Tuesday, December 26, 2017

You've Been Warned

(By American Zen’s Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
"Many of us began 2017 with the consoling thought that the Donald Trump presidency couldn’t possibly be as bad as we feared. It turned out to be worse." - Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post
Today marks the 85th day that Donald Trump has spent on a golf course since January 20th. As a dwindling minority that still accepts and supports Trump as our President would know, if someone could teach them how to use a calculator, that's a quarter of Trump's first year in office. Remember that bland yet chilling inaugural speech to a shriveled post-Obama crowd in which he said he would work hard for the American people? Before anyone knew it, he was already off to a golf course with his name on it, eventually bankrupting the Secret Service in less than seven months because Trump found a way to profit off his own security detail.
     It's difficult for anyone of reasonable intelligence and cognitive capabilities to understand why and how anyone outside of the 1% that just got the biggest and bestest Christmas present in US history in the tax scam bill could still support this malignant megalomaniac but here we are. And perhaps the painfully methodical Mueller investigation and the deliberately sluggish processes of the federal government are the only things that are keeping this administration on life support.
     From the first day, Trump's Russia-enabled "presidency" is like a 20 year-old old Ford Pinto that you just know is going to blow itself and several innocent bystanders to smithereens but, miraculously, still hasn't. You know nothing lasts forever, especially in the age of term limits. And yet the exhaust pipe still keeps churning out exhausting lie after lie and becomes almost unto a miracle of perseverance.
     After all, there's no way a man like Donald Trump could last for more than a year, year and a half (perhaps even close to two years, pending Congressional testimony and grand jury indictments) in the highest office in the land. There's no possible way such a counterproductive and counterintuitive kakistocracy assembled by Trump could survive all that time in the public and media scrutiny.
     And yet, we had eight years of Bush II, with nary an article of impeachment written besides a completely ignored one written by the now-forgotten Dennis Kucinich. Bush survived eight years without one serious Congressional challenge despite having committed some of the most egregious war crimes in American history in Iraq and Afghanistan. So don't tell me pure evil doesn't have a survival instinct. It would hardly exist if it hadn't.
     And yet every time Trump screams "fake news" or "witch hunt" with wearisome frequency without being significantly challenged, the more he lowers the bar of the national discourse and the more Overton's Window shifts ever more to the right. In fact, the last 11 months have shifted that window so far to the right it's now just a smidgen to the left of Nazi Germany.

Yes, I Just Invoked Godwin's Law. Here's Why.
Anyone who's even done a cursory examination of the earliest years of the Third Reich should see countless alarming similarities between it and the first year of Trump's rule. In fact, if one goes to the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC (at which he'd spoken last April in which he'd robotically denounced anti Semitism without once mentioning the wave of it in this country since his election with hardly a mention from his administration), one will see a list of 14 signs of emerging fascism.

     A well-informed individual can hardly look at this list and not be tickled by one memory or another of Trump doing his woven-headed best to make these things a reality in just the first 11 months of his reign. "Corporate power protected" was honored in a big way just with the tax scam bill that Republicans rammed through (while denying the filibuster to the minority Democrats). The corporate tax rate was suddenly cut almost in half from 35% to 21% in the face of history and economic sanity that show time again that tax cuts do not create jobs. And whatever the tax "overhaul" didn't do for corporations, his ruinous Cabinet that's crawling with billionaires are busy filling in the gaps with an orgy of deregulation. "Labor power suppressed"? Check.
     "Rampant Sexism." He's Donald fucking Trump, whose entire life has been a shambling shrine to crumbling and outdated male sexism and sexual assault. His campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, assaulted a female reporter March last year and Trump defended him. "Religion and government intertwined"? At first, that's a hoot since Trump's a bigger fan of Hitler's speeches than the Bible. But then, showing he has some survival skills, after all, Trump nominated and shoe-horned into his Cabinet evangelical bozos such as Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson and, most notably, Mike Pompeo, who leads prayer meetings at Langley. and, in the WH, Ralph Drollinger, who once said mothers serving in public office were "sinners."
     "Obsession with crime and punishment." Trump pretty much covered that in his inaugural speech. For good measure, he also folded in "Powerful and continuing nationalism" into it, even though it's all but obvious he only cares about 1% of the nation. "Disdain for human rights." Far be it for a billionaire to be invested in human rights and Trump does his fellow oligarchs proud by strenuously ignoring that pesky human rights issue. Last September at the UN, Trump made his thoughts known on that subject and he pulled a public hissy fit because UN's Human Rights Council included his business buddies, Saudi Arabia, one of the most egregious human rights abusers on the planet.
     "Rampant Cronyism and corruption"?

     Just stick their pusses next to the words in the dictionary.
     "Identification of enemies for a unifying cause."
     Trump did this just seconds after he got off the escalator at Trump Tower the day he announced his candidacy when he called Mexicans "rapists and criminals" to a mostly paid crowd. Sally Kohn and Jon Stewart were excited about Trump's new candidacy "if only for the entertainment value." Then, like John Carpenter's Thing, entertainment nightmarishly morphed into policy.
     In "supremacy of the military", Trump is merely a typical Republican- a draft dodging chickenhawk who loves the idea of a strong, misadventurous military in the abstract while showing nothing but disdain for individual service members who prove mouthy or inconvenient. Witness Trump's despicable "he knew what he signed up for" remarks to La David Johnson's widow and sending Army Rangers into a suicide mission in Niger.

Shall I Go on?
Let's return to "Powerful and continuing nationalism," shall we? Because this is one part of those 14 warning signs that not only did Trump fulfill, but even expanded upon. In a watershed moment of his alleged presidency, there was a torchlit rally in Charlottesville organized by the alt-right, which is a paper-thin rebranding of the neo Nazi and white supremacist movement. One of their own plowed his car at 40 mph into a crowd of people, killing Heather Heyer. Trump wasted no time in demonizing those in attendance... namely the so-called "counterprotesters" who weren't counterprotesters but protesters of Nazi violence.
     The man with a Jewish son in law and daughter who's converted to Judaism defended those who'd caused that death (and who were filmed chanting, "Jews will not replace us" and that neo Nazi trope, "Blood and soil."), eventually calling them, his Jewish Secretary of the Treasury to his immediate right, "some very fine people." Later, at a failed rally in Arizona, he ridiculed the antifa movement. Yes, for the first time in US history, a sitting US president took the side of Nazis, Klansmen, white supremacists and neo Confederates. So, rather than merely honoring the fascist code of "Powerful and continuing nationalism," Trump also gave white nationalism a huge boost and a thumbs up from his campaign backer, white nationalist leader David Duke.
 
     Don't believe the KKK endorsed Donald Trump? Would you believe their biggest newspaper, The Crusader?
     "Controlled mass media." Hm, that's a toughie. Let's start with Trump personally banning all but Russian media when he entertained his comrades in the Oval Office the day after firing FBI Director James Comey. How about, a month into his rule, Trump banned respected news organizations such as CNN, the BBC and the Guardian from press gaggle briefings? Or when Trump threatened to eject CNN correspondent Jim Acosta? "Fake news", "witch hunt", blah blah blah.
     "Obsession with national security." This one leaves a lot of people scratching their heads. In tried-and-true Republican dogma, Trump seems to be obsessed with our nation's security while inexplicably endangering it at the same time. One needn't look any further than Trump's Asian Doppleganger, Kim Jong Un. Between calling him "rocket man" at the UN General Assembly and goading that other megalomaniac into launching missiles at our base in Guam, Trump seems bound and determined to be not just the 45th president but the 45th and last.
     Let's also return to "disdain for human rights." Less than a week after he was sworn in, Trump said on national TV that, after speaking with the highest levels of US intelligence, he asked, "Does (torture" work?" And he claimed to have been told, "I've spoken as recently as twenty-four hours ago, with people at the highest level of intelligence, and I asked them the question, Does it work? Does torture work? And the answer was yes. Absolutely." Even the Bush administration, which turned torture into a major crux of US foreign policy, bristled at the very word "torture", giving rise to the more PC version, "enhanced interrogation." For good measure, Trump also vowed to not only kill terrorists but their families, as well (a promise he'd almost immediately made good on).
     "Disdain for intellectuals and the arts"? Duh.
     And then, there's the big Kahuna,,,

"Fraudulent elections."
Yes, of course there was fraud in the last election but not in the way Trump and Kris Kobach are obsessed with believing. Like a true banana republic dictator, it wasn't enough for Trump to "win" the Electoral College. He became obsessed with losing the popular vote by nearly 3,000,000 to Hillary Clinton and immediately claimed all three million and perhaps even up to five million voted illegally or were dead. He was so obsessed with this slight to his imagined popularity that he even set up a Voter Fraud Commission with fellow conspiracy theorist Kris Kobach.
     But that's not what Robert S. Mueller III has spent the better part of the year investigating. While Kobach's commission has not turned up one instance of voter fraud in 2016, there's plenty of evidence to more than suggest that there were loads of Republican electoral fraud and colluding with the highest levels of the Russian government to that end.
     Trump's more than suspicious relationship with Russian dictator Vlad Putin, a former KGB operative, began years before that now-infamous meeting at Trump Tower June of last year between another former Russian KGB agent, Trump's sons, a Kremlin-linked Russian attorney and his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. We all know the story now: The Russians offered dirt on Hillary Clinton, Don Jr. broke his neck to get it, realized they had bupkiss, then when the story broke 13 months later, Trump personally crafted the official narrative of that meeting and claimed it was all about adopting Russian orphans.
     They weren't just talking about Clinton. Obama-era sanctions on Russia for annexing Crimea were also on the table, says the Russian lawyer. In fact, those sanctions that have proved so harmful to Russian businesses and banks were the primary concern of those selfsame Russians to the point they were openly meeting with then Senator Jeff Sessions to discuss just that. Then there was the reason Michael Flynn got sacked as National Security Advisor- Discussing those same sanctions with Russian officials and lying to Mike Pence and the FBI about it. Fake news? Flynn pleaded guilty for lying to the FBI, as did George Papadopoulos.
     So, no. Robert Mueller has not been digging deeply all these months to see whether or not your abuela voted illegally for Hillary. People like Flynn, Manafort, Gates and Papadopoulos are but mere pawns, rooks at best in this shameless Kremlin takeover of our electoral system in this Richard Condon novel come to life. Mueller is after the big chess piece he can topple:

      The queen.

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