The Dangerous Ideologues Calling Donald Trump’s Shots

It should be readily apparent now, through the hastily implemented travel ban and increasing saber rattling, that the Trump administration is in the business of confrontation. Donald Trump has no previous public service experience, and his political leanings could be generously termed flexible. He’s been a Democrat, and has himself admitted to donating to politicians on both sides of the congressional aisle in order to get what he wants. As an apparent demagogue whose concern is primarily himself and his empire, there isn’t an ideological bone in his body. He has aligned himself with whatever political wind will carry him to power, and unfortunately for the nation he has trimmed his sails to catch very ill wind indeed.

So who are behind these concerning and dangerous policy directions to which the nation has turned? He has somehow surrounded himself with three stunningly toxic, controversial and unelected individuals, which seem to be directing policy.

Trump’s Rasputin, and probably the most well known of the three, is alt-right publisher/filmaker/banker Steve Bannon.  What makes this previously little known (to mainstream audiences) player so dangerous? Probably the most concerning is his belief that we are on the verge of a global war with Islam, and seems intent on hastening the process. His philosophy and intent is clearly demonstrated through his film trilogy.

The least concerning of his dangerous traits–and alone should be enough to disqualify him as a presidential adviser–is his tenure as publisher of the “ultra-conservative” website Breitbart News. Breitbart supported Islamophobic far-right European candidates and featured a website tag for “black crime,” which is eerily reminiscent of the new office in the Department of Homeland Security called VOICE. VOICE, it is conjectured, will publish lists of immigrants which have committed crimes. If so, this is reminiscent of a tactic used by Adolf Hitler to foment anti-Jewish sentiment.

Unfortunately the echoes of history reverberate further in the alleged association of Trump’s Deputy Assistant Sebastian Gorka. The website Forward.com reported that he is a sworn member of the Vitézi Rend, which was under the direction of the German Nazis in World War II. He was photographed at Donald Trump’s inauguration ball wearing a traditional Hungarian outfit which is popular with that country’s nationalist right wing, and wearing a medal that is a “…clear sign he identifies with the Horthy era.” The era identified was between 1920 and 1944, during which the Vitézi Rend aligned with German Nazis. Of course Gorka refutes the claim and declares that he has long advocated for anti-authoritarianism.

The final member of this trinity is a young man who made a brief appearance on the Sunday morning news shows to great effect; his authoritarian message and stone-faced delivery provided fodder for late-night talk show monologues and triggered more fears of a Trump presidency acting like a dictatorship.

Stephen Miller is a Jewish–an odd counterpoint to Gorka when considering the possible Nazi association–conservative raised by Democratic parents in Santa Monica. Spurred to conservative values by Guns, Crime, and Freedom by NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, he transformed himself into a right-wing wunderkind, appearing on conservative radio while in high school.

His right-wing political career had him working for Michele Bachmann and Congressman John Shadegg, finally landing him as an aide to Senator Jeff Sessions before being tapped by the Trump campaign. With the administration he wrote Trump’s RNC speech and worked with Steve Bannon to craft the first controversial “Muslim Ban”. His boss must have thought his way with words would translate well to the news show circuit, but his heavy-handed, obviously teleprompted appearances landed more punchlines than punches.

“The Powers of the President are Substantial and Will Not be Questioned.” – Stephen Miller

In any administration there are aides and advisers which may have controversial positions. However, these three figures in Donald Trump’s administration are particularly dangerous in their extreme, bordering on authoritarian, stances.

There will be arguments about how it’s unproven that Gorka is a member of a Nazi-sympathetic organization, that Bannon does not want a holy war, and that Miller is not an authoritarian. The point is, that any administration of any party should never have members which would need to make these arguments. The mere fact that they even approach the fringes where these topics arise should be enough to disqualify them from public service, and these dangerous, unelected men shouldn’t be guiding policy.

Jim Rohn said that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. If this is the case, the other two people Donald Trump spends time with would need to be Gandhi and King Solomon to balance the equation.

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How Much is Enough? Five Impeachable Offenses in Seven Weeks?

 

When Barack Obama solemnly took the oath of office on January 20th, 2009, the DOW was a 8,396 and the unemployment rate was nearing 8% with millions of jobs lost just the month before. The reputation of the United States abroad was severely compromised and the pallor of the nation was palpable. It took almost the bulk of his eight years in office, and some argue that it never found its footing, but under the dignified and thoughtful leadership of President Obama, the nation slowly regained the jobs and the reputation lost during The Great Recession.

Eight years later Donald Trump inherited a DOW Jones that was surging towards 20,000 and an employment rate of 4.6%. He proudly took credit for the momentum built over eight years of hard work and rebuilding, in effect being “born on third base and thought he hit a triple.” He spoke of ending the American Carnage in his inaugural address, but for all intents and purposes the real carnage started on January 20th, 2017. In just seven short weeks he has all but dismantled the goodwill of the nation and scarred the moral standing of the office of the presidency so severely, that one wonders if the gravitas of the position will ever return.

The rapid and explosive deconstruction of the U.S. Presidency needs to be halted, and so far no one in a position to do so has acted. Full disclosure, as a layman I have no idea what could be done aside from impeachment and/or twenty-fifth amendment. It would, however, help if there were strong rebukes from members of his own party and as of yet we’ve seen not enough of it.

So to those members of the Republican party who, having seen the displeasure from constituencies all over the country in their town halls and demonstrations on the street, I ask HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?

What will it take for them to realize that what we are seeing goes beyond differences in policy? That there is an agenda to the administration that is being guided by forces that do not have the best interest of the United States in mind.

I recall all the candidates on the primary debate stage with Donald Trump and think (and this hurts to say) that I would be eminently relieved to have any of them in the Oval rather than what’s in there now. I would even be more comfortable with Carly Fiorina (ugh) or Ben Carson, because I could believe that they, no matter how much I disagree with pretty much all they stand for, still had the best interest of the nation in mind. Hell, I would practically BEG for Marco Rubio. BEG. I’d bring him bottles of water myself.

So I ask again, how much is enough? Is this enough?

Here is a short list of the impeachable offenses committed by Trump so far (In. Seven. Weeks.), according to Robert Reich on Twitter.

  1. In taking the oath of office, a president promises to “faithfully” execute the laws and Constitution. But he is “unfaithfully” executing his duties as president by [falsely] accusing his predecessor of undertaking an illegal and impeachable act.
  2. Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution forbids government officials from taking things of value from foreign governments. But Trump is making big money of his hotels by steering foreign diplomatic delegations to them, and will make a bundle from China [and Mexico]’s recent decision to grant trademark applications to the Trump brand–decisions arrived at directly because of decisions Trump has made as President.
  3. The 1st Amendment to the Constitution bars any law “respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” But Trump’s ban on travel form the six predominantly Muslim countries–which he initiated, advocated for, and oversees–violates that provision.
  4. The same amendment also bars “…abridging the freedom of the press.” But Trump’s labeling the press the “enemy of the people” and choosing whom he invites to news conferences based on whether they’ve given him favorable coverage violates this provision.
  5. Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution defines “treason against the Unites States” as “adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” Evidence is mounting that Trump colluded with Russian operatives to win the 2016 presidential election.

So we ask you one last time, dear Republican friends, when will it be enough? The time is now, before it’s too late. Robert Reich has also said that Republicans will impeach Donald Trump, but only after he’s accomplished enough of their unpopular agenda and they can pin the blame on him. However, I fear they are like the sorcerer’s apprentice and their splintered orange-haired broomsticks are flooding the country with incompetence.

Donald J. Trump, on a daily basis, is doing massive, possibly irreparable damage to the country and the Republican brand. The only way to repair the image of the Republican party is to become the reluctant hero. This is going to take some gutsy, free-thinking Republicans to speak out and call for an end to the foolishness and call for the impeachment of 45. I’m a registered Democrat, but I would gladly place the laurels of hero-ship on your head if you’d only put country before party and end this national nightmare.

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Enemy of the People

In space travel it’s vitally important to maintain the proper trajectory. Let’s take for example a trip to the moon (disregarding mid-course corrections). If your rocket’s course is off one degree at the beginning of your journey you will miss your target by 4,169 miles, nearly twice the diameter of the moon. Fortunately, space travelers, or any travelers, are able to make course corrections during their journey. However, small influences, left unchecked, can lead to dire consequences over time. We are at a moment in our history that requires a severe course correction, lest we end up as a nation in a place that is entirely contrary to the values that we hold dear.

This moment is vividly illustrated in less than 140 characters, that was dashed off by none other than the President of the United States of America.

Now would be good time to remember this small section of the U.S. Constitution.

 Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The authors thought a free press important enough to put it in the first amendment. A free and unfettered press is the hallmark and conscience of democracy, and is the very mechanism by which the government is held to account. When an administration in power seeks to undermine trust in the press, it severely alters the trajectory of said democracy.

In fact, we have examples through history which plainly illustrate the erosion of trust in the press by governments, and the parallels are ugly and may invite criticisms of hyperbole, but here it is nonetheless.

It is simply deplorable that this connection can be made, but the language and tactics used by Nazi Germany and the Trump administration are alarmingly similar. Donald Trump has now famously coined the term “Fake News” in an attempt to delegitimize stories with which he disagrees. During the Nazi regime, critics of Hitler were branded  to be members of the “Lügenpresse (lying press) apparatus.”

One would think that this alone would elicit a strong response from Congress, even the GOP, which has remained conspicuously silent. And indeed, many have expressed serious concern about the vilification of journalists and journalism in the past weeks and months. Even so, there is not enough push back on the rhetoric directed towards the press.

Trump supporters seem to be unduly influenced by it, as evidences by a recent Fox News poll which found that they believe Donald Trump over the press by a slight margin.This slaps reason in the mouth given the amount of lies and hypocritical statements uttered by him recently and over the course of the campaign (e.g., releasing taxes, Russia, etc.). He wants the nation to believe that he is the supreme voice when it comes to matters of the truth, which is laughable given the evidence, and terrifying given the implications.

Having the government be the sole provider of information is the definition of propaganda. Now, the question remains, is this simply his style or a concerted effort on the part of the administration?

His persona has always been bombastic and off-the-cuff, which works well on a reality show but it’s disconcerting in a President. So it may just be stream-of-consciousness Donald which, as we’ve seen in the past few weeks, is unlikely to mature and become “presidential” as some of his supporters hoped. If it’s a case of Donald simply being Donald, the situation is untenable and requires he be removed from office.

The other equally terrifying option is that his language and rhetoric is part of a systematic campaign of psychological influence and manipulation. Scott Adams on the Joe Rogan Podcast suggested that the use of seemingly simple nicknames like  “Low Energy Jeb”,”lying Ted” and “Crooked Hillary” are actually well crafted tactics.

The Trump campaign, to its credit and shame, used sophisticated big-data techniques to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. The force behind this is the company Cambridge Analytica, who claims to have data points on 230 million Americans. Fun fact, the man whom many attribute much of Trumps policy direction is also a board member of Cambridge Analytica. There is quite a bit of sophistication in the pushing of the Trump agenda.

“Today in the United States we have somewhere close to four or five thousand data points on every individual. … So we model the personality of every adult across the United States, some 230 million people.”

— Alexander Nix (Chief Executive, Cambridge Analytica), October 2016

Regardless if Trump is disparaging the press on an ad hoc basis, or if it’s a systemic promotion of the administration’s agenda, it is unacceptable. We can already see evidence of “soft” muzzling of the press, by selective access during press conferences by Trump only picking friendly outlets.

Clueless or nefarious, the arc of this administration needs a mid-course correction and quickly. It is simply unacceptable for our great nation to take such a drastic direction towards becoming the type of intolerant, tyrannical government that we fought against in several wars. It would be an egregious affront to those who fought and died for freedom, as well as those who currently put themselves in harms way to protect those freedoms.

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The “T” Word

At first it seemed merely curious, the man-crush that Donald Trump seemed to have for Vladimir Putin. Perhaps he simply admired the leadership ability of Russia’s shirtless horseback riding despot, or is it something more? Something a little more ominous?

Let’s take a quick dip in the conspiracy pool. Come on in, the water’s scary.

Some recently revealed information seems to suggest a relationship between the Trump administration and Russia that is considerably deeper than they will admit and possibly illegal. I’m not a constitutional scholar, but if I were I would be looking into the “T” word.

To begin with, let’s look at a baseline for the administration’s credibility when exploring the relationship. When I say administration, it begins with Donald. As he was running for president he claimed numerous times, trying to soften his admiration for Putin, that he had never met the President of Russia.

Just this month, he said in a tweet:

So bear this in mind when you take a minute to listen to him just few years ago:

So he is clearly, at a minimum, misrepresenting his relationship with the Russian leader. Clearly we cannot take anything he says at his word.

Having established that his credibility in regards to the Russian leader is suspect, we can also look to his affection for Putin. As early as 2007, in an interview with Larry King, Trump professes his fanboy status:

“Look at Putin—what he’s doing with Russia—I mean, you know, what’s going on over there. I mean this guy has done—whether you like him or don’t like him—he’s doing a great job in rebuilding the image of Russia and also rebuilding Russia period.”

Now that we’ve established that the Donald is indeed acquainted with the Russian leader, we can take into consideration the sometimes salacious and recently corroborated Steele Dossier. Information on the first page of the dossier claims that “…Russian authorities had been cultivating and supporting US Republican presidential candidate, Donald TRUMP for at least 5 years.”

The dossier continues, detailing cooperation between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian leadership. In exchange for releasing damaging information on his opponent Hillary Clinton, the Trump team agreed to “…sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue and to raise US/NATO defense commitments in the Baltics and Eastern Europe to deflect attention away from Ukraine…”

Pretty explosive stuff, that is usually reserved for le Carré novels. Couldn’t possibly be real, could it?

Maybe. Take into account the recent revelations that Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn spoke with the Russian ambassador the day President Obama announced sanctions against Russia in response to hacking the DNC (and the RNC,  but no info released). Russia’s non-response to Obama’s sanctions raised eyebrows all across the beltway. At first Flynn denied the call with the ambassador included any conversations about sanctions, but then he backtracked once it was revealed that US intelligence had a transcript of the conversation. Flynn (through a spokesperson) “…indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”

I call shenanigans.

I not only call shenanigans, I also call on Congress to initiate a full investigation into the relationship between Russia, Donald Trump, and the entire administration (which I suspect is occurring behind the scenes at the US intelligence agencies). Take into account a recent remark by a top Pentagon official quoted in an article in  Observer when he says,”…since January 20, we’ve assumed that the Kremlin has ears inside the SITROOM.” The SITROOM, of course, being the Situation Room, the intelligence management center in the west wing of the White House. The Pentagon is going with the assumption that the Russians have “ears” inside of the White House itself. Ponder that for a moment.

The evidence of impropriety is overwhelming, and only one of many ethical, legal, and unconstitutional aspects of the Trump presidency. The dysfunction and danger of this presidency is, well, unprecedented and requires an immediate response . While there isn’t a smoking gun as of yet, the smell of gunpowder hangs over Washington D.C.

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I Spent a Year in America Last Week

If the strategy of the Trump administration is to baffle me with a dizzying array of half-cocked Executive Orders, more scandals than the entire Obama tenure, and a flurry of lies while they subvert the Constitution of the United States of America then I say, mission accomplished.

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So, in the interest of focus, let’s take a peek at just a few of the more consequential (impeachable?) curiosities of this past two weeks.

  1. Top of the list in my mind is the easement of sanctions on the Russian secret service. I’m leaving this one up in the interest of full disclosure, but on further examination I don’t think this is as egregious as I once thought. Reading further on the subject in a Reuters’ article, it seems it’s adjusting an unforeseen situation when the sanctions were instituted. Nonetheless, I still suspect that Trump is compromised by Putin.
  2. A disastrous raid in Yemen left a Navy Seal dead along with multiple civilian casualties, including a young American girl. The raid was green-lit by Trump “…without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.” Sean Spicer also confirmed that Donald Trump wasn’t in The Situation Room during the raid.
  3. Two weeks into his presidency Donald Trump is taking a “working” vacation to Mar-A-Logo resort in Florida. Let’s review this tweet from Trump in 2012 and savor the irony and hypocrisy for a moment.

    The so called “Winter White House”, owned by Donald Trump, still puts money in his pockets since he is unwilling to divest in his businesses. Of course the President is responsible for picking up his own tab, which would be zero since it’s his hotel, but the American Taxpayer (you) foots the bill for his entourage. Which also wouldn’t be unusual, except for the President owns the hotel, so in effect he is profiting from the trip. Also, make no mistake that the inner circle will be the ones doing any work while Trump tweets. Again, I have to repeat this: TRUMP IS MAKING A PROFIT FROM THE AMERICAN PEOPLE EVERY TIME HE STAYS AT MAR-A-LAGO. (Breaking NewsA business trip Eric Trump took to recently to Uruguay cost US Taxpayers nearly $100,000)

  4. Speaking of conflict-of-interest, Trump’s pick for Secretary of the Army, Vincent Viola, excused himself from nomination. He cited the difficulty of disengaging himself with his business interests. Another billionaire nomination from Trump, who perhaps didn’t want to expose himself to the scrutiny required for the job.
  5. Betsy DeVos. Good lord. Plagiarism, outright lies (ahem, clerical errors), and a demonstrable lack of experience for the job. Just no.
  6. And the big one, breaking news as of the night of this writing, a big fat no from a federal judge in Washington state. The pen of Donald Trump flung into existence the infamous not-a-Muslim-ban Muslim Ban which Judge James Robart halted with a temporary restraining order.

This is only a fortnight into his presidency, and now transcends any traditional clash of political parties or policy-based clash. These are manifest corruption and incompetence of the highest order, the likes of which we’ve never seen.

 

Officially a Conspiracy Theorist

It took Donald Trump to make me an official conspiracy theorist. Conspiracies were always interesting to think about; Bilderberg group, Illuminati, shadow underworld figures controlling things from behind the scenes. I thought about it, but never really gave it too much credence.

But now I’m starting to believe. I believe that forces are controlling the highest office in the land, out in the open, with a man nicknamed the Cheeto, Don the Con, and Donald Drumpf, starring as the Puppet-In-Chief. I believe there are two possible puppet masters, maybe working together, maybe not, pulling Donald Trump’s strings. One, a name that has been floated around for several months now, being Vladimir Putin, and the other, which I am shocked didn’t receive more attention when he was hired, Steve Bannon.

So was it the unverified dossier leaked by aptly named former MI6 agent Christopher Steele that lead me to believe that Putin had his hooks in Donald Trump? I have to admit, that it did help to congeal the thought in my mind. However, the initial indication to me was Trump’s own reaction to being called a puppet in the debates.

His immediate, school-yard reaction, “No puppet, no puppet. You’re the puppet.” was such a transparent case of psychological deflection I’m still flabbergasted. He notoriously has a thin skin, but this reaction spoke volumes about what was really going on in his head. I’m not sure what the situation is, but I now consider it well within the realm of possibility that Putin has compromised Donald Trump.

Obviously the Russian leader disputes that they have kompromot on Donald Trump, but it’s almost laughable that we should take that as reassuring. You can read about Putin’s background yourself, but it seems almost guaranteed that the career Russian intelligence agent could outplay the bombastic, ego driven Trump. It’s not only feasible that Donald Trump would have participated in questionable activities in a Moscow hotel room (being filmed by Russian intelligence), I’d be amazed if it didn’t. The President is certainly not known for his sterling moral reputation.

A Moscow hotel bedroom isn’t the only entanglement in which Trump may find himself with the Russians. Being a simple human of modest means, I can’t even begin to speculate what business transactions may have occurred behind boardroom doors which would cause enough trouble for Trump whereby he would allow Putin to control him and to betray the interests of the United States of America.

It seems that some in the President’s senior staff thinks that he may be compromised as well. The Twitter account @RoguePOTUSStaff details events surrounding the phone call Trump had with Putin.

The other, more apparent, puppet master is one that was hired by Trump himself. I’m coming to believe, however, that Bannon is above Trump on the depth chart. We’ve all heard Trump when he speaks off-the-cuff. His vocabulary is not yuuge, and it’s not the best of all time. It’s certainly not as dire and cataclysmic as his inaugural speech in which he describes “..rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape..” This apocalyptic view of the nation (disproved by more than a few metrics) and the language therein belongs more to an individual with a bleak world view, one who seeks to destroy the institution of government. Little wonder then, we find this apropos quote from Mr. Steve Bannon, self-avowed “Leninist” in an August 2016 The Daily Beast article:

“I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly proclaimed. Shocked, I asked him what he meant.

“Lenin,” he answered, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

Donald Trump created the cabinet-level position of White House Chief Strategist for Bannon, and gave it the same heft as the President’s Chief of Staff. Then, in an unprecedented maneuver, appointed Bannon as a permanent member of the National Security Council, and removed from permanent status were the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This makes Bannon the most powerful unelected person in the US government.

Warning; pure speculation ahead.

This “stone cold crazy” (according to former US UN ambassador Susan Rice) addition of Bannon to the National Security Council seems like either a reward or result of coercion. I fail to see how it could be a reward to someone possessing the wealth of Donald Trump, so that leaves coercion. It certainly couldn’t be Bannon’s seven years as a naval officer that gives him more credence that the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Perhaps it’s just my mind trying to wrap itself around the new reality of the United States of America, but for the first time it makes genuine sense that there is a conspiracy at the highest levels of government. Scandal and House of Cards are great television but the current administration makes these shows seem all too plausible. Call me old-fashioned, but I much prefer The West Wing.

 

Donald Trump Woke My Ass Up

In the process of grasping at meaning and trying to find impact in my existence, I tucked this blog away and nearly forgot about it. In the interim, the rift between left and right news sources and the divide between truth and spin has grown even larger.

It’s this gap that prompted this blog in the first place, and the widening of this gap makes reviving it only reasonable.

So again, this will be my attempt to separate the wheat from the overwhelming deluge of doublespeak and misinformation (aka chaff).

Admittedly I have a left-leaning ideology, which I will try and place in the correct context and also be mindful of. That being said, I am incredibly concerned about the arc on which the new administration has launched itself.

When Obama was elected I heard and saw rhetoric about his being authoritarian and how he was going to take away everyone’s guns, etc., ad nauseam. Trying to reflect on it objectively, I can’t recall any statements or actions that suggested this was true. However, in seven short days I see numerous examples of the Trump administration exhibiting these very traits. Some quick examples:

  • In an executive order, planning to list weekly crimes committed by immigrants. This is reminiscent of the Nazi’s list of Jewish crimes. I hate invoking that, and it may be hyperbolic, but the parallel is troubling.
  • Trump’s senior adviser Steve Bannon (whom I suspect to be the architect of the administration’s agenda) saying that the press should “keep its mouth shut” and calling it the “opposition.”
  • Adopting an isolationist stance in an increasingly interdependent planet.

And these are just quick examples off the top of my head from the first week alone.

So yeah, “Mainstream Median” is, as a term and a blog, even more relevant than when I created it years ago. Stay tuned.