Day 788 – Deny The Truth

Three important threads emerged in the news over the weekend that are worth keeping in mind as the week starts.

1 – Trump did a lot of Tweeting over the weekend bashing the Steele dossier because another part of it has been verified regarding the Russian hackers that broke into the emails of Democratic officials.  Trump’s strategy is simple: deny the truth and hope his cult of followers believes him.  The Steele dossier also says that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, and when that fact is verified, Trump will have laid the groundwork to fool his cult.  Here’s great coverage in Sky News:

https://news.sky.com/story/sky-views-new-claims-of-russian-election-meddling-puts-trump-on-the-spot-11668051

2 – More than once over the weekend Trump simply refused to acknowledge the rise of white supremacist violence.  Despite the numbers, despite the news coverage, despite the recent history of violence and terror in the United States, Trump needs to deny the reality of supremacist terror.  His Muslim ban, his anti-Muslim rhetoric, his veiled appeals to violence and intolerance all feed into the renewal of the white supremacy movement.  David Leonhardt lays it out potently in the New York Times:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/17/opinion/trump-violence.html

3 – Presidential elections are run by the states, not the Federal government.  So Washington State passed a bill that requires all Presidential candidates to disclose their taxes before they are allowed on the state ballot.  And God knows, Trump won’t disclose.  Hillary Clinton won Washington State with 54% of the vote so Trump doesn’t need Washington to win, but if a few more states enact similar legislation it will alter the dynamics of the 2020 race.  It will allow Trump to concentrate in fewer states, but it will also allow the Democratic challenger to concentrate on fewer states as well.  On balance, it’s easier to imagine that it will help the Democrats more than hurt.

Have a good week and keep resisting…

Day 787 – An Abomination

In the sad aftermath of the New Zealand mosque massacres, the Kiwis are having a new conversation about guns.  Prime Minister Adern is openly talking about banning assault rifles:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/16/world/asia/new-zealand-gun-laws.html

A few American politicians are taking note, including Chris Murphy from Connecticut.

I certainly wouldn’t miss assault rifles, nor would anybody I know and care about.  I don’t fetishize weapons of war and I don’t hang out with or respect people who do.  Quite simply, guns owned for anything other than subsistence are the refuge of the fearful and the powerless.  If you’re not afraid of anything, why would you need a gun?  If you need to defend yourself it’s because you’re afraid.  If you don’t feel you can rely on the police to protect you, you’re obviously afraid.  If you need guns to protect you from the government, you’re afraid and paranoid.  Gun owners are the most frightened among us.

It’s past time that Americans oppose the glorification and fetishization of guns.  I won’t own a handgun or a weapon on war and I feel sorry for people who are so scared that they feel compelled to own one–or many.  But I won’t cosign their fears.  Having a gun in the home increases the risk of injury or death by gun–the exact opposite of the stated purpose of having a gun in the home for so many people.  I’m safer without one.  And I refuse to live under the delusion of baseless fears.  Immigrants are not invading and coming to kill me.  The so-called Deep State isn’t going to harm me.  Instead, I pay taxes so the dedicated men and women of law enforcement will endeavor to keep the peace and enforce the laws.

Many people feel it’s cool and exciting and potent and adult to own and shoot guns.  I’m not one of them.  To me, guns are sad and weak and malevolent.  Any fool can pull the trigger of a gun.  I can think of a million better things to do with my money, and a million better things to do on a weekend than shoot a gun.  And none of those million things also involves a tool whose only purpose is death.  Guns are instruments of death.  They have no other purpose.  And I have no need for such tools, nor any interest in idolizing them.  When I leave this life, I don’t want to look back on a legacy that includes spending any time glorifying or promoting instruments of death.  What a wasted life that would be.

For many reasons–some of them personal–I despised President Richard M. Nixon, but he said something that I wholeheartedly agree with:

Guns are an abomination.

When owning a gun brings social stigma instead of increased status our world will experience less death, suffering and misery.  But we’re a long way from place right now.

Let’s keep resisting…

Day 786 – “Invasion” Is A Lie

The latest details of the New Zealand terror attacks are heartbreaking, and echo similar attacks here in America.  An aggrieved and paranoid white man killing people who didn’t look or worship like him.  The death toll in Christchurch has thus far reached 49.

But our so-called president has again spent more time on Twitter attacking the Mueller investigation than aiding and comforting New Zealand.  To make things far worse, Trump denied yesterday that violent white supremacism was on the increase despite incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.  Trump seems committed to being a force of division, hatred and bigotry–as a feature of his presidency and as a central organizing principle of his reelection.  

One important takeaway from the terror attack concerns language.  The assailant referred to Muslims as an “invasion”, which is a word that Trump is also fond of using, especially concerning our southern border. The forces of hatred and division use inflammatory language to stoke fear in the hearts of our citizens, and “invasion” is one of those hot-button words.  It’s a lie, a distortion, and its aim is to manipulate.  Any sane person studying the situation knows that no invasion is happening, not even close. In fact, illegal border crossings are near historic lows.

And when you look at our nation’s history, the number of annual immigrants in the second half of the nineteenth century was consistently higher than annual immigration is now.  Hardly an invasion, especially given the fact that our national birthrate is too low to keep our population stable, much less growing.

Yesterday saw an outpouring of grief and concern for the nation of New Zealand.  There were many touching statements, like this one from Barack Obama:

Michelle and I send our condolences to the people of New Zealand. We grieve with you and the Muslim community. All of us must stand against hatred in all its forms.

But perhaps the most touching and memorable came from Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, home of many Muslim Americans:

Keep resisting…

Day 785 – Terror in New Zealand

By the time you read this blog the news media will likely have a clearer picture of a domestic terrorism attack that occurred in New Zealand last night.  As I write this, the preliminary estimates are a staggering 40 dead, with three of the shooters apparently from New Zealand and one from Australia.  The perpetrators broke into two mosques during worship services and started gunning people down, apparently while streaming the attack on right-wing social media.  The terrorists appear to be the down-under version of white supremacists, using similar symbols to those seen at the Nazi march in Charlottesville and leaving a manifesto that led some on social media to call the attackers “white ISIS” for its extremism and xenophobia.  It’s yet another heartbreaking attack on our shared humanity by the forces of fear, division and hatred.

Our own courts actually struck a blow for justice yesterday on the subject of mass shootings.  A court in Connecticut ruled that a gun manufacturer must face a suit by families of the victims at Sandy Hook, forcing the gun maker to turn over documents that pertain to the marketing of firearms to the general public as “weapons of war”.  The discovery will provide a much-needed glimpse into the possibly nefarious inner workings of gun marketing.

Congress also passed two important bills yesterday.

The House passed by unanimous vote (420-0) a resolution to make the Mueller investigation findings public when the probe concludes. Republicans voting for the measure want to appear to support the rule of law while secretly hoping that Mueller hasn’t found anything damning.  The resolution is a good first step toward insuring that the Mueller report won’t get buried by partisans in the Justice Department.

Meanwhile the Senate passed (59 to 41) a resolution to reject the designation of an emergency on the southern border by Trump, which included 12 Republicans voting with the Democrats.  Trump immediately responded that he will veto the measure, and it’s unclear whether the Senate will be able to get the one additional vote it would need to override his veto.  Regardless, yesterday’s passage was a glass of cold water in Trump’s face, signalling the first real split between Trump and at least a small fraction of Republican lawmakers on the ridiculous border wall scam.

And today a judge is set to get a status update on former Trump campaign aide and cooperating witness Rick Gates.  Is he ready for sentencing or does the investigation need more of his time?  If they need more of his time it’s a sign that they are still uncovering misdeeds. More will be revealed.

Happy Friday.  Keep resisting…

Day 784 – Manafort Can’t Escape

Paul Manafort was sentenced for the second batch of felonies yesterday, given an additional 3.5 years added onto his previous 4-year, so he will spend 7.5 years in prison unless pardoned by Trump.

However, after the sentence was handed down the New York City District Attorney immediately filed state charges against Manafort, including mortgage fraud–charges that a presidential pardon cannot touch.  So it looks like Manafort’s goose is cooked no matter what Trump does.  Couldn’t happen to a more otherwise-blameless guy.

Congressman Adam Schiff made a public statement yesterday expressing concern that there is growing evidence of obstruction of justice by Trump.  His comments may have been connected to closed-door hearings between former acting AG Matt Whitaker and Rep Nadler’s House Judiciary Committee that reportedly confirmed that Trump had approached Whitaker about replacing Justice Department officials in the Southern District of New York who were investigating Trump.

At about the same time, the Senate was voting to reject Trump’s emergency declaration at the border, which will force Trump to veto the bill and send it back to the Senate to see if there are enough votes to override the veto.  Stay tuned.

Keep on resisting…

Day 783 – Republican Sellouts

When you think about it, this is pretty wild: many Republicans in Congress are willing to give up money already appropriated for military projects in their districts so that Trump can build his wall under the guise of an emergency.  In our state, Republican Rep Lee Zeldin offered Trump the $20 million allocated for a new National Guard base in his district Long Island.  It will mean lost work and lost jobs for hundreds of voters, if not more.

That’s how scared Republicans in red districts are of Trump and his loud, angry cult of followers.  Republicans are terrified of being primaried by them so rather than uphold their oaths of office and defend our Constitution, they would sell their souls and sell out people in their district for a chance at another term.

Dana Milbank has a good take on this in the Washington Post:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/republican-lawmakers-are-heeding-a-constituency-of-one/2019/03/12/10aa7376-4508-11e9-aaf8-4512a6fe3439_story.html

Democrats must never let voters forget that their Republican Reps put Trump’s phony emergency over the very real projects that would have helped people in their communities.

Meanwhile, it appears that Michael Flynn will put off sentencing for another sixty to ninety days while he finishing his cooperation with Mueller’s prosecutors.  And today is the big day for Paul Manafort–will the judge hand him a harsher sentence than he got last week?

Finally, keep an eye on the New York Attorney General’s subpoena of Deutsche Bank’s records on loans to Trump.  They would lend to him when no one else would, and we are likely to find out why.  It could have to do with fraudulent loan applications that grossly overstated the values of assets Trump claimed to own.  He’s in hot water on every possible front, and if the New York State charges ensnare his children, they can’t be pardoned by Trump.

Keep resisting…

Day 782 – The Conservative Con

Everywhere you look in the Trump administration you find corruption.  Any one of the daily scandals from Trump and his staff would have been a major blow to any other president.  If Obama had allowed a former massage madam to broker access to his private events for Chinese nationals, conservatives would have exploded in rage and we’d never hear the end of it.  But for Trump, it’s just another sleazy day.

We also learned yesterday that the crooks in the Trump machine were not only ripping off our government but were also ripping off the GOP.  Turns out a pro Trump PAC founded by Paul Manafort was allegedly skimming money to pay at least one of its officers in a criminal way–it should have been disclosed to the FEC but wasn’t. The conservatives were conning conservatives.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/10/paul-manafort-lawyer-mysterious-payment-hidden-chapter-of-trump-2016-campaign.html

Perhaps the most consequential news yesterday came from Trump’s latest budget proposal.  Trump claimed over and over on the campaign trail that he would never cut Medicare yet in the budget just submitted he would cut $845 million from Medicare over ten years.  In other words, Trump continues his pathological lying.  This is exactly the kind of toxic, unpopular policy we need to pin on Trump relentlessly.

Proposed ad for any/all Democratic 2020 hopefuls:

“On the campaign trail Trump promised he would never cut Medicare.  But his 2019 budget tried to cut $845 million from Medicare.  Trump is a proven liar who will say whatever he needs to say to con voters.  Vote Democrat.  We’ll protect Medicare because we invented it.”

Tomorrow will be a significant day for Trump.  Paul Manafort will be sentenced for his second batch of felonies, and there will be a Michael Flynn status report to the court.

Stay tuned and keep resisting…