The Process of Rebuilding America After Trump

Eventually, unless Trump declares himself President for life and Congress and the Supreme Court both refuse to act. There will be life after Trump, and the next President will have to pick up the pieces of what the Trump era has wrought.

Let’s use the State Department as an example. With the release of depositions taken by the combined House committees in the Impeachment inquiry. We find that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lied when he said his Senior Advisor Michael McKinley never informed him about concerns about attempts to oust the Ambassador to Ukraine; Marie Yovanovitch. McKinley resigned from the State Department, giving as his reason the Trump administration was using its Ambassadors to advance Trump’s political interests instead of stated American policy. America’s foreign policy in Ukraine was apparently being directed by Trump’s personal lawyer with no official role in government; Rudy Guiliani. That’s just one country without getting into US relations with Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Syria, China, and Turkey to name far more than a few where our foreign policy is either unclear or just not working.

The majority of the government is effectively rudderless as dozens of posts requiring Senate confirmation remain unfilled with “Acting” officials trying to lead Departments whose heads are not respected because they’re basically temp workers. Trump in many cases isn’t even trying to get people confirmed because he likes his people not only not to get too comfortable but to actually be fearful of Trump. He can get rid of them at a whim.

The one area Trump has been most effective throughout his tenure is deregulation. Today he weakened an Obama-era regulation that kept coal plants from dumping residue into our lakes, rivers, and streams. How is dumping coal ash into our drinking water a good thing? He’s made possible greater levels of air pollution, water pollution, and chemicals in our food.

The other area where he’s got his wishes although I wouldn’t describe it as being successful; is stacking the courts. In addition to his two Supreme Court picks, he’s done perhaps more damage (along with Mitch McConnell) in packing judges on the Federal bench. The Republican-controlled Senate has rubber-stamped the nominations of almost every nominee including some rated “Non-Qualified” by the American Bar Association. But the question being raised today is not just what has Trump done, it’s how do we fix it?”

The first step to rebuilding the government is staffing it. Unlike Trump’s transition team where Chris Christie the former Governor of New Jersey was unceremoniously dumped as its head. He was replaced by Mike Pence who seems to be denying any knowledge as to how selections were made. Particularly those like Michael Flynn who lasted all of 23 days, having to resign because of being an unofficial agent of Turkey and questionable ties to Russia.

The Trump administration has stopped communicating with America except via tweets or interviews on friendly networks like Fox News. The White House needs to resume daily news briefings and give honest responses to questions, even when it is bad news. After three years of Sean Spicer, the “Mooch”, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Kellyanne Conway, and a few others with no relationship to the truth. The next administration needs to be credible; not lying about things easily debunked like inauguration crowd size or whether or not any new wall is being built and who’s paying for it.

In the next Presidency; science should be viewed as if it were a real thing. Science-related departments like the Department of Agriculture have systematically replaced actual scientists with political cronies who owe their loyalty to the interest groups they used to work or lobby for. The official government position is to dispute climate change or accept it but it isn’t manmade, or acknowledge that but say there isn’t anything that can be done about it. The one thing they’re sure about is that corporations have no responsibility to stop ruining the environment and afterward have none to clean it up.

Besides these basic minimums; a wish list would include a functioning Congress that recognizes its role in providing a check and balance to the Executive Branch. One where the Senate actually votes on bills sent them from the House. One where “advise and consent” is taken seriously and we staff our government and the courts with the best of the best. Some non-partisanship from time to time would be a little nice where the interests of the nation take precedence over the Party line.

These few guidelines are just a starting point. Perhaps the whole notion of staffing much of the government with political appointees should be looked at? Eliminating nepotism would be helpful and be wary of anyone volunteering to work for the government without pay (Manafort, Jared, Ivanka). Nobody takes that kind of job without getting enriched somewhere.

Kamala Harris Has Three Routes to the Presidency

Kamala Harris had a moment, after the first debate when she plunged a dagger into Joe Biden’s invincibility. People who had never considered her sat up and took notice. They saw clearly that the woman who had taken apart William Barr, Brett Kavanaugh, and others while serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee, might just be the one to take out Donald Trump on the debate stage. She had a moment, and then they came for her.

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When I say “they came for her.” I mean everybody. All the then twenty-something other Democrat candidates for President. Republicans who were fearful she would do to Trump what she’d done to so many others. Democrat establishment figures whose political futures were brighter under a Biden Presidency. Russian trolls and bots. They dragged her for a relationship she had with former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown in the mid-nineties. Criticized her for having a white husband. They all came for Harris and not without having an effect. She was a strong third or fourth depending on the poll after the first debate. Now she lags in fifth place in most polls with an average of 5% of likely voters. Despite the long odds against her, she said:

“It won’t be easy, but I intend to win!”

There are three plausible routes for Harris to end up being President. The least likely in my opinion is where she suddenly catches fire and wins some of the early primary and caucus states. One could make a case that Biden has been weakened by the Ukranian rumors involving him and his son Hunter. Elizabeth Warren has surpassed Biden in some polls but took the brunt of most of the other candidate’s fire at the last debate. Bernie Sanders called her out for being, “a capitalist,” oh, the horror. Mayor Pete has surged past Harris but has never received the brutal attacks that Biden, Harris, and now Warren have endured. His campaign might not survive the scrutiny heaped on the others but only time will tell. If Kamala does okay in Iowa and New Hampshire, she has a chance to do well in South Carolina and later her home state California with its huge block of delegates. I don’t consider it likely, but that’s one way.

The second way involves the looming Impeachment Trial of President Trump in the Senate. Once the House formally votes to Impeach the President. The Senate will take over the process although members of the House will act as Managers (essentially prosecutors) during the trial. Individual Senators will not have the opportunity to question witnesses like in regular Senate hearings. But Kamala Harris will be highly sought after by the media after each day’s proceedings. She can review the testimony and provide analysis with the gravitas of someone the public recognizes as someone who knows what she’s doing. She’ll project strength and confidence while helping shape the narrative. Depending on the timing of the Senate Trial vs. the Democrat Primaries, Impeachment may come in time to help her rise in the political standings.

The third way in which Harris could become President is rather indelicate. She could become Vice-President, and take over in the event the President becomes incapacitated or is otherwise unable to perform his or her duties. To be more clear, the three leading candidates for the Democrats are all in their 70s. Bernie (78) just had a heart attack that nobody wants to talk about. Biden (76) has had more than one aneurysm in his past and recently had an eye hemorrhage. At 70, Warren is the spring chicken of the bunch and has shown tremendous vigor and stamina but 70 is still 70. With the top three Democrat candidates being septuagenarians, the saying the Vice-President is “one heartbeat from the Presidency” takes on special meaning.

You’d think Biden would rule Harris out based on what must seem a surprise attack on him but politics make strange bedfellows. Should Biden’s relationship with black voters start to slip, adding Harris to the ticket might shore up his standing, also with women voters? Warren and Sanders seem to get along with their Senate colleague Harris and she could help with their weak spots as well. Many a person has chosen the Vice-Presidential route as a way to the option. Hopefully to succeed the President after two terms but ready to serve if required. It’s the only explanation for Mike Pence’s loyalty to the anti-christ under whom he serves.

Kamala Harris probably had different plan than any of her three remaining options. Her success will depend on her ability to adjust to the current political climate and might require a bit of luck combined with her skill and strengths. We will see.

Is Mitch McConnell Above The Law?

After the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted against removing sanctions on Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska, Mitch McConnell and the Republican-led Senate approved the removal of sanctions which allowed the move suggested by the Treasury Department to take effect. Days later, Deripaska announced plans to build a $200 million aluminum plant in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky. McConnell personally lobbied for the vote indicating Deripaska and his children would not benefit personally while allowing for the “much needed” plant to be built.

In reality, Oleg Deripaska still owns 35% of the company building the plant. He got his percentage of stock owned below 50%, theoretically losing absolute control, by transferring $78 million in shares to a fund controlled by his children. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchen said Deripaska’s children would “in no way benefit from sanctions relief.

You may be familiar with the name Oleg Deripaska as it has come up often during the investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election and the trial of former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort. Deripaska associates received private internal polling data from the Trump campaign. Manafort also discussed the “Russian Peace Plan” with Deripaska which was all about removing sanctions on Russia, imposed for their interference in our elections.

As Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell has sole control over what measures are allowed votes in the Senate. He has routinely blocked bills passed in the House from being voted on that would have strengthened America’s efforts to resist Russian influence. McConnell has single-handedly left America possibly more vulnerable in 2020 than we were in 206. A recently released bipartisan report from the Senate Intelligence Committee said Russia hacked into state election systems in “all 50 states.” McConnell knows this and keeps change from happening.

McConnell and his family have also received significant financial support from China. The family of his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao owns a shipping company which does a lot of business with China. McConnell has received millions in gifts from his father-in-law along with large political contributions. That shipping company, The Foremost Group, has commitments for hundreds of millions in loans from a Chinese government-owned bank. McConnell said he was “proud to have had the support of my family over the years.”

“I’m proud to have had the support of my family over the years.”

McConnell’s has helped keep the heat off Russia before and since Trump’s election. He opposed President Obama making public the extent of Russian interference. He said he’d claim it was partisan. Since the election, he’s consistently called for the end of the investigation, joining the President in calling it a witch hunt and a hoax. McConnell is benefitting personally and politically from protecting Russia and China while they make moves to harm America. The Washington Post just published an opinion page saying Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset. On Twitter, he’s trending as, “Mitch McConnell is a Russian,” and “Moscow Mitch.”

The question is no longer whether McConnell is illegally profiting politically and personally from his ties to Russia and China, it’s what are we able to do about it?

It’s theoretically possible he could be expelled from the Senate with a two-thirds vote but that isn’t going to happen with this group of Republicans. Mitch has kept them from taking difficult votes and kept hope alive for their own re-elections. Like any other Federal official, he could be impeached by the House of Representatives and could be referred to that same reluctant Senate for a trial. Like dozens of Trump officials before him, McConnell could refuse to testify in any House proceedings and ignore subpoenas to appear. Even if the House impeached Mitch, this Senate would not convict.

Lastly, the FBI or some other arm of the Justice Dept. could arrest Mitch for any crimes uncovered. The Justice Department just announced it will not prosecute William Barr or Wilbur Ross on criminal contempt charges for failure to obey subpoenas. We can expect nothing different in the case of Mitch McConnell.

Unfortunately, the list of people apparently above the law is much longer than Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell. The recent appearance of Special Counsel Robert Mueller before two House committees revealed several Trump administration officials and family members lied to the FBI (a felony) and are going unpunished. The only remedy likely to get results is a Hong Kong-like revolt of the people marching in the streets. Until then, Mitch is safe from everyone but the voters. We can only hope.

Do “Bernie or Bust” People Have a Plan B?

Anyone that remembers the 2016 Democratic Primaries and campaign, knows the Bernie Sanders voters were all in. Aided by a combination of the DNC, Russian hackers, Wiki-Leaks, and Donald Trump; Bernie loyalists feel he was cheated out of the Democrat nomination and should be President of the United States. They were totally pissed and didn’t join forces with Hillary Clinton voters to defeat Trump. Enough Bernie voters stuck to their mantra and decided to take a chance on “Bust,” either voting for Trump, 3rd Party candidate Jill Stein, or no one at all. The question is, what are they going to do this time?

A Presidential campaign has ebbs and flows. It’s way too early to state with certainty the outcome today before even the Iowa Primary has taken place. But if the election were held today. Bernie Sanders would finish far out of first place. The best day of his campaign was his first, bringing in $5.9 million from 220,000 individual donors. Joe Biden had yet to enter the race and he was the clear leader. Sanders still has a loyal base, but he is no longer the leader. In one recent poll of New Hampshire voters showed Bernie in fifth place. Behind Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and even Mayor Pete Buttigieg. It’s time to face the prospect that Bernie will lose again. This time without the familiar refrain that he was cheated. So what will the Bernie voters do?

There exists today a “Bernie or Bust,” Facebook page with 16,000 members. In addition to information about his, “Medicare For All” plan, there’s whining about “unfair media coverage” relative to other candidates. There’s the suggestion he runs as an Independent if not the winner. There’s a sense of entitlement you’d never find in the Kamala Harris or Cory Booker camps. While Biden perhaps feels he should inherit the nomination due to his service as Barack Obama’s Vice-President, nobody has a greater sense of entitlement than a Bernie voter. So if he again loses… what are you prepared to do?

Democrats (of which Bernie Sanders is not one) are hoping that all Democrats will coalesce behind the ultimate nominee to defeat Donald Trump, which is the ultimate goal, right? Say what you like about Trump’s base, they’re loyal, and he can get 40% of the vote without regard to what others think of him. Bernie Sanders running as an Independent could severely damage the chances of whoever the Democrat nominee might be. Will Bernie be the Democrat-aligned Independent, more concerned with defeating Donald Trump than his personal agenda? Or will he try to keep hope alive, continuing to run without any hope of winning? Will Bernie be a team player, or will he or his followers lead a bust movement as they did before? Time will tell.

What We Learned From The Election Results (Racism Is Alive And Well)

When you look strictly at the numbers, nobody got everything they wanted although overall, Democrats made big gains and took the House which will make life in the White House a living hell.

Democrats gained 40House seats, giving them not only a working majority but control of all the House Congressional committees. To quote now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, “what goes around comes around.” All the witnesses the Republicans refused to call, subpoenas never sent and investigations never started when Republicans were in control will be kickstarted with a vengeance. Devin Nunes the outgoing House Intelligence Committee chair is soon to be the least consequential member of Congress once he hands his gavel over to Adam Schiff. You can expect Donald Trump, Jr, and Jared Kushner to receive subpoenas late in January if Robert Mueller hasn’t indicted them first and unnamed Democrats have already promised the House Ways & Means Committee will get Donald Trump’s tax returns which they will have the power to do. All funding Bills originate in the House so Trump can forget about getting that wall built unless they rush something through in the lame-duck period.

Republicans have something to crow about as well although less meaningful. When the counting is over they will have added a few seats to their thin majority in the Senate and will have a little more room to force through more Federal Judges and Supreme Court Justices should the opportunity arise. They offer Trump a bit more protection against Impeachment, depending on whether the Mueller Report is made public and what it reveals. The answer to whether Republicans will put Party above Country has been pretty well answered but even they have some standards.

Republicans also won some of the marquee Governor and Senate races although Scott Walker’s luck finally ran out in Wisconsin and Kris Korbach failed in Kansas although he’ll probably go to work in the White House, living to suppress votes another day. Democrat hopes were doused when Andrew Gillum, Stacey Abrams, and Beto O’Rourke failed to claim victory although Abrams still has a thin chance of getting to a runoff. The subtitle of this piece. “racism is alive and well,” is not because America didn’t elect a black Governor in Florida or Georgia. It’s because America once again stared voter suppression in the face and looked away.

America stood and watched while Republicans did everything they could to keep minorities from voting and simply ignored it. Brian Kemp and his “exact match” program and his removing people from the voter rolls without their knowledge, literally running his election by not recusing himself as Georgia Secretary of State. Kris Korbach let the Dodge City, KS county clerk move the single polling location out of the majority Hispanic city into a suburban location with no bus access. A Judge frowned on the move but did nothing because it was “too close to the election.” In North Dakota, Republicans passed a law targeting Native Americans living on reservations, making thousands ineligible to vote. These special efforts were in addition to all the other efforts since the Supreme Court gutted the enforcement provisions of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. Speaking of the Supreme Court, they approved the North Dakota plan to disenfranchise Native Americans, to be blunt, as a body they are just as racist as the lawmakers that proposed the laws. It is the history of the Supreme Court that has blunted and diminished every Civil or Voting Rights Act Congress has ever passed.

Much will transpire between now and the next Presidential election in 2020. One of the main things to watch is if the Supreme Court ever rules on partisan gerrymandering which they have managed not to take a stand on no matter how badly Democracy is upended. Of course, if they do rule, remember who they will likely side with. There are the ongoing Mueller investigation and Trump’s attempts to quash it. There will be a push for Impeachment in the House but a premature attempt will not likely succeed. The Senate is still controlled by Republicans who will need overwhelming proof. What we did see in the mid-term elections was a big swing towards Democrats with undeniable public concern for health care and maintaining provisions to cover pre-existing conditions. The blue wave wasn’t all that was hoped for and racist statements generally played well in Republican states and districts. Steve King (R-IA) was re-elected after making more racist statements. The President made a commercial too racist for Fox News to run. Racism… alive and well!

Say It Loud, I’m “Nationalist” And I’m Proud

Yes, his racist ass said it, and a bunch of people cheered when he did. I don’t know which is worse, that the President thought it would generate more votes from his base by calling himself a nationalist or the possibility that he’s right? Either way, it’s a sad state of affairs.

I don’t want to focus on Donald Trump though. My questions are about the crowds of people that cheer when he makes racist or misogynist, or homophobic, or xenophobic statements. We knew who Trump was, all you’re doing is letting us know who you are when you cheer.

I’d like to believe the Trump base is a relatively small percentage of the population, but when supplemented by the percentage of people that knew who he was and didn’t care, it was enough to elect him anyway. We saw in 2016 that the combination of people who found a reason to vote for Trump was sufficient and none of them can claim to have had no idea of who and what he is. He’s not making America great again, but is bringing back relics of a past we hoped was behind us.

There is still reason to be concerned as we approach the mid-term elections. Voting is our last, best hope to hold this ______ist President (fill in the blank with any of the appropriate terms) in check until he’s either impeached, resigns, or is voted out of office in 2020. In the next few days we’ll watch as no one in the Administration resigns in disgust, Fox News defends his use of the term, and Congressional Republicans try to normalize nationalism. Trump has stopped pretending when he called himself a nationalist. We’ll see if the nation can go on pretending not to notice?

Russia’s Pretense That Black Lives Matter To Them

Russia has long involved itself in America’s racial affairs, often appearing to take the side of African-Americans. In 1931, when the NAACP was hesitant to get involved for fear of political repercussions. It was the Communist Party of Russia through its International Labor Defense organization (ILD) that took up the cause of the Scottsboro Boys who were falsely accused of raping two white women. The Russians didn’t do this for love of American black people but to appeal for membership and attract black people to the Communist cause. They had an ulterior motive and it has always been thus.

The Russians worked hard to recruit influential black voices and many flirted with Communism including Richard Wright, Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison and Chester Himes. The promise of equality offered by Communism stood out starkly against Jim Crow. Most of the aforementioned influencers became disillusioned with the reality of Communism. Ellison’s “Invisible Man” was about his disappointment with Communism. McCarthyism and the Cold War greatly affected Communism’s popularity and memberships declined. By the 1970’s, activist Angela Davis was a member but there never was a strong relationship with the Black Panther Party. In the years since, there has always been an attraction for some but it appeared that a mass influx of black Americans to Communism was never meant to be.

Fast forward to the 2016 Presidential Election and Russian interference. Much of their social media efforts centered on causing disruption in American society. They attempted to stir up black people, highlighting incidents of police injustice and racial inequality. They also stirred up white people, appealing to their nationalism and prejudices. They flooded the Internet with memes and news articles both real and fake. Much of the disruption they were able to cause was from repeating the truth. No need to lie when the truth is sufficient. One of the largest purported Black Lives Matter twitter accounts was in fact Russian trolls,. This being America, there was plenty of source material to work with, alongside the lies.

Coming into the 2018 Mid-term Elections and in preparation for the 2020 Presidential Election, Russia is still busy trying to interfere in our elections and attempting to find weakness in our form of government and society itself. They will take all sides of any issue, their goal being disruption, not problem solving.

When on social media, there is a tendency to retweet, share, and like much of what we see that we agree with. I encourage everyone to be a bit more discerning as to the sources of information and motives behind it. Russian generated news may sound good, in some cases even be true, but they don’t mean Americans any good. Especially the black ones.

Note: The last two images in this post and the featured photo came from Russian troll sites.

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