FEC violations. Charges were still pending related to Conspiracy but the list of people that have flipped on him included his sons (including Barron), Melania (who revealed her marriage to Trump was fake because she was already married at the time). After Melania testified, she told reporters, “I told you I reaqlly dont care!”  Ivanka and Jared testified against Trump for reduced sentences, it seems she was complicit in everything after all. Trump was sent to a Federal Prison in New Jersey which had a golf course, but part of his sentence was that he not be allowed to play. Mike Pence was also found guilty of gross negligence and conspiracy and forced to resign. Republicans lost both the House and Senate in the mid-terms. Democrats promised to keep a strict rein on new President Mike Pompeo who was a lame duck from the beginning having promised not to run. Paul Ryan had declined to accept the Presidency as he was next in line after Pence, probably because he knew of pending charges against himself. A final tweet was issued from the Twitter account registered to the shithole countries, “Don’t start none won’t be none!”

 

Melania Trump “I Really Don’t Care… Do U?”

Melania Trump boarded an Air Force jet to McAllen, Texas, wearing a green jacket saying, “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” Whether she was speaking about this visit to see immigrant children, some locked away due to her husband’s policy. Or her role as First Lady in the reality show that is her life. It hardly matters. Melania Trump doesn’t care anymore. Perhaps she hasn’t for a long time?

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She doesn’t go on trips where FLOTUS might be expected to appear. She slaps away her husband’s hand when he reaches for hers. She sleeps in a separate bedroom from her husband and pointedly rebuked Rudy Guliani when he suggested she “believed her husband” regarding the porn stars and Playmate’s that have dominated the news.

The problem with her no longer giving a shit, when representing a President we know doesn’t give a shit, is that her visit carries no weight. Zero-Tolerance has not gone away. Trump’s recent executive order only says that new families apprehended will be kept together while the US prosecutes 100% of families, even moving them to the front of the line for deportation. They will be held mostly on Air Force bases in new tent cities, where the press will not be allowed to document the care and conditions.

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The Executive Order contained no provisions to reunite the 2,300 kids that have already been separated from their parents. Some of whom may never be returned to their parents. Since then, Trump has mumbled some words suggesting reunifications will take place, but they are only words, Trump words at that which carry even less weight. There is no policy or process to restore the families that have been torn asunder by Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, and Kirstjen Nielsen.

This is not the time to claim victory and ignore what happens next. The pressure that got Trump to make what may ultimately be a subtle change, must continue if true victory is to be won. If you are waiting for the kindler, gentler voices in Trump’s sphere to make a difference? Ivanka has problems of her own and Melania has told the world, “I really don’t care!”

Where Are The Girls? Trump’s Zero-Tolerance Shame

When the government does something so heinous they have to hide what they’re doing, you know it’s bad. They have released a few photos of teenage boys playing video games, mostly a different group of immigrants than those forcefully separated from their parents at the border. No sign of the girls and toddlers? Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Director Kirstjen Nielson said she “didn’t know,” where the girls were? She also said the Trump administration doesn’t have a policy to separate children from their parents, although Chief of Staff John Kelly, Senior Advisor Stephen Miller, and even President Donald Trump say differently. Nobody has said where the girls and toddlers are?

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We’ve heard from a few of the girls on an unauthorized audio tape released by Pro Publica. We heard young girls, reportedly between ages 4-6, crying for their parents. Calling for their mama or papa, in one case asking if her aunt could pick her up? Those young girls are somewhere… the government won’t tell us.

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Trump doesn’t want you to see pictures beyond the few his DHS department has released. They tell us of the comfort, security, health services, and games. Cameras are not allowed in. Elected officials are mostly turned away. Those few that have seen inside speak of cages, mylar blankets spread out on the floor, what under any other circumstance would be called child abuse of the boys that have been seen. Where are the girls? Where are the toddlers? Why won’t the government show us or tell us? Our government is now being compared unfavorably to Boko Haram, holding girls hostage to attain a political gain. What trauma is Trump willing to inflict to get his wall?

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The United Nations Human Rights Council has condemned America for its policy of stripping children from their parents. Trump and U.N. Secretary Nikki Haley responded by withdrawing its membership in the Human Rights Council. The United States and Human Rights are no longer to be mentioned in the same sentence without drawing attention to the hypocrisy of the Trump Administration. Where are the girls? Where are the toddlers?

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Trump blames the Democrats on what he and Sessions did. John Kelly spoke of this very policy a year ago. The latest polls show 55& of Republicans are in favor of this zero-tolerance policy. If Republicans hate so much being seen as racist, perhaps they should stop doing racist things?

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The children fleeing to this country from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico are seeking refuge from the certain terror and possibly death they face at home from gangs and cartels. They undertake dangerous journeys under the calculation that it is the only chance for safety and perhaps life itself. Some are under threats of being killed unless they pay money they do not have. They get to America… land of the free, only to see their children kidnapped, some never to be returned, until Trump blackmails the legislature to give him what he wants, using children as pawns.

Children sit for breakfast after spending the night sleeping on church pews or the floor in a shelter in Tijuana, Mexico.

Sooner than later, the girls and toddlers will be found and the conditions they have been placed in will be revealed. What will be the result of the traquma these children and their parents are facing at the hands of Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, John Kelly, Kristjen Nielson, and the 55% of Republicans that support them. The girls and toddlers will be found, their stories will be told, and the blame will be certain. But for now… where are the girls? Where are the toddlers?

I Beg Your Pardon… Dad

“So Dad, if I get indicted for some of the stuff I did for you, will pardon me?”

“It’s not as simple as that Junior. If I pardon you, my lawyers tell me it will almost certainly lead to impeachment against me? It will look like obstruction.”

“But I was doing what you told me to do?”

“I know son… it’s complicated. Just believe I know what’s best.”

“I’ve heard you say the same things to Paul and now he’s in jail?”

“You’re different, you’re my son, I’d never let you down.”

“You once practically disowned me, you didn’t speak to me for a few years.”

“You started it.”

“I was a kid, and you were blasting my mother in the tabloids during your divorce.”

“That was just tough negotiating, I had to get the alimony down.”

“Because your kids might have too much stuff?”

“No, because your mother doesn’t have the head to manage so much money.”

“So it was for her own good?”

“Right”

“So what about my pardon?”

“I told you it’s complicated.”

“You pardoned fucking Joe Arpaio and won’t pardon your own son?”

“Did you do it?”

“I didn’t write that letter you dictated on Air Force One. I just stuck to the story you made up. Now I’m about to be charged with lying to the FBI.”

“You should never lie to the FBI. You should have just done like me and refused to talk to them.”

“All of us don’t have that option.”

“I’ve screwed up my life trying to support you.”

“I didn’t tell you to mess up your marriage by having an affair with that woman from The Apprentice. I told you to ‘cut it out’ as a matter of fact.”

“Oh, do as I say and not as I do! Your whole life has been an example to me.”

“I think you’d better watch your tone, son.”

“Or what? You won’t pardon me?

“Pretty much.”

“Good talk dad.”