If the press, most likely via leaks from pissed off FBI-ers (without an independent prosecutor there is little chance the truth about Russia and Trump will be uncovered now during the DC investigations), learns Donald Trump, to improve his chances of winning the presidency, colluded with Russia during the presidential campaign, then Trump’s behavior was treasonous. He sold America down the river in hopes of winning the election. Russia = nation that works to destabilize democracies = an enemy nation. Trump’s betrayal of America – putting her in harm’s way for political gain = reason to impeach Trump. – R.T.
Praying today for the people – THE CHILDREN! – of Syria! Praying our President acts with grace and wisdom.
A scary, uncertain time. Peace! In the ‘hood, Syria, Russia, America! pics: R.T.
McGovern, Pelosi Call for Congress to Reconvene to Debate Military Authorization for Syria
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern, a senior House Democrat and leading critic of the expanded use of military force by presidents in both parties, joined House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers calling for Speaker Ryan to immediately call the House of Representatives back into session to debate an Authorization of the Use of Military Force for military actions taken in Syria.
In February 2017, Congressman McGovern led a bipartisan group of 19 lawmakers calling for Speaker Ryan to hold a debate and vote on the authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) for U.S. military operations in the Middle East.
Following President Trump’s unilateral action to order airstrikes against Syria last night, Congressman McGovern is renewing that call with this statement:
“Every president must obtain congressional authorization to launch military strikes and President Trump is no exception. President Trump’s unilateral action to attack Syria without consulting Congress and obtaining authorization is an alarming violation of the checks and balances put in place by the Constitution – safeguards established to prevent presidents from taking our country to war without the consent of the American people.
“Americans must have a say when it comes to war. President Trump’s failure to work with Congress to achieve a bipartisan consensus on military action has shut out the voices of the American people and raised serious concerns about the possibility of military escalation without any input from their elected leaders. The time to debate U.S. military operations is before we drop bombs and send troops – not after.
“Today I am joining the growing bipartisan call for Congress to immediately reconvene to debate the path forward for U.S. military operations in Syria. If the President intends to escalate U.S. military involvement in Syria, he must to come to Congress for an Authorization for Use of Military Force which is clearly crafted to meet the threat and prevent another endless war. The American people and our men and women in uniform deserve nothing less.”
Full Text of Pelosi Letter to Speaker Ryan:
April 7, 2017
The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker of the House
H-232, United States Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Mr. Speaker,
I am writing to request that you call the House back in session immediately to debate any decision to place our men and women in uniform in harm’s way.
Bashar al-Assad ‘s chemical weapons attack on his own people places him outside the circle of civilized human behavior. Assad also continues to attack his own people with conventional weapons. Meanwhile, Russia props up the Assad regime and enables its brutal war crimes to continue.
The President’s action and any response demands that we immediately do our duty. Congress must live up to its Constitutional responsibility to debate an Authorization of the Use of Military Force against a sovereign nation.
As heartbreaking as Assad’s chemical weapons attacks on his own people was, the crisis in Syria will not be resolved by one night of airstrikes. The killing will not stop without a comprehensive political solution to end the violence. The American people are owed a comprehensive strategy with clear objectives to keep our brave men and women in uniform safe and avoid collateral damage to innocent civilians in Syria.
I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible on this matter of grave concern to our national security.
“If you’re going to live a good life, you’ve got to live within your income.” – President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Treasury Secretary George Humphrey
“Through his time in office, he [Humphrey] insisted that the government do just that. He fought profligate spending, irritating liberals and imprudent tax cuts, to the annoyance of conservatives.” – From “Eisenhower: The White House Years,” by Jim Newton.
Recently, I was watching a talk show and heard one Republican pundit say that Trump “overpromised” on health insurance during his candidacy for the Presidency.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald J. Trump repeatedly promised that his replacement for Obamacare (some call it “Trumpcare”) would allow everyone to choose their own doctor and medical plan; would cost less money; increase benefits and make available universal coverage to all Americans.
How was such a miracle to be accomplished?
Basically, through the miracle of the marketplace. Trump vowed he would make insurance rates go down and make health insurance benefits go up by increasing competition of insurance companies by allowing insurers to sell their policies across state lines.
“Believe me,” Trump would say after promising how much better a program than Obamacare, Trumpcare would be.
Trump later backed off from these pledges, saying health care was more “complicated” than he had anticipated.
Susceptible to this?
Why did so many of Trump’s supporters believe this?
I’m beginning to believe that Republican voters are particularly susceptible to demagogic appeals. We saw this with “Supply Side” economics. Under this highfalutin theory, Congress could cut taxes, increase military spending and balance the budget – all at the same time. Try doing this with your personal life. You will find yourself in bankruptcy court. Granted, you will live high off the hog, eating caviar, filet mignon and lobster to your heart’s content – right up to the point where you run out of credit cards and the bondholders decide to cut you off.
Unfortunately – or rather fortunately, given who is in the White House – there is no Chapter 11 under which nations can default on their debt.
Someday the United States will have to balance its budget. Better that we do it now ourselves, rather than wait until America’s creditors force us to do it.
Republicans used to be the party of fiscal rectitude, wearing the old green shade accounting hats as they counted beans. They threw away those sensibilities when they adopted the fraud known as “Supply Side” economics. Now they are throwing the baby out with the bathwater with Trumpcare.
The Republicans won’t be the party of common-sense economics, like Dwight Eisenhower, until they give up “supply side” economics and “Trumpcare.”
Trump + Russia = bigger than Watergate. (Show America your tax returns, Donald!) – R.T.
By Steven R. Maher
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” – President Dwight Eisenhower
President Donald J. Trump has called for a $54 billion increase in the United States military budget. The Associated Press reported on March 3, 2017, that this would be a 10% increase in the Defense Department budget.
The Wall Street Journal reported on February 28, 2017, that the U.S. in 2015 accounted for 34% of the world’s military spending. The newspaper, citing the U.S. Defense Department for the U.S. figures and the Stockholm International Peace Institute for those of other countries, put the spending as follows:
• The U.S. spent $595 billion on defense.
• China spent $214 billion on its armed forces.
• Russia spent $91 billion.
• Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally, spent $85 billion.
• France, the U.S.’s oldest ally, spent $61 billion on defense.
• Britain, the U.S.’s closest ally, spent $60 billion.
• India, the world’s largest democracy, spent $51 billion on defense.
• Germany, another U.S. ally, spent $47 billion.
• Japan, another U.S. ally, spent $46 billion.
• South Korea, a flashpoint because of North Korea’s erratic dictator, spends $39 billion.
• Brazil spends $32 billion.
The 10 countries above, less the U.S., account for 42% of the world’s military spending. Counting the U.S., the figure rises to 76%. The rest of the world makes up the remaining 24%, or $412 billion.
While the most likely country the U.S. would go to war with remains North Korea, its military spending did not make the top ranks of military spenders. That leaves China and Russia to consider.
The U.S. and its formal NATO allies (France, Britain and Germany) and allies through other treaties (Saudi Arabia, Japan and South Korea) spend $933 billion on defense. China and Russia are spending $305 billion.
The U.S. and its allies are spending three dollars for every dollar spent by its potential wartime enemies.
This is before the increases Trump is calling for.
Where spending is needed
According to various media outlets, there are two areas the U.S. does need to spend more money on: First, there have been reports that some U.S. military units are running low on ammunition. Second, there have been reports that some military equipment, particularly aircraft, have been “cannibalized”, i.e., spare parts have been taken from working machines to repair other equipment, and not replaced.
There is no argument that such spending is required. But buying enough ammunition and filling up the backlog of spare parts won’t cost anywhere near $54 billion.
What does Trump want to spend the extra money on?
Trump wants to expand the U.S. Navy from 272 ships to 350 ships, reports the Associated Press. The navy itself wants to expand it to 308 ships after 2020, says the same report.
Trump wants to expand the Fleet to a size even beyond what the U.S. Navy says is needed. Trump recently visited the newest naval aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford, which cost $12.9 billion. The amounts Trump would spend to get the 350 ships the Navy says it doesn’t need, could be extraordinary. This would be to face two potential enemies, China and Russia. The U.S. and its allies are already outspending three to one on their militaries.
Trump appears to be falling into a trap frequently encountered among political leaders: he is preparing to refight the last conventional war. But the future threats are more likely to be in the areas of terrorism and cyber-warfare. These are the areas Trump should concentrate on, not buying ships the Navy doesn’t say it needs.
It will be interesting to see how the 30 Tea Party Congressmen – the so-called freedom lobby – vote on Trump’s wasteful military spending plans. These are the people who have spent the last eight years denouncing Barrack Obama’s budget deficits. Let’s see if they’re willing to put the taxpayers’ money where their big Tea Party mouths have been and vote down Trump’s fiscally irresponsible military buildup.
… Tonight (9 p.m.)! So LATE NIGHT’s Stephen Colbert will do his show LIVE – that way he can dish up a heapin’ helpin’ of “Crazy ol’ Donald Talks to Congress” for all Americans to laugh at! Except it’s no joke – Donald Trump is PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES and has immense power over our lives!!!!!!
We’re worried …
… on edge.
Everything about the Donald is deeply disturbing. Yet his personality, his romp through American history, like a Mack truck barreling through the Alzheimer’s unit of a nursing home, is addictive. Like good-bad reality TV!
Most everything Trump does is reprehensible – like RESTART THE ARMS RACE and act like it’s a good thing!!!😱😱😱😱😱😱 But many Americans give him a pass. He brings fresh hell every day, but the hell is filtered through the goofy, oblivious, avuncular Trump personality. And we Americans – or at least 80 per cent of Republicans – indulge him! Like he said during the presidential campaign, he could shoot a person on Fifth Ave and his supporters would still adore him, still vote for him! That’s because they like – even more so now – the Trump personality: direct, raw, oblivious, authentic, approval-seeking, open-wound grasping, boastful, pathetic, combative, vulgar, vulnerable. A fascinating personality – like falling down an infinitely long rabbit hole that’s lined with Silly Putty.
Did I tell you I watch Donald on the official White House You Tube channel right before I go to bed each night? It’s like saying your nightly prayers to the Patron Saint of Non Sequiturs and Insane Asylums. Screw the Hail Mary’s! Saint Nut Job is more fun! And definitely NOT educational! I am drinkin’ the fuckin’ fucked up Kool Aid, America, and lovin’ it! Melania, Sean “Spicey” Spicer, Steve “Bat-Shit Crazy Scary” Steve Bannon, Kelley Ann Conway – they’re all on the White House TV channel! And I’m not gonna bother spell-checking their names cuz these deplorable characters don’t deserve ANY respect!
Yet Donald Trump seems to want to do good for Americans – like bring back and create good-paying jobs for the working class (I LOVE THAT), but then he goes and does the worst possible thing – like gut the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). One of the first executive orders “President” Trump signed allows companies once again to dump toxic chemicals and sludge into our streams! Why would any self-professed American patriot do that to American land? Our polar bears will probably go extinct on Donald’s watch, along with lots of other less sexy fauna and flora. Trump will go down as one of the worst presidents for the environment, for the planet, and the good reporters of our GREAT national press corps (an American treasure❤🇺🇸🇺🇸 and RIGHT🇺🇸💙 written into our constitution) will be there to catch every last salamander’s gurgle and birdie’s peep for help! Trump’s goofily oblivious style seems to inoculate him – allows us to allow him to destroy our streams, mountains, deserts – from sea to shining sea!
“HARVEST OF EMPIRE: A History of Latinos in America”
Reviewed by Steven R. Maher
For Direct TV viewers: “Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America” can be watched or recorded on the LINK Channel 375 Tuesday, February 28, at 6 a.m. There are also several websites where the movie can be seen.
The hottest button issue on the American political agenda today is immigration from Mexico and Central America. Donald J. Trump was elected President in part by harping on this issue. It was with that in mind I recently watched an obscure Direct TV Channel (LINK, Channel 375) documentary – “Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America.”
This documentary is based on a book by Juan Gonzalez, from Puerto Rico. This writer was very surprised when the film opened with Harry Truman saying Puerto Ricans were being starved on slave labor wages in the land of their birth. Truman’s narration of corporate exploitation was accompanied by films of farm laborers in Puerto Rico looking like emaciated concentration camp survivors.
This was surprising because in November 1950 a Puerto Rican independence group attempted to assassinate Truman and because Republicans today often cite Truman as a “good Democrat.” Gonzalez places Latino immigration to America in a historical context. Gonzalez makes a persuasive argument that past American military intervention has created an environment that periodically stimulates the very immigration Trump wants to build a wall to stop.
Started with Mexico
In 1845 – 1848 the United States invaded Mexico and annexed the northern half of the country, where southern California, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and parts of other states now exist. Some in the U.S. wanted to annex Mexico in its entirety, but others believed a shotgun marriage between White Anglo Saxon Protestant America and Catholic Mexico would not be a happy union. A compromise was reached where it was agreed the U.S. would take Mexico’s relatively unpopulated northern provinces. While the film didn’t give any statistics, there was a Mexican populace in these provinces “who didn’t come to the border, the border came to us.”
Throughout American history, Mexican immigrants were welcomed in the United States when we experienced labor shortages, such as during World War I and World War II. Then, after the wars ended and native Americans came home looking for work, the Mexicans were expelled as illegal immigrants, says Gonzalez.
In 1898, the United States, after a war with Spain, expanded American territories to include Cuba, the Philippines and Puerto Rico. While the first two countries eventually became independent, Puerto Rico was retained as essentially a U.S. protectorate. The U.S. imposed on Puerto Rico a justice system where English was the only language used and an educational system where Spanish could not be spoken. While many Puerto Ricans over time benefitted financially from their status as quasi-Americans, Gonzalez says they “paid a heavy price.”
Five Nations Spur Immigration
Gonzalez argues that U.S. interventions in five Central American nations led to an explosion of the U.S. Latino population:
• Early in the 20th century the U.S. occupied the Dominican Republic, brought to power dictator Rafael Trujillo, and reoccupied the country in 1965 to stop an alleged pro-Castro takeover. This is the least persuasive example cited by Gonzalez. Trujillo was assassinated in 1961 by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and Dominicans seem drawn here more for economic reasons than because of a civil war more than half a century ago.
• Cuba is identified as a country where U.S. military intervention also spurred immigration. A better argument could be made that Fidel Castro’s repressive regime and catastrophic economic mismanagement led to mass flight to the U.S.
• In 1954 the CIA overthrew a Guatemalan government that had expropriated land owned by the United Fruit Company, with which the U.S. Secretary of State and the Director of the CIA, the brothers Dulles, had strong commercial ties. This was a very disturbing scene to view. One could not help but think of members of the Trump cabinet, with their business interests around the Developing World, while watching the Dulles brothers plunge Guatemala into a 40-year civil war that killed 200,000 Guatemalans.
• During the waning years of the Cold War, Gonzalez claims the United States funded death squads in El Salvador that assassinated Archbishop Óscar Romero and four Maryknoll nuns. (Some of these death squads were organized by Roberto D’Aubuisson, known as “Major Blowtorch” for his preferred torture method.)
• During the Cold War, the United States in the 1980s funded the Nicaraguan Contras to overthrow the pro-Communist Sandinista government. Gonzalez says the Contras were comprised primarily of former members of the deposed Somoza dictatorship. However, there were many former Sandinistas in the ranks of the Contras, along with many Nicaraguan freedom fighters, who had nothing to do with the Somozas.
While the U.S. military involvement in Cuba and the Dominican Republic did not send fleeing masses of Cubans and Dominicans to our shores, Gonzalez is on safer grounds in stating the ramifications of the Salvadorian, Guatemalan and Nicaraguan civil wars spurred immigration to the U.S. It should be noted that the Salvadorian, Guatemalan and Nicaraguan conflicts were resolved in the early 1990s, a quarter of a century ago.
Direct TV users who want to record “Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America” on the LINK Channel 375 can do so Tuesday, February 28, at 6 a.m. There are also several websites where the movie can be seen.
Don’t get us wrong, readers! If Donald Trump can be an effective or even great president, we’re all for him! The above videos – snap shots of Trump being on-message, funny and real – are glimmers of hope. After watching these videos and others, you realize there is something quite endearing – dare I say loveable?! – about the Donald!: #1 – He is authentic. Totally himself … and that is GREAT. It’s a lot of fun, kinda scary, ultimately mesmerizing. Trump doesn’t hold back or disengage or quit working at 6:30 p.m. every night to spend time with his family like President Obama did. Nope. Trump – with wife Melania MIA in another state – is ON 24/7. Like a great, bizarre ’round the clock reality TV show! And we’re all addicted to watching it! Last night I began watching an old President Obama video and shut it off. Boring!!! I tuned into Trump – and had fun. So what if we are all going to be incinerated?!!! Trump is one hell of a roller coaster ride! He is combative but takes his lumps, too – for his gaffes, hissy fits, open bathrobe and fumbling for light switches in a lights-out White House.
Donald Trump seems to crave unending adoration, but his emotional neediness often manifests itself as a kind of goofy friendliness… . President Obama was aloof. Trump is anything but. He’s a hugger, hand-holder, hand-shaker, glad-hander … a people person. Nutty. But gregarious. I like that. He could be Italian-American – a Rat Pack ba da boom kinda prez! Trump’s out-sized personality is why he has connected with so many – millions of – Americans. They love him! He’s like lots of great U.S. presidents/politicians – loves to, lives to swaddle himself in the hoi polloi and upper classes and everyone in between: FDR, LBJ, Teddy Roosevelt. You can tell Trump LOVES being president! Which is why he filed his papers for re-election immediately after Inauguration Day!!!
Trump’s manic energy encompasses all – sucks you in. He has bonded with the forgotten Americans: white working class regular folks who, on a number of fronts, most important, the economic one, have suffered for many many years. He says he will change their – our – lives. Tonic to the people!
Trump, for me, feels especially like Lyndon B. Johnson – a natural, gifted, LOVE ME NOW-PLEASE! kind of politician. Trump can’t mask his insecurity and he can’t get enough of Americans and our problems, feelings, food etc. The voters, miners, teachers, Congress – he’ll spread the Donald all over the place, like the special sauce on a Big Mac.
And it feels kinda nice. Fucked up. But nice.
Raise the federal minimum wage, Donald! Support our unions! Create a robust AMERICAN INFRASTRUCTURE REBUILDING federal program that puts millions of regular guys and gals back to work at GOOD PAYING JOBS rebuilding America’s highways, bridges, airports, etc! Quit stomping on the Constitution, and you just may make it, after all!🇺🇸🍦🍟🍔🍕
Hillary Clinton’s decisive wins in the three Presidential debates was no accident. If she’s elected President on November 8, 2016, Clinton will owe her victory to a well planned and ruthlessly executed undertaking to provoke Donald J. Trump into destroying himself in front of American voters, by manipulating Trump’s own psychological insecurities against him. Clinton’s plans to do so were published by the New York Times on August 29, 2016, one month before the first debate on September 26, 2016.
“Rarely are debate preparations as illuminating about the candidates as a debate itself, but Mrs. Clinton’s and Mr. Trump’s strikingly different approaches to the Sept. 26 face-off are more revealing about their egos and battlefield instincts than most other moments in the campaign,” said the newspaper in the August 2016 article. “Mrs. Clinton, a deeply competitive debater, wants to crush Mr. Trump on live television, but not with an avalanche of policy details; she is searching for ways to bait him into making blunders. Mr. Trump, a supremely confident communicator, wants viewers to see him as a truth-telling political outsider and trusts that he can box in Mrs. Clinton on her ethics and honesty.”
Primary contests differed
Both candidates were shaped by their completely different primary experiences. Clinton, apparently expecting a coronation, found herself barely able to fend off a challenge by Bernie Sanders, a self-avowed socialist and comparatively unknown Vermont Senator. Clinton emerged from the primaries victorious, but shell shocked by her own negative ratings and performance. She understood her own shortcomings as a debater, and was open to new ideas. Clinton knew she needed a new game plan to win.
Trump’s road to the Republican nomination reinforced his inherent self-confidence, a cocksureness than often trespassed into arrogance, and sometimes into megalomania. Trump’s insurgency in the GOP began with a bellicose denunciation of Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals, and to the amazement of both the political classes and pundits, continued as he won primary after primary. Trump systematically devastated his Republican opponents with slash and burn comments, tagging them with pejorative nicknames like “Little Marco”, “Lying Ted”, or “Low Energy”. Pundits repeatedly wrote Trump’s political obituaries, only to retract them after Trump won the next primary.
Trump understandably developed a belief in his own omnipotence. His rhetorical excesses and personal insults had given him the Republican nomination. Trump had no reason to believe the same tactics wouldn’t bring him victory in the general election.
“I can handle Hillary,” Trump told the New York Times. “I believe you can prep too much for those things [debates]. It can be dangerous. You can sound scripted or phony – like you’re trying to be someone you’re not. I know who I am and how I got here.”
Clinton set up a debate committee within her campaign. They conducted “a forensic-style analysis” of Trump’s debate performances. Unlike a Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, Hillary Clinton refused to be silenced when Trump repeatedly interrupted her. Most of the time, she kept on speaking as Trump tried to talk over her. There were a few occasions where Clinton wisely said nothing and let Trump continue talking, recognizing that Trump’s line of argument was self-defeating.
Clinton seemed acutely aware that there would be a split screen during the debate, perhaps because during the primaries there was a split screen during her debates with Sanders. Trump, who usually had anywhere from three to sixteen Republican on the debate stage with him, seemed totally unaware that voters were watching him as he grimaced and grunted, assessing Trump partly on that basis. Clinton had a Reaganesque smile on her face as Trump spoke, while Trump looked like the Grinch who stole Christmas as Clinton talked. Clinton’s self-discipline was enormous.
Clinton’s campaign debriefed Trump’s ghostwriter of “The Art of the Deal”, Tony Schwartz, who lived with Trump for eighteen months while co-authoring the book. They consulted with psychologists about Trump, who advised Clinton how she could take advantage of Trump’s male chauvinism by identifying “trigger points” where Clinton could goad Trump with needling remarks; that Clinton was a woman was woven into the fabric of these trigger points.
“Trump has severe attention problems and simply cannot take in complex information — he will be unable to practice for these debates,” said Schwartz. “He’ll use sixth-grade language, he will repeat himself many times, he won’t complete sentences, and he won’t say anything of substance.”
Schwartz’s prediction was clairvoyant. Trump refused an offer from conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham to play Clinton in a mock debate. While Clinton spent precious, dwindling campaign days in mock debates with Democratic operative Ron Klain playing Trump, Trump stuck to his campaign rallies. And Trump did indeed act like a six grader during the third debate after Clinton called him Vladimir Putin’s puppet: “No puppet. No puppet,” Trump said. “You’re the puppet.”
The first debate was a disaster for Trump. The last trigger point was the straw that broke Trump’s psyche – Clinton’s retelling of the Alicia Machado story, a Venezuelan beauty contestant Trump allegedly called “Miss Piggy” after she gained weight. Trump couldn’t let go of the Machado tale. He tweeted about Machado at 3:00 AM a few days later, an episode which raised questions about Trump’s mental stability and lack of self-discipline.
Each debate “followed the same pattern” wrote Ezra Klein on the Vox website. “Trump begins calm, but as Clinton needles him, he falls apart, gets angrier, launches bizarre personal attacks, offers rambling justifications for his own behavior, and loses the thread of whatever question was actually asked of him.”
Trump didn’t change his attitude toward debate prep. He refused to participate in mock debates. It was as if Trump had been overcome by inertia. During the third debate Trump admitted he did not prepare for the debate that day, but instead watched Clinton’s commercials attacking Trump all day long.
“We aren’t used to candidates winning not so much because of how they performed but because of how they pushed their opponent into performing,” concluded Klein. “But the fact that we aren’t used to this kind of victory doesn’t make it any less impressive. Hillary Clinton has humbled Donald Trump, and she did it her way.”