Day 1004 – Trump is Weak

You probably heard over the weekend that Trump decided against hosting the G-7 at his Doral resort next year.  Trump whined on social media that his decision was “based on both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility,” but in reality it was based on the fear that Republicans in Congress were getting tired of trying to defend a blatantly unethical, unConstitutional, and possibly unlawful act.  And Republican patience was already wearing thin from the ever-widening Ukraine scandal.  If Trump loses support from Republicans in the Senate he will be one step closer to removal by impeachment, which terrifies him.

The Syria situation also continued to go against Trump over the weekend.  Kurdish leaders kept calling Trump’s abandonment of Northern Syria a “betrayal” and it was reported that Turkish fighters had been using napalm and white phosphorus on Kurdish civilians, raising the possibility that Trump’s sudden support of Turkey could open him to charges of war crimes or crimes against humanity.  Democratic leaders in Congress are hoping to pass stronger sanctions against Turkey’s Erdogan, but the damage has been done and Erdogan is the obvious winner, along with Russia, Iran and Turkey.

Meanwhile, a body language expert named Dr. Jack Brown (@drgjackbrown) posted a long thread on Twitter about the now-famous photo of Speaker Pelosi shaking her finger at Donald Trump in the White House last week.  It’s a fascinating read.  He noted that Trump was leaning away from Pelosi and the table (projecting fear, withdrawal and dishonesty; Trump is almost always leaning forward) and his hands were below the table, signalling withdrawal, a need for protection, a hidden agenda and dishonesty.  Dr. Brown summed up the photo in this way:

If we suddenly developed amnesia and we weren’t aware of their relative elected positons of power, we would think that Nancy Pelosi was indeed the President–and that Trump was in the midst of being fired.

These three news items all add up to a single fact.  Donald Trump is weak.  Most bullies are.  Trump has spent much of his life and effort building a false front of strength to hide his fear, impotence and vulnerability–but in the glare of public office, faced with consequential decisions, his timidity and incompetence come through.  And this is a potentially huge political liability for Trump.  Above all things, his voters want to support a strong-man.  If they start to perceive him as weak, his power and support will be gone.

As we approach the 2020 election, activists should play up the fact that Trump is a fundamentally weak person desperately pretending to appear strong.  His Syrian withdrawal was a capitulation to Erdogan, who beat him.  His desperate desire to get dirt on Biden was a sign of weakness.  His change of course on the G-7 summit was a form of surrender.  And his meltdown in the meeting with Congressional Democrats was a manifestation of fear and powerlessness.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

Day 1001 – Open Corruption

Most days of the Trump catastrophe bring more news than can be relayed or analyzed here–and yesterday was a prime example.   Here are the top three things you need to know:

1)  Trump’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney basically admitted in a news conference that in pushing Ukraine to help with Trump’s personal political interests, Trump and his “three amigos” group of associates conditioned US military aid on that help.  A reporter pointed out that Mulvaney was admitting there was a Ukrainian quid pro quo, and Mulvaney replied:

“Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy.”

This admission produced a fiery reaction from the media and Republicans, who were surprised that Mulvaney was confirming something Trump had been vehemently denying.  Trump’s own legal team was horrified and distanced themselves from the comment.  Later in the day, Mulvaney himself tried to walk the comment back but his reversal seemed insincere and ass-covering.  Reports from a steady stream of closed-door testimony in the House by members of the Trump team support the allegation that Trump’s minions were indeed dangling US aid and an Oval Office meeting in exchange for Biden dirt.  It’s developing into a clear and stunning story of abuse of power, exactly what our founders were trying to protect us against.

2) Mulvaney also announced that the next G7 summit will be held at Trump’s Doral resort in Florida, claiming it’s the ideal location (Florida in June, hurricane season) and that Trump won’t profit from it.  Both of the claims were lies, and once again the response to this announcements was swift and severe.  Even Republicans were screaming that this was an abuse of power and a violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution.  The authors of the Constitution were very clear that no president should use the office for profit, nor should the president receive any money from foreign actors or governments.

3) Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo met with Turkey’s Erdogan yesterday and with much fanfare announced a “cease fire” between Turkey and the Kurds.  But the agreement they “negotiated” did little to change the disaster unfolding in Northern Syria.  According to Turkey, their army will wait for 120 hours (five days) to allow the Kurds to leave their homeland before Turkey’s mercenaries resume ethnic cleansing and genocide.  Turkey treated the outcome as a huge win, and the move allows Turkey to characterize Kurds who don’t flee as the bad guys while doing nothing to provide a path forward for the betrayed Kurds. In grotesque and ridiculous fashion, Trump later said this to reporters in Texas;

“It was a great day for the United States, it’s a great day for Turkey, it’s a great day for the Kurds.  It’s a great day for civilization.”

Trump is now just brazenly lying in front of cameras and the world, trying to alter reality to suit his delusions and cover his horrible judgement and corruption.

Trump might be so worried about impeachment and removal that he’s trying to shower as many gifts as he can on dictators like Erdogan and Putin.  Trump may be scheming that the only way to remain wealthy after leaving office will be to have done favors for oligarchs that they later repay by allowing Trump Towers in Moscow or Riyadh or Istanbul.  His properties in the USA are suffering, including the Doral, which saw a profit drop of 62% from ’16 to ’17, and after Trump is out of office it’s easy to imagine everybody staying away from them.  How many Iowa farmers will vacation at Doral?  How many city-dwellers will ever want to live in a Trump-named condo?  How many foreign dignitaries will stay at a Trump property when he no longer has any power?

Trump is corrupt to the core and he’s no longer trying to hide it.  He’s sticking to the dark principle that anything done out in the open won’t be perceived as a crime, no matter how blatant or egregious.  And some of his supporters have said as much in interviews: “Trump wouldn’t do something wrong for everyone to see.  Therefore, whatever he acknowledges in public must be okay.”

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office,” if he isn’t removed sooner.

The progressive community honors and mourns the passing of Rep Elijah Cummings of Maryland.  Rep Cummings was a courageous and passionate patriot whose tenure in Congress was an inspiration to many.  He was a person of great character and integrity and will be missed.


Day 1000 – Did Trump Commit Financial Fraud?

It’s hard to believe a thousand days have passed since Trump was inaugurated.  It seems like ten-thousand.  Ten-thousand days and ten-thousand lies.  Yesterday was no different.

Trump lied about Syria, saying that our troops were out of danger and coming home.  In fact, our troops remain very much in danger and are still trying to extract themselves from northern Syria to a more stable location.  None have come home, and most are scheduled to re-deploy to Saudi Arabia to protect the Saudi oil fields as a favor to one of Trump’s favorite bloody strong-men, Mohammad bin Salman.  Meanwhile, our evacuated Syrian bases are being occupied by Russian troops in a huge win for Putin, who has wanted a real foothold in the Middle East for years.

The House voted yesterday on a resolution to condemn Trump’s Syria retreat and it passed 354 to 60, with 129 Republicans joining Democrats.  Speaker Pelosi reported the vote to Trump in a White House meeting and he freaked out, calling her a third-rate politician and comparing Democrats to communists.  Pelosi, Schumer and Hoyer walked out of the meeting in disgust and Pelosi said to reporters, “all roads lead to Putin with this president,” and again criticized Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds.

During the same meeting Senator Schumer mentioned former Defense Secretary Mattis’s concern that Trump’s retreat would re-animate ISIS, to which an enraged Trump replied that Mattis was “the world’s most overrated general.  You know why? He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS.  Mattis said it would take two years.  I captured them in one month.”  Trump’s lies and delusions aside, General Mattis is a beloved figure in the military and Trump’s comment will only add to the growing disgust many veterans and service members feel about the Syria debacle and the president.

Perhaps the most significant news yesterday came from investigative journalist Heather Vogell of ProPublica, who obtained certain financial documents from the Trump Organization showing what looks like evidence of financial fraud.  According to her report, Trump inflated his expenses for tax purposes and deflated the same expenses to obtain loans.  He also inflated his revenues to obtain loans and deflated the same revenues for tax purposes.  If true, this is either tax fraud or bank fraud or both.  In one example, Trump reported $744k in insurance costs for tax purposes and reported $457k in insurance costs on a loan document (in the same year).  Here is the article:

Most people who know Trump’s history have long assumed he’s a grifter and his businesses are shady but this is the first report of specific evidence of possible financial fraud within his core business (as opposed to, say, his now defunct charity).  And it confirms why he so stubbornly refuses to release his tax returns.  State tax authorities better be scrambling to see these records, especially in New York, which could add to Trump’s criminal legal woes the moment he stumbles from office.  These financial inconsistencies and subsequent disclosures could also provide damning fodder for criticism of Trump as we approach the 2020 election.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office” if he isn’t tossed out beforehand.

Day 999 – Blood On His Hands

Military veterans and active duty troops continued to rage at Trump’s decision to betray our Kurdish allies and retreat from Syria.  An article typical of many in the press yesterday appeared in the Washington Post by Dan Lamothe describing how certain troops in Syria were reacting to our sudden abandonment of the Kurds.  He says:

…the calamity on the ground in Syria has wrought angry reactions from service members like few other recent foreign policy decisions. Troops have reacted viscerally in interviews and on social media despite Defense Department restrictions on them expressing political opinions. Some who served in northern Syria also have spoken out despite associations with secretive Special Operations units that rarely speak to the media and do not want their service members identified.

Full article:

It was also reported yesterday that one of our newly abandoned bases in Syria was quickly seized and occupied by Russian troops.  Video appeared on social media showing Russian troops going through our dwellings and reading graffiti left for them by our soldiers.  The development was yet another gut-punch for many veterans and another PR nightmare for the White House and Putin-loving Trump.

In the 2016 presidential election 61% of military veterans voted for Trump while 34% voted for Clinton.  But Trump’s Kurdish blunder may drive many of his military voters away.  In the NY-10 congressional district (West Side of Manhattan), Rep Jerry Nadler is being primaried by Lindsey Boylan, a life-long public servant and daughter of a Marine who came out with a video yesterday directly addressing Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds:

In the video she said that the blood of a murdered journalist in Syria was “on the hands of this president,” and referenced members of the military who were gaining the courage to call Trump out for this unforgivable betrayal.  She also called Trump a “dangerous criminal” and compared him to a dictator.  She’s pissed, and so are a lot of other people.

When Trump’s abandonment of Syria is combined with the ever-growing Ukraine extortion scandal it becomes a potent and infuriating mix.  We learned yesterday that both Rudy Giuliani and Mike Pence are preparing to ignore congressional subpoenas for documents and testimony.  It’s worth noting a private citizen like Rudy will have a tough time combating a subpoena, and a vice president can be impeached for ignoring a congressional subpoena.  But it’s easy to see why nobody in or near the White House is cooperating–the evidence is mounting that they were all part of a conspiracy to extort Ukraine to find or manufacture dirt on Joe Biden in exchange for already-authorized US aid.  The evidence is coming from a stream of insiders who have been willing to testify behind closed doors to the House Judiciary Committee.  Rumors of their testimony suggest that many members of Trump’s inner circle were working on the Ukraine back-channel extortion scheme, and that there was in fact an understood quid-pro-quo.

Corruption, criminal conspiracy and massive strategic blunders are enough to drag down any administration, and Trump is no exception.  It may not end in his removal from office by the Senate, but it has already hurt him at the margins.  A cable news channel gathered ten independent voters for a forum last weekend, some who voted for Clinton, some who voted for Trump, and some who didn’t vote.  They found to their surprise that NONE of the independents were going to vote for Trump in 2020.  Trump needs independent voters to have a shot at winning.  No wonder he is so desperate lately.  He knows the numbers are moving away from him.

Keep resisting and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

(administrative note: the day count had been in error and is now correct)

Day 998 – Trump is Losing the Military

The situation in northern Syria continued to devolve yesterday.  After being betrayed by Trump and attacked by ISIS fighters backed by Turkey, our former allies the Kurds turned to Russia and Syrian dictator Assad for protection, though many have already been tortured and killed.  Our own special forces troops found themselves cut off from any allies or supplies and were being shelled by the Turks with no way to leave, so they may have to be airlifted out.  Meanwhile our military has quietly been assessing how they might remove the 50 tactical nuclear warheads we store in our air force base in Turkey now that the Turks seem to have turned on our own troops.

Former Republican diplomats, foreign affairs officers and military leaders have been screaming to the media about the scope of Trump’s historic blunder in Syria, but GOP members of Congress refuse to let their private outrage and disgust show in public. Many of the journalists who cover the Middle East are predicting large and lasting damage to our reputation and our ability to have influence.  David Sanger wrote this in the New York Times:

Mr. Trump ignored months of warnings from his advisers about what calamities likely would ensue if he followed his instincts to pull back from Syria and abandon America’s longtime allies, the Kurds. He had no Plan B, other than to leave. The only surprise is how swiftly it all collapsed around the president and his depleted, inexperienced foreign policy team.

I haven’t posted a lot of political content on my private Facebook page, but the moment Trump betrayed the Kurds I started sharing articles about Syria including comments like “Trump’s historic betrayal” along with descriptors like “reckless” and “despicable.”  Yesterday I shared an article whose headline read “Pullback Leaves Green Berets Feeling ‘Ashamed’” and my commend said “I also feel ashamed.”

One response surprised me.  I have a lot of conservative friends and many of them I assume are Republican.  One of them joined the military after we graduated from college and eventually commanded the troops that initially drove into Baghdad during operation Iraqi Freedom.  He was a Colonel then and finally retired years later as a General.  He and his wife are very religious, very conservative, and I see his posts from time to time on Facebook.  So I was shocked to see that he “liked” my share about being ashamed.

When Trump loses soldiers like my friend from college, it’s a very significant development. And if Trump has lost my friend, and the Green Beret’s in Syria, he’s lost a lot of other soldiers too.  At some point the guy who is criticizing or demonizing or destroying your business is going to earn your scorn.  It seems to be happening to the military, it’s already happened within the intelligence community, and it seems poised to happen among our money-losing farmers. Trump simply cannot hold onto their support forever as he rakes them all over the coals.

It will take a lot for some Trump voters to admit they supported an erratic, immoral loser.  Nobody likes to admit they’ve been conned. But we don’t need all of Trump’s supporters to reject him.  We only need a small fraction in a few states, and with Trump’s help we might just get there.  We still have a lot of work to do in our own district to remove and keep Republicans from power.  But on a national level the wind is at our backs.

Keep resisting and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”


Day 997 – Reject Trump’s Divisiveness

A lot of disturbing things have happened since Friday morning, many of them unsurprising.

Rudy Giuliani is under Federal criminal investigation for his ties to the Ukrainian influence scheme.

Trump isn’t just scaling back our presence in Northern Syria, he pulling our troops entirely, hastening the ethnic cleansing and genocide of our Kurdish allies already underway by the Turks.  The Kurds are now trying to ally themselves with Russia and Assad’s Syria, who also hate ISIS, which would make Trump’s reckless betrayal all the more costly and humiliating to the USA.

On the surprising side, Trump lost five court rulings on Friday, all of which were potentially consequential.  The courts said:

  1. Accountants should turn over Trump’s taxes to NYS (instantly appealed).
  2. Diverted military funds can’t go to pay for the border wall.
  3. Immigrants can’t be rejected for requiring assistance (public charge rule)–NYS
  4. Immigrants can’t be rejected for requiring assistance (public charge rule)–CA
  5. Immigrants can’t be rejected for requiring assistance (public charge rule)–DC

It’s telling that three courts struck down the “public charge rule” on the same day, saying that it wasn’t lawful and didn’t conform to the spirit of our immigration laws.  Trump’s lawyers are so inept they have a tough time making changes that pass legal muster.

Perhaps the worst moments of the weekend came at Trump’s “emotional support” rally in Louisiana.  His hateful rhetoric was over-the-top and reflected the fear and desperate loathing he feels as the impeachment scandals grow and as his betrayal of the Kurds continues to horrify members of both parties.  Trump continued to cast Democrats and the media as evil, and insulted his usual targets–members of “the squad.”  That he singles out women of color for specific character assassination tells us all we need to know about his racism and misogyny–not to mention his supporters.  Trump also did his best to characterize the impeachment process as illegitimate.

“They’re pursuing an illegal, invalid and unconstitutional, bullshit impeachment,”

Stay classy, sleazeball!  Trump’s hateful rhetoric is so purely divisive that it’s becoming dangerous–and normalized.  You hear it in the comments of his supporters, who talk about Democrats and Liberals in dehumanizing generalizations, and you hear it in the manifestos of mass shooters.  It’s a horrifying reality that millions of our fellow citizens characterize an entire political party as being evil and inhuman.  What’s the next step?  Political genocide?

I abhor the Republican agenda and platform, and I detest Trump because he is a liar and a divider and a sleazy grifter.  But I have many Republican friends who are not evil and are not part of the Trump cult.  I can agree to disagree with them.  But Trump is fomenting something altogether different, altogether ugly, and his toxic divisiveness is something we need to use to our advantage.  He’s a divider, not a uniter, and most people want unity.  Most people want to live in a safe, serene country rather than an ongoing circus of hate and lies and chaos that typify Trump’s character.  Chaos is unpredictable and uncertain–and people don’t generally like these conditions.  People don’t like to live with anxiety.  So division is an aspect of Trumpism we have to loudly scorn.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office” if he isn’t thrown out first.

Day 992 – A Conspiracy Emerges

The Republican party continued to struggle to respond yesterday to direct questions about Trump’s Ukraine debacle, avoiding questions like, “is it okay to ask a foreign power to dig up dirt on a political rival?”  Meanwhile another chapter of the scandal unfolded as two associates of Rudy Giuliani were arrested and indicted on campaign finance violations for using a “straw man” to hide foreign donations to US politicians.  The indictment came from the Southern District of New York feds, who noted that the investigation is ongoing and there could be more indictments.  The pair were apparently at the center of Giuliani’s mission to press Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden, an effort that included getting the Ukraine ambassador and other career officials out of the way so the conspiracy would not be opposed nor leaked.  It’s easy to imagine that Rudy is at grave risk here.  Here’s coverage from WaPo:

Despite mounting evidence of a criminal conspiracy to trade US aid for dirt on Biden involving many Trump and Giuliani associates, national GOP groups continue to pin their fortunes on belittling the impeachment inquiry and calling Democrats who support impeachment “crazy” and “obsessed” and “reckless.”

The Communications Director for Indivisible (national) released the latest message that their political gurus tested and now want us to hammer home, along with a meme:

We know Trump pushed Ukraine to interfere in our 2020 elections. He used US military aid to pressure them to dig up dirt on his political opponent. Then he tried to cover it up. If the average person did this, they’d go to jail. We must move forward with impeachment because nobody is above the law.

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As each day passes and new evidence emerges, the GOP plan to bash impeachment will ring more and more hollow.  The case is already clear and convincing, as the polling data confirm.  Public opinion has swung dramatically in favor of impeachment.  As of last night, a FOX news poll showed that 51% of voters favor impeachment and removal from office.  This is a game changer, and if the Democrats continue to push the facts and uncover more misdeeds, the numbers for Trump will only get worse.

Trump held another hate rally last night and seemed especially wired and unhinged, slinging more insults and lies than usual.  He continued with the “impeachment hoax” phrase and “they want to cancel your beautiful vote” garbage, but to anyone not a Trump cultist, it sounded like a lot of resentful “blah blah blah.”  At this point, when Trump speaks it’s mostly angry noise.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office” if doesn’t get thrown out first.