Tag Archives: Trump

The Tyranny of

Donald Trump’s official presidential bio contains about a half-dozen attempts to convince someone—probably himself—that his win was a massive blowout and not a shameful, slight fluke only made possible by the intervention of a foreign government and a domestic conspiracy to get the FBI director to interfere in the democratic process during the final weeks, twice.

This sad overcompensation—like the emergency White House press briefing called Saturday night to lie about the size of of his inauguration crowd as the largest protests in U.S. history raged against the new president—isn’t an accident.

It’s an announcement: We will do what we want regardless of how many Americans are against us.

Since Trump lost the popular vote by the largest margin in a modern times, he’s done nothing to reach out to the majority of Americans who rejected him. His cabinet is made up entirely of doctrinaire, extremely right-wing Republicans, most of them filthy rich, nearly all white and male. His hostile inaugural address proclaimed a mandate for him to act as the voice of “the people,” though he’s the least popular president to take the office is the history of polling such things.

And things are only going to get worse.

With minority support and no interest in courting anything but that, Trump is about to enact a far right agenda unlike anything we’ve seen since the 1920s.

If Trump gets his way, we are likely to see the greatest transfer of wealth to the richest in human history, though the wealth inequality in America is already nearing levels that brought out the guillotines in 18th-century France.

This transfer of wealth is not just about giant tax breaks for the rich and their kids and their corporations and their kids’ corporations. It’s not just about a massive un-insuring of working Americans that will return us to the era of discrimination against the sick. And it’s not just about the erasure of regulations that will transfer the costs of pollution and financial risk back on to middle-class.

As Trump was about to take the oath of office, his team announced plans for $10.5 trillion in cuts based on a plan devised by the Heritage Foundation—a plan that includes huge cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the Defense Department. This plan would violate some of Trump’s most notable campaign promises and likely send millions, if not tens of millions, of the 48 million Americans, including 12 million children, that the government keeps out of poverty into abject despair.

What mandate does the GOP have to unwind the insurance of 32 million and turn an income inequality crisis into an income inequality nightmare?

Yes, Republicans hold a majority of seats in the House, where they lost seats despite an electoral map that has been gerrymandered for their exclusive pleasure. Yes, they hold the Senate, where they also lost seats and their 52 representatives represent millions of fewer voters than the 48 Democrats. And then there is Trump, who got millions fewer votes than Clinton but won three key states by a margin smaller than 1 percent with share of the vote less than 50 percent.

The closest analogy in history to this is the 2000 election when George W. Bush made passing gestures at unity and ended up pursuing a nakedly partisan agenda that erased a surplus, lost two wars and revealed mass incompetence.

But even W. didn’t go after Planned Parenthood. And the millions he uninsured were just the side effect of the failure of his economic polices.

Posted with permission from The National Memo.

			

The Trump Dossier

This ‘Fake News’ Is Real Enough To Investigate

by Joe Conason

Page of the Trump Dossier

A page from the Trump dossier reportedly compiled by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele.

When Donald Trump denounced the latest hints of his collusion with the Kremlin as “FAKE NEWS!” on Twitter, it was hard not to wonder what he meant, exactly. Having barraged us all for years with fake news about a wide variety of important matters such as Barack Obama’s true birthplace, the charitable work of the Clinton Foundation, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the dangers of childhood vaccination, does Trump mean we should believe the Russians conspired to help him win the 2016 election? Or does he mean that unlike all of his favorite fake news stories, we shouldn’t believe this one?

 Whatever Trump may mean when he complains about fake news, the story of Russian interference on his behalf in the 2016 election is undeniably real. So the president-elect himself finally admitted when, at his press conference, he acknowledged the accuracy of U.S. intelligence assessments of the Kremlin’s culpability in hacking the Democrats. Following a private conversation with James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, he finally stopped trying to deny and obfuscate those nefarious thefts of information by his Russian supporters.

The critical question that remains is how far the Russians went in promoting Trump’s election—and whether Trump and his campaign are implicated in that conspiracy.

Only a series of fully empowered probes by law enforcement and Congressional authorities can uncover the truth, but already there are many investigative trails to follow. Consider the recent stunning news reports of a 35-page dossier compiled by a former British intelligence officer about Trump, his campaign, and the Russians, which provoked his enraged “fake news” tweet.  Mesmerized by the dossier’s references to alleged videotape of a Trump encounter in Russia with prostitutes hired to perform a perverse urination ritual, many journalists dismissed the entire document as mere gossip.

Such dismissals revealed nothing except the ignorance of those who uttered them, none of whom appears to understand the nature and purpose of what spooks call “humint,” or human intelligence (as distinguished from surveillance and other data). The Trump dossier is an intelligence file, not a prosecution memo; its purpose is not to prove a case but to point a direction. And as subsequent coverage in the Guardian and Financial Times indicated, its author Christopher Steele is no mere purveyor of gossip. He is a highly respected and experienced former official of MI6, the British foreign intelligence service, where he oversaw the agency’s work in Russia and Eastern Europe for decades. Nobody who knows anything about Steele doubts his reach into the top ranks of Moscow’s political and business sectors.

Indeed, much of what Steele’s dossier reports about alleged contacts between the Trump camp and the Kremlin (as well as its various cutouts) matches what US and other intelligence agencies learned last year from their own Russian sources. That was among the reasons why the director of national intelligence and the directors of the CIA, FBI, and NSA believed the dossier worthy of briefing to both Trump and President Obama.

The details also match many troubling facts already known about Trump and his associates. It is clear, for instance, that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has worked to advance the interests of the Putin regime for well over a decade, and not only in Ukraine. It is also clear that Manafort and his longtime business partner, Washington lobbyist Rick Davis, have cultivated business ties with major Russian oligarchs in Putin’s orbit.

The most notorious of those oligarchs is Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire aluminum magnate of dubious repute who was barred from entering the United States. More than ten years ago, in 2006, Davis was preparing to launch the nascent presidential campaign of the leading Republican candidate – Senator John McCain. As The Nation and other news outlets later reported, Davis and Manafort introduced McCain to Deripaska on a yacht anchored in the port of Montenegro, where the oligarch hosted a “birthday party” for the Arizona senator. If Deripaska and Manafort were attempting to gain a White House foothold, their initiative evaporated when Obama defeated McCain two years later.

 But with that shady episode behind him, McCain probably understands better than most of his colleagues why the Steele dossier—which he personally delivered to the FBI director—demands much more than snarky repartee about “watersports.” Not everything that Steele heard is likely to be true. But if even a fraction proves accurate, the Trump campaign’s Moscow connection will become the biggest political scandal in American history.

@JoeConason is editor-in-chief of , and co-editor of . This article is posted with permission from The National Memo.

THANKSGIVING AT THE A.M.E. CHURCH

An agnostic Jew finds sanctuary among black worshipers

Photo from gallery of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles.

The ladies seemed aglow with the proposition of their attendance, as if this was a highlight in their lives, or perhaps the highlight of their lives. Photo from gallery of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles.

by Dell Franklin

Maybe it was time I showed up at a “house of worship”—church, synagogue, mosque, etc.—after a more than 50-year absence (except weddings and funerals) as a fully committed agnostic. So when my brother-in-law, who along with my sister is white and a volunteer sponsor of minority foster children for an organization associated with the black A.M.E. Church, invited me to join him for morning services at that church in Los Angeles, I said yes.

I was curious and also looking forward to entering the unknown as the 1 percent minority, if that. Also, having lived on the mostly white conservative Central Coast of California for the last 30 years, I was excited, as a kid reared in mixed-race Compton, to again rub elbows with black folks.

The church was a huge, stately structure. We arrived early and people were milling around, dressed in their best for a festive Thanksgiving. At the entrance we were greeted by a man in an immaculate black suit and white gloves who welcomed us, while another man similarly clad handed us programs titled, “God’s blessings inspire an attitude of gratitude.” A few ladies stood talking, nodded at us, smiled, and I was immersed instantly in a cocoon of warmth and graciousness of a different kind.

We found our seats up front, in the second row, along the middle aisle. Already, the choir was in place behind and beyond the pulpit as dignitaries of the church sat in a row behind the lecterns. My brother-in-law, Bruce, was eager to hear a visiting pastor from the Dallas, Terry White, and the church’s own pastor, “J” Edgar Boyd, in the face of Trump’s recent election as president.

But to me, this occasion posed a brilliant cornucopia of unrivaled people-watching, my favorite pastime. The ladies seemed aglow with the proposition of their attendance, as if this was a highlight in their lives, or perhaps the highlight of their lives. How could an agnostic, a cynical bastard like myself feel cynical about this as these ladies caught my eye and smiled and welcomed me to their church?

As the massive cavern filled with black people only, a different emotion filled me—I was getting with it. I was among the congregation and did not suffer the usual guilt of being a nonbeliever facing a man preaching the Bible, nor the self-betrayal of just being in their midst, nor the boredom and manipulation I had resented and endured in the synagogue growing up, or any of the other churches I had been forced to attend for weddings and funerals. I felt utterly at ease here—and safe.

The service began and hymns and litanies led to prayers by a lady reverend, another lady, and  a teenager. Scripture was read—Samuel—a commentary having to do subtly with Trump, followed by the choir, which was just warming up, and then came Pastor Boyd, his constant refrain, over and over and over again, with more and more emotion, what these people, his people, felt after the election, after years and years of struggle: “WE MADE IT!”

“YES, WE MADE IT!” People began to stand, mostly women. They nodded and raised a hand and announced their agreement. “Yes, we made it!”

“AND WE WILL MAKE IT AGAIN!” Over and over again, and Trump’s name was never mentioned, but everybody got the pastor’s message. Black people had overcome slavery, lynchings, beatings, the unleashing upon them of vicious dogs and powerful water hoses and teargas, incarceration for whatever the white man deemed guilty, centuries of civil rights abuse and bludgeoning of spirit, but always, always, they “made it.”

The reverend was a resonant showman, the ebullient spirit pouring forth from his every pore, preaching that two-fisted old fashioned religion, and Bruce and I found ourselves rising with the throng, clapping our hands, and when the pastor finished in a rousing finale, a tall man in a light brown suit led the choir, and now the place was really rocking, the blend of powerful, magnificently blended voices leading a chorus among the congregation, and I found myself not singing, because I know no words and I was not really a person who talked about the lord or Jesus or even God, but instead watched the people, and especially the ladies, so carefully attired, jewelry gleaming, and I was reminded of the hardship most black women endure, reminded of my days of working on the riverboat Delta Queen on the Mississippi River back in 1969, and being the only white employee below the officers, and of being taken as a guest to a blues club in Memphis by a crew of waiters and maids, and getting with that music, and watching my friends react to this music, such sad, woebegone music, and, while dancing with one of these ladies, who was sending her pay home to her children and family in New Orleans, I asked how people could be so joyous over such brokenhearted music, and she told me, “Honey, we got to celebrate our sufferin’, or we ain’t gonna make it.” And, “We got our blues, and our church, and they can’t take that away.”  And she smiled, knowing I had no clue to either and probably never would, but that was okay, too.

It made me think about my own life, and how easy things were for me, how I, a white person, could hitchhike from LA to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and land the best job on the Delta Queen as the ship’s storekeeper. No black person could hitch through the south without fearing disaster, and none of the uneducated blacks on the Queen had the training to be a storekeeper, as I had, starting out as a 15-year-old stock boy in Compton.

Those maids on the Delta Queen reminded me of the ladies in this congregation, who, as mothers and providers, and believers, beamed with pride and hope and faith cutting through hardship and hurt. The faces and  bodies of these women depicted heroic resilience beyond my comprehension, and the more I watched them, as the choir moved into a higher gear, and the people began swaying and repeating, a spirit entered me. I saw what religion meant to these people, and joining them made me feel good, and grateful, and strangely whole. I didn’t have to believe in Jesus, or the lord, or God, or any god, but just needed to be among people who genuinely believed, and shared, and found this day, and perhaps every Sunday of their lives, a salvation and a salve for the week’s wounds and life’s unfairness, a refuge from what occurred daily outside the walls of this massive church.

The Gospel ended and now Reverend Terry White Sr. from Dallas took over, and his oration, like Pastor Boyd’s, came from an echoing chamber deep within, and his showmanship and passion soon had everybody rising and repeating his words, and he wound himself into a fury, moving this way and that, his voice powerful, and the whole place rocked and rocked, and I thought to myself that if I lived around here I might show up at this church more than a few Sundays a year, to again drop some cash into their coffers and experience what was proving to be to me an almost Zen-like occasion.

In the end, we all held hands, swaying back and forth, and afterwards I was myself shaking hands with men and hugging women as we headed toward the exit in a cloud of jubilation. Outside, a few more hands were shook, and then I ran into the man in the brown suit who led the choir, and I told him how great I thought they were, and he shook my hand and said, “Thank you, we give it our all.”

I ran into a lady who must have been well past 80, struck up a conversation, and she urged me to come back, and hugged me. Driving back, Bruce said, “You think we feel entitled, going in there, because we’re white?”

“Probably.”

“You think two black men would be as welcome in a Southern Baptist white church, or any white church?”

“I don’t know. Churches are supposed to be welcoming places. Maybe, but I doubt it.”

We talked about the white man who went into the black church in South Carolina and shot and killed innocent people. And they forgave him, prayed for him. To those people I don’t think it was just about Jesus, or the lord, or God, but a spirit of humanity and magnanimity, just as they would accept me in that very same spirit as a nonbeliever, a person who walked out feeling that humanity and magnanimity and carrying it with him for that day and to this day too, and perhaps for some time to come. §

Dell Franklin writes from his home in Cayucos, Calif., where he maintains his love for humanity, and the hope of people who struggle against ignorance and hate. His other works can be viewed at dellfranklin.com

TRUMP TRANSITION STAFF MEMO

At first glance you might be skeptical about a black Jamaican-born dwarf who infamously got his eye shot out in a domestic dispute, as cabinet-level material.

At first glance you might be skeptical about a black Jamaican-born dwarf who infamously got his eye shot out in a domestic dispute, as cabinet-level material.

Department of Satire
Pre-Vetting Memo
From: Transition Staff
To: VP-Elect Pence

It was recently brought to our attention that the field of candidates to fill key new positions in the Administration is, well, a little white. Okay, a lot white. And, after Ben withdrew his name from consideration on Tuesday, like, Klan-rally-in-a-blizzard-white. We’re not quite sure what to do about this, as we feel like we’re getting conflicting signals. Steve keeps saying “think back to the future,” that we really need to reassure the white voting bloc of the New Model Coalition that the 1950s are just around the corner—which is already hard enough to do without old-school Jim Crow. (The libs are hip to the new kind, dammit, but with our man Jefferson Beauregard Sessions heading to Justice, looks like happy days of the new being old and the old being new are just around the corner.) And Chuck has kind of menaced that thinking outside the box might put us on the To-Be-Transitioned-From-The-Transition list.

But Reince and Kellyanne seem to think we need to make at least some nod to racial diversity, but on uniquely Trumpian terms: Even if insanity is not only not a disqualifier, but a recommender, in this nascent Administration, any nominees we make cannot be drawn from the usual suspects. Or, as Kellyanne put it, “I don’t want to see Herman Cain or Alan Keyes on the list. Find someone’s who’s a real political outsider.”

So we think we’ve got a good one, and for SecDef, at that:  Bushwick Bill of the Geto Boys.

Now we know, Mr. Vice President-elect, that as a white Christian conservative from Indiana, at first glance, you might be skeptical about a black Jamaican-born dwarf who infamously got his eye shot out in a domestic dispute, as Cabinet-level material. But he might be more your kind of guy than you think. And if you take away the “black Jamaican-born” part, Bushwick could fit right in with any of J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy family, We know that comparison might not sit well with our white supremacist—check that, white nationalist—bloc, but we think we can use it to our advantage in an SNL “Black Jeopardy” kind of way.

As you know  (or maybe not—some say you’re “Quayle v2.0,” while Milo calls you “that clueless Hoosier fuck,” which is actually a term of endearment—if he didn’t like you he’d say “cuck”), the President-elect’s national security/foreign policy stance during the campaign was to righteously excoriate Bush 43 elites and Democratic elite enablers for undertaking an unnecessary war costly in blood and treasure on the one hand and, on the other hand, promise decisive unilateral action against truly deserving enemies that might make even circa ’64 Barry Goldwater blush. The President-elect has also repeatedly emphasized his desire, however hazily, to improve the lot of African-Americans, which appears to have gotten some traction well beyond our top black booster.

While we suspect that, if you heard it at all, you were probably reflexively opposed to anything labeled “gansta rap” in 1991, we think that the band’s Bushwick Bill-authored “Fuck A War” very presciently articulated many of the sentiments on war Mr. Trump has seen and tapped into during the campaign:

Motherfuck a war, that’s how I feel

Sendin’ a nigga to a dentist to get killed

‘Cause two suckas can’t agree on something

A thousand motherfuckers died for nothing

As we know, the President-elect will most definitely not be sending members of the working class to be cannon fodder (especially when his children can continue bilking and stiffing them, while he rounds up and deports at least a few million of the browner ones). But it’s Bushwick’s stance on use of nuclear weapons, though, that really excites us.

Admittedly, Bushwick would prefer to have his finger on the button. But given the decisive zeal of his position, we suspect that he’d be happy for a subordinate-but-synergistic policy relationship with Mr. Trump. Unlike Kissinger, who couldn’t rise to his president’s exhortation to “think big,” and more like Richard Perle, who was always keen to “move up the escalation ladder,” we have no doubt that Bushwick would champion an eschewal of diplomacy for swift, decisive, taxpayer-efficient military action when obviously necessary:

You’re lucky that I ain’t the president

‘Cause I’ll push the fuckin’ button and get it over wit

Fuck all that waitin’ and procrastinatin’

And all that goddamn negotiatin’

Flyin’ back and forth overseas

And havin’ lunch and brunch with the motherfuckin’ enemies

I’ll aim one missle at Iraq

And blow that little piece of shit off the map

Yeah, I wouldn’t give a fuck who it ices

‘Cause I’m tired of payin’ these high-ass gas prices

Clearly someone not only attuned to populist sensibilities, but also a potentially excellent collaborator for John Bolton, wherever John ends up in the New Order.

This is not to say that Bushwick’s confirmation would be without challenge, even in a rubber-stamp Senate. We acknowledge that Bushwick’s derisive metaphorical allusion to the United States for its perceived institutional and international racism

You can’t pay me to join an army camp

Or any other motherfuckin’ military branch

of this United goddamn States of this bitch America

Be a soldier, what for?

They puttin’ niggas on the front line

But when it comes to gettin’ ahead, they put us way behind

The enemy is right here g, them foreigners never did shit me

All of those wasted lives

And only one or two get recognized

But what good is a medal when you’re dead? Tell Uncle Sam I said

I ain’t goin’ to war for a shit-talkin’ president

Fuck fuck fuck a war

could present problems at a confirmation hearing, as could his near-deportation as a result of drug charges after a lapse in sobriety some years back. But on the other hand, the adjudication of Bushwick’s case shows the immigration system can, in fact, be fair and just; and Bushwick’s status as a born-again Christian (including calls for self-reliance and responsibility) since the late aughts, and astute assessment of a certain timeless quality in veterans’ issues, all but makes him an expert and broadly-appealing sympathetic figure:

You know how Uncle Sam treat its veterans

Absolutely no respect

Get a plate in your head, lose a leg, you might get a check

We also note, as a bonus for our brand of anti-Republican-Elitism, that Bushwick’s “Fuck A War” lyrics—which, though written during the first Gulf War, could easily apply to the second—show no love for the House of Bush, and indeed an unambiguous desire to punish gratuitous warmongering elites:

I ain’t gettin’ my leg shot off

While Bush’s old ass on t.v. playin’ golf

But when you come to my house with that draft shit

I’ma shoot your funky ass bitch

A nigga’ll die for a broil

But I ain’t fightin’ behind no goddamn oil

Against motherfuckas I don’t know

Yo Bush! I ain’t your damn ho

In sum, Bushwick seems to perfectly capture the national security sentiments that have propelled Mr. Trump to power: Weariness with war and contempt for elites on the one hand, but a desire for maximalist unilateral action on the other. And beyond policy matters, we think Bushwick and the President-elect would get on well on a personal level: While the scale of reversals of fortune between the two is vast, Bushwick’s 1995 “Times is Hard” kind of parallels Mr. Trump’s bankruptcy rise and falls, and perhaps reflects a “come to Jesus” dimension the President-elect has had with regard to women and chronic scoff-lawing upon his election:

Rollin’ through my hood like a superstar

Turnin’ corner after corner in my brand new cars

These hos used to call me baller

But that was before I lost my grip, now they barely even calla

Player ‘cuz they know that I’m broke

No Rolex, no Benz just spokes (shit)

Now that I’m back to life, and back to reality

Got one life which ain’t shit without a salary

No more playing mack daddy for you skeezers

I got one lover, I love her, so I’ma please her

And leave you tramps alone

Since I’m getting shit straight, I’m starting at home

I’m on a long road to nowhere if I don’t change

Life with no crime on my mind feels strange

Working like a motherfucker, slick like a Benz seat

Backing off my old hustle, trying to make these ends meet

It is possible, however, that Bushwick might consider Mr. Trump to be exactly the “shit talkin’ president” for whom one wouldn’t go to war; and that the Little Big Man with the jaundiced-but-astute one eye might see some other Administration nominees as being hostile to minorities. Perhaps the real question is, how much of the old “Fuck A War,” ‘hood vs. The Man Bushwick is there with the newer born-again, get-the-behind-me-gangsta Bushwick? Though someone is actually in the process of figuring this out, we recommend sending Milo to sound this out. Whether he comes back with a cap on his tooth or a cap busted in his ass, someone, somewhere, will be happy. §

The Secretary of Satire thinks the Geto Boys’ “Mind Playin’ Tricks on Me”  is one of the best songs ever, but in light of recent events, also recommends doses of Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power” and Steve Earle’s “Mississippi, It’s Time.”