The GOP is a Crime Family

How did we get here, with foreign government interests intimately involved with at least one 2016 national candidate that we know about, now seemingly influencing or even controlling policy and that so-called public servant n the Executive Office? Since 2016, it’s been one link to Trump and associates, followed by one indictment and one plea deal after another, and all, so far, connected to Republicans who, in their usual, unison message, are defending it all. This political crisis in which we find ourselves is overwhelming, even to those of us who marinate in it. It’s stunning, the amount of treason right out in the open! And former FBI agent (and expert on Russia) Andrew McCabe, who Trump fired, said Trump openly touts his trust and faith in Russian President Vladimir Putin over our Intelligence Community. The Vietnam draft dodger just went on his second “Me and Kim” ego tour in Vietnam and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov joined him. It’s like a James Bond movie only just with villains!

But I am going to set aside the fact that we have a traitor pledging allegiance to a foreign government over our own for now. I want to peel away why we have one of our two primary political parties protecting this guy. How is it we have one party, albeit imperfect, that consists of public servants and another that behaves like crime family, defending and shielding corruption in its extreme? Because that is, unequivocally, what we have. And that didn’t just happen in 2016. The Republican Party is wholly owned by the top .1%. Their only function is to enrich that heavy cream on the top of the country’s milk can and to keep themselves in power. No wonder Russia (and possibly others) went for the weak spots in our democracy, like how easily Republicans can be bought. FYI. Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell took $2.4 million from Russia in 2016, which was an off year of his re-election. Thank you, Citizens United.

Let’s be honest, greed is as old as the Old Testament. It’s not going away and neither is wine, women and song or sex, drugs and rock and roll, Netflix and chill, or other things that feel really good. And the Republican brand of crooks are hooked on their feel good greed. It goes back much farther than Nixon but Nixon’s impeachment hearings and subsequent resignation turned their cabal of crimes to eleven. And a big part of it was fueled by what is now known as the Powell Memo or how corporations became people in our modern times. Republicans have never been shy about aligning with the rich but that memo triggered the forming of right-wing think tanks, media control and pretty much every Republican move since. Their message is framed by folks like Chuck and Dave Koch, ALEC, the Heritage Foundation, Fox so-called News and the like. Republicans are not representing any Americans except the very wealthiest, while punking single-issue folk like gun and fetus nuts. 

You have to hand it to them, Republicans stay on message, like any other crime organization or cult. They vote in lockstep most of the time. After all, there’s money to be had everywhere for everyone who plays along. And it’s all coming together in an infuriating, existential democratic crisis with Trump. We have fraudulently “elected” a clown who is dismantling our brand of democracy, openly taking cues from Vladimir Putin and, more than likely, other adversaries to our nation, so long as they stroke his ego and enrich him personally, and the GOP and Trump’s poorly educated cult are fine with it. As Michael Cohen said in his public testimony this week before Congress, Trump saw running for POTUS nothing more than the greatest infomercial of all time. (Remember the look on Trump’s face when Obama invited him to the White House for the first time and he had that “oh sh*t” look on his face? Ya poodle, presidenting is super hard and the real ish.) But on January 20, 2017, this was no longer a joke.

Make no mistake, powers like Putin know our weak spots, which is why they likely convinced their debtor but lifetime Democrat Trump to run as a Republican, why they targeted at least three states with Republican governors (Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania) who were and are doing their own election fraud practices and would easily look the other way if foreign entities messed with counts in their favor. (I don’t have any proof of that but a year ago we didn’t have proof Russia was micro-targeting folks in those states through social media, either.)

Republicans set themselves and us up. Ever since Nixon tarnished their brand, they’ve attempted to dilute the seriousness of impeachment by trying to impeach every Democratic president or lead candidate since. Through normalizing investigations and impeachment by making it routine, it shields and dilutes the seriousness of what their criminals have done when Dems hold impeachment hearings, which hasn’t happened yet but will any day now, now that Dems are finally back in power in the House. (Voting has consequences, people.) Or sure, maybe Reagan (or those around him because he was sundowning big time after being shot) traded arms for hostages in the Iran Contra scandal and George H. W. Bush pardoned everyone involved, and sure, President Cheney and George W. Bush made war profiting cool again, but Benghazi!!! Yes, four people died at a consulate but how often do we hear it was the GOP Congress who wouldn’t fund making the consulate a more secure embassy? And Kevin McCarthy (R) of California openly admitted to Sean Hannity on Fox News the real reason they held hearings was to harm Hillary Clinton’s presidential run. This is what they do, intentionally. It’s petty and childish and crooked.

If you’ve bought the story that Bill and Hillary Clinton are some deep state, one world government, baby eating Satan worshiping monsters, then you are one of the Republicans’ cult members. A great documentary to catch how far back this insanity goes and why is The Hunting of the President or the 1996 piece in The New Yorker called Hating Hillary. The other day a Republican relative of mine said, “They’re trying to impeach him.” No, that’s what Republicans do to every Dem for no reason. Special Counsel Bob Mueller and SDNY are not “trying.” These crooks are making it pretty easy to convict Trump associates faster than Lucy can wrap chocolates at a chocolate factory. But that relie was only speaking the way Fox News has framed the 24/7 propaganda for the low information citizens or Republican voters who aren’t in the .1% of the wealthiest, or those “poorly educated” Trump loves. Besides begging the media to never normalize (#NeverNormalize) Trump, my other routine mantra is that propaganda is democracy’s greatest threat. Fox News is Republican media and now, because Trump is so stupid, they drive him! 

Republicans play the long game because their game is to shift power, dismantle social safety for the 99.9% of us and turn the country into a going-out-of-democracy sale to the uberist of the uber rich. The proof is in the open in their legislation and now with a cartoon villain grifter. And every GOP member has gotten in line and, I suspect, long before November 8, 2016. (Let’s see why Mitch McConnell so confidently denied a hearing for Merrick Garland or threatened President Obama about holding a bipartisan hearing into Russia’s meddling into the 2016 presidential campaign the fall before the “election.” That’s the same McConnell whose wife is a Trump Cabinet member.)

Trump isn’t doing anything the Republicans haven’t done at least since Nixon and that is blame Democrats for the very thing they are guilty of doing. Dems hold impeachment hearings on Nixon for breaking into Democrats’ headquarters and covering it up? Then impeach for sloppy consensual canoodling a president wants to keep from his wife. Bloody hell, Jeffrey Epstein and Donald Trump surrounded themselves with underage girls privately and in the open for decades but Hillary Clinton is behind some dark, international child sex trade. Like some skeevy pimp, Trump paraded the same women exploited by right-wing Charlatans and Ken Starr who accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct before a presidential debate. How galling is it that Ken Starr is Epstein’s attorney and Bret Kavanaugh was one of his Clinton investigation elves? To bastardize Woodward and Bernstein’s line, “Follow the really, really creepy dudes.”

It’s utterly terrifying when you count how many things Republicans have done and were found guilty to have done that they accuse the Democrats of doing with no merit at all. It’s almost quaint now to look back to the thrice married, serve wife divorce papers after her cancer surgery Newt Gingrich and convicted pedophile Denny Hastert days of Bill Clinton tarnishing. And it’s another example of accuse the Dems of that which you are guilty times a billion.

The Steele Dossier was the primer in this Trump era or horrors. It is why my sleep and concentration have been in the panic, pause, panic mode for about 27 months! We are in extreme peril. Even Michael Cohen ended his public testimony this week with the chilling remark that should Trump lose in 2020 (I echo your prayer he’s long gone to the hoosegow by then), he won’t give up power civilly. Bloody hell! And you know it!

I don’t think most members of the GOP knew all they were getting with Trump. I know I, the Democrats and certainly the flat-footed media certainly did not. I mean, I knew something was fishy when he won, I knew he was wholly unfit (morally, intellectually, psychologically) but I thought the win had more to do with red state cheating like Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004, but even I had no clue the depth of foreign meddling. I pleaded with the Electoral College to do what it was intended, prevent the unruly rabble from electing a dingbat. And January 13, 2017, a week before the “Inauguration,” I knew there was more to it when I saw Congressional members exit a closed-door meeting and Maxine Waters, John Lewis and others claimed the election was fraudulent and they would not be attending the “Inauguration,” and where now Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would pray for Trump. I knew there was something rotten in D.C. on that so-call Inauguration day when almost no one showed! But, honestly, who could have predicted all this?

For those of you who have turned off the Mueller and SDNY investigations and all the stories connecting others parties, here are some threads for you off the top of my head: The NRA, Deutsche Bank and Trump family loans, Deutsche Bank and retired Justice Kennedy’s son, Ken Starr’s minion Bret Kavanaugh, Kavanaugh’s debt that disappeared just before his nomination to SCOTUS, Facebook, Twitter, Cambridge Analytica, I work in my basement and ran Trump’s social media from my basement Brad Parscale,  WikiLeaks, Nixon’s boys Manafort and Stone, Falwell’s Evangelical mouthpiece Liberty University paying for fake polls and paying off a pool boy and even the National Enquirer. And these aren’t conspiracy theories like pizza porn. These are criminal investigations, charges and findings! If you want another good wormhole of possible things to come, check out Greg Olear (@gregolear) on Twitter. He gives a great thread to many of these connections that also include Russia and 9-11, Rudy Giuliani and the anthrax threats and the infamous National Enquirer safe. And if you want to feel sane but never sleep again, follow Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior), who knows all thing Russia. Stay tuned. No, I beg you, stay tuned. Being overwhelmed and tuning out is what they want!

And what keeps me up at night and distracted from more important matters of my daily life is the GOP is going along with all this. Trump’s a dangerous, unhinged figurehead. (What in history would ever give us the idea that an unstable leader with a cult following could have dangerous global consequences, after all?) So long as they get to stay in office, even if a hostile adversary (the enemy of my enemy is my friend) and their wealthy owners get what they want, democracy be damned. And now that most of the media is controlled by the same GOP owners, this cancer of greed and power can grow even in the bright sunlight.

The late Fredd Wayne as Ben Franklin on Bewitched, 1966.

At times, when thoughts of what may come overwhelm me, I will fantasize an episode of Bewitched where the Founding Fathers are conjured back and Ben Franklin or Thomas Jefferson open a can of whoopass on Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump. Then Endora turns them into newts or two Hillary pantsuits!

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I’m a Socialist and I’m With Her: Why I Will Caucus for Hillary Clinton

I will be casting a presidential preferential ballot at the Minnesota Caucus this evening for Secretary Hillary Clinton. I was raised as and remain a Socialist, which is to the left of a Democratic-Socialist so some may find my choice incongruous. It is not. First, I am far too pragmatic to let “love” of a candidate influence my decision. My reasons go beyond what I personally want. And before anyone thinks this is a vagina vote, it is certainly not. Now, I want to live in a country that has universal health care, free college, fair taxes, clean energy, a repaired infrastructure, a reformed prison system, security for older adults and greater opportunity for underprivileged citizens. I also want to obliterate Citizens United, restore voter protections in southern states and stop Gerrymandering that has fixed the House elections until 2022. My decision comes from deep reflection and study of our current reality and what is needed to steer this massive cruise ship that is these United States. Politics is the long game.

Look, I’m not here to fight with those who support Senator Sanders. And I know I will get those posts. I’ve heard it all and believe me, I have been paying attention. I have heard Senator Sanders speak on Thom Hartmann every Friday for years and years. I know him very well. He’s a wonderful man and public servant. I agree with his views, for the most part, as I do Secretary Clinton’s. But for personal and pragmatic reasons, #ImWithHer.

A vast majority of people on both sides of the aisle have been influenced by the “vast right-wing conspiracy” designed to smear both President Clinton and Secretary Clinton. Some conflate what Bill Clinton did as president between 1993 and 2000 with what Hillary Clinton did. She gets a lot of criticism, in part, because she has done a lot. Like you, I am disappointed in some of her and President Obama’s decisions, as well. I am not naive to the influence of big energy, big pharma, Wall Street, yadda yadda. We have a useless media. It’s nothing more than an arm of corporations that make sick money in an election year. True investigative reporting and candidate vetting are quaint memories and propaganda has replaced journalism. But neither am I naive to our current reality that will not change before November.

I don’t want to talk minutia of issues because both candidates are clear about their platforms. It’s easy to search. Nor do I want to talk Benghazi. Libya, Goldman Sachs, Whitewater, Vince Foster, the Iraq resolution, speaking fees as a private citizen or Super PACS. Secretary Clinton is the 11th most liberal senator (I know, in a right leaning Congress) and most respected and admired woman in the world. She is a global influencer and accomplished. She’s got this. She’s tough and diplomatic. I want a president who can get things done. Obama has had one hell of a battle with a traitorous Congress and look what he has still managed to accomplish. We may flip the Senate but the fix is in for Congress until 2022 when new District lines will have been drawn. Our next president will have a similar battle because the GOP are a cult of bullies and will treat any Democratic president the same as they’ve done for our current one. But Hillary plays and can play a different game than Obama. She’s gonna kick ass and take names. She is married to a guy who did that pretty well.

I hate money in politics. I would like to see a short election process like Britain. I’d like it to be illegal to have secret Super PACS, corporate donations of any kind and replace it with public funding only. But that’s not going to be like that between now and November. Purists, I hate to break it to you but if you want to win, to beat the smears by those Neanderthal, poo flinging, backward bigots on the right, you need to beat them at their own game, at the game that is set for 2016. Hillary can do it. She’s a Weeble; Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down. And they know it! The reason the GOP seems to be putting up their “Z Team” for this November is because they’ve resigned they’ve lost. Unless they aren’t against Hillary. My opinion.

OK, go ahead and get you fingers ready to show the polls that she loses to Trump. Not buying it. And if millennials or anyone else want to sit it out in protest, I can’t stop you. But I know what happened in 2010 when we lost the House. This is a bigger pot, folks, and I submit you would be letting more people suffer under a Republican president. Elders, children, the disabled, working poor need Democrats. They need a president who will help.

David slayed Goliath but our GOP Goliath is salivating to fight Senator Sanders, should he be the nominee. Further, without that nasty, dirty money you right-fighters abhor, the Dems lose down ticket. Hillary has already been deeply committed and involved in state races. This is vital. And it takes money in today’s reality. This is not a sport’s game; it’s people’s lives, it’s our planet and if it takes a boat load of money to get some sanity back to our government, bring it. I am a realist.

To end with some personal observations that can’t be overlooked, I believe Hillary has the temperament to be president. She has to be even tempered because if she raises her voice in a rally, Bob Woodward says “She shouts.” Look at the tempered man we have now. It is amazing. Bernie does not have the temperament to be president. He’s passionate but he’s also volatile. That’s great on the stump, but it’s not effective as a world leader. My opinion.

Now, as a woman who is not voting her vagina, I can’t ignore the sexism Hillary has endured. I hope we can get past it in 2016. But I thought we could be post-racial after 2008 and look what happened.

For all that is good, please vote, caucus, volunteer for the candidate you support. But, please, if your candidate is not nominated, be adult and vote for the rest of us. Peace.

L Is For, “I Am a Liberal” #atozchallenge

You damn right, I’m a liberal. And damn proud of it. Unabashedly so, thank you very much. I marinate in my liberal philosophy. I bath in its war, milky, all-encompassing, pool of equality for all and we the people.

I don’t know about your upbringing, but Mom and Dad talked about Jesus’ philosophy when I was small. He turned over the tables of the money changers in the temple. He told folks not to judge others because no one’s perfect. He was peace-loving. He fed folks and healed the sick. It wasn’t until I was ten years old that my friend Leslie and I asked my folks if we were Democrats or Republicans and Dad said, “We’re Democrats,” that I began to understand that Mom and Dad really practiced what they preached in loving thy neighbor, being kind to those less fortunate and favoring equality for all. And that all just felt right to me at ten and I have lived that philosophy since.

I have already written about conservatives and asked what they conserve. And I certainly can’t wrap my head around their form of Christianity with their nauseating prejudice, hate and belittling of any “other.” And while I understand the intentions, I don’t understand the motives of the folks on left or the apathetic non-voters who scream how no announced presidential candidate is ever good enough. And if I hear, “Both parties are the same,” I am going to scream! You can’t be serious or you must have an agenda to give Republicans more power because I can guarantee while folks on the left standing in their circular firing squad, the Republicans will vote and march in lockstep. (Nazi analogy intended.)

No one in Washington is far enough to the left for me so I share the discontent. But politics is the art of the possible, to quote Otto von Bismarck, and the perfect of the enemy is the good, to borrow from Voltaire. And, Lord, don’t make me quote Dr. Phil. “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?” Do you want to see the next president appoint up to four Supreme Court justices to the right of Attila the Hun, I mean Samuel Alito? Or do you want to help this country move back to sanity? This is a massive cruise ship, not a schooner. Redirecting takes time and nuance and politics!

Are the Democrats the Republicans of the 1970s? Absolutely. But they didn’t magically sprout out of the ground overnight like Jack’s planted beans. While the Republicans have been building their corporate power and messaging to magnetize all the bigots and zealots to their voting block, our entire political system was corrupted by K Street lobbyists and obscene amounts of money. Democrats either went along or were forced by the outrageous influence of money in our system. It’s a mess. But it’s our mess. We the people are this government, unless we let them take it. Sitting out is not an option. Making ourselves a voice to be reckoned with to leaders who will listen is. President Obama listens. In 2016, Hillary will listen. Ted Cruz or Rand Paul won’t.

Republicans have done NOTHING for the 99% since Eisenhower got the highway system built. Do you know what liberals have done for you? Here’s a quick ,short list:

Workers’ rights like the 40-hour work week, the right to form unions, workplace safety laws, child labor laws and vacations; Social Security, voting rights for women and minorities, civil rights, public education, Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, food support, infrastructure including massive dam projects and railways, the postal service, local police and fire, the EPA, the FDIC, libraries, unemployment insurance, defeating the Nazis, saving democracy and declaring independence from England to form these United States of America.

And every one of these things from which you and those you love benefit can be taken away. As a citizen in this country, apathy is not an option.