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Donald Trump: Captain Chaos

Recent weeks have seen an accelerated pace for major developments in the Administration Of President Donald J. Trump. As usual, Trump has acted as if most major national and world events were centered around him. Most mainstream media in this country acted as if his assessment was correct. He held a series of rallies in various locations where it was hoped he could assist Republican candidates in their quest to win their contests. Many of these events actually came off more as Trump ‘20 rallies with his endorsement of the local candidate more of an afterthought.

One major tactic used by Trump to rally support and get out the vote for Republican candidates was to demonize groups of refugees coming from Central America through Mexico (largely by foot) to seek asylum in the United States of America. In a continuation of the rhetoric that propelled him to victory in the 2016 Presidential election, President Trump repeatedly denounced the potential invading hordes of immigrants seeking to enter this country illegally, bringing with them illegal drugs, criminals, violence, street gangs – a long list of all the stereotypical ills that would befall our nation if he weren’t here to stop the alien onslaught at the border. He even alluded to rumors that Muslim terrorists had infiltrated their ranks to sneak across with them and perpetrate all manner of terrorist evil upon our unsuspecting souls.

The seemingly endless fear mongering did not appear to stem the tide of the reversal of GOP fortunes in the 2018 midterm elections, where the Democrats were able to regain a majority in the House of Representatives, which they had lost to the Republicans in the 2010 midterms. While the GOP increased their majority in the Senate slightly, due mostly to victories over incumbent Democratic Senators from states won convincingly by President Trump in 2016, the overall result was that, come 1/3/19, the Democrats would retake control of the House of Representatives, with Nancy Pelosi regaining the Speakership.

One major result of the switch of control of the House will likely be that oversight investigations in the House will no longer be controlled by the President’s own party, which in the past have not delved as deeply into areas of potential political peril for President Trump as many opposition party members as well as the general public would have liked. The main folks in the GOP to not act as enablers of Trump’s policy agenda up to this point consisted primarily of Senators Flake and Corker, who decided early on not to seek re-election, and McCain, whose health problems cut short his efforts to stand up to the President. Now, House committee chairs would be able to use their newfound majority status to gain access to far more detailed information than their GOP counterparts had sought from the Administration up to this point in time. For one thing, subpoena powers that were not used to gain information that the President and his supporters did not willingly grant access to could now be used to gain that access, or at least create some very public court battles on the part of the Administration to fight against them.

While Trump’s public response to his Party’s reversal of fortunes last November was to declare victory because the Senate is more firmly in GOP hands, the turmoil in his cabinet and among White House staff has increased to a fever pitch. No sooner had most of the midterm ballots been tabulated than Attorney General Jeff Sessions tendered his “resignation”. Sessions had been in the Trump doghouse ever since he (correctly, from an ethical point of view) recused himself from dealing with the Special Investigation under Robert Mueller dealing with the role of the Russian government in interference with the 2016 elections which brought Trump to power. Bouncing Sessions was entirely expected of Trump, despite the fact that his AG had done yeoman’s work in following through on the controversial immigration policies advocated by Trump beginning with his 2016 campaign. To replace Sessions, Trump has partially punted by naming an Acting Attorney General to be in charge of the Department of Justice until he can try to get a permanent replacement confirmed in the Senate in the coming Congressional Session.

Next on tap in the White House Staff shakeup was Homeland Security Secretary turned replacement White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Since Kelly was the second person to be unceremoniously relieved of duty in that post so far, finding a replacement for him has been likewise difficult, despite the fact that the post is extremely powerful and highly coveted under normal circumstances. He has been left with Mick Mulvaney, head of the Office of Management and Budget and former Acting Head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, in the role of “Acting” White House Chief of Staff. How anyone could actually successfully perform both jobs simultaneously remains to be seen. His Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke resigned under the weight of several investigations of impropriety and has likewise been replaced by another “Acting” replacement.

The most recent dismissal, that of Defense Secretary James Mattis (after a controversial announcement from President Trump of the impending withdrawal of US troops from Syria), tops the list of high level White House and Cabinet positions to change hands since the victorious midterm elections last November. To add to the chaotic situation among high level Administration personnel, the President himself chose to make sure a partial shutdown of the Federal Government shortly before the holiday Congressional recess. Some 800,000 federal workers are currently either furloughed or working without pay until such time as Congress and President Trump can agree on a plan and pass bills continuing their funding. So far, Trump is publicly digging in his heels and demanding an additional $5 billion to fund his border wall (can’t get Mexico to pay for it, as he promised) and improve border security.

The Border Wall, hyped by Trump during the 2016 Presidential campaign, along with xenophobic and Islamophobic immigration policy proposals, helped to propel Trump to the presidency. A significant portion of the base that voted for him did so on the basis of his proposals to keep out the terrorist threat of people from several predominantly Islamic nations whom he would temporarily ban from entering the country and ending the scourge of people immigrating to this country illegally (mostly from Mexico and other Central American nations by way of the Mexican border) to steal the jobs of American citizens.

So far, Trump’s attempts to stem the flow of good paying jobs out of this country has met with mixed results at best. His crackdown on immigration (both legal and illegal) has been seen by many as draconian and inhumane in the extreme. Family separations, child detention and a refusal in many cases to allow people fleeing dire circumstances in their homelands seeking refuge here to apply for asylum do not fit with long-standing values among many among us who seek to deal with such circumstances with common human decency instead of brute force, indefinite detention and the separation of children from their parents.

The Syria situation affects more than just Syria or American military forces. Our dealings with allies (and in some cases a perceived willingness of the US to sell some of them out) certainly affects how other nations and groups perceive of the US government in terms of trustworthiness and reliability in the face of difficulties. Trump has shown an unwillingness at times to listen to any counsel from the advisors he appointed to give advice on such matters, nor to warn allies of significant shifts in policy to get feedback from them before changes are made. The turmoil in the innermost circles of his Administration, along with his performances on the world stage so far in his tenure, have led me to believe that Donald Trump truly is Captain Chaos. It would be nice for him to prove otherwise, but I won’t be holding my breath – just hope he leaves office before he can do irreparable harm to this country and the world at large.

Further Suggested Readings:

Pipe Bombs Point to How Trump’s Rhetoric Emboldens Violence

It’s Not the Media Stoking Pipe-Bomb Violence, Mr. President. It’s You.

Following MAGABomber Arrest, Trump Threatens To ‘Tone It Up’ If People Are Mean To Him

Synagogue shooter explained exactly why he killed—Republican conspiracy theories

Trust me – you need to read Howard Fineman’s NY Times op ed

We were warned . . . but Republicans killed the messenger

America’s Midterm Elections Turn Menacing by Elizabeth Drew

ABC News finds 17 cases in which Trump likely incited violence or threats; Obama: 0

A Blatant Lie and ‘Obvious Stunt’: Trump Claims He Can End 14th Amendment Guarantee of Birthright Citizenship by Presidential Fiat

White House insiders leak disturbing reports of Trump’s increasingly erratic, rage-fueled behavior

Here are 5 ways President Trump behaves like the leader of a corrupt banana republic

CNN host exposes Trump’s ‘fear playbook’ — and details the 6 major pre-midterm lies he duped the media into spreading

‘Bedlam, chaos, injury and death’: Trump lashes out at courts in bizarre Thanksgiving Day tweet

Bruce Springsteen takes on ‘damaged’ Trump: His ‘ugly’ effort to divide the nation is ‘simply a crime against humanity’

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I Call For A Constitution 2.0

Another great post from Dandelion Salad blog, from The Essays From the North by Rivera Sun.  We could certainly use a Constitution for a government that supports the rights and liberties of all people rather than the privileges of the few and their corporations. Given the way these things seem to go, however, I’m concerned that such an effort would go too far in the wrong direction and result in even greater social, political and economic inequality than we have now. Whether or not we could agree on a new Constitution that did away with the monstrous society that the current Constitution enabled and created one more in line with our professed moral values remains to be seen, but we can dream. – RJC

via I Call For A Constitution 2.0

The Democrats’ White People Problem

Excellent article on how Trump and the GOP have managed to gain control of our government, with ways to combat their messaging and regain governmental sanity in future elections. The contrived divisiveness evidenced by the Trump campaign, his first two years in office and the recent midterm elections needs to be turned around to avoid further erosion of our foreign policy and the rapidly increasing economic inequality exacerbated by domestic economic policies since Trump became President with GOP control over both houses of Congress and most state legislatures. Gains made on November 6th, 2018 need to be only the beginning stages of turning around our government for all, instead of the privileged few. – RJC

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Donald Trump likes to pit elite and non-elite white people against each other. Why do white liberals play into his trap?

By Joan C. Williams | The Atlantic | December 2018


“I want them to talk about racism every day,” Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former strategist, told The American Prospect last year. “If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”

Bannon was tapping into an old American tradition. As early as the 1680s, powerful white people were serving up racism to assuage the injuries of class, elevating the status of white indentured servants over that of enslaved black people. Some two centuries later, W. E. B. Du Bois observed that poor white people were compensated partly by a “public and psychological wage”—the “wages of whiteness,” as the historian David Roediger memorably put it. These wages pit…

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The Crisis is Upon Us

Excellent essay by Padre Steve concerning the dark skies facing American society in the Trump era due to his reaction to the 2018 midterm elections. Checks and balances definitely need to be forthcoming to avoid disaster precipitated by his ill-conceived agenda. – rjc

Padre Steve's World: Official Home of the Anti-Chaps

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

The election is over, and save for some recounts in tightly contested races the Democrats have won the House of Representatives with a convincing win despite many overwhelmingly gerrymandered districts in Red States, while the GOP increased its majority in the Senate. The Democrats also made significant headway in State races and for the first time in many years now hold a majority of governorships.

In response President Trump behaved as any tyrant would have. He attacked the press, he suspended the press privileges of CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta after an altercation in which after the President berated Acosta a female staffer attempted to take a microphone out of Acosta’s hands.

During the press conference the President said that he would “work with Democrats” but would go to war if the new House majority exercised its constitutional right to conduct investigations into the…

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Haunted By The Ghosts of Anti-Semitism

The rampant hatred of years gone by is remaining partially submerged no longer, led by a xenophobe who managed to become President of the USA. He and like-minded people in other nations are rising to power with hate-filled rhetoric and encouragement of political, racial and religious violence in far too many countries once again. This essay by Sally Edelstein illustrates how peoples targeted by these hateful ideologies are affected by them, and how they must be resisted vociferously by the vast majority of people who recognize the evil they represent. Trump’s current rampage against refugees and immigrants in general in an attempt to foment hatred and violence to distract us in the days before our midterm elections less than a week from now needs to be strongly condemned and a message must be sent on November 6th, list the voices of hatred and inhumanity lead us into a future of authoritarian fascism we may have thought we would face “Never Again” – rjc

Envisioning The American Dream

Yellow Jewish Star Jude

Just in time for Halloween the frightening ghosts and goblins of anti-Semitism past have arisen from their slumber. This virulent strain of hate never really disappeared, merely reawakened.

And it is deadly.

I am scared.

I am haunted.

I am a Jew.

I am haunted by the solemn voice of my childhood Rabbi whose thunderous High Holiday sermons referencing the Holocaust declared “Never Again,” sentiments echoed by Hebrew school teachers.

I am haunted by the countless conversations overhead as a child of anxious parents and family friends debating plaintively … “could ithappen here?”

I am haunted by the knowledge that for my parent’s generation, a generation of Jews who lived a life of assimilation yet kept one eye open for that display of anti-Semitism that has always lived right below the surface.

I am haunted by the fact that my parent’s generation was right to believe that anti-Semitism never…

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Trump’s Flaky Finances

Recently, the New York Times published an article resulting from the culmination of an in-depth investigation into the Trump family finances beginning with his father’s business dealings up until recent years. As has been his practice relating to his personal story in most aspects of his life, Donald Trump’s economic rise after a mere $1 million loan from his father to his current billionaire status appears to have undergone considerable embellishment over the years. Much of his current wealth appears to have been gifted  to him over a period of time to avoid the payment of much of it to the government in the form of tax obligations.

Donald Trump’s self-promotion throughout his career as a real estate tycoon, entrepreneur of a sizable business empire, television personality and now politician has often seemed just a bit sketchy. Company bankruptcies, reports of lawsuits due to failure to  pay contractors for jobs or fraudulence practiced by Trump University, along with tax irregularities punctuated by numerous audits ( including the one that he used as an excuse to refuse disclosing his tax returns prior to his 2016 election) all seemed to put chinks in the shiny armor of brilliant business acumen and personal awesomeness he sought to portray in every aspect of his life. While never claiming to be perfect (to the best of my knowledge), he never did quite seem to be able to admit a fault or mistake in his business or personal affairs.

Never at a loss for words when it comes to denigrating media in general or the “failing New York Times” (his words) in particular, his apparent lack of a caustic response to this particular article refuting his own rendition of how he earned his fortune with minimal assistance from his father is somewhat perplexing. Perhaps he’s laying low on this particular issue in hopes that it won’t snowball into a major avenue of investigation by the Special Counsel’s office or raise eyebrows in Congress’s shoddy investigations into Trump’s activities during the campaign and his first years in office. That would probably be a wise course of action on his part, though listening to advice from his legal team has not appeared to one of his strengths since hitting the campaign trail and subsequently taking office.

Trump has been playing fast and loose with many aspects of his role as President as has been practiced by his predecessors. Being unwilling to set aside business interests to allay fears that he will succumb to temptation to use his office for the purpose of profiting economically breaks with a long tradition of office holders liquidating assets and placing them in a blind trust to make that form of corruption difficult if not impossible. Flaunting the nepotism laws to make his daughter and son-in-law key senior advisors and releasing his tax returns are also ways in which Trump has refused to take steps to avoid forms of political corruption which candidates for the highest office in the land have willingly submitted themselves to.

Up until the 1930’s, no President had sought to stay in office for more than two terms, despite the fact that term limits were not addressed in the Constitution. FDR did – going so far as to get elected to a fourth term before dying in office. Shortly thereafter, an amendment to the US Constitution was passed that set limits to how long a President could remain in office. JFK appointed his brother Attorney General. Shortly thereafter, legislation forbidding that form of nepotism in the future was also passed. Donald Trump has not been legally obligated to release his tax returns. He has not done so, despite the fact that candidates for President have voluntarily done so for decades in order to reassure voters that they are above reproach in that regard. Count on Trump’s returns being submitted to at least some members of a Congressional investigation should Democrats regain control of either House in the upcoming midterm elections – either voluntarily upon request or to comply with a subpoena. At any rate, expect legislation to be forthcoming making such disclosure mandatory sometime in the not-too-distant future.

Whether or not President Trump is legally vulnerable due to improprieties in his business dealings prior to or while serving as President of the United States has not yet been determined. Whether his ongoing efforts to maintain secrecy in these matters rises to the level of obstruction is also unclear – at least to me. One thing is clear, however. This President has proven, beyond the shadow of a doubt (which is firmer ground than reasonable doubt), that he is ready, willing and able to lie about just about anything he desires, whenever he wants to. I would not trust him to be truthful about just about anything unless he had documentation to verify his claims. That is especially true in dealing with his business and other financial matters.

Donald Trump has had free reign to do much in his nearly two years in office, due in large part to the fact that his party controls the legislative branch and is enabling him to get away with just about anything the judiciary won’t stop him from doing. The Judiciary is quickly being turned into a rubber stamp for Trump as well. Kavanaugh’s confirmation to SCOTUS is just the most high-profile example of this, but it is replicated in the lower courts as well. Congressional Republicans have only prevented him from more fully enacting his agenda through their inability to unite behind him 100% on some issues and their inability to pass difficult legislation that he would need to meet his goals. Health care and his infamous border wall are probably the two biggest examples of this.

November 6th will go a long way towards determining exactly how much more damage this President can cause before he must personally face the voters again in 2020. Various states are doing their utmost to hold down the votes of people they strongly suspect will vote against the GOP/Trump agenda. We need to make sure nobody who should be able to vote is prevented from doing so. President Trump must be denied the ability to place himself above the law and rule without the consent of the governed. He also needs to be prevented from hiding facts about his personal and financial conduct that may prove his fitness (or lack thereof) to continue to serve in that capacity.

Suggested Further Reading:

Daddy’s Boy: New York Times Investigation Exposes the Breadth of Trump’s Lies and Corruption

The Dubious Fiction of Donald Trump’s Fortune Has Been Exposed

Don’t Think The Trumps Were The Only Landlords To Screw Their Renters

Fraud of Trump’s self-made persona exposed in father’s financials

Following report, Trump crafts underwhelming response to fraud allegations

3 Takeaways From the New York Times’ Bombshell Trump Investigation

Democrats Now Have A Roadmap For Investigating The Trump Crime Family

Trump Family’s Massive Tax Con Job Has Been Hiding in Plain Sight for Years. And It Could Cost Them Millions

How Democrats hope to obtain Trump’s tax returns

Here are all the Trump projects where Ivanka and her dad misled real estate buyers

This is your daily reminder that all roads lead back to Donald Trump’s tax returns

The First Family of Fraud

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David Swanson: We Need a New Armistice Day + Transcript

Another eloquent post by David Swanson via Dandelion Salad blog. Before it was renamed Veterans Day, the holiday was called Armistice Day, in honor of the date of November 11, 1918 and the signing of the treaty that ended World War I. The War to End All Wars obviously did not achieve that lofty goal. We need to work together to end the use of violence and murderous force as a means of resolving conflicts. We need to stop glorifying war, those who fight and die in war, but especially those who profit enormously through the conduct of war with little or no risk to themselves.

Early on in his Presidency, Donald Trump sought to hold a very expensive and gawdy display of US military might in the form of a huge military parade. That is the last thing we need at this point in our history. We need reason to create a new holiday, one dedicated to celebrating an end to war and the dawn of a more peaceful and enlightened society – a true Armistice Day to replace a holiday that reminds us of how futile war has become as a means of resolving human conflict. The wars we have conducted recently and those we are continuing to fight today never seem to end and the only “victors” seem to be those profiting from the death and destruction while not physically endangering themselves at all. End them before they end us. – RJC

 

via David Swanson: We Need a New Armistice Day + Transcript

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17 Years of Getting Afghanistan Completely Wrong by David Swanson

In-depth analysis of the never-ending quagmire that is the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan by the USA. Diplomacy by failed military adventurism in all its glory – or is that infamy? Three US Presidents and still no end in sight. Only winners I see so far are the merchants of death/AKA arms manufactures. – RJC

via 17 Years of Getting Afghanistan Completely Wrong by David Swanson

Land of the free? How Trump has put America’s identity in peril

Great analysis of the Trump Administration’s performance to date and warning of the perils we may face in the future with him at the helm. – rjc

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As the midterm elections approach, Ben Fountain argues white voters should know that a real democracy can only survive if there is true equality for everyone

By Ben Fountain | The Guardian | September 23, 2018


Some 20 months into his term Trump has been pretty much the president we expected: loud, boastful, bullying, reckless, ruder than the worst-bred minor royalty, tetchy as a wolverine in heat. The main thing to note is the very most main thing: he’s still going.

The juggernaut that was launched off the down escalator at Trump Tower back in 2015 rolls on, strewing bodies and busted parts in its wake and one hell of a nasty stink, yet roll it does with undiminished vigor.

Is there anything left to say that would stop it? Think of the hundreds of millions of words that have been thrown at him the last three years, every kind…

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In the Public Interest: Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?

Some excellent questions raised by Ralph Nader for which the American public deserves answers, but which those responsible for answering them seem to either be asleep at the wheel in the performance of their jobs or just flat out refusing to do so. Far more government accountability is necessary for us to regain a functional democracy rather than continuing to slip into authoritarian plutocracy. – rjc

Source: In the Public Interest: Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?

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