Daily Blog

Excerpts from How to Steal an Election – a Guide for Aspiring Autocrats Who Get to Be President of the United States.

from Chapter 27 –– “Manipulating Mail-In Voting”:

“IMPORTANT. This is one of the most important chapters in this book. Have someone explain it to you if you’re not good at reading . . .

    “Appoint a Postmaster General who will slow mail delivery selectively as needed . . . In battleground states like Michigan, even if the mail volume is extraordinarily heavy because of a pandemic, get friendly judges to rule that mail-in ballots can’t be counted if received after election day, even if they were postmarked by or before election day. . .   Get your postmaster general to slow mail delivery in areas like Detroit, where most votes are likely to be for your opponent. . . . This should enable you to win in that state, but, in case you lose anyway, have your press release and tweets ready claiming mail fraud and legal briefs ready to file in court demanding that the election results be nullified because of massive fraud by agents of your opponent and ‘the deep state’.”

The Threat of Religious Dogmatism

Having religious faith is well-regarded in the United States, as well as elsewhere throughout the world. In our country, it would be virtually impossible for a self-proclaimed atheist to be elected to high office. Our Constitution rightly protects freedom of religion. True wisdom is found in the teachings of great religious teachers. All this is good, and it’s understandable that many religious people think that what they believe their faith requires overrides all other considerations. But what happens when critical numbers of people in positions of power hold religious beliefs that clash with liberal, reasoned, compassionate, equitable, honest, empirically based principles that have become enshrined in Constitution, statutes, and institutional workings of post-Enlightenment societies? What happens when the Supreme Court of the United States becomes dominated by such people? What happens when Supreme Court justices, though they are obliged to disguise their motivation, decide cases by responding to what they believe is the mandate of their religious convictions rather than to secular laws and institutions they swore to uphold? This is the threat of religious dogmatism.

Willam Barr, the authoritarian-minded chief law enforcement officer of the United States is a religious dogmatist. It’s a safe bet that he already has in hand drafts of petitions, including one addressed to the Supreme Court of the United States, seeking a ruling that election results in designated states be nullified because a substantial number of ballots were fraudulently submitted or tampered with. His loyal assistants will only need to fill in a few details on election night. We don’t know how the religious dogmatists controling the Supreme Court would decide such a case, though we have plenty of clues.

Among the Many Horrors

The Trump administration has brought so many horrors upon us, we tend to lose track of them. Among the most lamentable is the accelerating transition of our democracy into a plutocracy. Greed and indifference to the less advantaged drive policy. No one is more aware of this and more disgusted by it than former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. In a Facebook posting yesterday, he noted that the Federal minimum wage has remained unchanged from what it was in 2009 –– $7.25 per hour –– while the aggregate wealth of the 400 richest Americans has increased from 1.27 trillion dollars to 3.2 trillion dollars.  Reich has written elsewhere of socialism for the rich. That’s what we have. It’s built into the tax code.

The Shrinking of the American Mind

This title of Roger Cohen’s New York Times column this morning gives a sense of the “stunning mediocrity and myopia” of the final presidential debate, of how far our country has fallen. Trump exemplifies the worst in America, and he has brought out the worst in all those who have been susceptible to his snarling, blustering, mendacious, resentment-stoking, utterances and tweets. Trump and his fellow proto-fascist propagandists and morally deficient enablers have disgraced and weakened our  country to a degree that we are viewed with pity, bemusement, and contempt around the world.

“Be as mean, selfish, cruel, hypocritical, and dishonest as you want,” is Trump’s message. Tens of millions of Americans have responded to it. If he is not only voted out of office, but also forced out of office in January –– it appears that both steps will be necessary –– the best our country can hope for is a long, contentious, agonizing period of self-repair.

Last Night’s Presidential Debate

I only watched about half of it. Trump is a con man, fraudulent to the core. I can’t stand looking at him. Biden is stolid, knowledgeable, and competent. It’s tragic that Trump was elected. It’s tragic that he wasn’t expelled from office after being impeached. It’s tragic that Republicans have supported his candidacy for reelection. After I left the debate, I settled down with my computer and checked out the Astronomy Picture of the Day, which showed a picture of a NASA probe that had landed on an asteroid about 180 million miles away and was gathering little rocks to bring back to our planet for examination. Neat. This morning I was glad to read Jennifer Rubin’s observation in a Washington Post column: “Nothing that occurred during Thursday Night’s debate increases the chances we will have to endure four more years of the unhinged, know-nothing narcissistic president.”

500  Children

During the course of the Trump administration, the United States government  kidnapped more than 500  children of migrants seeking asylum and sent them to various locations without bothering to keep track of their parents, condemning all or most of them to permanent separation from their families. Apart from other crimes and violations of human rights by the Trump administration, this was a mass crime of exceptional cruelty perpetrated by Trump and those who followed his directives.

It staggers the imagination that we have to worry that it may prove impossible to remove Trump from office by inauguration Day, January 20th. Every single voter in America who does not vote for Biden is either deluded or morally deficient.

Thirteen Days to the End of Voting

The title of this blog reflects that by the time the polls open on November 3rd, a large percentage of votes will have already been cast. Election day has been smeared into Election Weeks. Similarly, it’s quite likely that election results, instead of being available election night, as is usually the case and was in 2016, may be smeared through the following days, weeks, or even months.

By election day, Amy Coney Barrett will be installed on the Supreme Court, cementing a solid majority of right-wing ideologically driven justices. Trump is counting on their support in the event that Republicans contrive to bring a crucial voting issue before them so they can tilt the scales in his favor. There’s also a chance the election will be decided by the House of Representatives, with each state being allowed to cast one vote. Under this bizarre regime, given the present composition of state legislatures, Republicans would prevail, but this may not be the case when the vote would take place the first week in January. That will depend on how local elections came out.

Like a Covid patient in critical condition, American democracy is on a ventilator in the ICU, trying to get enough oxygen to survive.

Thursday’s Presidential Candidates Debate

Because Trump incessantly interrupted Biden and flouted the rules in the first debate, the Debate Commission has decided to shut off each candidate’s microphone for the first two minutes of his opponent’s opening statement during each of the four 15-minute segments of the debate. This will not suffice. The rest of the time will be a repeat of the first debate debacle, with Trump constantly interrupting with false accusations, dark insinuations, feigned righteous indignation, sneers, gesticulations, obfuscations, fabrications, and every other trick in his demagogic playbook. At least the debate will give the viewing public another chance to see him in his all his carnival barking, snake oil-selling, thuggish glory. I’m hopeful that a solid majority of viewers will understand that he is unfit to hold public office.

How I Got To Be a Distinguished Person of the Week.

Every week in a Washington Post column, Jennifer Rubin salutes a distinguished person or persons of the week. Yesterday that award went to American voters who, as is permitted in most states, voted early by mail or in person, including many who waited in line for as much as eleven hours.  I voted Thursday by inserting my ballot in a drop box at the county offices, so I’m a distinguished person, though a lot less distinguished than people who waited hours in outrageously long lines.  As Rubin noted, “At a time when democracy is under siege around the world . . . it is immensely encouraging to see Americans flock to the polls.”


I’m skipping posting a blog this weekend except to say that this NASA picture of Earth rising over the moon has long haunted me. Our planet is no longer as universally beautiful close up, closer to the ground. It looks like saving it, and thereby us, will require a revolution of desires.

If Only It Could Happen

The theme of a Ted talk yesterday by a climate expert (I didn’t listen to it) was that humanity has ten years left to radically change course on emissions of greenhouse gases before global warming becomes irreversible and our planet consigned to uninhabitability (presumably within a few centuries rather than within a billion or so years.)

If humans were sufficiently rational, world leaders would quickly convene and agree to radical changes in energy policy. Parliaments and legislatures would swiftly enact laws and mechanisms for implementing agreed-upon policies. Tax and subsidy policy would be designed to speed and facilitate needed changes. To give an example: Coal miners would be given stipends while being trained to make and install solar panels. Higher gasoline taxes would match subsidies for electric cars. It would be thrilling to be involved in this historically unique effort to save humanity from self-extinction. It would lift spirits around the globe.

Amy Coney Barrett and Religious Dogmatism

It’s evident from her life record and her testimony in the hearings concerning her nomination to the Supreme Court that Judge Barrett is a religious dogmatist. One of the great threats to human civilization is religious dogmatism. The religious convictions of a religious dogmatist override all other considerations, including fidelity to the constitution, the law, and, when they conflict, all norms of human decency. Judge Barrett is not immoral, but her moral compass allows her to say she will be faithful to upholding the Constitution and the law despite her religious convictions, even though she will not. Through an odd combination of circumstances and events, as is so often the case in the unfolding of history, four and possibly five justices presently on the Supreme Court are religious dogmatists. When, as is virtually certain, Judge Barrett is confirmed to the Court, there will be five and possibly six.

Hypocrisy of Republicans

Republicans have controlled the senate since 2010. During the remainder of Obama’s administration, they blocked 110 of his judicial nominees and blocked consideration of his nominee to the Supreme Court in February 2016 on the spurious ground (contrary to the intent of the United States Constitution) that only eleven months remained in his presidential term. During the Trump administration, they have confirmed 218 judges, many of them right-wing ideologues, including two supreme court judges, to which, with only three weeks remaining until a presidential election, they are about to install a third. Republicans have no standing to complain about how, if Democrats gain control of the White House and the senate, they might pack the courts.

The Frail Nature of Optimism

Biden is running well against Trump in the polls, cause for optimism, but my optimism is frail. Republican politicians have betrayed the Constitution, norms of decency, and the American people en masse and show no signs of letting up. Disinformation and voter intimidation campaigns abound.  New evidence has surfaced of coming cyber attacks on the electoral process. Election night may be a nightmare. It’s not clear  we’ll get through the next three months with democracy intact.

Journey to the Year 3000 – The Interactive Audio Adventure!

I’m taking a break today from bashing Trump and related topics to announce the release by SpeechCloud Studios, Amsterdam, of my adaptation of one of my favorite Choose Your Own Adventure®* books, Journey to the Year 3000, as an interactive audio adventure. 

Not long ago, I didn’t know there was such a thing as an interactive audio product, so, in case you don’t, and are interested, here’s how it works, and, by the way, it’s free! If you have an Amazon Alexa enabled device (mine is called an Echo Dot), once it’s up and running, say these exact words: “Alexa, launch Journey 3000.” You’ll soon find yourself about a thousand years in the future.

The story is narrated by my grandson David Corenswet, who to my good fortune happens to be a highly accomplished professional actor. He’ll recount what’s happening to you in the story and give you choices from time to time. You’ll say what you decide to do, and the story will continue from there, just as it did in the original book, except for some terrifying new situations.

If you undertake this adventure, even if you don’t survive to get back to the present from the year 3000, if you think it’s worth commenting on, please consider visiting the Amazon skill store  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KJ6DGNT/ and say what you think.

Note: You may see references to Journey 3000 as a “skill.” That’s because Amazon, which is a corporate version of a narcissist, calls interactive products like this an Alexa “skill.” From their standpoint, what anyone creates and produces is simply another skill that one of their computers has acquired.

I should also say that, if you’ve played (Is that the right word?) the story for a while and quit and later want to start over at the beginning, or from where you left off, say to your device, ”Alexa, launch Journey 3000,” and whoosh –– you’ll be there.

*Choose Your Own Adventure is now a registered trademark of ChooseCo LLC, which is not related in any manner to me, this product, or Speech Cloud Studios.

Technical Difficulties

This blog will be down for a few days because of technical difficulties. I wrote earlier about this and wasn’t satisfied with how it came out, so I trashed it, producing the following notice:’

“You just trashed a Post. Search engines and other websites can still send traffic to your deleted post. You should create a redirect to ensure your visitors do not get a 404 error when they click on the no longer working URL. With Yoast SEO Premium, you can easily create such redirects.”

Good grief. What’s that all about?

I’ll resume after I get help from my website manager.

Criminals in Elective Office

I read that the Governor of Texas ordered that ballot drop-off boxes must be limited to one per county, and the Texas government and legislature decreed that photo I.D.s required for voting would not be deemed adequate if they have been issued by State or local governmental agencies in Texas, but that a card showing that the applicant is a gun owner would would suffice. These measures amount to rank acts of voter suppression, clearly tilted to decrease the number of eligible voters likely to vote Democratic far more than those likely to vote Republican. Such requirements are indefensible. Since they are designed to deprive individuals of basic rights and to contravene the Constitution and the laws establishing the principle of universal suffrage, they are criminal acts, and the elected officials imposing them are criminals.

Of course, Texas is not the only state where this sort of thing is happening. That voter suppression of this sort has become standard practice for Republican-controlled state governments and has become tolerated by the majority of justices of the Supreme Court is one of the tragedies of our time.

Predisposed Authoritarians

Yesterday, I finished reading Anne Applebaum’s superb new book Twilight of Democracy –- The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism. I made notes and plan to write a memo about it. I’ll just say here that near the beginning she refers to an estimate made by the behavioral economist Karen Stenner that about a third of the population of any country have an “authoritarian predisposition.” This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, and I think one-third of the population is a good guess. It lines up pretty closely to the roughly forty percent of the country that comprises the “Trump base.” It’s not that hard to spot people with an authoritarian predisposition, though they include people as disparate as Bill Barr, Sean Hannity, Clarence Thomas, and the Proud Boys.

Nightmare Scenarios

In a Washington Post column yesterday, Brookings Institution scholar Norman Ornstein detailed how our Constitution and statutory laws fail to provide for presidential succession or designation of someone to temporarily assume presidential powers in the event of not implausible scenarios too numerous to list here. To give an example: What happens if Trump dies, and Pence falls ill and is on a ventilator? Our ship of state is more prone to alarming leaks than most of us imagined.

Trump and Covid

Trump has Covid and is in the hospital. Most politicians, journalists, opinion writers, and many others are wishing him a speedy recovery. Some are sending thoughts and prayers. No one should wish suffering on anyone, but, in sending thoughts and prayers, I would put him last in line behind all the people who contracted Covid because of his callous indifference to it and all those who have suffered otherwise because of his greed, mean-spiritedness, and sloth. 

The Candidates in the November 3 Election

The two candidates running against each other are Autocracy and Democracy.  Last evening,  Rachael Maddow presented an inside look at the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania legislature’s plan to create an “Election Integrity Committee” that would have subpoena  power to investigate polling and vote tabulation, find irregularities, and delegitimatize results, thereby permitting the legislature to determine how Pennsylvania’s electoral votes will be cast. This is one of the most brazen and potentially consequential of many Republican efforts in process to suppress voting and alter outcomes in order to preserve power contrary to popular will.

Notes from the Plutocracy; courtesy of Robert Reich

In the United States, teachers can only deduct up to $250 of the amount they spend on school supplies, even though the average teacher spends twice that amount. Meanwhile, Trump deducted over $70,000 on hairstyling costs. 

The Presidential Candidates Debate Last Night

I promised I would report my impressions of the debate last night, but I flunked as a journalist and analyst, quitting about two-thirds of the way through. My trouble is that I can’t watch Trump for a sustained length of time without feeling physically ill. I know that he is not as bad as Hitler, or Stalin, or any one of a tremendous number of villains in history, or numerous homicidal maniacs or sadistic perverts scattered throughout the world, but he is the most repulsive human being I’ve witnessed among the thousands I’ve observed in person or on television over the course of dozens upon dozens of years.

Chris Wallace, the moderator, is reputed to be a tough questioner, but he failed to institute and enforce strict rules, which were very much needed. He should have mandated that there would be zero interruptions during each candidate’s allotted time to speak. Did Wallace expect Trump to be civil? It’s an absurd concept. Trump should be penalized for infractions. Next time cut off his mic until he behaves.

The producers should only have shown the person who was speaking. It was a bad idea to have a split screen, subjecting viewers to the distracting sight of Trump sneering and silently snarling between his outbursts. Why allow him to be on camera when he is violating the debate rules?

I doubt if many prospective voters made up their minds as a result of watching this debate. Biden is not an impressive candidate, but he is a capable, honorable, and good-hearted man, who is committed to serving the public interest rather than his own,  Trump has none of these qualities. He is a sociopath and a menace to our country and to all humanity. That was true before the debate, true after the debate, and it will be true on election day.

Explaining the Upcoming Election in “The World’s Greatest Democracy” to my Friend in Amsterdam.

Trump is well behind in most polls, so he and his enablers, including the attorney general, the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, are trying to sabotage the election in advance and intimidate voters, so that even if Trump loses, which looks highly likely, he will declare that the results were fraudulent, refuse to leave office, file multiple lawsuits, and hope that friendly judges will violate their oath of office and support him. 

Duty Calls

Jennifer Rubin’s Washington Post article this morning is an open letter to Justice Department lawyers, laying out their Constitutional and professional duties, which they are called upon to obey rather than directives from corrupt officials, including any emanating from Attorney General Bill Barr. They must be willing to lose their jobs rather than accede to those who would betray our democracy. Few of us expected that we would reach such a point, but there are times in the unfolding of history when people of good will are called upon to be heroes, and such a time has come.

Faithful Followers of the Autocratic Playbook

Autocrats try to shut down responsible journalism. They tolerate adulation, complicity, and passivity, and nothing else. Elements of the media other than their sycophantic supporters are “enemies of the people.” They substitute their self-aggrandizing fabrications for facts. They become fountains of lies, which they repeat, reiterate, repeat, and say again. People begin to think that what they’ve heard so much must be true.

As an aspiring autocrat, Trump faithfully employs this tactic. So do his followers. For example, Lauren Boebert, a self-avowed Trump supporter who is the Republican candidate for Congress in Colorado 3rd Congressional District, continually runs a campaign ad that says nothing about her policy proposals or important issues at stake, but keeps repeating the false accusation that her Democratic opponent, Diane Mitsch Bush, is “a Lying Socialist who will force Americans to have socialized medicine.” Anyone who has examined Mitsch Bush’s record and policy positions, knows this isn’t true. Boebert, like Trump, hopes that she will prevail by continually and repeating false accusations. 

The Saddest Thing

It was a sad thing that, in 2016, all the forces and circumstances that determine which candidate will be elected president of the United States came together in a perfect storm of coincidence such that an individual manifestly unfit to hold that office secured it. During his presidency, Trump has behaved in a way that revealed the full measure of his depravity. The saddest thing is that all the Republican members of the senate, with the fleeting exception of Mitt Romney, have chosen not only to prop Trump up and allow him to remain in office, but also to support perpetuation of his tenure despite the incalculable harm he has inflicted upon our country and the prospect that if he remains as president for another four years, he will fracture our society, destroy our democracy, and imperil all humanity, perhaps irreparably.

This Pivotal Moment in History

Trump’s criminality reached a new peak yesterday as he announced that he intends to change our system of governance from a democracy to an autocracy. “Get rid of the ballots,” he said, “and you’ll have a very — we’ll have a very peaceful, there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation.”

These words are a call to all people of good will to do their utmost to remove him from office.

On a Train with No Brakes Traveling though a Dark and Stormy Night toward a Bridge That’s Out

That’s the way I felt reading Stanford Law professor Pamela Karlan’s review in the current New York Review of Books of Will He Go?: Trump and the Looming Election Meltdown in 2020, by Lawrence Douglas, an analysis of our federal and state patchwork of loosely assembled, mostly ill-thought-out, individually and collectively subject-to-abuse, constitutional provisions, laws and procedures that will come into play in determining who, if anyone, will be inaugurated as president on January 20, 2021 and compendium (supplemented by professor Karlan in her review) of possible horror scenarios, some or most of which are likely to occur shortly before the election, on the day of the election (November 3), and during the weeks following the election. No, there’s virtually no chance the bridge isn’t out.

Bad Faith

“Fight against the normalization of the unacceptable,” Christiane Amanpour” counseled Americans after the 2016 election. That fight has not been successful. Republicans heartily endorsed the unacceptable; for the past four years they have acted, almost en masse, in bad faith. As Jennifer Rubin wrote in one of her Washington Post columns yesterday, “By now it should be obvious that President Trump and the Republican Party have exploited with authoritarian viciousness a system that depends on good faith and restraint.”

American democracy will not be saved by passivity on the part of Democrats. Unlike Republicans, they must act in good faith and with good will. But if they can secure control of the presidency and both houses of Congress next January 20th –– an almost even bet –– they must act decisively to restore and strengthen the institutions of democratic governance and protect them against future assaults by the forces of malice, greed, and dogma.

If the Need for Obliteration Arises

In a Washington Post column yesterday, after a moving tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Jennifer Rubin made clear, in a rare and probably unprecedented use of bold face type, that Democrats must explain to Republicans unequivocally that if they persist in ignoring the Constitution and norms of decency and fairness and further pursue their reckless and shameful effort to secure longterm control of the government of the United States by filling the Supreme Court court vacancy during the remaining weeks of the Trump presidency that: “If the Senate confirms a new justice before the next president is inaugurated, the new Senate and president will by any means necessary obliterate the impact of that move.”

   Such means could include expanding the size of the Court, ending the filibuster, and admitting the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico as states.

Thoughts about the Supreme Court

Rather recently, as I recall, in the 1990s, we had a conservative court, which outrageously overstepped its bounds in throwing the 2000 election to Bush. (O’Connor was considered a moderate conservative, but she went along with the majority.)  Obama played by the rules, but Trump / McConnell, abetted by the Republican-controlled senate, elected not to. Refusing to even hold hearings on Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, was a rank affront to the Constitution.

A major event of this century has been the accelerating corruption and fecklessness of the Republican Party and its contempt for the Constitution, the rule of law, civic responsibility, and decency. Their tolerance for the sociopath in the White House is appalling and indefensible. Their acquiescence to his stuffing the Federal courts with ideological allies, limited to those certified by the right-wing Federalist Society, many of them rated unqualified by the A.B.A., is contemptible. Typical of Republican malfeasance and nonfeasance was the faux F.B.I. investigation of Brett Kavanaugh and the refusal of  Republican senators to give serious consideration to the facts and conduct a trial after Trump’s impeachment.

The present Court has inflicted great damage on our democracy, most conspicuously, as far as I know, with the Citizens United case, the evisceration of the Voting Rights Act, and throwing up their hands at brazenly partisan gerrymandering. Moreover, the Court has ignored that the Constitution guarantees not only freedom of religion, but freedom from religion.  Roe v. Wade has been dragged closer to the guillotine.

On the Court today, Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh are all authoritarian-minded religious nationalists, and Roberts is not far removed from them in his views. Now, Republicans are about to seal long-term control of the Court by adding another one.

A Crisis on Top of a Crisis

Making a bad year worse, we’ve lost RBG. If the Supreme Court has to weigh in on an election decision on the order of Bush v. Gore or some variant of it with five right-wing ideological justices, it’s practically a foregone conclusion what the outcome will be regardless of the merits. Then there’s the whole raft of cases that would likely be decided on their religious nationalist authoritarian power-aggregating utility. In principle, I’m against packing the court, but I agree and then some with Michelle Goldberg in this morning’s New York Times — if Republicans jam through another ideologue under these circumstances, it will be required to save democratic governance.

If Trump Isn’t Defeated

Co-Chairs Ernest J. Moniz and Sam Nunn of the Nuclear Threat Initiative have warned that “achieving security and stability and reducing catastrophic risks on the {Korean} peninsula will require intensive, expert-level negotiations and comprehensive, step-by-step implementation over many months and years.”

This is simply not Trump’s thing. Trump’s thing is blather, bluster, magical thinking, lies, and photo ops. It may not just be American democracy that hangs in the balance with this election. It may be the fate of humanity.

American Democracy and Religious Nationalism

In a recent interview, David Deutsch, one of the most respected and thoughtful physicists in the world, expressed his view that there are two dangers to civilization: “One is moral relativism and the other is religious dogmatism.”

Religious dogmatism is what propelled the mass murderers of 9/11. It abounds throughout the world, very much so in our own country. Men like vice-president Mike Pence, secretary of state Mike Pompeo, and attorney general Bill Barr are religious dogmatists. They are in the grip of a religious vision and slaves to an imagined purpose that energizes them and confirms them in their actions, obliterating all other considerations. Thus, Barr, sworn to uphold the Constitution and the law, has no compunction about betraying his duty, because he has a higher calling –– to change America into an authoritarian religious nationalist state, which will thereby serve as the instrument of God and carrying out His plan.

Barr recently urged prosecutors to consider charging violent protestors with sedition –- a crime that has to do with trying to overthrow the government of the United States. His aim, shared with that of despots throughout history, is to intimidate and persecute critics. Just as Trump, who portrays himself as the law and order president, is the most dangerous criminal in the United States, Barr is the most impassioned seditionist.

The Law and Order Criminal

My recollection from law school is that “reckless endangerment” is a felony in many states. Trump recklessly endangers others when he holds an indoor rally, as he did in Nevada a few days ago, violating a State of Nevada order and discouraging the wearing of masks. In one of her Washington Post columns yesterday Jennifer Rubin quotes constitutional expert Laurence Tribe on the matter: “I think Donald Trump’s deliberate exposure of people attending his rallies without masks and without social distancing, given all he has admitted on tape that he knows about how covid is transmitted and how deadly a virus it is, would qualify for state criminal prosecution.”

Trump has said he wants more law and order. He should be careful what he wishes for. Law and order, properly administered, would bring indictments down upon him faster than he can say, “Global warming is a hoax.”

The Useful Idiot

Alexander Vindman, a former Army officer and National Security Director of European Affairs who immigrated to the United States from Ukraine as a child and is fluent in both Ukrainian and Russian, played a key role in the impeachment of Trump, who in retaliation ruined Vindman’s Army career. In a recent interview by Jeffrey Goldberg, of the Atlantic, Vindman commented that “Trump is Putin’s useful idiot.”

Trump has expressed his admiration for Putin, and has proven his sincerity in that respect by never criticizing Putin and invariably defending him. Putin seized the Crimea: nothing worth making a fuss over, as far as Trump is concerned; Putin pays bounties to the Taliban as a reward for killing American soldiers: Ho hum, as far as Trump is concerned: Putin poisons another of his political enemies: Oh, it can’t be true, as far as Trump is concerned.

Does Trump ever think about how he is Putin’s useful idiot? The thought may have flickered across his mind for half a second, but he’s adept at suppressing his humiliation and perfidy by directing his rage at critics and opponents. Putin could not have found a more useful idiot.

The Malignant Narcissist

Narcissus, the original exemplar of self-adoration, was a benign narcissist. As I recall, he stared at his reflection in a pond so long that he starved. No one else was injured. Trump’s narcissism infects others. “If the president can get away with it so can I” is the logic of tens of millions of people infected by his malevolent rhetoric. His way of being is like a cluster of  cancer cells that spread, killing off healthy cells in the process. Those who have strong immune systems resist him. Those who don’t succumb. 

America in Crisis

It seems lately that books have been coming out once or twice a week with new revelations about Trump’s criminality, his deeply corrupt and narcissistic character, and his incompetence and ignorance, his only skills being those of a con man and mafia boss. Abetted by the entire Republican caucus in Congress, corrupt and complicit cabinet members, greedy and power-hungry morally deficient rich corporate and individual donors, and wildly irresponsible right-wing media, he has mounted a full scale assault on our constitutional system and institutions of justice in his attempt to undermine electoral processes and retain power in Putinesque fashion. Meanwhile, the pandemic continues its grip, and fires of unprecedented ferocity and scope ravage the California, Oregon, and Washington.

We are in the midst of what appears to be the worst crisis in American history, arguably worse than the Civil War, because even if the Union had lost, it would have been diminished, but it would have survived –– “the last best hope on earth” would have survived ––  and its citizens would not be living in a world in which civilization is threatened by the effects of accelerating climate change and the resurgent risk of nuclear war.

Worse and Even Worser

The tapes of Woodward’s conversations with Trump uncover new subterranean levels of Trump’s depravity.

Robert Reich reports: “In another interview with Bob Woodward, Trump bragged about helping Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman avoid consequences for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The CIA determined that Khashoggi’s gruesome murder was the direct order of the Crown Prince, but Trump insisted during the interview that the Crown Prince “didn’t do it,” bragging that he “saved his ass” and “was able to get Congress to leave him alone.”

“History Will Judge the Complicit”

The above is the title of an article by Anne Applebaum in the July / August Atlantic. She draws parallels with what went on in the Soviet satellite states, particularly East Germany, and in Vichy France. The pattern is being replicated, to a degree, in the United States by Republicans in Congress, each of whom has rationalized why they are not betraying America by supporting Trump and enabling him to remain in office.

It’s hard to believe that sliding from democracy into autocracy, plutocratic kleptocracy, or whatever you want to call it could happen in the U.S.A. But it’s clearly in process, and it’s by no means certain that it can be reversed. Applebaum observes that once certain behaviors become normal, people stop seeing them as wrong. Trump becomes more and more outrageous at such a fast pace that the course of events become a blur. What was once unthinkable becomes the norm.

The Lethal Depravity of Donald Trump

Trump admitted in an interview, taped with his permission, that though he knew how deadly and easily transmissible the Covid-19  virus was even by late January, he deliberately downplayed the risk and discouraged preparations for limiting its effects. His perversity and mendacity have no limits. His behavior has cost tens of thousands of lives. Meanwhile, he and his enablers ignore law and ethics in their efforts to undermine the election. His authoritarian aspirations and contempt for democratic institutions are in full view. If we can get rid of him by January 20th it will be a great blessing. If not, a great curse.

Resentment and Respect

Tom Friedman made an important point in his New York Times column this morning. In 2016 a lot of people, particularly non-college-educated whites, voted for Trump because they felt they had been disrespected and ignored by liberal elites, and they felt that Trump understood them and was more supportive of them than Clinton. For many, Clinton’s remark about Trump supporters being “deplorables” may have quashed any inclination they had to vote for her. Biden needs to counter this driving force of resentment on the part of such voters and convince them that he respects them and will vigorously pursue policies, like supporting unions, providing many more well-paying job opportunities, and enacting a much more progressive tax structure, getting it across as well how, despite Trump’s claims to the contrary, he has pursued a policies that enrich the already rich and squeeze the middle class and the poor.

Lawlessness in the Name of Law

From last evening’s online Washington Post: Last night, Trump supporters drove to the Oregon state capitol. “Armed with rifles, pistols, knives and clubs, the far-right demonstrators at one point charged into a smaller group of liberal counterprotesters, knocking at least one activist to the ground.

Sounds as if they are training for likely confrontations after the election. Aspiring Autocrat Playbook: Create chaos. Claim fraud if you lose the election. Declare an emergency and proclaim election results to be invalid. Assume protestors will take to the streets. Encourage armed right-wing vigilantes and militias to attack and intimidate peaceful protestors. Ignore police misconduct and enlist police in your cause. Proclaim that you’ve saved the country from anarchy.

The Big Issue

News Lead: “The president and his supporters are disseminating falsehoods and trafficking in obfuscation at a rapid clip, through the use of selectively edited videos, deceptive retweets and false statements.”

In a recent letter to the editor of my local newspaper, I wrote that the big issue in the upcoming election isn’t conservativism versus liberalism; it’s autocracy versus democracy. The resolution of that issue will turn on the resolution of another one: truth versus falsehood.

Catastrophe in the Making

In a Washington Post op-ed last evening, Georgetown Law professor Rosa Brooks describes “war games” recently held to consider several plausible scenarios on the day of and following this November’s presidential election. Unless Biden wins in a landslide, which presently looks highly unlikely, tactics of Trump and his authoritarian enablers will almost certainly produce violence and a Constitutional crisis. Significantly, what was once called “American democracy” is increasingly often referred to as “the American experiment,” as in “The American experiment may soon be coming to an end.”

Putch in Process

The evidence keeps mounting up, lately exemplified, among other events, by the reduction of the Republican policy platform to an expression of loyalty to Trump, Trump’s urging supporters in North Carolina to vote twice for him, Attorney General William Barr’s brushing off the question as to the legality of such an action, and the continuing campaign of these scoundrels to delegitimize the election. Trump, Barr, Pompeo, et.al., supported by Republicans in Congress and right-wing media and abetted by cadres of deluded Americans and malevolent foreign dictators, most notably Vladimir Putin, to whom Trump has been unwaveringly subservient, are engaged in an outright attempt to replace our constitutional democratic government with autocratic rule.

“The Eerie Stability of Trump’s Approval Rating, Explained”

The above headline is to an article by Ezra Klein in Vox.

Why is it that, as the evidence of Trump’s crimes, destructiveness, corruption, and incompetence piles higher by the day, his approval rating holds almost steady at about 42%?

Kliein gives reasons, but they doesn’t amount to a satisfactory explanation. How do you verify and quantify moral rot and fatalistic stupor, which appear to have enveloped a substantial percentage of the U.S. population?

Add this to the pile: a Washington Post news lead last evening:

“Trump suggests voting twice, once by mail and once in person.  The president encouraged voters to cast ballots twice to ensure their vote is counted. Intentionally voting twice is illegal, and in many states, including North Carolina,  it is a felony.”

We’re deep in surreal land, and it’s hard to see how it won’t get worse in the coming months.

Are Trump and His Enablers Really That Bad?

Are Trump and his Republican enablers really as bad as I’ve been saying? They are. As Jennifer Rubin noted in a recent Washington Post column. “We have become numb after four years or so of lies, racism, xenophobia, narcissism and cruelty. . . The sheer quantity of {Trump’s} lies, outrages and attacks makes it all a blur.” She could have added, massive corruption and staggering incompetence. Resist becoming numb.

Flag Waving

When dozens of American flags are displayed as backdrops for political speeches and and gatherings, waved vigorously at political events, and fly from poles mounted on parades of pickup trucks, Old Glory takes on properties of the Nazi swastika. It begins to signify belligerence and intimidation rather than our mutual commitment to constitutional government, ordered liberty, and a just and compassionate society.

Echoes of Naziism

You can’t trust a lot of what you read on the internet, but I know enough 20th century European history to know that this Facebook post yesterday by Lee J. Carter is accurate: “The history of Nazis holding rallies in left-wing areas of Weimar Germany, instigating street fights, and then telling the press that only they could save Germany from the ‘violent communists’ seems like an important thing for people to be studying right now.”

Trump differs from Hitler in many ways, but like Hitler, he relies on and encourages thugs to create fear and division in an attempt to justify his demagoguery and advance his autocratic aims.

My Republican Friend

I have an old friend who describes himself as a life-long Republican. He is critical of Biden and seems even more critical of Trump. He says he hasn’t decided whom to vote for. I know him to be a person who is highly intelligent and has high moral character. I should be able to communicate with him about the election, but feel at a loss as to how to begin. It’s as if he said he was undecided as to whether pigs can fly. How do you begin to explain that they can’t? I’d like to begin by telling him that if Elizabeth Warren’s golden retriever, Bailey, instead of Joe Biden, were running against Trump, I would vote for Bailey, but I know that saying that wouldn’t fly any better than a pig.  

If American Democracy Is Intact after Jan 20, 2021 . . .

Headline: Pelosi says Dems will release Trump’s tax returns if they win White House

Much needed. And a commission should be established to investigate the tragedy of Trump’s term in office, so the public will be made aware of the full extent of his criminality and perfidy and the venality of his enablers. The commission should recommend legislation ensuring that our democracy will be better protected from internal and external assaults such as we have witnessed during the past four years, and legislation to that end should be enacted into law.

Of course, this can only happen if American Democracy is Intact after Jan 20, 2021.

Good-bye Kellyanne. Into the History Books with You!

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s highly intelligent morally deficient mouthpiece, has stepped aside for personal reasons. She will long be remembered for her association with the term “alternative facts,” which, as I recall, she had the quick wit to come up with as a way to more felicitously label what she’d been spouting than as lies. As if in tribute to Kellyanne, most of what was said at the Republican convention were alternative facts. If Orwell could look in on us, he might be kicking himself for not having invented “alternative facts.” The term would have fit perfectly in 1984.

Post Election Prospects

This morning, two astute legal commentators, Diana Lithwick, writing in Slate, and Linda Greenhouse, in the New York Times, speculate about frightening scenarios, some of which may –– correction: seem likely to –– occur on November 3 and the days and weeks that follow.

Their columns brought a classic scene to mind: On a dark and stormy night, the train is traveling at high speed, and the engineer is unaware that the bridge ahead has been undermined by floods and may give way under the weight and vibration of a speeding train. A red signal is flashing, but his eyes are shut, his head nodding, as the train speeds on.

A Thought after Watching as Much as I Could Stand (very little) of Night #2 of the GOP Convention

The Republican Convention is a case study of how the unprincipled, the deluded, the resentful, the cynical, the slavish, and morally deficient opportunists of all stripes are drawn to bathe in the sickly light cast by a demagogic aspiring autocrat. Trumpism is different from Naziism is some respects, but not in this one.

The Republican Agenda

Rachel Maddow Show reports: “Instead of writing a 2020 platform, Republicans are simply endorsing Donald Trump’s agenda . . . Trump doesn’t have an agenda.”

Of course not. In a kleptocracy the agenda is always the same and always unspoken: Maximize getting money and power for leaders, family members, collaborators, followers, and enablers regardless of what tactics you use or what damage it does to the country and everyone else.

My Election Anxiety Dream

The grim truth about Trump and his enablers never reaches many tens of millions of American voters. It’s blocked, perverted, controverted, pulverized, and dissipates in thin air. One night last week I had a Kafkaesque dream. I had a new job, which was to read the news aloud on a cable TV network. I arrived at the studio well ahead of time. I thought the producers would brief me on what I was to do, but no one would tell me where I was to stand to deliver the news, or what the news was, or when I was to begin. Then, suddenly I was standing in a booth, I was live on the screens of millions of viewers, but I had no script, no news to read. I explained to viewers that I had no script with news to recite to them. I said a few words of encouragement and consolation to those suffering from the pandemic, and my brief time on camera was over. The production people were disappointed in me. I would not be invited back. People would never get the news.

The List

The list of instances of Trump’s misfeasance, malfeasance, and nonfeasance is long, the facts on it damning, and their import conclusive: Trump is  temperamentally, intellectually, and morally grossly unfit to be president of the United States. That this is the case is manifest to every observer except those confined within right-wing propagandistic media bubbles, most scandalously Fox News. It follows that  every Trump supporter in our country is either deluded or morally deficient. That so many Americans are in one or the other of these categories is the tragedy of our times.

The Upcoming Republican Convention

There will issue forth from the speakers at the Republican convention next week a succession of lies, fabrications, evasions, irrelevancies, false innuendo, and bombast such as may never before been witnessed. Having decided to support a thoroughgoing scoundrel, participants have no choice. Every material true fact relating to Trump reflects badly on him. It would be folly for his enablers to allow reality to intrude on the evil fantasy they create and hope will be embraced by voters.

Daily Damage

It’s evident that Putin has poisoned Alexei Navalny, the foremost opposition leader, who Putin must feel poses a threat to his autocratic rule. As former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul wrote in a Washington Post column last night. “Navalny’s heroic struggle is no different from what Gandhi, King, Mandela and Havel fought for.”

Putin knows he can get away with anything without fearing criticism, much less retribution, from Trump and his enablers, who find it in their self-interest to turn a blind eye to Trump’s crimes and betrayals.

Every day Trump remains in office, added damage is inflicted on our country.

The Moral Condition of the Republican Party

The Republican Party feeds on demagoguery, and lies. It’s a front for advancing plutocratic faux-populism, following the Putin model. The fruits of its success are evidenced in Robert Reich’s report that the richest 1% own half the value of the stock market; the richest 10% own 92%. Autocracy is fine with Republican leaders as long as it pays off.

The Second Night of the Democratic Convention

I watched about a third of the proceedings and thought it was better than it would have been had it been packed into a huge convention center in the old manner. It was worth watching for the roll call itself, a succession of scenes on site in each of the 50 states, D.C.,  Puerto Rico and (I believe three) U.S. territories. It was like taking a whirlwind tour of the whole spread-out country. The impression was that the Democratic Party is largely composed of decent people of good will. One pundit this morning said that the Republican Party wouldn’t be able to match it. I think that’s true: At this point, every single Trump supporter is either deluded or morally compromised. Put dozens and dozens of them on camera, and it would show through.

The Democratic Convention Opening Night

The opening 25 minutes reminded me of the half time show at the super bowl –– all glitz, aiming to create an aura of goodness. I think it would have been better to begin with a talk by someone with gravitas and credibility –– perhaps Nancy Pelosi –– laying out the stakes, explaining how this election is not a contest between conservatives and liberals, but between autocracy and democracy, between resentment coupled with greed and decency coupled with good will.

The convention events evidenced a deliberate effort to appeal to black voters. A strong turnout of black voters is critical to getting rid of Trump. If the aspiring autocrat in the White House is deposed, it will be in part because enough eligible black voters put their resentment aside and chose to be heroes of our time.

Republican Senators

Suppose you had polled all the Republican members of the senate four years ago and asked this question:

“Imagine that in 2020 a pandemic would make mail-in voting much safer. Would you support a president, whether a Democrat or a Republican, who, fearing that he or she would not be reelected, directed the compliant postmaster general he or she had appointed to impede mail delivery service to a degree that a great many mail-in votes would not be received by election day, thereby delegitimizing the election?”

I am sure that very few would have answered “Yes.” Yet now, when this is exactly what is happening, not one Republican senator has withdrawn support from Trump. The whole lot of them have slid down the slippery slope of accommodating an aspiring autocrat who is betraying his office and betraying our country in the plain light of day. The whole lot of them should be turned out of office.


Just Another One of Countless Reasons To Vote Trump and His Enablers Out.

News Item: “The Trump administration is scrapping limits on methane leaks. . . methane is estimated to be at least 25 times and as much as 80 times more potent {than carbon dioxide} in terms of trapping heat in the atmosphere.” 

Republican Members of the Senate

Suppose you had polled all the Republican members of the senate four years ago and asked this question: “Would you support a president who, having decided that he was not likely to win reelection in a year in which a pandemic made mail-in voting much safer, directed the postmaster general he had appointed to slow mail delivery service to a degree that many mail-in votes would not be received by election day, thereby delegitimizing the election?” I am quite sure that very few would have answered yes.

 Yet now, when this is exactly what is happening, not one Republican senator has withdrawn support from Trump. The whole lot of them have slid down the slippery slope of accommodating an aspiring autocrat who is betraying his office and betraying our country in the plain light of day. The whole lot of Republican senators seeking reelection this year should be voted out of office. Like Trump, none of them are fit to serve.

Newspaper Editorial Page Policy: a case study in shirking responsibility

Text of letter I sent to the editor of my local newspaper yesterday:

It’s commendable that many Herald editorials focus on historical events –– we need historical perspective woven into an understanding of our times. Still, I think the editors should consider writing more often about the pressing issues facing our country right now. For example, recently Trump installed a mega-donor confederate as postmaster general, and this fellow immediately fired 23 key executives in the postal service, evidently to facilitate Trump’s project of slowing the mails so as to delegitimize mail-in voting. That’s reprehensible. And what about Trump’s dismissiveness of solidly sourced intelligence that Russia has been paying the Taliban bounties for killing American soldiers? When Trump was asked if he had confronted Putin about this in their most recent phone conversation, Trump said the subject hadn’t come up. Then there’s Trump’s welcoming Russian illegal (by its nature) interference with our election on his behalf. These are just a few examples of an endless succession of Trump’s assaults on our democracy that I think responsible newspapers like the Herald should not ignore, particularly because the overriding issue in the upcoming election isn’t about the relative merits of conservative and liberal policies, but about the survival of American democracy.


I got a distinct mood lift yesterday when I read that Kamala Harris is Biden’s pick for V-P. I think she was the best choice. I like her a lot.

The Threat 

Rachel Maddow noted last night that authoritarian rulers tend to get reelected, typically by enormous margins, when their terms are up. They use the levers of power to manipulate every element of the electoral process with the aim of ensuring that the vast majority of votes against them are not counted.

Trump is an aspiring authoritarian ruler. He has demonstrated that he doesn’t care a fig leaf for our country’s sacred institutions or norms, that he cares nothing about the rule of law, and that he has no qualms about ignoring his fiduciary duty to serve the American people rather than his personal interest.

As is characteristic of power-grasping demagogues, he has gotten rid of those in government who don’t bend to his will and replaced them with sycophants and morally deficient opportunists willing to assist him, because doing so would serve their own selfish ambitions.

Trump is no less a traitor to our country than any American who would give aid and comfort to a foreign power invading our shores. To rid ourselves of this scourge, all people of good will –– surely a large majority of our citizens –– must work energetically to expose, discredit, and defeat him.

Trump’s Campaign Strategy

Putin will do everything he can to help Trump get reelected. Trump welcomes Putin’s assistance and will do everything he can to facilitate it. Trump hopes that by spreading disinformation and through voter suppression he will win the election, but because he knows he may lose it anyway, he will do  everything he can to lay the groundwork for delegitimizing a win by Biden. Among other tactics, he has instructed the corrupt postmaster general he appointed to slow postal service enough so that, in case he loses, he can plausibly claim that the postal service is unreliable and that results of mail-in voting were fraudulent and should be nullified. Trump will assert this with great passion and with the seeming conviction of a master charlatan, and with the collaboration of his authoritarian-minded and corrupt attorney general, bring multiple lawsuits with the aim of causing further confusion and prolonging his tenure. Such tactics on the part of Trump and his enablers should be relentlessly called out, discredited, and scorned.

Four ways Autocrats Assault Truth

In his timely little book, On Tyranny, historian Tim Snyder lists the four ways in which autocrats assault, debase, and vitiate truth:

1. Contradict verifiable reality: e.g. “Biden “hurt the Bible. Hurt God.” “He’s against God.” “He’s against religion.”

2. Shamanistic incantations: e,g, drumming negative phrases into people’s minds; e.g. “Lock her up.” “Shifty (Adam} Schiff.} “{name of political opponent} is a “dangerous, left-wing, extremist socialist.”  (Note the repetitiveness in example 1, which also qualifies as an incantation.)

3. Magical thinking; e.g. “The virus will go away.”

4. Misplaced (misdirected) faith: “I understand the system better than anyone. I alone can fix it.”

One might think that the dishonesty of such techniques would be manifest, but when employed on a sustained basis by a naturally talented demagogue abetted by powerful and influential factions, they can become normalized. They can take on a life of their own. They can produce a collective numbness of mind. They must be relentlessly called out, discredited, and scorned.

The Crises We Face

Bill McKiibben’s review in the August 20 New York Review of Books of Our Final Warning, Six Degrees of Climate Emergency, by Mark Lynas, lays bare the extreme peril humanity faces from global warming. In the same issue, foreign policy expert Jessica Matthew’s review of four books relating to the threat of nuclear war, including, most saliently, The New Nuclear Arms Race and Presidential Power from Truman to Trump, by former defense secretary William J. Perry and Tom Z. Collina, is equally alarming.

     Global warming and the threat of nuclear war are the paramount issues facing us. At the same time, as Slate legal affairs commentator Diana Lithwick notes, we are facing a “catastrophic economic crisis, constitutional crisis, public health crisis, and rule of law crisis.” 

      Our country can’t begin to deal with these grave challenges until we get past the Trump and his enablers crisis.

The Moral Descent of the Republican Party

My parents were staunch Republicans, but they would not recognize the Republican Party in the era of Donald Trump. They would not have believed that the Party would sink so low. They would not have imagined that a Republican president would put his reelection above national security concerns, or would praise foreign dictators, or refuse to hold Russia accountable for paying bounties to Afghans who kill our soldiers, or would promote quack remedies, ignore expert advice, and indulge in magical thinking in dealing with a pandemic, or would direct the compliant postmaster general he appointed to slow post office operations so as to create election chaos, so he can claim that election results are fraudulent. “Republicans would never behave that way!” they  would have said. 

The Most Shocking Thing

I would be able to imagine how people whose whole world of what they assume is information is limited to Fox News and other Trumpian propagandistic elements of the media get their brains so altered that they think Trump is a good president and has been unfairly treated by leftists, liberals, and socialists if these people were not in the process exposed to Trump’s utterances and tweets. No criticism of Trump by others should be needed. In almost every utterance, every tweet, and every gesture he reveals what an appallingly unprincipled, crude, self-aggrandizing, incompetent, reckless, dishonest man he is. The most shocking thing is that his gross unfitness for office – his sheer repulsiveness – is constantly on display in plain sight. Apparently a very large percentage of people in our country “have eyes, but they do not see,” and ears “but they do not hear.”

The Republican Party and Plutocratic Populism

The Republican Party is controlled by the rich and the super rich. The Party elites like being rich and super rich; they want to be taxed less and get even richer, and to that end they want to cut government spending except to support their own interests, and they’ve shown that they don’t much care about the problems of the middle class and the poor and disadvantaged. Because these elites comprise only a small minority of voters, to gain and retain power they have had to entice large numbers of voters whose economic interests would be better served under Democratic administrations. 

Republican elites succeeded in accomplishing their aims by appealing to people for whom possession of firearms is of great importance, people for whom particular religious teachings are of great importance, and people motivated by their resentment of African Americans, immigrants, recipients of pubic assistance other than themselves, and those whom they have been led to believe are dangerous radicals, socialists, liberals, or leftists.

Aided by highly partisan right-wing media and donations from very rich donors, Republican elites succeeded in patching together a winning coalition of these disparate groups. The brand of political faith they successfully marketed has been well characterized as plutocratic populism. They’ll keep pitching it as long as it works, and, as long as it works, they will keep getting richer at the expense of everyone else.

How Trump’s Name Should Live

A fine op-ed in this morning’s Washington Post by George Conway is titled “Trump’s Name Should Live in Infamy.” So it should, and anyone who doesn’t think so is either ignorant or morally deficient. That he was elected president and has been allowed to remain in office indicates that there is something profoundly wrong with this country, and even if we are lucky enough to be rid of him on January 20, 2021, something profoundly wrong with this country will remain. Whether or not it can be remedied we don’t yet know.

Two Questions Definitely Answered by Jennifer Rubin

Could we have foreseen that the Trump presidency would be such a disaster?   

       “If you elect a narcissistic, ignorant, corrupt and cruel president, disaster will ensue.”

Is there any chance that Trump could act more capably and decently?

      “Character this twisted is destiny. Unfitness this severe is irreparable.”

A Good Idea

I read that Spain launched a new program under which it will pay the equivalent or $1,145 per month to the nation’s poorest families.

We could do something like that in the United States. If we did, we would instantly become a better country.

Resisting Tyranny

News Header: “Postal employees are warning that new procedures put in place by a Trump ally {the big-donor crony Trump installed as postmaser general} could undermine their ability to deliver ballots in time for the election.”

Most of the way through historian Tim Snyder’s incisive new book, On Tyranny, I sense a central theme to it, which is that having a majority of good people isn’t enough for a nation to resist tyranny. Our hallowed institutions won’t save us. It will take a critical mass of alert, determined, and courageous people to do so.

Trump’s Idea of How American Democracy Should Work

If you are the president of the United States, and the election is approaching, and you are aware you will not likely be re-elected, you must act decisively. First, state publicly that the election should be postponed. Think of the best reason you can. Don’t worry that it’s not a good reason. It’s planting the idea in people’s minds that  counts –– getting them to think of it as a possibility. But this is not enough! It’s important also to claim that, if you are not re-elected, it will be because mail-in voting led to fraudulent election results. Then instruct the loyalist authoritarian-minded attorney general you appointed to say that he thinks there is a high risk that the election results will be fraudulent. Then instruct the loyalist lackey postmaster general you appointed to slow post office service to give the impression that the mails are unreliable. Don’t worry that what you’re doing is outrageous. Chaos and confusion are your friends. Because you are the president, this is how American democracy should work.

Word Abuse

Among the numerous ways in which Trump has damaged our country is his abuse of words by flinging them willy nilly in his tweeted and spoken rants, sewing misinformation, creating confusion, and tending to put everyone in a worse mood than they would have been in if the world had been lucky enough to be spinning through space without him. “Tremendous” need now be laid to rest; “disgraceful.” “socialists,” “criminal,” “anarchists,” “bad,” and even “sad,” are all terribly the worse for wear, as is “terribly.”

It’s important not to take words to mean what they meant when we first learned them. Does “conservatism” mean what you think it does? In a recent column, Jennifer Rubin brought the definition up to date: “Conservatism” now is a chaotic blend of right-wing nationalism, conspiracy theories, plutocratic economics, cronyism, protectionism, realpolitik foreign policy and repudiation of objective reality.”

Sad and Sobering Facts

At the moment, it appears that Biden has a clear lead over Trump in he polls. Yet, if the election were held today, my understanding is that if no votes were cast by African Americans, Trump would win. A majority of whites are apparently either too deluded or too morally compromised to vote Trump out of office. It’s also my understanding that if no votes were cast by women, Trump would win. A majority of men are apparently either too deluded or too morally compromised to vote Trump out of office. What’s the matter with white people? What’s the matter with men? I don’t know. I only know that these are sad and sobering facts.

Notes from Surreal Land

David Remick, the editor of The New Yorker, observed in a recent interview: “Trump is cornered. There is nothing he won’t do.”

Yesterday, I learned that Trump evidently directed the mega-donor crony he installed as Postmaster General to slow down mail deliveries. The president of the United States wants to make mail service less efficient and reliable. Nothing will seem strange about that if you keep in mind that we’re living in surreal land.

If, as seems likely, Trump loses the election, his plan is to claim that mail-in voting produced a fraudulent outcome to the election, then declare the reported results to be void, initiate lawsuits in order to escalate doubts and confusion, remind everyone that under the Constitution he is the commander and chief of the armed forces, send every federal police unit and militia he can get his hands on to quell uprisings and protests he causes by such action, declare a national emergency requiring the imposition of martial law, and promise to hold a new properly conducted election in the fall of 2021. Undermining peoples’ faith in the postal service is part of this grand plan.

The Plight of a Local Newspaper

Like many regional newspapers, the dominant local newspaper in our area, The Durango Herald, struggles to maintain basic journalistic standards and still make a profit. It doesn’t help that political polarization in our area is probably as extreme as it is anywhere in the country. In our Congressional District race, the Democrats are running a moderately progressive candidate with strong experience as a county commissioner and state legislator. The Republicans are running a restaurant and bar owner, whose main publicity photo shows her wearing a sidearm and posed in front of a cluster of members of “Bikers for Trump.” Two motorcycles embellish the scene. The contrast with the Democratic candidate is stark.

     My observation of the Durango Herald is that they have tried to hew a non-controversial editorial policy, steering away from highly charged issues. I suspect that they are afraid of alienating a large number of subscribers if they express a clear-cut political preference. For the Herald, as for similarly situated newspapers, a fateful moment approaches. By late October, they will have to take clear-cut positions. They will have to earn the scorn of a large number of subscribers. 

The Republican Party and Plutocratic Populism

The Republican Party is controlled by the rich and the super rich. The Party elites like being rich and super rich; they want to be taxed less and get even richer, and to that end they want to cut government spending except to support their own interests, and they don’t care much about the plight of the middle class and the poor and disadvantaged. Because these elites comprise only a small minority of voters, to gain and retain power they have had to entice large numbers of voters whose economic interests would be better served under Democratic administrations.

Republican elites succeeded in accomplishing their aims by appealing to people for whom possession of firearms is of especially great importance, people for whom particular religious teachings are of especially great importance, and people motivated by their resentment of African Americans, immigrants, recipients of pubic assistance other than themselves, or those whom they have come to believe are dangerous socialists, liberals, or leftists.

Aided by highly partisan right-wing media, Republican elites succeeded in patching together a winning coalition of these disparate groups. The brand of political faith they successfully marketed has been well characterized as plutocratic populism. They’ll keep pitching it as long as it works.


In his online New York Times column last evening, Roger Cohen conveyed the German perspective on Trump and his strenuous efforts to subject the United States to autocratic rule. Cohen notes, “The German horror at Trump has many components. He’s the fear-mongering showman wielding nationalism, racism and violence . . . He is a fascist in the making.”

A Peripheral Major Tragedy

One of the dismaying effects of the pandemic is that critically important challenges are relegated to the periphery of debate and discussion. One of these is the shocking widening of the disparity of wealth and income over the past few decades and the threat it poses to our tattered society. A central question posed by the authors of the distinguished new book Let Them Eat Tweets is “How has the Republican Party persuaded so many working-class voters to support a plutocratic agenda that they often don’t like, and that often undermines their own livelihoods?” 

The Fooler in Chief

It would be nice if we could take comfort in Lincoln’s famous dictum: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” Alas, you only have to fool most of the people some of the time to win an election. And with our electoral college system, in which the final result isn’t determined by the popular vote, you may not even have to fool most of the people some of the time. This year, Republicans will succeed in keeping some of the people who would be among most of the people from voting.  And even if Trump isn’t able to fool enough of the people to win the electoral college, he’ll try to fool enough of the  people into thinking the election was rigged against him. It’s concerning that, although Trump is deficient in every other human quality, he’s a master at fooling people, the result of intensive practice throughout his entire life.

The Present Trajectory of Events

The more outrageously Trump behaves, the more people will protest. The more they protest, the more federal camouflaged unidentified enforcement officers Trump will send in to round up protestors and intimidate them, which will elicit more protests, which must be subdued by greater force. No city can be left unprotected from the socialist leftist anarchist criminals terrorizing our nation. Only a strong authoritarian leader can save the country now. Certainly not Biden, who, along with Obama, allowed China to use the virus against us. 

Trump’s Strategy

Cause chaos and outrage, which will cause more mass protests, which he will blitz-tweet are the work of anarchists and left-wing extremists requiring tough tactics to subdue and restore America to the greatness he achieved before China, emboldened by Obama and Biden caving into them, unleashed the virus on our country. Launch such a torrent of tweets as will produce further outrage and protests until it becomes evident that authoritarian rule is necessary to subdue leftist extremists and anarchists and restore law and order and people learn that whatever happens in the election is meaningless because it was rigged by socialist extremists and criminals, and that only a strong determined leader can save America and protect traditional American values and bring back liberty and justice and a strong economy.

The Aspiring Autocrat at Work

Headline:  “Trump declines to say whether he’ll accept Nov. election results.”   

Trump’s strategy: Cause chaos and outrage, which will cause more mass protests, which he will blitz-tweet are the work of anarchists and left-wing extremists, requiring tough tactics to subdue and restore America to the greatness he had achieved, which will produce further outrage and protests until it becomes evident that authoritarian rule is necessary to enforce law and order, and people learn that whatever happens in the election is meaningless because it was rigged by socialist extremists and criminals, and that only a strong determined leader can save America and protect traditional American values and bring back liberty and justice and a strong economy for all.

Field Testing Fascism

Federal law enforcement officers have the legal right to protect federal buildings and other federal property. They do not have the right to leap out of unmarked cars, heavily armed and in camouflage gear, single out peaceful protestors, shove them into cars, fail to identify themselves or give any reason for their behavior, take their captives to a federal building and detain them for hours before releasing them. Despite the objections of the mayor and other officials, this has been happening Portland, Oregon.

These episodes are straight out of the fascist playbook. If Trump is reelected, he will claim that practices such as these have been approved by the people. He knows that the thoroughly cowed and craven Republican political establishment won’t push back. He will push the power of intimidation to the limit, if any limit is still in place. At the moment, these fascist techniques are being field tested. During a second Trump term they would become standard operating procedure.

What Barr Thinks

Headline: “Attorney General William Barr condemns U.S. tech companies for “kowtowing” to China.”

Now let’s all condemn Barr for kowtowing to Trump.

Note: Barr doesn’t think he’s kowtowing to Trump –– he thinks of Trump as a useful instrument for  pursuing his religious nationalistic authoritarian vision of America, which likely includes himself as the authoritarian leader in the post-Trump era.

Reading Agenda

I’m about to read “Let Them Eat Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality. Among other topics, this new book by two political scientists talks about how “the Republican Party persuaded so many working-class voters to support a plutocratic agenda that they often don’t like, and that often undermines their own livelihoods.” If all the people whose lives have been damaged by Trump and his enablers knew how much he has hurt them and degraded the country, Trump vote totals would shrink to historically new levels.

Looking Back from the Future

New York Times opinion writer Nicholas Kristoff is distinctive in how often he thinks outside the frame of current events and controversies. In a recent column he considered how future generations will look back at the behavior of our generation.

Just as we look back in horror at what strikes us as barbaric behavior of respectable citizens in the past, people in the future may look back at our behavior with disgust, particularly, Kristoff speculates, in our cruelty toward billions of animals, most horrifically in factory farms, in our failing to act decisively to arrest climate change, and in our indifference to malnourished children living in extreme poverty, most of them in what to us, but not to them, are remote corners of the world.

Dispatches from Surreal Land

Dispatches from Surreal Land:  Almost Everyone Lies Constantly except Trump

A recent Trump Tweet: “The most outrageous lies are the ones about Covid 19. Everyone is lying. The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust.”

When Autocratic Rule is Shoved in Your Face

Karen Cheung, a Hong Kong native who still lives there, wrote a lovely essay –– it appeared in last night’s online New York Times ––about what it’s like to live in a densely populated urban community with a tradition of independence and self-governing that overnight becomes fully subjected to repressive autocratic rule, which is what happened to that great city-state on July 1. Cheung’s article isn’t bitter or complaining. It’s a testament to the human spirit, a declaration of her refusal to relinquish joy in living.

Once Again

The Green Party nominated a candidate to run for president. I haven’t read the Party platform. If it advocates measures to aggressively curb fossil fuels, stimulate production of alternative energy, and reduce air and water pollution, there may be much to be said for it. But the Green Party decision to once again promote their own candidate rather than support the Democratic ticket is an act of rank stupidity. The same behavior almost certainly was responsible for the election Bush and the defeat of Gore in the 2000 election. By running a candidate in 2016, they helped Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. This year, once again there is zero chance that the Green Party candidate will be elected. The only effect of its efforts will be to hurt Biden and help Trump. These people think of themselves as idealists. In fact, they’re nihilists.

The Republican Truth Tellers

Employing powerful TV ads, George Conway, Steve Schmidt, and other prominent honorable Republicans involved in “The Lincoln Project” are getting the truth across about Trump’s dishonesty, incompetence, and profound unfitness to hold office. Their efforts are a stinging rebuke to members of their party who cravenly fail to repudiate our sociopathic president. They are true American heroes.

Corruption in Broad Daylight

Trump and Barr have become so bold that they don’t try to disguise their corruption and authoritarian ambitions. Trump commutes the sentence of Roger Stone, his partner in crime in abetting Russian efforts to help him win the 2016 election. Barr initiates criminal investigations of officials who exhibited higher loyalty to the United States Constitution and the rule of law than to Trump and fires U.S. Attorneys in key districts who have been conducting criminal investigations of Trump associates.

Roger Cohen, in his column appearing in last night’s online New York Times, notes that Trump recently tweeted: “RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS. IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!”

Cohen continues: ‘Trump is preparing the ground to contest any loss to Joe Biden and remain president, aided, no doubt, by Attorney General William Barr’s Justice Department.”

American democracy is in the fight of its life.

A Cheery Note

A highly plausible scenario is that Trump loses the election, he declares that his loss resulted from voter fraud, he refuses to leave office until the matter is resolved, and he initiates a slew of law suits hoping to keep the question of who won tied up in the courts indefinitely. 

In a Washington Post op-ed yesterday, the distinguished Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe and two colleagues pointed out that cabinet members who tried to act in their appointed capacity on Trump’s behalf after a Trump loss could be subject to criminal prosecution.

It’s far from certain, but I think that more likely than not we’ll get through this nightmare: that Trump will be out of office by January 21, and that we’ll be able to begin the long and arduous task of repairing the damage.

Democracy Wins a Round in Defending Itself against Autocracy

In a pair of 7-2 decisions, the Supreme Court ruled that Trump’s financial records are not exempt from subpoena in a New York State judicial proceeding and that, subject to meeting certain reasonable criteria, the same is true in the case of subpoenas issued by Congressional committees in the course of carrying out their oversight and legislative responsibilities.

These cases rejected Trump’s claims to king-like status by virtue of his being president. Thank goodness.

Trump-Biden Debate Prerequisite

Veteran New York Times columnist Tom Friedman has put forth a persuasive argument that Biden should declare that he will take part in a debate only if (i) Trump releases his tax returns for 2016 through 2018. (Biden has already done so. Why should Trump be given a free pass on hiding his finances?); and (ii) ten minutes before the scheduled conclusion of the debate independent fact checkers “report on any misleading statements, phony numbers or outright lies either candidate had uttered.”

Why should Trump, who, it is well established, is a serial liar, be allowed to lie, bluff, and bluster his way through the debate without being held to account? Biden can rebut him: “That’s just not true, Mr. President. That’s just not true,” again and again. But Trump will express outrage at Biden’s accusations, deny them, go off on tangents, and bring more lies to bear on what will amount to a brawl rather than a reasoned debate.

Trump won’t play by the rules voluntarily. He should be forced to. 

If Biden set such conditions, Trump will almost certainly opt out of the debates, claiming that Biden insisted on ridiculous conditions because he was afraid to debate him. They aren’t ridiculous. They make all the sense in the world. Most people would understand that.


Continuous Astonishment

I’m continuously astonished that, even though Trump is patently a clear and present danger to America and to the entire world, Republicans haven’t forced him to withdraw his candidacy in favor of a member of their party who is honorable, conscientious, and competent, Instead, a vast majority of Republicans continue to support him.

At this point, every Trump supporter in the United States, without exception, is either uninformed, deluded, or morally deficient.

The Heart and Soul of Our Country

The far-right Republican candidate for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, Lauren Boebert, has proclaimed that she’s battling for the “heart and soul of our country.” Since she’s identified herself as “an avid Trump supporter,” what better way to ascertain how she envisages the heart and soul of our country than by reading Trump’s iconic Fourth of July speech at the Mount Rushmore National Monument. The full text is available on the internet, but you can learn all you need to know about it from Jennifer Rubin’s description of the speech as a “raving, paranoid one peddling hate and dystopia.”

A New Low

Our intelligence agencies reported to Trump that Russia was paying the Taliban a bounty for each American soldier they killed. Trump said he was never briefed about it, and that the report was a hoax. He showed no concern about our dead soldiers. He showed no concern about our intelligence agencies.  He showed concern only for getting on with campaign rallies, bands playing, flags flying, bombs bursting in mid-air, jets fighters flying overhead, and statues.

U.S. Ambassador Russian Michael McFaul observed in an online Washington Post column yesterday, “Trump has been subservient to Putin throughout his presidency, but this latest moment of indifference — silence about the killing of American soldiers — marks a new low.”

Republican senators, all but one of whom stood arm to arm to protect Trump from being removed from office, remain silent. They, too, care more about their political futures than about the nation they promised, on their oath, to serve.

“A Cheap, Simple Way to Control the Coronavirus”

When I see a headline like this, I’m likely to think, oh sure, and turn the page. This time I read the article. To my surprise, it would be possible to supply most Americans with a year’s supply of Covid-19 do-it-your-self daily virus test kits at a cost of something like $3 a day per person –– simple as pie, spit on a paper strip with results in 15-minutes. Not 100% accurate but close enough to it. Test positive and you self-quarantine. This could slow down spreading tremendously. The cost in the U.S. might be something like 300 billion dollars a year. It would be a good investment.

It’s in the category of good things that might happen.

Why Trump Can’t Change

Why can’t Trump act more in his own self-interest? Why does he so desperately seek praise? Why is he so obtuse about what would bring it forth?

In a recent Washington Post column, Jennifer Rubin provided us with the answer to such questions: “Character this twisted is destiny. Unfitness this severe is irreparable.”

A Sign of the Times

We had a stunning political development in Tuesday’s primary elections in our red, but not deep-red, Colorado 3rd Congressional District.

My candidate, Diane MItsch Bush, a capable progressive veteran state legislator, handily won the Democratic primary, but had been given little chance to unseat the heavily-financed five-term Republican incumbent, Scott Tipton, a smooth-talking, unwavering Trump loyalist and faithful follower of the GOP agenda.

It’s a commentary on the transformation of the Republican Party that, despite Tipton’s sterling right-wing voting record, he was deemed too far to the left for a decisive majority of C. D. 3 Republicans, who voted to dump him in favor of Lauren Boebert, a 33-year-old bar owner, from the town of Rifle, with no experience in public service and who appears to be more Trumpian than Trump. Chances that our district would flip from red to blue skyrocketed overnight.

Barr and American Democracy

Recent Headlines:

Washington Post: “Four ways William Barr is already subverting the 2020 elections”

New York Times:  “Inside Barr’s Effort to Undermine Prosecutors in New York”

Next to Trump, Attorney General William Barr is the most dangerous person in the United States. He is not a slavish Trump toady, like Mike Pence, for example. He is a strong-minded religious nationalist with a pathological attraction to  authoritarian rule. Like Trump, he should be impeached, convicted in a trial in the senate, and removed from office. This would happen were the senate not controlled by Republicans who have lost their moral compass and ignored their solemn duties in the course of pursuing personal political, economic, and idealogical agendas.

American Democracy is and will remain in the intensive care unit until Inauguration day, January 20, 2021, whereupon it will be either be pronounced dead or need to enter a long period  of rehab.

Trump and Republican Senators

It’s undisputed. Our intelligence agencies knew by February that Russia (i.e. Putin) was paying the Taliban a bounty for each American soldier they killed. Intelligence officials say they briefed Trump on this matter at the time. Trump did nothing about it. Confronted with the facts, Trump says that he was never briefed about the matter. Trump is clearly lying. If he had not been briefed about it he would be outraged. Instead he has treated the matter as if it were of no more consequence than if a mouse had been found in the White House kitchen. 

Appalling as Trump’s behavior is, it’s of a piece with what we’ve come to expect of him. No less a tragedy of our times than his holding the reins of power is that Republican senators and cabinet members fail to repudiate him and make it their mission to remove him from office.

Our Viral Future, continued

Thanks to some informed feedback, what follows is a revision of “my understanding” of the situation. Excisions are in brackets. Additions in italics.

{My guess is that} A widely available safe and effective vaccine or solidly effective antiviral drug, as distinguished from a Trump/Pence fantasy of one, is at least a couple of years away. 

Until a vaccine is widely available, we’ll likely experience continuing cycles of tighter and looser restrictions with roughly inverse correlations of falling and rising numbers of cases. 

Over time, more and more people will have been infected and may have developed immunity, (it not being known to what degree and for how long).

CDC recently estimated that there may have been at least ten times as many cases as have been reported. This is because a lot of infected people have no symptoms or minor symptoms and don’t get tested. 

{It appears that people who have been infected will have immunity lasting at least until a vaccine is available.} By a year from now it’s possible that half the people in the country will have been infected, recovered, are non-communicative, and have immunity. A wide variety of other scenarios are possible as well.

At some point, we’ll reach {“herd” immunity,} a state where, even though rules have been very much relaxed, the average infected person infects fewer than one other person. Then the numbers of communicable people and numbers of new cases begin fall. One can then feel increasingly less imprudent engaging in traditional activities involving close proximity to others.

     It’s shocking how much is still unknown about this virus.

Our Viral Future

My guess is that a widely available safe and effective vaccine or solidly effective antiviral drug (as distinguished from a Trump/Pence fantasy of one) is still a couple of years away. What follows is my understanding of the situation:

     Until a vaccine is widely available, we’ll likely experience continuing cycles of tighter and looser restrictions with inverse correlations of falling and rising numbers of cases. Over time, more and more people will have been infected and developed immunity. CDC recently estimated that there may have been at least ten times as many cases as have been reported. This is because a lot of people have no symptoms or minor symptoms and don’t get tested. It appears that people who have been infected will have immunity lasting at least until a vaccine is available. By a year from now it’s possible that half the people in the country will have been infected, gotten over it, are non-communicative, and have immunity. At some point, we’ll reach “herd” immunity, a state where, even though rules have been very much relaxed, the average infected person infects fewer than one other person. Then the numbers of communicable people and numbers of new cases begin steadily falling even when precautions have been almost done away with. One can then feel increasingly less imprudent engaging in traditional activities involving close proximity to others.

What’s Wrong with Middle Aged White Men?

Most polls show Biden leading Trump by comfortable margins among nearly all segments of voters. A segment that favors Trump is that of white men between 50 and 64. 

Men that age should be pretty mature. They’ve had ample life experience to have developed good judgment. What’s wrong with them?

 In my view, the main driving force causing people to support Trump is resentment. It would appear that most of these middle-age men have lived long enough to have given up on their dreams; that most of them feel that life/society has let them down. A lot of them seem to be resentful.

Trump is resentful. He is resentful of critics; resentful of constrictions imposed on him by virtue of our constitutional system. He constantly expresses resentfulness and contempt for those who fail to admire him.

Trump’s mood of resentfulness infects the nation, most so, it seems, the population of middle aged men. Democrats must run inspiring campaigns to snap them out of it.

Trump’s Contingency Plan

Headline: “White House intensifies effort to install Pentagon personnel seen as loyal to Trump.”  

Trump and his advisors are undoubtedly planning a strategy to follow if he loses the election. Following first principles, he will claim that massive voting fraud occurred; he will call it the worst crime ever committed in American history. He will refuse to concede defeat or prepare for transition of power.  He will launch lawsuits in an attempt to decertify results. He will call for a new election. Trump loyalists in the senate will launch investigations. His media allies will claim that the election results were fabricated.

Trump would like to be able to call on our military forces to stave off any effort to remove him.

Checks and Balances

Checks and balances are of the essence of our constitutional system, which was designed to protect our democracy from autocratic rule. The U.S. Constitution, as amended, is one of the great achievements of humankind, but it doesn’t provide a mechanism for checking a corrupt president who is supported by a corrupt majority of senators of his party, a corrupt attorney general, and corrupt judges in critical positions. 

American democracy is on the ropes, and Trump and his allies are doing everything they can to knock it out of the ring, before he is voted out of office and forced to relinquish power.

Trump’s Truth Department

Headline: “Trump family seeks to block book by niece that calls him ‘world’s most dangerous man.’” 

Trump and his aides are like a fire department, fires being truths. Truths keep flaring up all over the place, and Trump’s Truth Department spends a lot of time and energy rushing here and there trying to put them out before they flare out of control. It’s not easy.

Nervous Apprehension

Trump feels nervous apprehension about the election. He has aptly been compared to an animal that is all the more dangerous when cornered. 

Not one whose decisions are subject to Constitutional or ethical considerations, Trump is determined to win even if he loses. Covid-19 virus constraints will impede the electoral process. Trump and his allies will do make everything they can to suppress voting and make the election as chaotic as possible. In the event of adverse results at the polls, expect Trump’s allies, aided by Trump’s authoritarian-minded Attorney General, William Barr, to file lawsuits and launch a propaganda campaign of unprecedented intensity. Trump is not alone in feeling nervous apprehension. Nearly everyone I know is too.

The Wrong Justice Department Official Lost His Job This Weekend

The title above is that of a today’s New York Times op-ed by former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, who himself was fired by Trump for  repeatedly demonstrated integrity. Bharara commented on the ham-handed firing of the current holder of that office, Geoffrey Berman, a Republican and donor to the Trump campaign, who chose to be faithful to his oath of office and the rule of law, a concept so foreign to Trump that he has almost insuperable difficulty imagining that others would give it any thought. The firing was conducted by Barr and Trump in a way that would be surprising if it had occurred in any other administration: Each asserted that the act was instigated by the other.  

Bharara’s op-ed is masterful in its clarity and its temperate tone and language. Mindful of the principle that writers should avoid excess words, he didn’t name the Justice Department official who should have lost his job,

Barr’s Brain

What goes on in the brain of Attorney General William Barr? Why would a man so well-educated and financially secure be willing to betray his oath of office and defy the Constitution in order to aide and perpetuate in power a blustering, ignorant, narcissistic aspiring autocrat who has the heart and the soul of a thug?

I think the answer is that Barr, a religious nationalist, finds psychic satisfaction in the notion of a society governed by higher authority, and he recognized that Trump was an instrument he could take in hand to pursue that goal. What I don’t think Barr realizes is that he himself is in the grip of a higher authority, a dangerous cerebral condition over which he has no control. 

Another Step on the Road to Autocracy

Trump took a big step forward this past week in his relentless efforts to convert the United States of America from a democracy to an autocracy, once again with the shameful blessing of the Republican-controlled senate, installing a loyalist hack as head of the Voice of America. The hack immediately dismissed all the capable, independent, experienced, honorable division heads preparatory to replacing them with sub-hacks. The goal: to convert this long-standing, effective, non-partisan, internationally respected journalistic enterprise into a disseminator of Trumpist propaganda.

Informed Honorable Republicans Will Vote Democratic

Prior to the Trumpian era, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin was a Republican. Her column was titled “Right Turn.” It must dismay Trump and allies that she is an honorable person, someone who favors truth over falsehood and right over wrong. Accordingly, she wrote yesterday, “Senate Republicans. . . were and are enablers of the most destructive president in our history and deserve — every last one of them — to be booted out of office.”   

Bolton’s Book

Judging by Jennifer Szalai’s review, which I read in the online New York Times, of the long anticipated book by former National Security Advisor, John Bolton, the truth spilling out of it about Trump’s ignorance and perfidy to his oath of office, while damning, is so shot through with Bolton’s egotistically pumped-up self-justifications and so interlaced with immaterial raw excerpts from his over-detailed notebooks as to land with a thud and have little impact on the question of Trump’s fitness to hold his present office. 

Boton’s book evidently does show clearly that Trump should be removed from the White House, but it amounts to no more than another scrap added to an already mile-high pile of evidence.

Truth is Spilling Out All Over

Trump’s efforts to bluster and lie his way to reelection have been encountering increasing difficulty. Repeating and embroidering big lies is standard practice for autocrats, but so many facts countering the Administration’s false narratives have been spilling out that Trump’s support appears more likely that not to erode before the election. 

Trump’s lawsuit to prevent former National Security Director John Bolton’s tell-(mostly)-all book from being published June 23 has roughly zero chance of success. That particular chunk of truth, either poured or leaked, will be spilling out next week.

What Do Honorable Republicans Think? (Continued)

My Republican friend replied at length to the questions I referred to in my blog yesterday. He acknowledged that “the Republican Party has  been  taken over by conservatives and as a consequence strayed from  the principles” I listed. (I should have used the word “betrayed” rather than “strayed” –– it’s far more accurate.)  And it would have been more accurate for him to say that the Republican Party has been taken over from conservatives by unprincipled opportunists, religious nationalists, and protofacists. He did remark, “No comments necessary on his tweets or crude press remarks!” So he isn’t happy about that aspect of Trump. This doesn’t count for much, however, because all Trump loyalists except the most slavish of his sycophantic following find this aspect of Trump to be unfortunate, but dismiss it as being in the category of “We all have our little flaws.”

My friend offered his opinion on what it would take for the Democrats to defeat Trump, but he didn’t say whom he would vote for, and he credited Trump, saying that he “has and is addressing issues which for years were kicked down the street.”

 What issues? How did he address them and how is he currently addressing them? And who kicked them down the street?” These are my next questions for my old Republican friend.

What Do Honorable Republicans Think?

Over the weekend, I had an enjoyable phone conversation with an old friend, a longstanding Republican with whom I had been almost completely out of touch for decades. Our lengthy conversation ended before we got talking about politics. When I later wrote him, I asked:

“Would you agree that the Republican Party and the vast majority of Republican office holders have strayed from basic principles traditionally held by Republicans: civility, honesty, respect for the Constitution and the rule of law, fiscal responsibility, competency in government, forging and nurturing  alliances with other democracies, exercising leadership in international initiatives and institutions dedicated to betterment of the world, and, apart from some notable lapses during the Cold War, defending democracy and human rights against dictatorial and authoritarian abuse in all quarters?

‘The reign of Trump and his entourage has been a spectacle of gross betrayal of every one of these principles; yet, with only the feeblest or rarest exceptions, Republican members of Congress have gone along with  Trump every step of the way, most of them, apparently, as one commentator put it, “out of fear that they’ll get tweeted out of their office and not get elected the next go-round.” In my view, the Republican Party has become so corrupted that it needs to be reconstituted, a process that should begin with a great many more prominent Republicans renouncing Trump and Trumpism in all its forms.”

I hope he’ll write back and let me know what he thinks.

What Do Decent, Honorable, Well-Informed People Who Have Been Longstanding Republicans Think These Days?

Over the weekend, I had an enjoyable phone conversation with an old friend, a longstanding Republican whom I had been almost completely out of touch with for decades.  Our lengthy conversation ended before we got talking about politics, but when I wrote him afterwards, I asked:

“Would you agree that the Republican Party and the vast majority of Republican office holders have strayed from basic principles traditionally held by Republicans: civility, honesty, respect for the Constitution and the rule of law, fiscal responsibility, competency in government, forging and nourishing alliances with other democracies, exercising leadership in international initiatives and institutions dedicated to betterment of the world, and, apart from some notable lapses during the Cold War, defending democracy and human rights against dictatorial and authoritarian abuse in all quarters?

‘The reign of Trump and his entourage has been a spectacle of gross betrayal of every one of these principles; yet, with only the feeblest or rarest exceptions, Republican members of Congress have gone along with  Trump every step of the way, most of them, apparently, as one commentator put it, “out of fear that they’ll get tweeted out of their office and not get elected the next go-round.” In my view, the Republican Party has become so corrupted that it needs to be reconstituted, a process that should begin with a great many more prominent Republicans renouncing Trump and Trumpism in all its forms.”

I hope he’ll write back and let me know what he thinks.

Sociopaths and the Treasury

In her book The Sociopath Next Door, Martha Stout notes that sociopaths are often very successful. It can work to your advantage if you are devoid of empathy, have no conscience, and no sense of shame, although some such people notably get their comeuppance. 

Robert Reich reports and comments: “The careless greed of Trump and his family never ceases to amaze me. Last year, Don Jr. charged American taxpayers more than $75,000 for an exotic 8-day hunting trip in Mongolia. The goal of the trip was to hunt a threatened Mongolian sheep in the remote reaches of the country. In just the past three years, the Trumps’ excursions have already exhausted the Secret Service’s entire personnel budget. Remember, these are the same people who want to cut federal funding for the poor, elderly, and sick. But when it comes to their own lavish lifestyles, they have no problem raiding the treasury. We can’t vote these cronies out of office soon enough.”

Looking Ahead to the Elections

The Trump-enabling Republican-controlled senate, led by Mitch McConnell, has caused great harm to our country. To begin to repair the damage will require that Democrats win the presidency, keep control of the House, and gain control of the senate, where Democrats need to win a net minimum of three or four seats –– the more the better. The last of these tasks is the most challenging, but an analysis yesterday by Washington Post opinion writers suggests that chances of it happening, at least at the moment, are slightly better than even. It’s also lately been looking more likely that Trump will be defeated. To say we’re not out of the woods yet would be an extravagant understatement.

Case Study of a Journalistic Failure

I’m among those that believe that local and regional newspapers run by people who are committed to principles of competent, honest, and objective journalism are vital to the healthy workings of a democracy. The internet has subjected most such newspapers to severe financial pressure, generating fear of alienating significant portions of their readership, being called a liberal mouthpiece or a right-wing propagandist and losing subscribers and advertisers as a result.

My local paper is in this position, and I think it has adversely affected the quality of their editorials, which lately have avoided taking a clear-headed, principled stance on important issues. It was dispiriting this morning to read its endorsement for the Congressional Democratic primary race of a distinctly unpromising candidate because he “would be less partisan and able to provide some of the collaboration Congress requires.” The editors evidently thought it would be too risky to endorse his opponent. the capable, progressive, principled representative our district and Congress needs.

Barr and Hope

Attorney General William Barr, who has succeeded to a shocking degree in turning the Justice Department into an illicit political instrument of Trump –– harassing and trolling those who have stood up for the rule of law in defiance of Trump’s criminality and working diligently to shield Trump’s abettors from adverse consequences of due process of law –– encountered a stumbling block the other day, when the retired judge hired by the judge overseeing Barr’s attempt to rescue convicted perjurer and Trump henchman Michael Flynn from the operation of the criminal justice system, concluded: 

“The reasons offered by the Government are so irregular, and so obviously pretextual, that they are deficient. Moreover, the facts surrounding the filing of the Government’s motion constitute clear evidence of gross prosecutorial abuse. They reveal an unconvincing effort to disguise as legitimate a decision to dismiss that is based solely on the fact that Flynn is a political ally of President Trump.”

There’s still hope that our democracy can be saved from a fascistic takeover.

Primary Voting Research

In the next week I have to mail in my primary ballot and vote for one of the two Democratic contenders –– John Hickenlooper and Andrew Romanoff -–– to run against U.S. Senator Cory Gardner, a faithful Trumpian who pretends he thinks for himself and that he cares about his constituents and the country more than he does about remaining in office at any cost, but doesn’t. I know which of the two Democrats I’d prefer to see in the senate, but that probably won’t affect my vote, which will be for the one I think is most likely to oust Gardner. Today I’m going to call my friend in Denver who’s an expert on Colorado politics and see what he thinks.

A Decent Man

Running for president in 2012, Mitt Romney showed no awareness of the harsh inequities brought about by unbridled capitalism, but he was the sole Republican senator to vote for removing Trump from office in the impeachment trial. Sunday, he marched with Black Lives Matter protestors, for which Trump mocked him. Romney is deeply misguided in some respects, but in striking contrast to Trump, he has moral convictions. He is a decent man.

Good News Items

It was good to read in the online New York Times last night that New York City, having met required metrics, such as, for example, rate of new hospitalizations, rate of testing, and consistent decline in hospital deaths, is beginning to open up, cautiously and systematically. The line tracking good news items each day may possibly be turning up. A day may come, I’m bold enough to hope, when they surpass the bad news ones.

Real Religious Leaders

Real Religious Leaders, as distinguished from what Jennifer Rubin aptly characterizes as Trump’s “evangelical lackeys,” sharply rebuked Trump’s latest display of phony piety last week. As Rubin underscored: “Faith requires that we treat our fellow men and women with empathy, kindness, respect and generosity. Faith instructs us to eschew prejudice, misuse of power and ‘domination’ of the weak and the poor.”

Trump Sinks Ever Lower Than We Can Imagine

Yesterday, bragging about unexpected improvement in the unemployment rate, referring to the black man murdered by application of a policeman’s knee upon his neck for over eight minutes, Trump said, “Hopefully, George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country. It’s a great day for him, it’s a great day for everybody.”

With every layer lower in the muck Trump sinks, those who support him sink with him.

American Democracy — Signs of Life

Some high-ranking present and former military officials have very recently made clear that their loyalty is to the Constitution of the United States and the values it represents rather than to a man who is the commander and chief of the armed forces but flagrantly violates his oath to uphold the law under which he holds his office. That Trump’s behavior has become unacceptably revolting for many who are traditionally inclined to be unquestioning of authority indicates that American democracy is showing signs of life.

American Democracy –– Will It Live or Die?

Democracies typically morph into a dictatorship when the most powerful general in the country seizes power. For a civilian to succeed in attaining dictatorial rule, complicity on the part of the military is essential. The Founding Fathers, drafters of the U.S. Constitution, sought to establish a system of government that was protected as much as possible against a military takeover. To that end, they provided that the president, rather than a military leader, would be the commander and chief of our country’s armed forces.

What happens when a civilian who is a demagogue and aspiring despot is allowed to stay in power by a phalanx of corrupt and dishonorable senators who ignore his commission of high crimes and misdemeanors, refuse to remove him from office upon justly deserved impeachment, and allow him to place in office a fascistic minded attorney general, secretary of defense, and other powerful officials?

Then, ironically, the military becomes democracy’s last line of defense. The question becomes “Will the top military commanders block the autocratic takeover of our government or will they be complicit in extinguishing our democracy?”

It was a bad sign that General Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, put on his combat fatigues and traipsed around outside the White House grounds the other night with Trump and the secretary of defense while military forces tear-gassed peaceful demonstrators.

If Trump loses the election November 3rd (unless it’s by an overwhelming landslide), it is virtually certain that he will refuse to concede defeat, initiate a barrage of false claims of voting fraud, direct his autocratically minded attorney general to bring lawsuits in an effort to invalidate election results, and insist that he has a right to remain in office rather than acquiesce in a peaceful transition of power as is required under the Constitution and in keeping with the sacred traditions of our country.

In this event, protests and demonstrations will ensue that dwarf all previous instances by a wide margin, and our top military commanders will face a fateful moment of truth. We have no idea where their highest loyalties would prove to lie.

Trump Stunts

Having visited an Episcopal church Monday evening for the purpose of being videoed and photographed in front of it holding a bible, the idea being, I suppose, “If you are religious, vote for me, because, as you can see from this photo, I’m religious, which should be obvious because I’m holding a bible,” to make sure Catholics don’t feel left out, yesterday Trump visited a shrine to a recent Pope. I didn’t see it reported that he stood in front of it with a Rosary or a Catholic Missal –– maybe he’s getting cocky, imagining that devout Catholics will vote for him merely because he visited a place associated with Catholicism. Surrounded and supported by dishonorable and incompetent people, the only kind who will work for him, Trump tirelessly fashions stunts.

Beyond Weird

Last evening Trump ordered security forces to fire tear gas on peaceful protestors outside the White House preparatory to his walking to a nearby church so he could be photographed holding a bible. He had a two-fold objective: first, to make himself look like a tough law-and-order president, and second, to make himself look religious. What, after all, could be more Christian than teargassing people, then walking to a church and standing there holding a bible? 

Yet Republicans still play the game of Let’s Pretend That Allowing This Man To Remain in Office Isn’t a Continuing Clear and Present Danger to the United States of America.

It’s beyond fecklessness. It’s beyond shamelessness. It’s beyond weird.

What the Protests Are About

Many of the protestors and rioters may be demonstrating solely against the racially motivated police brutality exemplified in the killing of George Floyd. I suspect that for even greater numbers, that wretched event served as a catalyst that propelled them out on the streets, and that their feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction range over the entire state of affairs in our hapless country, most particularly the triumph of cynicism, greed and selfishness over concern for the common good.

Beating the Same Drum

Politics is only of peripheral interest to me. Sometimes I feel that I should write about something else, something besides how awful Trump is and how awful Trump enablers are. I think the reason I keep beating the same drum is that I’m ever mindful of Christiane Amanpour’s exhortation after the 2016 election: “Fight against the normalization of the unacceptable.” The sad thing is that the fight has been lost: Trump’s hating and hateful character, ever renewing itself, bursts ceaselessly out of his bloated persona and spreads across the land: a self-renewing flood of toxic waste impossible to contain behind a dam. 

The Two Types of Trump Supporters

By this point, any minimally informed person of good will should be able to judge whether Trump is morally and mentally fit to be president of the United States. There now remain only two types of people who would vote for him under any circumstances: (i) those who are driven by greed, resentment, or nihilism, and (ii) those who are deluded or have been misled. As Jennifer Rubin recently stated in one of her Washington Post columns: “Republicans’ failure to convict {Trump} at his Senate impeachment trial and willingness to line up behind him as their nominee make them morally culpable for his conduct.” It’s both shocking and tragic that the Republican Party has descended to such a base moral plane.

Biden’s Pick For V-P Candidate

To maximize chances of getting rid of Trump, Democrats must elicit a strikingly high turnout among black voters. The stench of yet another clearly unjustified killing of a black man by police officers, this time in Minneapolis, will seep into every corner and niche of the country and linger until past election day even if similar incidents are avoided in the coming months. I agree with those who think that Biden should pick a black woman to run with him. Names of several who are amply qualified come readily to mind. The candidate should not only be black, she should be someone whose commitment to reverse, remedy, and provide recompense for racial injustice should be clearly evident and convincing to justifiably skeptical voters.

Life After Trump

If Trump departs from the White House this coming January, trumpets should sound, and church bells should ring throughout the land. But even if Trump is gone, a great many of his allies, enablers, and boosters will remain in positions of power and, with few exceptions, continue to defile our principles and degrade our democracy. The ever perspicacious Katrina vanden Heuvel nailed it in one of her recent Washington Post columns: “But while Trump emits his own unique forms of venom, he is a reflection of, not a contrast to, today’s Republican Party.”

A Critical Task for Democrats

I read that, in 2016, 900,000 eligible black voters in Georgia didn’t vote. I also read that “the greatest danger is a feeling of hopelessness.” It’s likely that a lot of these people didn’t vote because they felt the situation was hopeless; that it wouldn’t matter if they vote. There’s a good chance that the upcoming election will turn on whether Democrats succeed in giving people like this realistic cause for hope.

Trump’s Stock in Trade

New York Times columnist Roger Cohen: “Autocracy feeds on fear, misery, resentment and lies.”

Greed, Power, and Trump

In this time of crisis, when so many people are slipping into poverty and health-imperiling deprivation, Trump and his allies have remained intent on tightening access to food stamps and have diverted much in the way of economic relief to the rich, the super rich, and political allies. Because of voter suppression and because the popular vote will not be decisive in the November election, Trump needs only to fool some of the people some of the time to further degrade our democracy and impose on us longer and more painfully his reign of mean-spiritedness, greed, resentment, misery, and lies.

Statistical Analysis of Medical Tests

I finally figured out how to calculate the probability that you are positive if you tested positive on a medical test.  To accomplish this, you have to have requisite data, as I have assumed I have in this hypothetical: 

Assume that a test yields a false positive 2% of the time. 

Assume that 10% of the test takers are actually positive.

You take the test and test positive.

 Problem: What are the odds that you are positive?

 Solution: Either you are positive and tested positive, or you are negative and tested false positive.

Assume 1000 people take the test.

Of the 100 who are actually positive, 98 test positive.

Of the 900 who are actually negative, 18 tested false positive. 

So, of the 1,000 taking the test, you were one of 116 test takers who tested positive.

So the odds are 98 out of 116 that you were a true positive. 

Therefore there’s a 83.05%  chance that you are a true positive.


Biden’s “You ain’t black” Gaffe

Biden is just about the most seasoned politician in America. Where are his political instincts? Why don’t they kick in when the thought of saying if you’re a Trump supporter “you ain’t black”? I know why that utterance occurred to him, but I don’t know why he hasn’t developed a monitor in his brain that warns him in time that this would be a self-destructive thing to say.

If there wasn’t sufficient reason for Biden to pick a black running mate before –– and I think there was ––  there is now. In my opinion Kamala Harris should be the one. And if she is, Stacey Abrams and a lot of other people should be relentless in getting the point across, particularly to black women voters, that they can help America set on a path to having a black woman president, and not have to wait that long for it to happen.

Antibodies Test Statistical Analysis Reconsidered

The other day, concerning my antibodies test, I wrote that “If the test shows a false positive only 1% of the time {as my test was claimed to}, that doesn’t mean that, if you test positive, there’s only a 1% chance it’s a false positive. Your chance of a false positive is affected by how many people who take the test are positive, and how many are not. For example, if out of 1,000 people who take the test, only 10% are positive, out of the 900 people who aren’t positive, 1% –– 9 people –– will test false positive. So, if you are test taker #1,001, you’re roughly nine times more likely to be a false positive than a true positive.” Then I said, “I think I have that right.” Reflecting upon this in the middle of the night, I began to doubt it. Suppose 10,000 people, instead of 1,000, have taken the test. Then of the 9,000 people who aren’t positive, 1% –– 90 people –– will test positive. So, by my logic, if you’re test taker #10,001, you’re 90 times more likely to be a false positive than a true positive.

That can’t be right. Why would the likelihood of your being a false positive depend on how many people have taken the test, and vary so widely? Something’s wrong here. I’ll investigate further.

Dual Tragedies

Serial lying no longer being sufficient to divert attention from his failings and follies, Trump has resorted to constructing whole swaths of alternative false history in a bid to delude greater numbers of people into imagining that he is morally and mentally fit to be president. To this end, despite the lack of a shred of evidence to support it, he has invented a new rallying cry – “OBAMAGATE,” which he calls “the biggest political crime in American history, by far!”

As great a tragedy as  having a sociopath in the White House is that so many people in powerful positions accept and even participate in his monstrous scams.

My Antibodies Test, concluded

My antibodies test came back negative, meaning that, despite some Covid-19 symptoms that accompanied the viral respiratory infection I came down with in mid-February after four days in New York City, my malady was almost certainly not Covid-19. This was a disappointing result; yet, even if my test had come back positive, I wouldn’t have felt I had a license to be less cautious, because a positive test result would likely have been a false positive for reasons I discussed in yesterdays’s blog. How likely, I have no idea because the woman who called from my doctor’s office with the results had no information about what percent of results are coming in positive and what percent negative in our area. 

My Antibodies Test

In mid-February, after spending four days in New York City, I developed a respiratory viral infection that featured certain symptoms associated with Covid-19. Yesterday I had an antibodies test that is supposed to be 99% accurate. I expect to learn the results today. You can’t evaluate the results of these tests without some statistical analysis. If the test shows a false positive only 1% of the time, that doesn’t mean that, if you test positive, there’s only a 1% chance it’s a false positive. Your chance of a false positive is affected by how many people who take the test are positive, and how many are not. For example, if out of 1,000 people who take the test, only 10% are positive, out of the 900 people who aren’t positive, 1% –– 9 people –– will test false positive. So, if you are test taker #1001, you’re roughly nine times more likely to be a false positive than a true positive.

I think I have that right.

When I get my test results today, I’m going to try to find out what percent of the people who have taken the test in my cohort, if there is such a thing as my cohort, tested positive. I’ll be surprised if I get a straight answer to this question. Even if I do, I’m not sure it will help me figure out what the odds are that I really do have antibodies even if my test came out positive.

America’s Democracy Is in the Fight of Its Life

In a chilling op-ed in this morning’s Washington Post, Evelyn N. Farkas, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia who is presently running for Congress, describes the cynical, phony, Putin-style, extreme right-wing tactics mounted against her. “In President Vladimir Putin’s Russia,” she writes, “disinformation and intimidation tactics are commonly used to silence domestic opposition. . . False allegations, followed by contradictory, also false, narratives are the norm in Russian media and political discourse. . . In Trump’s America, similar tactics are taking hold.”

Trump and his allies aren’t content with telling bald-faced lies, they are constructing elaborate false constructions of recent and current history, dressing them up with phony investigations, and disseminating them with mock outrage in a full-court press assault on truth, decency, and fairness. This year, like no other, our democracy is fighting for its life.

Trump: a Case of Res Ipsa Loquitur

If voting were limited to regular viewers of Fox News, the right-wing propaganda TV channel, would Trump be sure to win the election? Apparently so, though it’s hard to understand why, if, as I assume, Fox shows clips of Trump speaking from time to time. His extreme unfitness for office is evident from his utterances and body language alone. No further evidence should be necessary, though there are mountains of it from which I take it most Fox News viewers are never exposed.

Another Day in Surreal Land

Not the worst of Trump’s utterances and actions yesterday, but unacceptably bad, was his expressed hostility to testing on the ground that the more testing you do, the more cases you find, whereas if you test less, you have fewer cases.               

This is the logic of a mad man. Trump’s has a sick and twisted mind. Every day he remains in office is tragedy renewed. His supporters should slink away in shame. 

The American Psychosis on Display

The most disgusting image I’ve seen on TV lately is that of the assemblage of goons assembled in front of the Michigan capitol building protesting lockdowns in place to suppress spread of the Covid-19 virus. With their signs and automatic weapons and American flags and confederate flags, and their posturing, and their mindless grinning and restless looks, they epitomize the American psychosis of bellicosity and resentment nurtured by Trump and countenanced by Republican politicians. As Jennifer Rubin noted recently in a Washington Post column, “President Trump has cemented the Republican Party as the home of xenophobia, racism, anti-intellectualism, cruelty and lawlessness.”


Trump’s Role Model

George Soros: “In Hungary, Viktor Orbán has already used the COVID-19 emergency and a captured parliament to legally appoint himself dictator.”

Democratic control of the House of Representatives is probably all that has kept Trump from achieving de facto autocratic power. 

Barr, Trump, and the Law

Headline: “More than 1,900 former Justice Department employees again call for Barr to resign {for} moving to drop the case against Michael Flynn.”

Barr should be impeached and removed, just as Trump should have been impeached and removed. Barr is a traitor to American democracy. Ditto the Republican senators who voted not to remove Trump from office after he was impeached. Their acceding to Trump’s claim that he is above the law is the only thing that has kept him in office and out of prison.


Headline in Vox: “It’s time to take UFOs seriously.”

 No it’s not.

The Growing Crisis

In a Washington Post op-ed yesterday, titled “The Storm We Can’t See,” Garrett M. Graff makes a strong case for his assertion that we haven’t begun to grasp how much damage the pandemic will do. Our survival as an ordered society is at stake. 

We need to keep job positions viable; not have them evaporate, or if they must evaporate, help workers find employment in new endeavors, including ones in the nature of public works programs such as kept the wolf from the door for tens of millions during the Great Depression. We need to support people impoverished by this catastrophe. Our first responsibility is to those who would lack adequate nourishment, shelter, and health care without public help. 

Graff suggests that, if we escape a crisis “only” on the scale of the Great Depression, we would be lucky. There’s a very good chance that he’s right.


A Sampling of Recent Observations as to How Trump Has Made America Great Again

Nature Magazine: “The EPA is becoming a shell of its former self.  Its leaders have chosen to abdicate leadership, disregard evidence and expose the country’s environment and health to risk of further degradation.” 

Timothy Egan in the New York Times: “A country that turned out eight combat aircraft every hour at the peak of World War II could not produce enough 75-cent masks or simple cotton nasal swabs for testing in this pandemic.”

Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post: “President Trump has cemented the Republican Party as the home of xenophobia, racism, anti-intellectualism, cruelty and lawlessness.”

A Dark Day for Democracy

Yesterday the Justice Department has dropped its prosecution of Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser. Robert Reich commented: “Flynn had previously pleaded guilty twice to lying to F.B.I. agents . . . is getting zero jail time for lying to the F.B.I, undermining prosecutors, and betraying the country . . . Attorney General William Barr has turned the Justice Department into nothing more than a political tool for Trump to wield against his enemies and withdraw against his friends. This is how dictatorships are built.”

Trump has been preparing to pardon Flynn because Flynn put loyalty to Trump over duty to the country. Whether it was Trump’s idea or Barr’s we may never know, but the two of them surely discussed the matter and decided that their common goal of perpetuating Trump’s presidency and moving the country toward a right-wing autocracy would be better served if Barr dropped charges against Flynn, sparing Trump the political blow-back from pardoning him.

Democracy at Bay

The recently released 2020 Freedom House’s annual Nations in Transit Report details the continuing decline in democracy around the world. The report states that “a growing number of leaders around the world have dropped even the pretense of playing by the rules of democracy.” 

Returning Trump to his towers and golf courses next January would be a big step forward in reversing this baleful trend.

Wouldn’t It Be Wonderful

Katrina vanden Heuvel quoting the Reverend William Barber: “May we have the necessary righteous indignation in this moment to fight for transformation.”

Wouldn’t be wonderful if this devastating pandemic could be a catalyst for a transformation of our government and society from one driven by greed and resentment to one driven by beneficence and concern for the common good.

Voting By Mail and American Democracy

There’s a good chance of a new wave of Covid-19 infections in the fall. Voting in person at polling stations is likely to be risky, if not outright dangerous, for many, if not most, voters. Voting by mail is the obvious solution. That system has been in place here in Colorado and in several other states for several years, and it works smoothly and efficiently. Voting by mail should be national policy. 

Most Republicans want to prevent voting by mail from being an option. Preventing voting by mail fits in with their general policy of voter suppression –– disenfranchising as many people as possible in an effort to tilt elections in their favor. Trump wants to shut down or cripple the U.S. Postal Service as a precaution to make sure voting by mail doesn’t happen.

There’s a chance that American democracy will survive this nightmare of Trump and Trumpism. It’s too early to tell.

Need for a Paradigm Shift — Part II

The needed paradigm shift in this country requires (i) the decisive defeat of Trump and (ii) Democratic control of both Houses of Congress, thereby enabling the adoption and implementation of honorable, decent, compassionate, sensible, foresighted, competent, enlightened, science-based foreign and domestic policy, the elements of which are too numerous and complex for me to attempt to comment on here, except to say that they would include making freedom of want a reality for everyone within our borders and ensure as well freedom of opportunity, both financed by a far more progressive tax policy that, once in place, could be justly described as a system no longer rigged for the rich and powerful, and especially for the super rich and super powerful, but for all the people, especially the least rich and least powerful.

Need for a Paradigm Shift  ––   Part I

The economy is in precipitous decline. Until a widely available vaccine for Covid-19 is available, we’ll have to have continued waves of infections, restrictions on movement, and impediments to production to avoid a rise in debilitating cases to levels that overwhelm health-care services and a rise in the number of deaths from the virus in the United States from over one-hundred thousand, which it is almost certain to reach by summer, to over a million, which it could well approach within a year in the absence of an effective national policy of managing the crisis. We need a paradigm shift in public policy.

The appalling and destructive Inequality in wealth and income obtaining in this country has been greatly exacerbated by the crisis. Increasing numbers of people slide into insolvency every week. Of the four essential freedoms Franklin Roosevelt said should be the right of every person, two of them, freedom from want and freedom from fear, are slipping out of the grasp of most Americans. 

Though there is no chance of having a responsible national government until next January, it’s not too early to think about where a paradigm shift could take us ––  about how we could turn the tide.

Looking in on the World from the Outside

When, as in my case, you’re 89 and most of the people you’ve ever known, including your parents, all your aunts and uncles, your only sibling, the last two, save one, of your last remaining first cousins, and two of your closest friends have died, the last four within the past month, it can alter your perspective. Empathizing with them, you begin to feel as if you’re with them, as if you are looking in on the world from outside it, as if you were an explorer from an alien planet. It’s quite a heady feeling.

Tara Reade and the Putin Taint

Tara Reade may be telling the truth about Joe Biden’s having sexually assaulted her in 1993, but in this he-said / she-said controversy, her story is contaminated by her past outspoken admiration for Vladimir Putin. Putin is a murderous autocrat and an enemy of democracy, who has worked assiduously to destabilize the Untied States and played a major role in the installation of our sociopathic president. The mental and moral stability of any American who is admirer of Putin is deeply suspect. Reade’s complaint should be a non-factor in the election. We have a country to save.


You may have read that Vice-President Mike Pence visited the Mayo Clinic and spoke with patients, that he was asked to wear a mask, and that he declined to do so, manifestly because he thought doing so would displease Trump. Probably only a handful of Trumpian hangers-on and other nihilists in our country would behave the way Pence did, justifying completely Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin’s characterization of him as a sniveling sycophant. Pence is quite a phenomenon, a man without a heart, a soul, or a brain.

Socialists –– The Big Lie

Right-wing propagandists, who comprise a majority of Republicans, try to fool people into voting for Republicans by claiming that progressives, in fact all Democrats, are dangerous liberals, which is to say, socialists, who want to raise everyone’s taxes and spend a lot of money on bloated bureaucracies whose main function, to the extent they’re not just spinning their wheels, is to impose burdensome regulations on everyone and dole handouts to every freeloader in the country, stifle free enterprise, and turn America into a Godless society like Soviet Russia under Stalin. That’s what you’re supposed to think when you hear the word ‘socialist,’ and “socialist” is what you’re supposed to think when you hear the word “liberal” or the word “Democrat.” It’s a big lie, repeated, embroidered upon, and pumped into the consciousness a huge segment of the population every day.

America the Oligarchy, continued

I haven’t quite finished Robert Reich’s new book, The System –– Who Rigged It and How We Fix It. The evidence for his case is overwhelming: The system is rigged for the rich and powerful, and this cuts across party lines. The man who epitomizes the situation, JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, is a Democrat who talks a good liberal game, which hasn’t kept him from being a prime operative in promoting the interests of the rich at the expense of the beleaguered middle class and the oppressed poor. Summing up the problem, Reich quotes Louis Brandeis: “We can have a democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” Today, I’ll finish the book and tomorrow say something about the hard problem: how to fix it.

America the Oligarchy

In his new book, The System –– Who Rigged It and How We Fix It, Robert Reich meticulously lays out the facts supporting his assertion that the United States of America has become an oligarchy, or close to it. We’ve retained the trappings of a democracy, but the way things work is that the rich and powerful employ armies of lobbyists and finance politicians who carry out their self-serving greed-driven agendas.

Although neither Bernie Sanders nor Elizabeth Warren were able to become the Democratic presidential candidate, they were essentially right in their accusations that the system is rigged in favor of the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor and the middle class. Biden would make a better president than Trump by an astronomically wide margin, and it will be a tragedy of an extreme dimension if he is not elected president, but it’s not clear whether, as president, he would initiate and succeed in bringing into being the fundamental reforms needed to convert the system into one that serves the people rather than the rich and the powerful.

to be continued tomorrow

The Moral Pandemic

Trump speculates on national TV that ingesting bleach might be an effective way of thwarting the coronavirus. It’s another day of Trump being Trump, and another day that Trump supporters, Trump enablers, Trump apologists, and Trump tolerators should be ashamed of themselves. That they are not –– that there is a substantial risk that this man may still be in power after Inauguration Day, January 2021–– is indicative of a pandemic-like moral infection spread across the land.

Why Write a Blog Every Day

Rather recently, I decided to think more about why I was doing what I was doing. Does writing a blog every day fit in with what I consider to be my purpose in life, which I decided is to have fun and make the world a better place? It’s fun, so I can check that off. And I hope that people who read what I write will find it to be stimulating and informative; if it is, then in a very modest way it should be tending to make the world a better place.

Another reason I’m trying to write a blog every day is to force myself to get my thoughts in order, to think more and not just drift through life. The playwright Eugene Ionesco said, “I write to find out what I think.” I understand what he meant.

Living in an Oligarchy

In his important new book, The System, which I’ve started reading, Robert Reich describes what it’s like to live in an oligarchy. Russia is an example.  The United States has been drifting in that direction for decades. I’ll write more about this when I finish the book.

Income and Wealth Inequality

A lot of people are seeing their savings wiped out by the virus crisis. The numbers of people who are absolutely impoverished is rising. The attitude of Republicans is let them eat cake. Amazon has thrived. I read that the Jeff Bezos net worth has increased by 24 billion dollars this year. We need to provide everybody with a minimum income. The well-off, the rich, the super rich, and super super rich can afford to pay for it. The shocking and disgraceful increase in income and and wealth inequality needs to be reversed, fast. The survival of our country as a decent place in the world is at stake.

Losing It

I’ve visited about a dozen U.S. national parks over the years. If I had to pick one I considered to be the most memorable, it would be Sequoia National Park in California. I was sad to read an article yesterday by a park ranger, who reported that these majestic trees are dying; enchanting forests are withering: “‘Giant sequoias are so good at surviving that you almost never see a dead standing sequoia’, I used to tell visitors,” he wrote. “‘They keep living and growing for thousands of years, until they finally get too top-heavy for their shallow root systems to support. Then they topple over.’ I don’t say that anymore.”

I read that 2020 is shaping up to be the warmest year on record. The Great Barrier Reef incurred terrible bleaching this year. We’re losing the natural world. It will take a revolution of human desires to save much of it.

Perfection Cut Short

Because I don’t expect to travel this summer, I shifted some of my 2020 budget for travel to music, thereby enabling me to acquire Sony MDR -1A headphones, whereupon I went to YouTube and was treated to a terrific rendition of my favorite piece of music, Darius Milhaud’s Le Boeuf sur le Toit, performed in this instance by Alondra de la Parra and the Orchestre de Paris. I was happily mesmerized, a state the conductor seemed to share with me, until, as the final notes of this spirited performance were still sounding, it was cut off with an ad. Oh, our wonderful but flawed world.

The Power of Resentment

According to polls, 20% of Bernie Sanders supporters say they won’t vote for Biden, and, of these, three-quarters say they will cross over and vote for Trump. It’s clear that these people don’t share Sanders’s ideals and aspirations. Like the people who attend Trump rallies, with their hats and their signs and wearing their stupid grins, they are driven by resentment rather than by ideals.

The Uncertainty Index

If there were an uncertainty index, I think it would be rising to new levels. Yesterday, I read several articles by experts in economics, epidemiology, and vaccines. In each case, I began by thinking, now, at last, I’ll get a grip on what’s in store for us, but no clarity emerged from any quarter, except that the top vaccine expert said it would be two years minimum before an effective vaccine would be generally available. It would be an exceedingly difficult time even if we had a normal president. Having Trump and his enablers in control of the federal government raises the uncertainty index much higher.

The Decadence Index

I’m not sure whether there is, in fact, a decadence index. If there is, one of the useful sources for constructing it would be the current Hammacher Schlemmer catalog. Among the merchandise featured are items I think of as tailored for people who haven’t been taxed enough. They serve as indicators of the degree of decadence in America.

The latest catalog, which I received yesterday, contains an item that sets a new high in decadence: a very special type of rubber raft you can prop yourself up on while floating about in your swimming pool. No more tedious paddling across the pool for you once you own it. No such plebeian labor is required when you’re the captain of this Hammacher Schlemmer raft. It’s equipped a tiny electric motor that will propel you across your pool with no effort at all. 

A Feeling of Uncertainty

A feeling of uncertainty hangs in the air. It’s about a lot of things, most acutely at the moment about the course of the virus crisis, the economy, and the political future of the United States.  I remember only two occasions of comparable uncertainty. The first was after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The second was the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.

I talked to a cousin of mine on the phone this morning, someone I’ve known since we were toddlers in 1932. We agreed that this is the strangest time we’ve witnessed in the long string of intervening years.

Could Inflation Be Around the Corner?

A non-expert’s guess-view:

Traditionally, a depression is accompanied by deflation, and wars are accompanied by inflation.

What about a depression attendant to a war against a virus?

It seems to me that, because the Trumpian administration will probably continue to do everything wrong without fail, the U.S. will get in such a hole, and so many people will be so desperate for relief, that doling out cash will eventually become overwhelmingly politically necessary. Therefore, I think the case for a surprising (to most) uptick in inflation is a good one.

A Simple Truth

Trump: “When someone is president of the United States, the authority is total.”

Wikipedia: Megalomania: “a delusional mental illness that is marked by feelings of personal omnipotence and grandeur.” 

To support the reelection of this man is deeply ignorant or deeply immoral.

Easy Predictions

It’s only April but it already seems easy to pick who will be Time Magazine’s choice for person of the year 2020. It will be the health care workers and attendants who risked their lives to tend for the sick and save the lives of others. Trump, once again it won’t be you, but don’t fret: You’ll remain in the limelight, yet again receiving the award for being the gravest threat to American Democracy, and you’ll be able to feel extra proud of yourself for having beat out two extremely formidable competitors, Mitch McConnell and Attorney General William Barr.

The 180º-wide Blind Spot –– a Case Study

I got an email inviting me to watch a podcast conducted by a prominent liberal intellectual who presumably has a grasp on what’s been going on in this country. The subject matter is the shortcomings of Joe Biden. I’m aware of  the shortcomings of Joe Biden. Devoting a podcast to discussing them is the equivalent of arguing that a lifeboat should not be launched from the Titanic because the varnish is peeling on the brightwork.

What the Charts Say

With about a dozen well-chosen charts in a New York Times op-ed this morning, David Leonhardt and Yaryna Serkez lay bare the sickening growth in income and wealth inequality in the United States over the past decades. The concentration of wealth among the super rich and the very rich is appalling, as has been its effect. Money is power, money rules.

The trend toward the U.S. becoming a feudal society may be reversed in the coming decade; there’s enough of a chance of that happening to give cause for hope and motive for activism.

Does the Federal Government Have Plans to Deal with the Coronavirus Crisis Going Forward?

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin supplies the answer to this important question:

“No, there are no plans. The states are on their own and, worse, must contend with a vengeful, ignorant and impulsive president.”

American Democracy in the ICU

If American democracy –– our Constitutional system of government –– were a person, it would be like one with a severe case of Covid-19. It would be in the ICU, the intensive care unit of a hospital.

Washington Post columnist  E. J. Dionne writes: “We know that this fall’s election is in deep jeopardy. We have been warned that Trump, the GOP, and the party bosses in robes on the U.S. Supreme Court are perfectly willing to obstruct the right to vote of those most likely to vote Democratic.” New York Times columnist Paul Krugman notes: “What if Trump loses? . . .He’ll claim that Joe Biden’s victory was based on voter fraud.”

Republicans have shown that they care not a whit about our core values, the Constitution, and the rule of law. There’s every indication that they would prefer a self-perpetuating, authoritarian, right-wing government than a Democratic victory at the polls, and they’ll do whatever they can get away with to bring about that result. Our nation is in peril as never before.

Universal Vote-By-Mail Is a Necessity

Opinion Headline: “Democrats should make voting reform a nonnegotiable baseline for the next stimulus bill: Vote-by-mail is the only way to ensure free and fair elections in November.”

Agreed. Republicans fear–– and Trump has voiced this fear expressly –– that their Party will lose power unless voting by great numbers of eligible voters is suppressed. The right-wing majority justices of the Supreme Court have made clear that they are onboard with this strategy. The only way to ensure that the general election this November can be free and open is to require universal mail-in voting. There aren’t two honorable sides to the question. Democrats should not relent on it.

The Authoritarian-Minded Court

Monday, April 6th, the right-wing majority of the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling upholding the Wisconsin governor’s order extending the deadline for returning mail-in ballots, which voters had not received in time because of delays relating to the coronavirus crisis. The Court’s rationale was that the extension would have violated the integrity of the electoral process. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in dissent, the court’s order “will result in massive disenfranchisement” of voters, the opposite of preserving  the integrity of the electoral process.

     Step by step, the Court has been moving toward validating right-wing authoritarian rule.

The Tragedy of Trump Supporters

Trump’s ineptitude, incompetence, meanness, and muddle-headedness have been on full display during the course of the coronavirus crisis. I don’t know if a constructive thought ever wells up in his mind. If it does, it’s instantly snuffed out by pathological narcissism of such intensity that it overrides all other processes in his brain. Shame on those who, though they are aware of what kind of man he is, would perpetuate his remaining in office.

What 2020 Will Be Remembered For

Headline: “Trump, GOP challenge efforts to make voting easier amid coronavirus pandemic.”

American democracy, our Constitutional system, and equal rights and justice under the law are not values and institutions that most Republicans and their leaders care about. Their overriding interest is in acquiring and holding on to power whatever the cost. The Republican Party is composed of disparate factions held together by the common purpose of transforming our country into a vehicle for realizing their worldly goals and emotional aspirations. The principle factions are greedy plutocrats and those drawn along in their wake, religious nationalists, people driven by mindless resentment, and the deluded disaffected. 2020 will long be remembered as the year of the coronavirus and the year when American democracy died or survived.

One of the Greatest

One summer when I nearing the end of my teenage years, I played poker occasionally with my friends, Robert, Kenneth, and Peter, who were brothers. They had an impressive house overlooking Huntington Bay on Long Island. Their father had made a lot of money. At one of these sessions, as one of them, after successful bluffing, raked in the chips, he said, “As dad says, ‘Play ‘em as if you got ‘em’.”                                                             

That’s Trump’s way of operating, in spades. He’s one of the greatest bluffers of all time. It’s his only talent, but it’s taken him a long way.

Trump, a One-Man Scourge

Blaming everyone but himself and his sycophantic followers for his failure every step of the way to take basic steps to institute a federal response to the coronavirus crisis, Trump has proven himself, once again, to be not only corrupt and dishonest, which he incontrovertibly demonstrated before the coronavirus crisis arose, but ignorant and incompetent to a degree that will likely cost tens of thousands of lives.

Another Red Light Flashing: Danger, Danger.

In a Facebook post yesterday, former Senator Al Franken mocked Mike Pence’s six-minute, rambling, stupid, non-responsive spiel after Trump decided to evade a tough question by turning the mic over to the him.  After Pence’s pathetic performance, Trump directed a zinger at him. Franken predicts that Trump will dump Pence and pick Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor and U.S. ambassador to the U.N. to be his running mate.

Would Trump dump his most slavishly loyal supporter over the past three and a half years? You bet. Trump no longer thinks he needs Pence to become president so he can be sure of getting pardoned for his crimes, and Haley is unquestionably a more formidable running mate than the hollow-brained V-P.

If Franken is right –– and I think he is — that’s bad news for Democrats, bad news for America, and bad news for humanity.

If Haley is Trump’s running mate, it will be all the harder to get Trump out of office. All the harder but no less necessary.

The Office of the President of the United States and Trump

It’s been a tradition in our country to respect the Office of the President of the United States. However much you disagree with the president’s policies, he is our duly elected president. The president must be accorded a high degree of respect simply because he is the president. So it goes, beclouding Trump’s ignorance, mendacity, and narcissistic character that will continue to contaminate and weaken our country every day he remains in office. 

The Smearing of Joe Biden

Between now and the election in November, expect an ever increasing flood of attacks, smears, accusations, allegations, canards, and all manner of disinformation and phony revelations concerning Joe Biden. Recently, there has been a flood of accusations that on multiple occasions he inappropriately touched women. It’s highly likely that they are all either false or highly exaggerated. Even if they were not, Biden would remain a better candidate than Trump by an astronomically large margin. 

Pro Sanders Extremists.

Report: “15 percent of Sanders supporters say in polling that they would vote for President Trump over Biden.”  These people may be left-wing nuts rather than right-wing nuts, but they are of the same ilk as the people you’ve seen in clips of Trump rallies, possessed by a mix of stupidity, nihilism, and resentment that blots out rational brain processes. In their enthusiasm for Sanders run amok they may tip the scales  and perpetuate the plague of Trump.

Sanders may be remembered more as a moral failure than as a champion of progressivism if he fails to stop encouraging his nihilistic supporters.

The Flawed Demagogue

Trump has been rightly praised as a gifted demagogue. He has exhibited astonishing brilliance in this art, but he has a remarkable flaw that may result in his undoing. He is incapable of faking being a decent person. His psyche is so parched that he can’t generate crocodile tears, much less those characteristic of the vast majority of humans. What New York Times columnist Roger Cohen refers to as Trump’s “eerie inhumanity” is so manifest that one must suppose that those who support his reelection are morally compromised as well. If this flaw isn’t sufficient to bring about Trump’s downfall in November, it will signal that our country is deeply flawed itself.

We’re # 1

Headline: “The destruction of India’s judicial independence is almost complete.” If, as it appears to be, that’s the case, India can no longer be considered to be the world’s largest democracy. That means we’re #1! Yippee! Except if Trump is still in the White House after inauguration day next January, Indonesia will become #1, if it qualifies, or if not, maybe Mexico, if it qualifies. Safest bet for #1 would probably be Japan, whose democracy was born in the U.S.A.

Bernie Sanders’s Duty

Bernie Sanders isn’t going to be the Democratic nominee for president. Yet he insists on remaining in the race and arguing and allowing  his supporters to argue that he would be a superior choice than Biden.  This involves sharp criticism of Biden.

This is reprehensible, because it increases the chance that Trump will be reelected. Sanders is violating his primary duty, which is just the opposite. Basically decent people who commit wrongs often allow themselves to do so by rationalizing their behavior. I’m sure that Sanders is thinking that by staying in the race he will increase the chances that his policies, which are more progressive than Biden’s, will gain greater political traction. In particular, Sanders hopes that he will be able to persuade more people to support “Medicare-for-All.”

I think that would be a good thing, but it’s of trivial importance compared to the stark necessity of getting rid of Trump. It’s a tragic failing of Sanders that he doesn’t see that.

The Power of Trump’s Tweets

Trump has a huge following of faithful readers of his tweets. You don’t need to read the tweets themselves to know what they say: They are regurgitated in summary form in letters to the editor that appear in your local paper. One this morning I read was collection of falsehoods and non-sequiturs worthy of Trump himself. The author’s conclusion: “This virus does validate all of President Donald Trump’s major agenda items.”


Contrasts in Leadership

One of the surprising developments during the coronavirus crisis has been the emergence of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as a conspicuously energetic, competent, and rational leader. The contrast between his press briefings and those of Trump expose in a glaring light how profoundly unfit Trump is to hold office. 

Busy day and missed blog. Back tomorrow.

How Base and Corrupt the Republican Party Has Become

Robert Reich reports that “the Senate GOP bill creates a $500,000,000,000 slush fund for corporations that only Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has control over; doesn’t require reporting of recipients for six months; provides no guarantee that Trump’s own businesses won’t benefit; has no worker protections and only one weak restriction on executive bonuses.”

Needed: Breaths of Fresh Air

As what seems like an apocalypse plunked down from nowhere on the course of history, how welcome breaths of fresh air would be. Some may come! One that should would be a well-articulated expression of utter disgust with Trump and his enablers and kindred scoundrels by Bernie Sander coupled with his dropping out of the presidential race and urging his supporters to get unreservedly behind Joe Biden. 

Leadership Contrasts

I’ve never been a particular admirer of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, but I was impressed with the Corvid-19 briefing he delivered, shown on television yesterday. He was calm, methodical, thorough, transparent, and authentic. His presentation was a model of competent leadership. That confirmed cases in New York State greatly outnumber those in any other state. may be because New York leads every other state in testing. I was left with the impression that Cuomo is doing everything that can be done, and he’s doing it right.

What a contrast with the unreality shows Trump has been putting on recently with his sycophant-in-chief, Mike Pence, standing, as always, dutifully beside him. Watching Trump perform, one wonders why anyone would vote for him even if their sole source of information about him came from watching him talk.

A Tale of Two Charts

Vox’s chart this morning showing the progression in newly diagnosed Covid-19 cases in Italy and the U.S. is instructive. Italy appears to be about two weeks ahead of the U.S. Following the Italian experience, the exponentially rising curve of U.S. cases yields a frighteningly high number two weeks from now. There’s no reason to believe that the U.S. containment efforts are more efficient than those in Italy. The worst is yet to come and it’s coming faster than it has been.

Call for a Progressive Agenda

I hope that Bernie Sanders will delay no longer in dropping out of the presidential race and that he will throw his full support to Joe Biden. This is the only responsible thing for him to do, because defeating Trump in November eclipses all other considerations. I also hope that if Biden becomes president, he will press for a more progressive agenda than the Democratic Party and recent Democratic presidents (Barrack Obama and Bill Clinton) have espoused. 

I can’t enlarge on that here; suffice to quote a recent comment of Rober Reich: “The biggest U.S. airlines spent 96 percent of free cash flow over the last decade to buy back shares of their own stock in order to boost executive bonuses and please wealthy investors. American Airlines alone repurchased more than $12.5 billion of its shares over the last ten years. Now, they expect taxpayers to bail them out to the tune of $54 billion.

The system has been tilted to benefit big corporations and rich people. I believe the system should be tilted in the opposite direction.

Supervening Circumstances and the Like

I was unable to post a blog yesterday and earlier this morning because of technical difficulties with my website provider’s software, and because of supervening circumstances this blog will not resume until tomorrow.

America’s Luck Runs Out

The playing out of history in the Trumpian age seemed surreal even before the Covid-19 pandemic spread through the world. Within the course of a month, we’ve entered a period of unimaginable chaos. In past mortal crises, America has been lucky  enough to have inspired leadership. I’m thinking of the American Revolution and the years that followed in which the founding fathers brought forth the Constitution, how it was Lincoln who was president during the Civil War,  Franklin Roosevelt at the depth of the Great Depression and the onset of World War II, and John F, Kennedy  during the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

On this grave occasion the leader in power is an ignorant malignant narcissist abetted by an assemblage knaves and fools.

Bernie and Biden –– The Debate

The other day I wrote: “Bernie has an obligation to refrain from saying anything that would hurt Biden in the general election. He has a patriotic and moral duty to try to raise Biden’s stature. Subject to this stricture, he has plenty of room to legitimately argue that Democrats should pursue more progressive policies and to try to inspire the Democrats to move in that direction.”

Bernie didn’t rise to the occasion. He lost sight of his duty, which was to make it more likely that Trump would be defeated as a result of the debate. Instead, he acted as if his goal was to defeat Biden in the debate. He hectored and badgered Biden, and yet again failed to lay out how, as a practical matter, his laudable dream of Medicare for All could be set in place. Lacking grace, finesse, or humor, he gave no indication that he could be effective leader as president. 

Biden is an uninspiring choice as a candidate, but he’s enormously experienced, decent, stolid, and has a better chance of beating Trump than Bernie, which is the only thing that counts. I hope he wins decisively in tomorrow’s primaries in four important states.

COVID-19 –– the Prospects

Rachel Maddow’s interview with Dr. David Ho last evening was illuminating. Dr. Ho was instrumental in developing anti-viral drugs that subdued the AIDs virus. He and his team are working on developing a similarly effective drug to subdue COVID-19. Dr. Ho was optimistic that this can be accomplished, but it will probably take at least a year before any such drug can be widely available, and availability of an effective vaccine appears to be at least a year-and-a-half away. In the meantime, drastic measures must be taken to slow the rate of new infections. The experience of China and South Korea demonstrate that aggressive interventions can succeed. At best, tough times lie ahead.

The Pandemic and Interventions

There’s a lot to be said for checking online editions of the New York Times and the Washington Pose. For example, in today’s Times, William Kristoff and colleagues display an interactive graph based on professional research. It’s critically important to put the brakes on the natural exponential rise in cases of people infected with the coronavirus infection. This can be accomplished by aggressive interventions described in the article. You can be the virtual policy decider by moving a vertical bar on the graph that represents the date you initiate aggressive interventions. It’s an enlightening exercise. Hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake.

Biden and Bernie –– The Debate

Even though Bernie’s chances of being the nominee are between slim and zero, he has chosen to stay in the race, and will debate Biden Sunday as planned. Bernie has an obligation to refrain from saying anything that would hurt Biden in the general election. He has a patriotic and moral duty to try to raise Biden’s stature. Subject to this stricture, he has plenty of room to legitimately argue that Democrats should pursue more progressive policies and to try to inspire the Democrats to move in that direction. 

A principal goal of Biden’s should be to inspire confidence in his candidacy among Bernie supporters. He can do that by acknowledging the great service Bernie has done by shining a bright light on big money corruption of politicians and on the shocking and destructive rise of income inequality in this country. Biden should outdo Bernie in this respect by citing statistics and instances with specificity that has been lacking in Bernie’s arguments. 

Biden can rightly assert that he and Bernie largely share the same goals, but he can and should point out that Bernie’s dreams would not be translated into reality: they are not achievable politically, and they are full of holes economically. Biden should explain how and why he can advance progressive agendas more efrectively than Bernie could, and how he intends to do so. Biden’s performance should be notable for equanimity, steadfastness, patience, meticulousness, affirmation of common purpose, and absence of rancor. Let’s hope Bernie’s is as well. 

Biden and Bernie

Biden won decisively in yesterday’s primary contests. Barring a medical catastrophe, he’s almost certain to be the Democratic nominee. The reason he did so well is that most voters believe that he is more likely than Bernie to defeat Trump and understand that this eclipses all other considerations. It’s now important for all people of good will to get behind Biden and work to defeat Trump, keep control of the House, and, if at all possible, flip the senate to Democratic control, so that the task of rehabilitating our country from the damage inflicted on it by Trump and Trumpism can begin. 

A danger is that many of Bernie’s boosters will be embittered and sit on their hands rather than support and vote for Biden. 

These are people –– and there are many of them –– who don’t understand that the perfect can be the enemy of the good. Many of them are too young to remember how Ralph Nader, running for president in 2000, claimed that there was no difference between G.W. Bush and Al Gore and peeled off a critical percentage of progressive voters. If Nader had supported Gore, Gore would have been elected president and we would have been spared the disastrous presidency of G, W, Bush. Trump is a far greater danger to American democracy and to the entire world than was G. W. Bush. I fervently hope that Bernie boosters will understand what’s at stake and will support Biden.

Biden has work to do too, which I’ll discuss tomorrow.

The Coronavirus

The virus is highly contagious. Cases in the U.S. seem to be doubling every week. If the present trend continues, something like eight million people may be infected by the end of June. Most people have mild cases and need little if any medical help, but if the number of people who are infected continues to grow at the present rate, the relatively small percentage of people who will need intensive medical care will be so numerous that hospitals and clinics will be overwhelmed, and the fatality rate will rise substantially higher than it would reach if the spread of infections had been slowed.

In trying to minimize risks and contravene facts instead of educating the public and taking steps to reduce the rate of spreading of the disease, the Trump administration is, in yet another way, inflicting tremendous damage on our country.

Health Care Policy and the Presidential Race

On Facebook you can see a little video by Robert Reich in which he convincingly demonstrates that Medicare for All would provide more comprehensive coverage and cost a lot less than the present system. This would be achieved because private insurance companies would be cut out except for supplementary insurance, which some companies currently offer to those eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. 

These insurance companies are largely parasitical. Why tolerate them? The only reason they exist is that they finance legislators. To get rid of them, we would have to have a critical mass of politicians agree to spurn their largesse. It’s unrealistic to think that such a thing would happen just because a proponent of Medicare for All, like Bernie Sanders, became president. Politicians inclined to keep the present system –– a large majority –– point to the huge number of insurance employees who would be thrown out of work, and the hardship such a seismic shift would impose on investors, whose shares of stock in health care insurance companies would plummet if they suddenly lost most of their business. Offsets could be devised to deal with these problems, but  as a matter of practical reality, transitioning to Medicare for All can’t be accomplished overnight. If it’s ever is to come about, it has to be through incremental steps, for example, bit by bit lowering the age at which people are eligible for Medicare. The transition should be financed not only by reducing funds spent on insurance companies, but by a far more progressive tax structure, more than reversing the 2017 monstrous tax cut for the rich and especially for the super rich. The next president should set these changes in motion.

Bernie Sanders would be much more aggressive in effecting the transition than Joe Biden. But, despite the protestations of his supporters, Bernie appears to be much less likely to beat Trump than Biden. Better to have a bird almost in hand than have sight of two on the other side of the hedgerow. 

Letter to the Editor of My Local Newspaper

March 7, 2020

Cory’s Choice

I once assumed that Senator Cory Gardner was a traditional Republican like my father, a staunch defender of the Constitution and the rule of law, an advocate of fiscal responsibility, a person who had no tolerance for dictators and autocrats, favored strong alliances with our democratic allies, and despised dishonesty and corruption, most of all among those in positions of power.

Whether or not I’m right in assuming that Cory Gardner was once a traditional Republican, he chose to abandon these core Republican principles by going along with the corrupt and self-aggrandizing policies of President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and their allies.

House Impeachment managers presented overwhelming evidence of Trump’s high crimes and misdemeanors, particularly of his shakedown of Ukraine’s President Zelensky by conditioning release of military aid authorized by Congress on Zelensky’s participation in Trump’s project to smear Joe Biden, Trump’s most feared political opponent. At the outset of the senate trial, Majority Leader McConnell called on Republican senators to be loyal to Trump by refusing to consider evidence on the record, refusing to subpoena witnesses and documents, and by summarily acquitting Trump without permitting an impartial trial.

Cory Gardner chose to be faithful and loyal to Trump and McConnell and their corrupt and authoritarian agenda rather than to his duty under the Constitution to protect and preserve our democratic institutions. Our choice should be to vote him out of office in November.

Democracy’s Last Stand

In one of her Washington Post columns yesterday, Jennifer Rubin quoted from Freedom House’s newly released annual report on the state of democracy and human rights around the world: “Democracy and pluralism are under assault. Dictators are toiling to stamp out the last vestiges of domestic dissent and spread their harmful influence to new corners of the world. . . The chief executives of the United States and India, the world’s two largest democracies, are increasingly willing to break down institutional safeguards and disregard the rights of critics and minorities as they pursue their populist agendas.” 

Republicans overwhelmingly back the authoritarian ambitions of Trump and allies. American Democracy makes its last stand at the polls this November; it’s our last chance to keep this country from being the greatest and most powerful banana republic in history. 

The Trumpian Smear Machine Gears Up

If Biden is the Democratic nominee, the Republican propaganda machine will launch a smear and disinformation campaign against him like nothing ever seen before. You will be told that when Biden was vice-president of the United States, he and his son Hunter colluded with Ukraine’s corrupt officials to arrange for Hunter to get rich in exchange for Biden using his influence on their behalf; also that Biden has been officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, but that the Dems have covered it up. Also, and so on, you’ll hear, drummed into your head until you realize that Biden is one of the most traitorous and irresponsible and mentally unfit people who has ever run for office. 

When you think of the relentless false attacks that will be launched against Biden, it almost makes you hope that Bernie Sanders will be the nominee instead of Biden. But wait, the Republican propaganda machine would launch an equally vicious array of false stories and claims about Sanders. If Sanders is the nominee, Biden’s alleged traitorous behavior will suddenly become inconsequential compared to Sanders’s secret plan to turn our country into a communist state run the way Stalin ran the Soviet Union. You’ll be told that Sanders and his wife made millions through a real estate schemes that bankrupted a college in Vermont. That’s not the half of it. What Sanders would do if elected president would make your blood curdle, you’ll be told.

No matter who the Democratic nominee is, the Trumpian Smear Machine will be ready to unleash its venom.

What Counts

It emerged from Super Tuesday results that, on average, older people prefer Biden, and younger people prefer Sanders. Many younger people preferring Sanders don’t realize that many older people who prefer Biden are just as progressive as they are, but they prefer Biden because they think he is significantly more likely to beat Trump than Sanders.

This year, that’s all that counts.

Super Tuesday Aftermath

We now have a two-person race for the Democratic nomination. A refreshing development: Bloomberg was not able to buy the election. Many voters may have felt the way I did, which was irritation at the giant-sized postcards extolling the super-billionaire that kept arriving in the mail. The test of Bloomberg’s character is whether from now on he’ll concentrate more on defeating Trump and less on promoting himself. 

Warren did poorly at the polls, but she still has a solid segment of supporters. She’s remaining in the race for good reason. There’s a chance that voting at the convention will be deadlocked between Sanders and Biden. Warren may choose to drop out and back one of them at a critical moment. Less probably, but not to be ruled out, the leading candidates might agree to make her the nominee. She would be more appealing than Sanders to most Biden supporters, and more appealing than Biden to most Sanders supporters.

Super Tuesday

Here we are. I already voted by mail for Warren, but if I were voting today, I would vote for Biden. I think Warren is hoping that there will be a contested convention, and that she will be the compromise nominee. That’s a possibility, and it would be fine as far as I’m concerned, and it might mollify Bernie enthusiasts, who would be satisfied with Warren, but would sit out the election rather than vote for Biden. But if Warren drags away enough voters from Biden to let Bernie win, and those of us who think that Biden is much more likely to beat Trump than Bernie are right, that would be a tragedy, and my early voting for Warren would have contributed to it. 

A Call for Unity

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman correctly notes that the Republican Party has degenerated into a Trump personality cult. Nothing constructive can be expected of it. Moderate and progressive Democrats must work to defeat Trump and build governing coalition. Our country’s survival depends on it.

It took a weird concatenation of circumstances in 2016 for Trump to get elected. It will take a concatenation of circumstances in 2020 for him to be reelected, but not as weird a one.

Biden for President

I’ve wavered in my tentative choice for the Democratic nominee between Klobuchar and Warren, but, now that the South Carolina primary results are in, it appears that Joe Biden will be the only serious contender against Bernie Sanders. And since I agree with most informed observers that Biden is significantly more likely to defeat Trump than Sanders, no other issue is worth considering. Beating Trump is all that counts. As Jennifer Rubin noted, “This is not a time for revolution  –- it’s a time for fumigation.”

 If Biden wins, he’ll need a much younger impressive running mate who will help in getting out the biggest vote possible. I’ll start thinking about who that should be after the Super Tuesday results are in, about sixty hours from now, unless it turns out to be useless, because Sanders romped.

The Coronavirus

From the CDC (Centers from Disease Control): “The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe pandemic in recent history. It was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin. Although there is not universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it spread worldwide during 1918-1919. In the United States, it was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918. It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States.” 

    The coronavirus that lately has been spreading throughout the world may be somewhat less lethal, but it’s disruptive effect may be even greater. The world’s population is now five times what it was a century ago. I learned last night that the great 1918 pandemic subsided over the summer. For many, it appeared to be going away, just at Trump assured Americans that this one would go away, but there was was a resurgence of it in the fall, and it proceeded to take its terrible toll. If this pandemic takes a similar course, it could bring about a global economic depression. We are in the position of  prairie dwellers who see a tornado bearing down on their house. It may miss it and it may not.

This Horror of a Human Being

Trump no longer tries to cover up his transgressions. He has settled into unrestrained authoritarian leader mode. He admires Putin. His greatest wish is to become America’s Putin. The most shocking thing about our times is that the temper of  America is such that this horror of a human being may be reelected. 

Robert Reich notes: “It’s not enough for Trump to attack Congressional leaders, the Justice Department, the FBI, the intelligence community, the entire military justice system, diplomats, government officials, Congressional leaders, immigrants, foreigners, prosecutors, the judge who presided over Roger Stone’s trial, and even the foreman of Roger Stone’s jury.”

Warren’s Strategy

Some were surprised that, in the debate Tuesday evening, Warren directed her fire-power at Mike Bloomberg, rather than at her principal progressive rival, front-runner Bernie Sanders. I think she knows that she can’t best Bernie in gathering progressive-minded voters, but that among all Democratic voters, it’s likely that more would prefer her than Bernie. In a brokered convention in which the consensus is that it would be too risky to make Bernie the nominee –– that someone else would be a better bet –– it would be understood that that someone else must not be someone whom Bernie supporters can’t stomach. That would be the case with Bloomberg, for sure. More than that, if Bernie is not to get the nomination even though he is the front-runner, to satisfy his supporters, the nominee must be someone who’s policy proposals are largely congenial with his. That person is Warren. That’s my theory as to why Warren attacked Bloomberg rather than Bernie.

The Meaning of Never Trump

A columnist’s headline in yesterday’s Washington Post has it right:

“I’m no fan of Bernie Sanders. But #NeverTrump means never Trump.”  

Bernie Sanders would be a better president than Trump by an astronomically wide margin, but if he were not even infinitesimally better, he would be better than Trump, because he would be a duly elected president, replacing one with whom voters were dissatisfied, Trump’s attempt to become an unrestrained authoritarian ruler would be thwarted, and all the dishonorable people, including all but one Republican senator and most of Trump’s cabinet members, would have been delivered a stinging rebuke.

Shifting Sands

Amy Klobuchar has been my tentative choice for the Democratic nominee for president but is no longer because, as Jennifer Rubin persuasively pointed out in one of her recent Washington Post columns, there is no longer any chance that Klobuchar can win the most delegates. Her remaining in the race increases the chances that Bernie will win, and I’m among those who believe that Bernie would  probably lose the election to Trump. I like Amy, but too many voters prefer someone else. And at this point Amy should too.

I wrote the above paragraph last night. Reading it over this morning, I’m not so sure I’m right that Bernie is as likely to lose as the punditocracy thinks. The future looks more murky than ever. Tonight’s debate will probably be the most contentious yet.


Will Bernie Be the One?

If the Democrats run Bernie against Trump, would it almost ensure Trump’s reelection? A lot of people think so, though some very smart progressives, notably Robert Reich and Michael Moore, think that Bernie is the Dems’s best bet. Bernie, who is old and recently had a heart attack and won’t release all his medical records, enjoys particularly high support among young people. The outlook keeps reaching new levels of scariness.


Blog Suspension for the weekend

For some days I’ve been laid low by a respiratory viral infection –– not the seasonal flu, my doctor tells me, but maybe just as bad. In any case, it has had the effect of much reducing my energy level, causing me to miss posting a blog yesterday and deciding to skip posting one for tomorrow.

For today, my main thought is that it would be an understatement to say that we’re in the midst of a Constitutional crisis. We’re experiencing a wrenching loosening of Democratic governance, a worse crisis than the Civil War, in a way, because even if the Union has lost the war and the Confederate states had seceded, the Union, though shrunken, would have survived, and, with it, American democracy, which, at present, is at risk of vanishing from the face of the Earth.


Last Night’s Debate

I only watched the first half of last night’s Democratic candidates debate because I have what my doctor says is a respiratory viral infection, which sounds more impressive than a cold and feels like it, but based on what I saw and after reading columnists’s analyses this morning, I concluded, along with a lot of other people, that Bloomberg will not be the knight in shining armor who gallops in to save America from Trump. I was disappointed in Klobuchar, my tentative favorite. Maybe she was tired. You’d think they’d all be tired. I’m now trending toward favoring Warren for the nomination. She sharp, and she has passion. So has Bernie, but Bernie has more limitations, too many to talk about here, and in any event I think his stonewalling on fully releasing health records is disqualifying.

The Fate of the Nation

You can get some idea of how passengers on the Titanic must have felt when the impossible had happened –– the ship had hit an iceberg, and it was going to sink. The United States, which Lincoln called “the last best hope on earth,” has hit an iceberg. It’s not yet certain that our ship of state will sink, but it’s listing dangerously, and water is pouring in. 

The iceberg is a conglomerate of a president engaged in a relentless effort to supplant our Constitutional system with his personal authoritarian rule, Republican senators to whom our country means so little that they have chosen to give such a man free rein regardless of the gravity and multiplicity of his offenses, and an attorney general willing to deploy the Justice Department as an instrument of autocratic rule.

For Whom Should We Be For?

When I was an undergraduate at Princeton University, it had a slogan, “Princeton in the Nation’s Service.”  I remember wondering whether that was the way a university should look at itself, failing to consider what the nation might be in service to?  Yesterday, I got a form email from the dean of Princeton”s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs that bore the slogan “In Service to the Nation and Humanity.”  I think this is a big improvement.

Exactly What’s Happening

In his book Thinking the Twentieth Century (2012), the historian and journalist Tony Judt noted, “Democracy is not likely to fall to the charms of totalitarianism, authoritarianism, or oligarchy; it’s much more likely to fall to a corrupted version of itself.”


American Tragedy

Trump has tweeted that he is “the King.” He feels that way, because Republicans have decided he can do anything he wants and get away with it. According to a recent Gallup poll, 94% of Republicans approve of Trump. Trump’s ally, the attorney general, has shown himself willing to persecute those whom Trump perceives as enemies and intervene on behalf of loyal members of his criminal family who have been incarcerated, or risk incarceration, as a result of the proper workings of the justice system. 



Ongoing Horror at the Highest Levels

I wish everyone in this country could read, or have explained to them, Michelle Goldberg’s terrific op-ed in last night’s online New York Times. It concerns, among other things, the perfidious machinations of Attorney General William Barr in being the prime instrument in Trump’s campaign to prosecute, or at least persecute, everyone who has gotten in his way by defending the rule of law and to intervene in judicial proceedings to protect his political allies who have been convicted for criminal offenses. “There is now one set of laws in this country for people who serve Trump, and another for everyone else,” writes Goldberg. What a tragedy has befallen our nation. All people of good will should make every effort to try to rescue it. 

Traveling + a Cold

Traveling + a cold. This blog will resume Feb. 15.

Where are we headed?

News Item: Trump ridiculed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for “mumbling” during his speech to Congress, then visibly approved as the crowd chanted: “Lock her up!”

Is this mentality to determine the destiny of our country?


Let’s hops that Democratic candidates heed Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin’s warning to mount a united front against Sanders, a leader in the race who, nevertheless, is clearly the candidate most likely to lose to the election to Trump, and thereby to cause the loss of American democracy. Bernie, 78, had a heart attack last fall. It’s disturbing that, although he promised to do so by now, he hasn’t released his medical records, and he brushed off inquiries as to why. I admire Bernie’s views about a lot of things. He would be a better president than Trump by an astronomically wide margin, but the most significant thing about him right now is that he’s a threat to the nation.

Another Gloomy Political Note

The review by the esteemed political analyst Norman Ornstein of Ezra Klein’s new book, Why Are We Polarized, supplies little cause for encouragement about America’s future. Among other problems –– like systematic voter disenfranchisement, unrestrained deep pocket financing of donor-compliant candidates, and Supreme Court-authorized blatantly partisan gerrymandering ––  population trends are such that electoral college results, which determine who is elected president, are becoming increasingly unrepresentative of the popular vote. By 2040, we may see a president elected despite losing the popular vote by a margin of five or six million, and because every state has two senators though their populations may differ by a factor of fifty or more, 30 million people may be empowered to elect 70 of the 100 senators. The U.S. appears to be slipping in the direction of authoritarian rule.

Best Bet to Beat Trump

Better than grumpy impractical old man Sanders and inexperienced whiz kid Buttigieg, better than fading Biden and Warren, is Amy Klobuchar, heartland stalwart with an impressive record in the senate and winning in red districts. Mature but not old, smart, capable, experienced, knowledgeable, and little less important, witty.


After last night’s debate, Klobuchar remains the candidate who I think would be most successful in winning over the most voters among those who voted for Trump in 2016. To win against Trump, she would also need to perform conspicuously well in bringing out voters among members of minority groups. She can do that by picking the right running mate and crafting and implementing the right strategy. It’s a good bet she can, though still a long shot that she will be the nominee.

Shredding Trump’s State of the Union Speech 

Standing alongside Trump after he delivered his State of the Union speech, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tore her copy of the speech apart. Some say this was “childish.” Some say it was the behavior of “a sore loser.” Some say that it was counter-productive: that it only emphasized that the Democrats pursued a hopeless strategy, that Trump and his supporters outplayed them; that it only increased the chances that Trump will be reelected in November.      

Asked why she did it, Pelosi replied that the alternative would have been worse. What would the alternative have been? To stare stonily ahead? That would have elicited the same criticism without producing any positive effect. To smile politely and pretend that this was a normal president delivering a normal State of the Union speech, rather than the self-serving monologue of a dangerous megalomaniac, whose criminal behavior was stamped “We don’t care what he did” by all but one Republican senator? That’s what one might expect of a soulless, cynical, Trump hanger-on.

Trump’s speech will endure as a model of bad faith, mendaciousness, hatred, and cynical opportunism. It should have been torn up as soon as it was written. Tearing it up afterward was the next best thing.

After Trump was elected in 2016, the journalist Christiane Amanpour counseled, “Fight against the normalization of he unacceptable.” Trump is unacceptable. Trump’s speech was unacceptable. Tearing it up was the right thing to do, not only morally, but politically. People of good will must get it across to voters that Trump is unacceptable, that treating him otherwise is to foolishly indulge him, and that reelecting him would be to normalize the unacceptable as America’s way of being a nation. Pelosi’s speech-shredding helped make that point.

The Discovery of an Honest Republican Senator

Remember the ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes, who walked about Athens with a lantern, which he held in front of the faces of citizens he encountered? Diogenes said he was looking for an honest man. 

His lantern might have run out of oil if he had been looking among the Republican senators who would not allow witnesses to be called or relevant documents to be introduced in evidence, then kept out of sight or pretended for one clearly phony reason or another clearly phony reason that Trump should be acquitted. 

But if Diogenes had had enough oil in his lamp to keep it shining long enough, he would have eventually shone it on Mitt Romney, perhaps while the Utah Republican was making an excellent short speech explaining why he would vote to convict Trump of abuse of power and remove him from office. It was a dark day for American democracy, but a ray of light shone through, reflected from the face of the single honest Republican senator.

The Democratic Candidates Race

After Iowa, the race is all the more a horse race with no favorite. Biden faltered, but he will probably do better in states with a much larger percentage of African American voters, but many of these states are southern red states, which the Democratic candidate has little or no hope of winning. 

Biden must feel terribly disappointed, because he is by far the most experienced candidate, but he should realize that he is old, and voters have reason to worry about his mental acuity. Buttigieg has done astonishingly well, but, besides being alarmingly young and inexperienced, he strikes me as tending toward the robotic. Sanders may have peaked. I hope so. He is too old, too grouchy, and insufficiently smooth and pragmatic. There’s good reason to doubt his electability. 

Warren and Klobuchar are still in the running. And who’s that horse moving up on the outside? It’s Michael Bloomberg!

The Authoritarian Party

As Jennifer Rubin wrote a few days ago, “The public should understand fully that the Republican Party has become the authoritarian party.” Let us not shrug and pass this off as the new normal. It’s a crisis of the highest order. Since the Republican Party is the authoritarian party and the Republican Party controls our government, America is now an authoritarian country. The question before us is not “Can our democracy be saved? It’s “Can our Democracy be restored?” 

Back on Track

I couldn’t post blogs the past few days because of technical difficulties. Thanks to the arrival of Monday morning, I’ve been able to get things fixed. Starting tomorrow I’ll resume normal comment. 

American Democracy –– R.I.P.

With the refusal of Republican senators, and possibly several Democratic senators more fearful of losing their red- or swing-state seats than of the destruction of American democracy, it seems certain that the senate will summarily acquit Trump with no pretense of conducting a fair trial. Moreover, it appears that Trump-controlled censors will prevent the publication of Bolton’s book, scheduled for March 17, which we know from leaked portions demolishes any last vestige of deniability by Trump of his most egregious crime. 

It was almost a miracle that the U.S. Constitution came into existence. There’s a famous story about how, after the Constitutional Convention, a woman asked Ben Franklin, “What have you brought into being?”, to which Franklin replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”  Indications are that we can’t.


Life in Surreal Land

According to Donald Trump’s lawyers, he can do practically anything he wants as long as it’s in the public interest. As president, he’s the one to decide what’s in the public interest. Since he has decided that his re-election is in the public interest, he can do almost anything he wants  aimed to achieve that result.


Bernie Sanders appears to be the Democratic candidate who would be most vulnerable to Trumpian attacks that would result in defeat for the Democrats in November. He should not be the nominee for that reason alone.

Many of his supporters are so fervent that they risk dividing the Party to a fatal degree. Bernie has been almost Trumpian in encouraging their truculence. Many moderates who despise Trump might nevertheless sit the election out if Bernie is the Democratic nominee. It’s a worrisome situation.

America the Beautiful Has Fallen Gravely Ill

New story: “Forty-four percent of Americans view Trump favorably,                                                                          according to a recent poll, matching his highest rating ever.”

The Grim Reality

This comment in an opinion column caught my eye: “But the more impressive the Democrats’ case is, the more depressing the reality becomes.” This perfectly captures the situation. The reality is the perfidy of Republican denial of the gravity of the crimes committed by Trump and his collaborators. The response of Republican senators planning to acquit Trump is to sink to ever lower moral depths in order to support him no matter how much overwhelming  evidence against him mounts up. 

Who’s the Best Democratic Candidate?

Right now, things look more up in the air than ever.  Bernie is showing exceptional polling strength, but he’s grouchy and he’s dangerously to the left politically. And he’s the oldest of the old. Reports of Biden’s failings keep surfacing. Warren is still reeling from her clumsy handling of the Medicare for All business. Klobuchar appears to me to be the best candidate, but for some reason she’s way behind the leaders in the polls. Buttigieg strikes me as too young, too inexperienced, and talks too much like a computer program. Bloomberg is a force to be reckoned with –– Our billionaire can best your billionaire, a dispiriting thought.

All of the above would be preferable to another four years of Trump by an astronomically wide margin.

Who’s the Best Democratic Candidate?

Right now, things look more up in the air than ever.  Bernie is showing exceptional polling strength, but he’s grouchy and he’s vulnerably to the left politically. And he’s the oldest of the old. Reports of Biden’s failings keep surfacing. Warren is still reeling from her clumsy handling of the Medicare for All business and wasn’t helped by initiating a spat with Bernie. Klobuchar appears to me to be the best candidate, but for some reason she’s way behind the leaders in the polls. Buttigieg strikes me as too young, too inexperienced, and talks too much like a computer program. Bloomberg is a force to be reckoned with –– Our billionaire can best your billionaire, a dispiriting thought.

Any of the above would be preferable to another four years of Trump by an astronomically wide margin.

Cover and Cover Up

The goal of Republicans in the impeachment trial of Trump is to cover up his commission of high crimes and misdemeanors, which more than justify his conviction and removal from office. For that reason they support Trump’s blocking access to key witnesses and his refusal to turn over relevant documents. Because Republicans control the senate, they have the power to cover up evidence, make a sham of the trial, and acquit Trump.

A further problem for them remains. They have to reckon with the court of public opinion. Otherwise, it will be all too obvious that the senators voting for acquittal, rather than adhering to the oath each took to administer impartial justice, chose to participate in the cover-up of Trump’s wrongdoing. These benighted politicians need Trump’s legal team to provide the semblance of cover for them. 

Trump’s lawyers don’t have the barest traces of a professionally respectable legal argument or supporting facts, so they have fallen back on the only recourse available. which is to employ bombast and affected outrage, hoping to achieve with heat what they lack in light. That’s the Republican strategy: Cover-up and Provide Cover. 

The Gun Rights Rally

It was quite something. watching TV, seeing the guys at the Richmond, Virginia, gun rights rally last weekend. They were standing around looking wary and awkward with AK-47s and the like strapped on their shoulders. They were trying to look ready for action, ready to be heroes. 

Why did they acquire those heavy-duty military-style weapons? Almost none of these guys plans to shoot anybody. I think the reason most of them acquire a weapon designed for committing mass murder is so that if, in the years ahead, anyone (like some liberal who’s gotten in power, for instance), tries to take it away from them, they’ll be ready to defend their right to keep it. They’ll be ready to fire it. That’s because their reason for obtaining it was to make sure no one would take it away from them.

Impeachment Trial Reality

It would take every Democratic senator and 20 Republican senators, to satisfy the Constitutional requirement of a two-thirds vote to convict Trump and remove him from office. Everyone agrees that this won’t happen, no matter what happens at the Senate trial (or, as Republicans hope they can succeed in it being, faux trial). As Robert Reich has pointed out, it logically follows that “there aren’t 20 Republican Senators with the courage and integrity to protect the Constitution and the nation from the most dangerous and demagogic president in history.” It is this fact, no less than the phenomenon of Trump itself, that is one of the most dismaying facts of our times.

One of the Troubles with Senator Cory Gardner

Colorado Republican senator Cory Gardner, seeking reelection to another six-year term in November, clings to the elephant in the room while pretending not to see it. 

The elephant is Trump, and what’s elephantine about him is his abuse of power, not just any abuse of power, but gross abuse in the form of conditioning release of Congressionally authorized and legally mandated military defense funds to Ukraine on that country’s president’s participation in a fraudulent campaign to malign Trump’s political opponent for Trump’s personal gain and directly contrary to the security interests of the United States.

The pretending not to see it is Gardner’s strategy of stepping up sending emails to his constituents (of whom I’m one), extolling his accomplishments, while remaining silent about the paramount issue facing our country –– the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump.

Dishonorable Senators, continued:

As more credible evidence piles on in support of the already overwhelming evidence of Trump’s commission of multiple high crimes and misdemeanors, Republican senators who have dug in –– who have shown themselves determined to acquit him no matter what –– have revealed themselves in ever brighter light to be knaves and scoundrels. We just have to hope, and besides that, do what we can to help make it happen, that despite the oncoming blitzkrieg of right-wing media propaganda, social media disinformation campaigns, and voter suppression by Republican-controlled state governments, enough voters in the November elections will have grasped that Trump and his entourage –– the whole lot of them –– should be turned out of office forthwith.

Dishonorable Senators

Thursday all 50 United States States senators swore to fulfill their constitutional duty to be impartial in the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump. It is incontrovertible that several of them, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, having already announced their intention to acquit Trump as quickly as possible, swore falsely. Imbued with the Trumpian ethos, they have abandoned even the pretense of moral integrity.

Dishonorable Senators

Thursday all 50 United States States senators swore to fulfill their constitutional duty to be impartial in the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump. It is incontrovertible that several of them, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, having already announced their intention to acquit Trump as quickly as possible, swore falsely. Imbued with the Trumpian ethos, they have abandoned even the pretense of moral integrity.

The Most Disheartening Fact

It’s no longer possible, if it ever was, for an informed honorable person to defend Trump. The most disheartening fact is how many informed people are not honorable.

The Warren – Sanders Feud.

It appears that about a year ago, Sanders either told Warren or implied, or didn’t quite imply, but Warren (probably with some justification) inferred, that Sanders didn’t think a woman could be elected president. Under the pressure of their rivalry and because of their natural competitiveness (qualities that helped get them to where they are), Warren decided to confront Sanders with her recollection, surely thinking that exposing what he had said would work to her competitive advantage. Sanders, having his own contrary recollection and interpretation of what he had said, denied Warren’s allegation. Under pressure, they both hardened their positions, and after Tuesday night’s debate, they indulged in a further exchange that was videoed and became public, with the result that they each came off as having accused the other of lying. Warren is most at fault in this episode. She should not have raised the issue –– there was no way any good for either of them could have ensued from pursuing it in public. Warren ended up hurting herself as much as she hurt Sanders. The episode strengthened my (still tentative) preference for Amy Klobuchar.

Last Night’s Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate

My tentative favorite continues to be Amy Klobuchar.  She is experienced and has a terrific record. There’s a problem with the basic situation: Biden has by far the strongest support among black voters in the south, and black voters in the south are likely to decide who wins the primary in their respective states. So that gives Biden an edge up in winning the nomination. But all those black voters in southern states are highly unlikely to turn their states blue in the general election. Biden may be able to run stronger in southern states than any other candidate but be unable to win them. I think the most desirable candidate is the one who can win the big northern swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and for the moment, at least, Klobuchar looks to me to be closest to meeting that requirement.

Back Home

Back home last night from traveling to Los Angeles mainly to visit my grandson. 

I’ll be watching the Democratic presidential candidate debate this evening and resuming this blog tomorrow.


Still traveling plus my blog posting application isn’t working


Traveling this weekend. This blog will resume Wednesday Jan 15.


Traveling this weekend. But hope to have something to say Saturday.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been one of the most durable and effective of the enemies of American democracy. It’s nice to know that he may soon have to squirm. He has said that he will not be impartial in the constitutionally mandated trial of the impeachment of Trump. He has made it clear that he wants to engineer a quick acquittal of Trump and doesn’t give a damn about justice. As Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig pointed out in an op-ed in this morning’s Washington Post, to participate in the trial –- to act as a juror in his capacity as a United States senator –- McConnell must swear an oath to do impartial justice. Unless he disavows his earlier statements and acts accordingly –– don’t hold your breath –– McConnell will have to swear a false oath. Lessig points the likely consequences for such behavior. If McConnell gets his comeuppance, it will be justly deserved.

Cory Gardner and the Let’s Pretend Party

Senator Cory Gardner (R. Colorado), frequently sends his constituents emails telling what great things he’s been doing for them. He never mentions Trump. He wants everyone to play “Let’s pretend” with him: Let’s pretend Trump isn’t a dangerous sociopathic president who has been impeached and is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors and should be removed from office for the good of the country, and the entire world. The Republican Party has become the Let’s Pretend Party. No rebel is Cory Gardner. He’ll tag along all the way.

Our Country Is Sick

Gaining nothing except risking a full-scale war with Iran, Trump first abrogated the nuclear deal with Iran, then ordered the assassination of Iran’s top military leader, Qasem Soleimani. Iran promptly renounced its remaining restraints under the nuclear deal that was forged during the Obama administration. We can expect Iran to proceed at top speed to develop nuclear arms capability. Trump is a dangerous sociopath. The Republican members of Congress are acting shamefully, selfishly, and stupidly in blocking his removal. That we are in these circumstances is an indication that our country is sick. We don’t know whether the malady is curable.

The Wild Year Ahead

The future is unpredictable, except that it’s certain that 2020 will be a wild year. There’s almost no limit to what Trump will do; nor to what his enablers in Congress and the right-wing media will allow him to do. The political campaign will be little short of war, as two astute Washington Post columnists recently warned:

Jennifer Rubin: “You can expect a vicious, anti-factual campaign that likely will make 2016 look like a picnic.”

Greg Sargent: “If you thought the 2016 election was awash in disinformation and lies, get ready: The 2020 election is going to make that affair look like a knitting session.”

Biden for One Term

If Joe Biden is nominated and wins the election, he will be 78 by the time he’s inaugurated. In a New York Times op-ed yesterday, Timothy Egan suggests that Biden pledge that, if he’s elected, he will serve only one term. I like this idea a lot. It would allay fears of Biden remaining in office for a second-term, into his mid-eighties, with possible decreasing mental acuity and increasing risk of debilitating illness. It would also allay fears that the Democratic Party is in the grip of older people who are to a large extent stuck in the past. Biden’s V-P pick would be much younger, smart, progressive, and dynamic, and someone who would attract younger and minority voters. Names mentioned are Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams, and Julián Castro. I would rule out Buttigieg, because I think broader ethnicity would be preferable to two white guys.

Trump’s Strategic Vision

Ordered to do so by Trump, U.S. forces assassinated Iran’s most important military commander. Iran’s supreme ruler has promised revenge. Tens of millions of Iranians who were preoccupied with opposing despotic rule of their country are now preoccupied with opposing the United States. 

Iran’s ruler must take revenge against the United States, as promised. Otherwise, he would look weak and fearful. Once revenge is taken, Trump must take counter revenge. Otherwise, he would look weak and fearful. What will come of this no one knows except that it won’t be good.

Can even the most slavish, opportunistic, feckless, cynical Trump supporters imagine that Trump’s actions are motivated by U.S. security interests? Trump will only do what he thinks is most likely to keep himself in power. That is the beginning and the end of Trump’s strategic vision.

Climate Change Effect

The Washington Post reports: “Thousands flee Australia’s coastal towns as raging wildfires close in. A navy ship prepared to evacuate tourists and residents from one remote area, as authorities warned of potentially catastrophic conditions this weekend.”

This reminds me of the Dunkirk evacuation (1940), when Hitler’s army forced people to escape into the sea. In the twenty-first century it’s climate change. 


In a recent BBC interview with  Greta Thunberg, David Attenborough asked her what she thought of attacks on her by Trump and others. She answered: ”Those attacks are just funny. Because I mean they obviously don’t mean anything. Well I guess of course it means something. It means that they are terrified of young people bringing change, which they don’t want. But that is just a proof that we are actually doing something. And that they see us as some kind of threat.”

Voices like Thunberg’s are like flowers springing up in a ravaged and desolate landscape.


Attorney General Bill Barr is a dangerous criminal. That may sound like hyperbole. I’m not suggesting that Barr could be convicted of violating any criminal law. But I consider it to be a dangerous form of criminality to apply oneself to subverting the United States Constitution by reshaping our government into religious-based authoritarian rule, and that’s what Barr and like-minded extreme radical confederates are up to. Barr is not a Trump toady. Trump is an instrument that Barr and his allies are using to twist American democracy into their favored model of government. For more on this, read the op-ed piece in this morning’s online New York Times by Katherine Stewart and Caroline Fredrickson, titled “Bill Barr thinks America is Going to Hell.” 

Shared Fact-Based Reality

Did you ever think you’d come across such an odd phrase?

The alternative is shared fiction-based reality, which is prevalent among a large segment of the U.S. population and is what Trump and Trumpians want to impose on the rest of us.

The New York Times asked ten super smart people to predict how the world would be in 2030. Garry Kasparov had the best comment, I thought. He said that the post-truth reality that has had increasing currency in recent years was the greatest threat. In the Soviet Union, where he once led a luxurious but constricted life as a chess champion, truth was what the government said it was each day. The greatest challenge of the 2020s will be for shared, fact-based realty to prevail. 

India in Transistion

Prime Minister Modi’s popularity among Hindus, who comprise an overwhelming majority of the country’s population, is perpetuated by his oppression and disenfranchisement of 200,000,000 Muslims. India, often recognized as the world’s largest democracy, is sliding toward autocratic rule. 


This will probably be the title of a book written by a historian about one of the most tumultuous years in modern history. Maybe the book will be titled “2020.” It won’t need a subtitle.  

Twenty-twenty looms like a great approaching storm. Soon we’ll be immersed in it. If America can’t rid itself of Trump in the next thirteen months, the years following will be bleak ones.

Merry Christmas

Whatever your faith, or lack of it –– Merry Christmas to all. 

The Super Rich and Acquisitiveness

It would be nice if the super rich, who by definition have a lot more money than they need, would all lobby for a much more progressive tax structure, but it’s not hard to see why only a handful of them, at most, do. They got to be super rich by being acquisitive, or in some cases because their forebears were acquisitive. It’s in their nature to want to hold on to what they have and to want even more than they have. Tom Steyer is a rare and commendable example of a billionaire who advocates a more progressive tax structure. Yet he’s still very much in acquisition mode –– he wants to acquire the presidency. When he doesn’t get it, will he still be a crusader for progressive tax structure reform? Maybe he will, but I wouldn’t count on it.

The Despicable Phoniness of Mitch McConnell

Headline: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of trying to tell his chamber how to run a trial.” This is typical McConnell phony talk. Pelosi isn’t telling him how to run a trial; she’s only telling him that he should conduct a trial, as contemplated by the Constitution: That means having witnesses testify, relevant documents admitted, and arguments made, rather than going through a few meaningless formalities, followed by a vote resulting in instant acquittal, followed by proclamations that Trump has been vindicated.

A Good News Story

This morning my eyes moved to and fastened on a Washington Post headline with the alacrity of a thirsty traveler in the desert coming upon an oasis with cool clear water springing out of the ground: “Blight wiped out the American Chestnut. We’re close to bringing it back.” Decades of dedicated bioengineering and breeding techniques may finally restore the eastern United States’s most magnificent tree, whole forests of which were destroyed by blight early in the 20th century. When I was a little boy in the 1930s, climbing my grandmother’s horse chestnut tree, adults told me how it was a pale reminder of the great American tree of the past. It will be inspirational if it returns, an indication that perhaps there’s a chance we can stem environmental degradation; that there’s a chance that the future might be brighter than the past.

What Kind of Democratic Candidate Is Most Likely to Beat Trump?

Two super-smart political observers I much admire are Robert Reich and Jennifer Rubin. Reich says that the only nominee who can beat Trump is one with a full-blown progressive agenda, namely Sanders or Warren. Rubin’s view is that the candidate most likely to win is one with a moderate realistic agenda.

I’m not sure who’s right, but I agree with a Huffington Post headline this morning stating that Pete Buttigieg (a leading moderate contender) was wrong to meet with super rich donors in a billionaire’s crystal wine cave, an event that, sickeningly, reminded me of Hillary Clinton’s highly paid speeches in private to Goldman Sachs executives.

Amy Klobuchar remains as my tentative choice for the Democratic nominee

Last Night’s Democratic Candidates Debate

The debate benefited from the reduction of the field from 10 to 7. Biden held up well. Warren was as impassioned as ever, but still not convincing that she would overcome practical problems in achieving her goals. Yang has no chance of being the nominee, but he always has interesting things to say. Klobuchar remains my tentative choice to head the ticket. Steyer should drop out and help finance important senatorial campaigns and, of course, throw his financial weight behind the eventual nominee. Buttigieg is steady and prepared, but I think he would be a poor choice to head the ticket; nor should he be the V-P nominee, who must be someone who inspires a very large minority voter turnout, for example Harris, Booker, or the woman who could be the Democrats’s secret weapon –– Stacey Abrams. 

The Impeachment

Yesterday’s impeachment debate consisted of democrats laying out the overwhelming evidence of Trump’s abuse of power, betrayal of his oath of office, and constitutionally prohibited obstruction of Congress, and Republicans, having no defense, indulging in a sickening display of ranting, name-calling, insults, diversions, obfuscations, and outright lies. As Jennifer Rubin put it in one of her Washington Post columns last yesterday, “The Republican Party will be known not as the Party of Lincoln but the Party of Trump, a quisling party that lost its bearings and its soul to defend an unhinged narcissist.” The great drama, in which the fate of American democracy hangs in the balance, continues to unfold before our eyes. 

Particularly Ominous Sign of Climate Change of the Week

A week ago, I wrote:

It seems that about once a week I see a news story about how new studies or data show that global warming is happening at a faster rate than previously thought. 

Yesterday, arriving right on schedule, was this news report:

“Australia braces for highest temperatures in recorded  history amid blistering heat wave.”


Brazenness in the Extreme

The public announcements of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsay Graham that they have no intention of conducting a constitutionally mandated trial of Trump is shocking. Contrary to their obligations under the Constitution, they have admitted, in fact bragged, that instead of acting as fair-minded jurors and examining the facts relating to Trump’s multiple impeachable offenses, they will work to bring about his acquittal as quickly as possible; in short, they have said that they will act as members of Trump’s defense team.

     That Republican senators would countenance Trump’s corrupt and criminal behavior is shocking. That they would abandon any pretense of examining the facts and searching for the truth is an example of brazenness in the extreme. It exposes their larger intention, which is nothing less than to bring about the transition of our country from a constitutional democracy to a republic controlled permanently by one party, free of constitutional restraints. Trump is old and inept. They don’t see him remaining long as a quasi king. He is useful to them because of his demagogic gifts. They see him as a convenient instrument they can use to effect the destruction of American democracy.

Unpredictability and Continuity

We don’t regard the future as being entirely unpredictable; we count on some degree of continuity. Until recently, I would have predicted that it would be unthinkable that every Republican senator would defend the behavior of an American president who compromised national security by conditioning release of congressionally approved military assistance to a besieged American ally on that country’s president agreeing to participate in a deceptive and dishonest scheme to discredit the American president’s prime political rival. 

I would have predicted that it would be unthinkable that one of our two major political parties would be willing to participate in transitioning our country from a constitutional democracy into an autocracy. 

It’s evident that we can’t count on as much continuity as I had thought.      

Fooling People

Lincoln said, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and you can fool some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

Superficially this sounds reassuring, but Lincoln didn’t say –– because it wouldn’t have been true ––  that “You can’t fool most of the people some of the time,” or even “You can’t fool most of the people most of the time.” 

Fooling as many people as much of the time as possible is the principal goal of the Republican Party and its allies.

The Warriors

Trump praised the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee who defended him, calling them “warriors.” He was right. Rather than fulfilling their constitutional responsibility to consider the facts and come to a reasonable conclusion as to whether Trump committed impeachable offenses, they conducted warfare. Trump’s conduct was impossible to defend  with rational arguments, so they ignored the facts and hurled toxic adjectives and phrases at the Democrats conducting the proceedings: “abuse” … “outrageous” … “kangaroo court” … “witch hunt” … “scam” … “farce”… “bogus” . . .  “like Stalin” . . .

     All evening long you could hear the shells flying, warriors firing, creating sound and fury signifying the morally bankruptcy of the Republican Party.

Amy Klobuchar for President (tentatively)

I think she’s the least vulnerable to effective attack of all the candidates. She’s smart, competent, practical, and politically experienced. She has an impressive grip on all areas of governance. She’s from the heartland; I would expect her to run very well in the key states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. I think she’s the candidate least likely to falter between now and election day. I think she’s the candidate most likely to beat Trump. 

It’s not impossible that I’ll change my mind before Super Tuesday, March 3, when I’ll be casting my vote. Right now, I think there’s an 80% chance I’ll stick with Amy.


Former attorney general William Holder: ”Last month, at a Federalist Society event,  the attorney general delivered an ode to essentially unbridled executive power, dismissing the authority of the legislative and judicial branches — and the checks and balances at the heart of America’s constitutional order.”

Barr bears no resemblance to a normal attorney general. He acts as he if he is Trump’s literate mouthpiece, speaking far more eloquently, through no less dishonestly and malevolently, than Trump.  

Most progressives regard Barr as a Trump toady, another person in a high position who has jettisoned whatever moral scruples he might have to gain favor with Trump and the support of the Trump base. I don’t think think Barr is a Trump toady. I think he would be more accurately described as an ultra conservative (meaning ultra radical) perverted-Christian, in his case Catholic (in contrast to an authentic Catholic Christian like Nancy Pelosi), authoritarian obsessed with secular liberal trends and willing to do whatever it takes to convert the United States from a liberal democracy to a theologically grounded authoritarian state. Barr doesn’t consider Trump to be his leader. He sees Trump as a useful tool in his effort to reshape our country into the mold he craves. Ted Cruz and Mike Pompeo have similar mindsets. To the extent people like this have power, they present a grave danger to our country.

A Particularly Ominous Sign of Climate Change

It seems that about once a week I see a news story about how new studies or data show that global warming is happening at a faster rate than previously thought. Yesterday I ran across this:

News Item: “Rapid warming in the Arctic has caused the region to cross a key threshold and become a net emitter of greenhouse gases.” 

The reason is that melting of the permafrost allows methane to seep into the atmosphere. This is the kind of phenomenon that contributes to a runaway effect, wherein even if we were able to cut emissions to zero, global warming would continue by the operation of processes we have set in motion. 

Inequality, Greed, and Deception

News Item: In 2018, the top 400 earners for the first time paid a lower effective overall tax rate than working-class Americans.

I remember when a couple of years ago Warren Buffet, one of the world’s richest of the rich, commented that his secretary was taxed at a higher effective rate than he was. What an odd fact. Doesn’t seem right, does it? That was the last I heard about this from Buffet. He strikes me as an honorable man, but he hasn’t become a crusader for a more progressive tax structure. 

One the many sad things competing for the saddest thing about our present situation is that Republican propaganda has duped so many low-income workers into imagining that Republicans are their champions, protecting them from the “tax and spend” Democrats. 

On the Road to Autocracy

Trump has accused Democrats of trying to effect a coup by impeaching him. On the contrary, authoritarians are trying to effect a coup by supplanting our constitutional democracy with an authoritarian regime: Out with democracy; in with autocracy is their goal. They are doing this (quoting constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe), by protecting “a president whose Justice Department says he cannot be indicted, whose White House counsel says he cannot even be investigated, and whose lawyers say he can block the executive branch from participating in the impeachment process.” 

Rules for Success

Nicholas Kristoff’s New York Times column this morning lists four principles to follow to achieve success. His advice is obviously addressed to young people, but should be of interest to older people as well. There may be hundreds of such recipes floating around, with huge variations among them. Kristoff’s is somewhat surprising and probably one of the best. 

His number 1 is: Take a course in economics, specifically in statistics. I agree.  If you don’t understand a concept like “reversion to the mean,” for example, you’re less likely to be good at thinking straight. Number 2 is to find a cause bigger than yourself. That’s absolutely true, but I would supply a big caveat: Make sure the cause is a worthy and honorable one, something that can make the world a better place. Number 3 is to find a supportive and loving mate. That too is wise, but easier said than done. To make sure you’re psychologically equipped to make the right choice, you have to follow a bunch of other rules I won’t get into here. Number 4 is to get “outside your comfort zone.” Particularly, live in country for a year where a language other than English is spoken. Become so fluent that you can even say the word for doorknob in that language. 

I agree with this one as well, but, if you embark on such an adventure, make sure you are forced to converse nearly all the time in the language of that country. In one like the Netherlands, for example, you’re likely to find that nearly everyone can speak English. Don’t let them do that to you. 


(to be supplied later)


News Item: “More than 40 percent of Republicans are favorably disposed, in one poll, toward a presidency unfettered by constitutional checks and balances.” A lot of people, feeling frustrated, want a cure-all. They don’t want to live in a messy divisive democracy. Just think how much could be accomplished if the president didn’t have to deal with all these investigations, and now impeachment, which will consume even more time with a useless senate trial.

The pervasiveness of such delusional thinking is appalling. Everyone of good will must fight to disperse the toxic fog of slurs, lies, and fabrications that Trumpians  pump into the atmosphere day after day after day. 

The Prognosis is Guarded

American Democracy is in the intensive care unit. The patient has some fine doctors and nurses dedicated to saving it, but the hospital is full of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and sociopathic attendants have been trying to wreck the MRI equipment. 

An operation is scheduled for next November. In a properly operated health care facility, there is no question that the patient would survive. 

The Moral Descent of Republicans

Republicans –- just about all of them in Congress –– continue to cling to Trump despite overwhelming evidence of his deeply corrupt and patently impeachable conduct. They should be ashamed of themselves. Lacking the requisite degree of moral integrity to be capable of experiencing such an emotion, they are not. 

It would be one thing if Trump were an ordinary crook, seizing on opportunities to line his pockets with a few million bucks now and then, but also cared about serving the best interests of the United States and showed concern for others than himself and his family. One could imagine being content with letting him serve out his term of office and leaving redress for his crimes to judicial processes. But Trump is no ordinary crook. He knowingly subordinated the security interests of the United States in order to advance his political prospects by smearing a likely political opponent. That Republicans are still willing to defend such conduct signals their moral descent to the basement where Trump himself resides.

Not Just an Ordinary Crisis

Headline:  “Global greenhouse gas emissions will hit yet another record high this year, experts project.”

Can you imagine Trump calling the leaders of the biggest polluting countries and saying, “The fate of humanity will turn on whether we meet this crisis or continue to ignore it. We must unite to radically cut carbon emissions, and we must act now.”

The species Homo sapiens is self-destructing right in front of our eyes.

Bad Air

This morning’s online New York Times has a list of major cities of the world and a notation as the degree of air pollution in each of them on the worst day this year. A few cities suffered only “moderate” pollution, I suspect because of favorable prevailing winds. But unhealthy conditions were registered in nearly every big city. In some, the rating was “hazardous.” In New Dehli “beyond hazardous.”

Even if climate change weren’t a problem, it would be a wise for countries to radically cut fossil fuel emissions and accelerate conversion to alternative energy. There’s no need to debate how fast sea levels will rise. The health of billions of people is at stake.


Poll: “53% of Republicans think Trump is a better president than was Lincoln.” 

Do so many Trump supporters really believe this? I suspect that most of them are ignorant of American history, that few of them tried to reach a considered opinion, and that most of them simply wanted to give a provocative and contentious answer. They are dug in. They have nothing constructive to offer. Clinging to Trump, they say “No” to constitutional democracy, honesty, and decency. Trumpism is a form of nihilism.

A Pernicious Book

Why Liberalism Failed, by Patrick J. Deneen, has been eagerly received and applauded in conservative quarters. The title contains a false premise. Liberalism hasn’t failed. It has been maligned, misrepresented, undercut, and eroded by conservative politicians, opportunists, and agenda-driven ideologues.

In an incisive critique of the book in the November 28  New York Review of Books, Robert Kuttner exposes Deneen’s book as “a theologically based broadside against secular modernity.” 

The book exemplifies a strain of largely uncompromising, hypocritical, and intellectually dishonest authoritarianism, which its proponents presume to be theologically justified. It exemplifies thinking that is pervasive among highly educated extremely conservative Christians, particularly, it seems, Catholics, both in academia and in public life. Examples of such types among the most powerfully placed Trump enablers include Barr, Pompeo, and at least four, and possibly all five, of the conservative Supreme Court justices.

Books like Deneen’s give characters like these intellectual cover in their efforts to propel American democracy in the direction of a religiously ordered authoritarian state. 

Characteristics That Are Undesirable in a U.S. President






Wantonly Capricious


Exemplifies Extreme Narcissism 


Aspires to One-Man Rule

Ignorant of History

Contempt for the Constitution and the Rule of Law

Unrelentingly Mendacious


Puts Personal Political Agenda Ahead of National Interest

Encourages Voter Suppression

Coddles dictators

Trashes Alliances with Traditional Allies

Stuffs Federal Courts with Ideologues

Corrupt to the Core 


Characteristics That Are Undesirable in a U.S. President






Wantonly Capricious


Exemplifies Extreme Narcissism 


Aspires to One-Man Rule

Ignorant of History

Contempt for the Constitution and Rule of Law

Unrelentingly Mendacious


Puts Personal Political Agenda Ahead of National Interest

Encourages Voter Suppression

Coddles dictators

Trashes Alliances with Traditional Allies

Stuffs Federal Courts with Ideologues

Corrupt to the Core 

Categories of Trump Supporters and Enablers


Righteous authoritarians 

Seekers of a strong leader

Cynical opportunists

Resentful anti-elites

Resentful elites


Greedy rich

Prisoners of the right-wing media bubble

Bigots (all forms)

Frustrated Malcontents 


Happy Thanksgiving 

And thanks for tuning in on my blog. I notice that I keep writing about political matters. My original intention was to write about a wide range of topics, but we’re going through a prolonged crisis of utmost gravity –– the survival of American democracy is at stake. One of the unfortunate effects of this is that so much else is crowded out. 

Climate Change and Hopelessness

The latest findings on the rate of climate change and the failure of humans to curb greenhouse gas emissions suggest that we’re approaching a tipping point. 

On this side of the tipping point is the reality that efforts to institute conservation and convert to alternative  energy production have been so sluggish and desultory that we (the people of the world) would have to take immediate drastic action to arrest the accelerating trend –– still in its early stages but clearly established in its trajectory -– toward an uninhabitable world.

On the other side of the tipping point is a sense of hopelessness; a consensus that nothing can be done; resignation that our species is doomed and will probably take all or most macroscopic living organisms along with us.

This doesn’t mean that life can’t be wonderful for most people; that inspiring developments can’t still occur. But on the other side of the tipping point life will be in some respects like life on the Titanic after it hit the iceberg, after it passed its tipping point.

We’re a lot better off than passengers on theTitanic who couldn’t get off the ship, which remained afloat for only two or three hours. Even if we do next to nothing to arrest climate change, much of the Earth will remain habitable well into the next century, and possibly for hundreds of years.

News Item: ”On Fox News on Sunday, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said that he told Trump he was God’s choice.’”

Samuel Johnson got it right when he noted that “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,” but that was about 250 years ago and needs to be updated. Now religion is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

The Party of the Unacceptable

After Trump was elected in November 2016, veteran journalist Christine Amanpour reacted with a stirring exhortation: “Fight against the normalization of the unacceptable.” Trump was a menace to everything good and the embodiment of everything bad, no less unacceptable because, by the coincidence of unusual circumstances, he had become president of the United States. 

Republicans have not fought against the normalization of the unacceptable. They have shamefully embraced it. They have become the party of the unacceptable.

Common Senses

Headline: Climate Change Action Protestors Delay Harvard – Yale Football Game. From the New York Times report:  “‘It looks like there’s a lot of common sense that has missed their generation’, said Chuck Crummie, 68, who attended the game with his son, a former Yale football player. ‘It goes to show that this generation is all about themselves and not a football game.’”

You could make out a good case that people who are concerned with keeping the planet habitable are showing more common sense than people for whom the sanctity of a football game is of paramount importance and that it is the latter who are “all about themselves.” The episode appears to demonstrate incompatible forms of common sense.

Mass Corruption 

Given the revelations of the impeachment hearings, it’s beyond doubt that the Trump administration is, as Kamala Harris puts it, “a criminal enterprise,” bent on perpetuating its power despite the damage Trump is inflicting on American national security interests and, indeed, on the entire world.  

As of this writing,  the entire Republican Party appears to be subsumed with moral rot. Prominent Republican members of Congress have joined Trump in promoting false narratives manufactured by Russian intelligence services. Their less brazen colleagues, sheep-like, follow along. The Republican Party should be purged of all its members, who should be replaced with honorable persons of conservative bent, people like most Republicans once were.

A Weird Turn of History

History has taken such a weird turn that it’s hard to believe what’s happened. The evidence that Trump has committed bribery and other impeachable offenses is so overwhelming that Republicans have abandoned efforts to contest it. Instead they are promoting false narratives about Biden and about how it was Ukraine rather than Russia that interfered in the 2016 elections, as if, were it true, which it’s not –– there is no plausible evidence in support of it –– that such revelations would exculpate Trump and his fellow conspirators. It’s a strategy of obfuscation and diversion, a form of pounding the table in feigned outrage, an attempt to fool enough of the people enough of the time to keep Trump in office.

That not only Trump’s henchmen would participate in this baleful scheme, but nearly every Republican member of Congress as well, is a tragedy that has befallen the nation. It will take a long time, if ever, to work ourselves out of it.

Last Night’s Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate

Since this process is like the game musical chairs, an elimination contest, we could start by eliminating (and I hope they are absent from the next debate) Tulsi Gabbard, whose presence is counterproductive, and Tom Steyer, who, having paid tens of millions as an admission price to be on the stage, has made the good though generalized and somewhat vague points he has to offer, and should now devote his energy and resources to aiding critical campaigns of other Democrats. Andrew Yang has no chance of being on the ticket, and he too should be eliminated, though I’ll miss him –– his remarks are mostly crisply delivered and interesting. I’m concerned about Biden’s age and mental acuity. I’d feel better if he dropped out.

 Keeping in mind that the need to decisively defeat Trump is by far the most important consideration, my takeaway is that the nominee must have a lot more appeal than Hillary had to swing voters in critical northern states –– Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania –– and that the ticket must be one that elicits a very strong turnout of African Americans and other minority voters. It’s too early to guess what would be the ideal ticket, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out to be Klobuchar and either Kamala Harris or Stacey Abrams. Or would an all-female ticket strike too many otherwise amenable macho-type guys as a punch in the gut? 

Concerning Trump’s Health

Trump’s doctor’s seemingly reassuring comment about the implications of his recent two-hour stay at Walter Reed Hospital was significant for its omissions. Trump is elderly and obese, and has been under increasing stress lately, which is likely to increase even further during the months ahead. As Jennifer Rubin noted in a Washington Post column yesterday, it would be a good thing for everyone, including Trump himself, if he bowed out and let Pence take over. 

Trump could probably be prosecuted successfully for multiple crimes, but if he would do us “a favor though” by admitting to having health problems and agreeing to return to his towers and golf courses, I can imagine a quid pro quo of limiting his prosecution and punishment for criminal acts to a thorough accounting of his invidious behavior in future history books.

Admittedly, Pence shows every capability of becoming the second worst president in history, but if there’s even only a scintilla of rationality in the world, the Dems should be able to oust him, or Nikki Haley, if the Republicans decide to go with her, in the 2020 election.

Despotism Rules

Leaked documents supplied the information that prompted this segment of a New York Times editorial: “Hundreds of thousands of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslims in the western Xinjiang region have been rounded up in internment camps to undergo months or years of indoctrination intended to mold them into secular and loyal followers of the Communist Party.” 

     China, Russia, India, and Brazil –– some of the biggest and most powerful countries in the world ––  have fallen under the grip of authoritarian leaders and their enablers. One once would expect the president of the United States to be a staunch opponent of despots. Instead, he aspires to be one.

William Barr and the Project to Dismantle Our Liberal Democracy

In a recent speech before the right-wing Federalist Society, Attorney General William Barr excoriated Democrats for waging war on Trump. In so doing, Barr confirmed that, in defiance of his oath of office, he has no interest in defending and upholding the Constitution of the Untied States. To the contrary, he confirmed impressions he’d given earlier that he is a deeply committed authoritarian. His instincts in that direction are so strong that he is too impatient to wait for a leader who would not seriously weaken American national security. For Barr, any aspiring autocrat in the Oval Office, even a crude and ignorant demagogue will do. 

Authoritarianism is presently a powerful force in this country and throughout the world. A surprising number of rich, well-educated, and powerful people, Barr prominent among them, though they may think little of Trump, have shown themselves willing to protect him because they see in the happenstance of his presidency a rare opportunity to transform our precious democracy into the theologically sanctioned authoritarian state they fervently believe America should be.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Impeachment Strategy

In a New York Times op-ed column this morning, veteran Washington Journalist Elizabeth Drew discusses the Democrats impeachment strategy, which appears to be narrowly focused on establishing a bribery charge against Trump for communicating to president Zelensky of Ukraine that the United States would release Congressionally appropriated military aid only if Zelensky would do “a favor” by cooperating in Trump’s effort to fabricate a defamatory story about Trump’s prime potential political opponent, Joe Biden. Drew argues that that impeachment charges should be more wide-ranging and should emphasize Trump’s multiple abuses of power, even though that would drag the hearings out longer, ever closer to the 2020 election, an event that would seem to render impeachment moot. 

I think the best strategy is probably to impeach Trump on the bribery charge soon after the first of the year, while continuing hearings on other clearly demonstrable impeachable offenses, maximizing the likelihood that a critical segment of the electorate will come to understand that Trump didn’t just cross the line on one occasion, but that his entire mode of governing is an offense to the Constitution, that there are multiple ways in which he has violated his oath of office and multiple reasons why he should be impeached and removed from office. 

Events are moving fast, however. Democrats must be resourceful, nimble, and unified in responding to them.

Our Kafkaesque Existence

To live in America today is to feel the way a Kafka character feels –– bewildered and frustrated in a surreal environment in which the people he interacts with act obliquely, as if reality were not what it is, so what would seem reasonable and natural doesn’t happen, can’t seem to happen, though there’s no seeming explanation for it.

Trump’s criminality, his invidious behavior, his brazen trashing of national interest in pursuit of his personal authoritarian ambition would in any fairly reasonable, mostly rational, world prompt a universal outcry for his swift removal from office. Instead, we face the prospect that he will be allowed to complete his term and that there is a serious risk that he will be reelected. Like the hapless hero in a Kafka novel, we grope our way forward — we think it’s forward, but maybe it’s sideways, or even backward, in this surreal world, this strange strange world.

The Moral Descent of Scott Tipton

News item: “After the first day of impeachment hearings, {Colorado 3rd C.D.} Representative Scott Tipton said he remains firm in his belief President Donald Trump has not committed an impeachable offense.” 

This though the evidence is overwhelming that Trump committed multiple impeachable offenses. Tipton, along with his Republican colleagues in Congress, thus demonstrates his willingness to sacrifice our country’s national interest to save his own political skin, thereby sliding down the rest of the way to Trump’s moral plane.

Note from the Impeachment Hearings – Day 1

The evidence, already overwhelming, keeps piling up. Proof of Trump’s extortion — withholding vital aid to an ally for personal political purposes— is irrefutable. Ukrainians have died because of it. It wasn’t an isolated incident. It was part of a sustained effort to lay the foundation for gross fabrications. The hearings are peeling away and exposing the moral rot pervading the Republican Party and its members in Congress, whose entire strategy consists of obfuscation, disinformation, and distraction. If the public could be fully educated and informed, the whole lot of Republicans would be shown the door in 2020.

Impeachment Hearings

The impeachment hearings begin: a contest between truth, justice, decency, and the Constitution on one side and corruption, disinformation, distortion, disruption, and obfuscation on the other.

Which Way Will the Arc of Justice Bend?

Bill Moyers: “This is a moment in American history where the arc of justice will either be bent forward or it will be bent backward.“   

I’ve often heard about the good guys being on the side of history, as if justice and decency will eventually prevail; that it’s just a question of how long it will take.

There is no such long-term trend. Moyers is right; We are at at an inflection point. The arc of justice appears just as likely to bend backward into dark ages as to bend toward better days.                               



Mr. Bloomberg, Your Country Needs You, But Not the Way You Wish

Jennifer Rubin hit it out of the park again in her Washington Post column yesterday, pointing out five much better things super billionaire Michael Bloomberg could spend money on than running for president. Number 1 on the list: Buy Fox News. 

It would indeed be nice to disassemble the prime right-wing propaganda channel, which has acted as if it’s the state-run media outlet of the authoritarian ruler that Trump relentlessly tries so desperately to become. If Fox News were liquidated or converted into reputable news organization, a great weight would be lifted from our country’s shoulders.

The trouble is that it’s doubtful that Murdoch would sell Fox News. People like that crave power as much as money. They want both. Then there’s a danger that the network’s star propagandists would reconstitute their disinformation machine on another cable channel. 

In any case, Jennifer is right. Bloomberg has done a lot of good things  –– his vigorous opposition to the gun lobby is an example –– but he could do a lot more good than by running for president. 


It’s not surprising that billionaires are complaining bitterly at the prospect of higher taxes. Most of them got to be billionaires by being relentlessly acquisitive or growing up in a highly acquisitive and accustomed-to-privilege family, or both. In Behave – the Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst (2017), neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky explains: “Our frequent human tragedy is that the more we consume, the hungrier we get. More and faster and stronger. What was an unexpected pleasure yesterday is what we feel entitled to today and won’t be enough tomorrow.”

That’s the case in the extreme with most billionaires.

I think Democratic candidates who attack billionaires, acting as if it’s time to make war on them, are making a big mistake. There’s no question that this country needs a much more progressive tax system. Bashing billionaires is not a smart way to try to bring it about.

Rationalizing Republicans

Who can doubt that all but the most brain-contorted Republican members of Congress are aware that Trump is a scoundrel. Many of these “lawmakers” are scoundrels too, albeit less conspicuously so, and few of them would admit it to themselves, much less anyone else. 

The more cerebrally competent of them self-justify their moral turpitude in protecting Trump by adhering to high-toned sophistry of the sort exhibited in the recently published, respectfully received, book titled The Failure of Liberalism, by Patrick J. Deneen,

In a review published in the current issue of the New York Review of Books, Robert Kuttner systematically exposes the intellectual dishonesty that suffuses Deneen’s polemic. Liberalism hasn’t failed; it has been traduced, eroded, and betrayed. That right-wing propagandists have been largely successful in making “liberal” a dirty word is a tragedy of our time.

Choice for Republican Lawmakers

What Kind of Country Do You Want America To Be?

A.  a country in which, contrary to the incontrovertible interests of the United States, the president has the right to demand of an American ally (Ukraine), which has been invaded and besieged by our adversary (Russia), that it participate in a dishonest attempt to advance his personal political agenda as a condition of releasing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Congressionally authorized military assistance.

B.  a country in which the president is held to his Constitutional oath of office to subordinate his personal political interest to his Constitutional duty to act in the best interests of the United States. 

If your answer is A, keep evading the issue.

If your answer is B, condemn Trump’s behavior and support the impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives.

Democracy and Education

Recent poll on hypothetical matchup: 

Biden vs. Trump:

white college grad.          57-41

white non-college grad.  39-57

All informed people of good will would vote for Biden. Most people are people of good will. Less educated people are more susceptible to being conned. A higher percentage of less educated people of good will have been conned by Trump and his allied propagandists. 

Then, you might ask, “Why do polls show that African Americans overwhelmingly would vote for Biden, even though (we can assume) they are on average no better educated than white people?” The answer is that they are extremely well educated in identifying racists.

The Republican Playbook

This morning’s Washington Post reported that Trump again repeated the false claim he has made more than 100 times in the past six weeks: that the whistleblower misrepresented the substance of Trump’s phone call with Ukraine president Zelensky last July.

Trump doesn’t just lie. He repeats lies again and again, always passionately, affecting indignation, fabricating attendant facts. It’s a technique straight out of the authoritarian playbook. Republican politicians, aware that Trump’s conduct has been indefensible, follow the same script. It’s their playbook too.

Headline: “Trump highly competitive in key states a year before the election.”

It’s a profoundly disturbing commentary on our country that this is the case. No informed person of good will would vote for Trump. Surely, a large majority of prospective voters –- I would think at least three-quarters –- are persons of good will. The relentless stream of propaganda disseminated by Trump, his lackeys, and Fox News and other right-wing media outlets have poisoned the minds of tens of millions. The prognosis for American democracy is guarded. It’s touch and go whether it will survive.

Life in Surreal Land

The Washington Post  reports this morning that the new White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, said “I worked with {former four-star marine general and chief of staff} John Kelly, and he was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great President.”

Imagine any other president tolerating such both ludicrous and fawning praise. I doubt if you can.

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The Cultivation of Ignorance

Headline: Trump: ‘Impeachment is an attack on Democracy itself.’”

There in a nutshell is the technique that Trump and cynical Republican politicians use to try to stay in power. Call it the cultivation of ignorance:

 Impeachment could lead to the removal from office of a duly elected president. What could be more undemocratic! It’s shameful what these Democrats are doing. Nancy Pelosi is a threat to the foundations of our precious Democratic system. Thank goodness president Trump is a fighter and has a strong character and is standing up to people like her and the traitorous Adam Schiff, who is directing the impeachment inquiry!

Democracy under attack? How many people understand that the founders provided for impeachment in the Constitution, because they wanted our country to be a democracy and not a monarchy? How many people understand that the president is in no danger of being removed except by a two-thirds vote of the Republican-controlled senate? Yet Trump and his enablers are claiming that Democrats are trying to stage a coup; trying to subvert our precious democratic system. Tens of millions of people believe this nonsense because Trump, Republican politicians, and right-wing media propagandists are  skilled at the cultivation of ignorance.

Cause for Worry

Elizabeth Warren has put forth a revolutionary budget and tax reform plan. If implemented, it would probably be a huge improvement over the present regime, but transitioning from here to there is the stuff of nightmares. Given the composition of Congress after the election, even in the best case scenario for Democrats, few, if any, of Warren’s measures could ever become law. Chaos is much more likely. Worse, chaos is exactly what Republicans will predict will happen if Warren becomes president, and for once they may have a persuasive argument. I had seen Warren as a hope. At this point she may be more of a threat.                                                                                                                       

The Biden and Sanders candidacies are rift with problems. A cloud hangs over each of the front-runners. If only Amy Klobuchar could pull ahead. I think she is the most electable of the bunch, but she’s only polling 4%,  It’s a cause for worry. 


The Impeachment Proceedings

Trump will be impeached. Because the general election is only a year away, and primary contests only a couple of months away, there won’t be time to prepare all the justifiable articles of impeachment. The Democratic leadership has decided to concentrate on an article detailing Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating and falsely giving the impression that Joe Biden and his son were involved in corrupt business dealings in Ukraine. Trump’s criminality in this regard is indisputable. Republicans are trying to protect him by adopting his technique of high-decibel counter-attacks, bluster, distractions, and construction of elaborate fabrications. Trump’s perfidy has a wide sweep. He is a scoundrel and so is every knowledgeable person who supports him.  

Rising Sea Levels

Based on recent studies, an article in today’s New York Times displays maps  of major coastal cities showing what’s above sea level now and what will be above sea level in 2050. More than 150,000,000 people will be displaced by then. The before and after maps illustrate the changes in process more vividly than words and statistics. I guess in thirty years there will be a marker sticking up from the Gulf of Mexico showing where New Orleans was. 

What Democratic Ticket Would Be Most Likely to Win the Election?

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin reports that Biden performed admirably on the popular TV newsmagazine 60 Minutes this past weekend. He was very good at bashing Trump, a big plus, in my opinion. He is, by virtue of experience, the most highly qualified Democratic candidate. Presumably he’s learned from his mistakes. Having made a lot of them, he must have learned a lot. 

     Biden and Klobuchar might be the ticket most likely to beat Trump / Pence. I’ll be voting for one of the candidates on Super Tuesday, March 3, just a little over four months away. I’m still undecided. If I had to vote today, I’d vote for Amy Klobuchar. There are a lot of reasons to like her, and the only negative thing I’ve heard about her is that she was ungentle in her treatment of staff members. The only specific instance I’ve seen reported is that she once said to some of them, “I’d trade the three of you in for a bottle of water.” This shows she has a sense of humor, a big plus in my opinion. 

    I might prefer someone else by next March. My guiding star is, and always will be, Who is most likely to beat Trump.

The Strange Case of Attorney General William Barr

An op-ed in yesterday’s New York Times by Emily Bazelon explores in depth the strange case of Attorney General William Barr, shedding light on why he would act so perversely in betraying his oath of office and constitutional responsibility by bringing the full weight of his power to protect a sociopathic president. 

     Thinking about it, I realized that Barr is not unprincipled. He’s very principled –– he’s a dedicated authoritarian. That he would allow this impassioned stance to control his conduct in betraying his oath of office is explained by his being steeped in an extremist longstanding antinomian interpretation of Christianity (in his case the Roman Catholic strand), which harbors the conviction that, by the grace of God, Christians are released from observing established moral law.

The Slow-Building Apocalypse

Headline: A bipartisan group of senators warns that, without concerted international action, there will be more plastic by weight than fish in the oceans by 2050.

 What about the weight of all the plastic that’s inside the fish. In which column is that counted? I see headlines like this every day. One yesterday reported the increasing amount of bleaching of coral reefs. Every day lately there’s been a headline about the unprecedented severity of California wildfires. Immediate international action is needed to hold off the slow-building ecological apocalypse. It’s almost inconceivable that it will happen. Four of the largest and most powerful countries in the world, India, China, Brazil, and the United States, as well as many others, are led by sociopaths. The prognosis for humanity is poor.


The Abnegation of Moral Responsibility of Republican Members of Congress in Full View

Trump’s behavior is so patently impeachable that none of the Republican members of Congress are seriously denying it or defending it. They exhibit their loyalty to him, however and protect their acceptability with the Trump base by making a great show of attacking the impeachment process, even echoing Trump’s claim that it is unconstitutional, even though the Constitution provides that the sole power of impeachment resides in Congress.

How 4 People Could Make 160,000,000 People Happier.

The combined wealth Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and Google’s Sergey Brin and Larry Page is larger than the combined wealth of the bottom half of the American population. If these super-billionaires distributed their fortunes (reserving a few tens of millions of dollars each for maintaining a tolerable lifestyle) among those in the bottom half of the American population, it would approximately double the wealth of everyone in the bottom half. About 160,000,000 million people would instantly feel happier. That’s a huge return on investment. It’s a wonder these four lucky fellows don’t do it. 

All the President’s Thugs

Yesterday a Defense Department official’s testimony was delayed five hours by a group of about 30 House Republicans who barged into a secure room where depositions were to be taken, and refused to leave. They had no legal or moral arguments to make, so, following Trump’s instructions, they behaved like thugs.

If Only

America is at a crossroads. We shall either restore and reinvigorate democratic principles and moral leadership in our country, or slip into a corrupt authoritarianism. Lincoln’s words reach us across time: “We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope on Earth.”

      In an op-ed in last evening’s online New York Times, Andrei V. Kozyrev, who was Russia’s foreign minister from 1991 to 1996, drew a parallel between our two countries. He concluded: “I believe that if Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, act to remove this president, a new powerful message would be sent to governments and people around the globe . . .  Moral principles still matter in American politics and policy. And the future still belongs to moral truth and to those who embrace it.” That would clean the air. That would breathe hope to all the world. If only enough Republican senators could understand that, and care about it.

The Mindset of Republican White Evangelical Protestants

Over the past few years I’ve read perhaps a dozen purported explanations of why evangelical protestants overwhelmingly support Trump, but I still find it mystifying. Yesterday I read that 99% of Republican white evangelical Protestants oppose Trump being impeached and removed from office. That’s a preponderance eyebrow-raisingly close to unanimity. 

Trump’s behavior is approximately 100% of the antithesis of Jesus’s teachings. His conduct overwhelmingly meets the Constitutional criteria for impeachment and removal. The Devil must be as powerful and dangerous as some preachers warn us, capturing so many righteous minds.

The Mindset of Ordinary Folks Who Support Trump

An article in The New York Times this morning reports on interviews with Trump supporters in northern Florida. “I’m just glad he’s standing his ground during this witch hunt,” is a typical remark. The author of the article comments, “I’ve been in this state for almost a decade, yet its politics still surprise me. Fox News tag lines come out of real people’s mouths.”

Years and years of listening to the likes of Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and to regurgitations of their spiels by friends and acquaintances who have been overexposed to them have taken a terrible toll. The mindsets of millions of people may have been permanently altered, as if their brains had been taken over by by malevolent aliens. If Trump is ousted in the 2020 elections, most of these people will believe that it was an deep-state coup. 

Trump’s Concession that His Florida Doral Resort Should Not Be the Venue for the G-7 Meeting next June.

Probably 95% percent of everyone in the country knew that Trump’s designation of his own resort was a rotten idea. Congressional supporters of Trump knew instantly that it was indefensible. It was not in the nation’s interest. Worse, from the standpoint of Republican politicians, it was not in their interest, nor was it in Trump’s interest. That Trump couldn’t see this from the outset is another indication of how his extreme and dangerous narcissism clogs his mind. 

Concerning Trump’s Designation of His Florida Doral Resort as the Venue for the G-7 Meeting next June. 

One might think that, fearful of losing the 2020 election and thereupon losing his immunity from federal criminal prosecution, Trump might suspend some of his most conspicuous continuing infractions of the Constitution. One might think that between now and the election, he might want to try to project an image of someone less despicable and conspicuously unfit to serve as president of the United States. One might think that for this relatively brief period he would want to try to affect being an honorable public servant. One might think so, but there is no likelihood that this will will happen. Thuggishness infuses Trump’s psyche. There’s little else to it. He is incapable of imagining what it would be like not to be a thug and therefore lacks the ability to pretend he isn’t one.

Belief and Truth

In conversation with my barber yesterday, I alluded to Russian interference on behalf of Trump in the 2016 election. “Do you believe that?” she asked, revealing that she is one of the tens of millions of Americans living in the right-wing, Trump supporting, alternative facts bubble. She was unaware that a grand jury had indicted 12 Russians on just such charges, that U.S. intelligence communities were unanimous that this was the case, that the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee had reached just a conclusion, and that more than a 1,000 former Republican and Democratic Federal prosecutors had signed a public letter stating that the facts laid out in the Mueller Report were sufficient to support indictment of Trump for obstruction of justice, which he was exempt from only by virtue of still being in office.

I didn’t attempt to get all this across during the course of my haircut, but we reached enthusiastic agreement that everyone should know the truth. 


In response to a question in Tuesday’s debate, Warren said: “I don’t think we should have troops in the Middle East. But we have to do it the right way, the smart way. . .  We need to get out, but we need to do this through a negotiated solution.”

Given the chaos, horror, and threat of genocide that Trump just unleashed on the region by green-lighting Turkey’s invasion of Syria, this was an altogether unsatisfactory answer.  We would have no leverage in negotiating a solution, such as Warren says we must, without having a credible military force to bring to bear against recalcitrant parties. Warren missed a chance to condemn Trump; instead, she tossed off the meaningless phrase, “the right way, the smart way,” without so much as a hint that she has any idea what that would be. No doubt, she would claim that she wasn’t allotted time to elaborate, but she could have at least said so, or given it a try. Her answer amounted to a brush-off of s critical issue. 

No one ever accused Warren of not being a hard worker. She has a lot of hard work still to do.

Last Night’s Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate

As Jennifer Rubin noted in her Washington Post analysis this morning, the race became no less fluid as a result of last night’s debate. Let’s hope that the number of contenders on the stage will be sharply reduced in the next one. Certainly Gabbard and Steyer will be gone. Neither O’Rourke nor Castro supplied any reason why they should remain in consideration. Of the three front-runners, I think Biden is too old, and he shows it. Bernie, who had been fading, bounced back with surprising vigor and acuity, and cannot yet be counted out, though I wish he would be. Warren failed to lay out how her many commendable initiatives would be fiscally responsible, or why her proposed wealth tax would not be vitiated by avoidance schemes. Klobuchar, Buttigieg, and Booker each turned in a good performance, but none of them appear likely to surge in the polls. Harris is appealing but her performance was spotty. Andrew Yang might be a good pick for Secretary of Commerce, but not much else. 

I don’t see any of the candidates as a front runner at this point. I think Warren could pull away from the pack, but only if she starts being a lot more more pragmatic than she has been so far. At the moment, I think that the least problematical of the lot is Amy Klobuchar. A ticket of Klobuchar and Senator Chris Murphy, of Connecticut, who is not currently in the race, would be hard to beat. 

The Polarization Index

Almost everybody agrees that our country has become increasingly polarized. If there were a polarization index, it would be at an all time high and give every appearance of going higher. Trump has committed multiple impeachable offenses and continues to do so. The evidence, already conclusive, piles ever higher. There’s no longer any doubt that Trump will be impeached. With the help of his lackeys, many of them in high places in government, he is fighting back the only way he knows, with scornful denials, elaborate fabrications, and campaign rallies where he incites morally deficient crowds as if training them to wage civil war, which I suspect he senses is the only hope he has of saving his skin.

Tomorrow’s Democratic Candidate Debate: Anxiety and Hope

For reasons stated here before, I’m hoping Biden and Sanders will fade. I’m hoping Elizabeth Warren will make clear that her proposals are practical and fiscally responsible. I’m hoping that this is the last we’ll see of the Tulsi Gabbard and Tom Steyer.. I’d like to see Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker shine. I’d like Beto O’Rourke to be calm and measured not flail his arms about. I hope Pete Buttigieg will be his usual steady self. I hope they all pummel Trump and his feckless enablers. I’m anxious that the overloaded stage may collapse.

The Scourge of Wealth / Income Inequality

William Kristoff’s New York Times column this morning is titled “Should We Soak the Rich. You bet.” Indeed we should. As Kristoff points out, we live in a country where “the top 1 percent own more than the bottom 90 percent — and where on any given night more than 100,000 children are homeless.” Over the past few decades wealth and income inequality have strikingly increased, causing much misery, suffering, resentment, confusion, ill-tempered behavior, and lasting damage that would have been avoided had we had a progressive, equitable, humane, enlightened tax structure all these years. Trump and greed-driven propagandists duped much of the electorate into thinking that a government controlled by Republicans would benefit people with minimal and moderate incomes. After gaining control of the White House and Congress, they swiftly enacted fiscally irresponsible tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefited the rich and especially the super rich. Our country can only begin to reverse this baleful state of affairs if Democrats gain control of the White House and both houses of Congress in 2020.  Sadly, despite the horror that Trump and Trumpians have unleashed upon us and we’re now living through, that’s a long shot. 

A Study in Contrasts

Before testifying for nine hours behind closed doors to Congressional impeachment investigators,  U. S. former ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch released a public statement that will stand as one of the great documents in the history of the never ending struggle to preserve and invigorate American democracy.                                    

Yovanovitch, a career foreign service officer, was fired by Trump so he and his operatives could proceed unencumbered in their efforts to enlist the new president of Ukraine in fabrications designed to smear Trump’s prime political opponent, Joe Biden, and erase and rewrite the history of Russian interference in the U.S.electoral process.

Yovanovitch’s courage, honorableness, and competence will stand forever in shining contrast to the smarmy, evasive, mendacious, perfidious, greedy comportment and behavior of Trump and his allies.

The Tragedy of What’s Ignored

America is consumed by rapid fire news events, preparations for Trump’s impeachment, and Trump’s and his enablers’s frantic efforts to invent distractions, delay proceedings, and construct elaborate fabrications by way of counterattack. Meanwhile, critically important matters of state are being ignored. Arms control negotiations are imperative. So is leadership in uniting the world to combat global warming. So is the need to address the widening gap between the rich and the poor, and its destructive effect on society. So is immigration reform and gun control. So are half a dozen other requirements of responsible government. They are all being ignored and will continue to be ignored until Trump is out of power and stable, sane, and honorable government has been restored.

Trump, Turkey, Syria, the Kurds, Congress

By green-lighting, after consultation with Turkey’s ruler and apparently no one else, a Turkish offensive in Syria against the Kurds, who have been our stalwart ally in the prolonged fight to quell ISIS, Trump has not only betrayed our friends but acted so wildly counter to American interests that even some habitually mute Republican senators have criticized him. 

Not enough! Every member of Congress should unequivocally condemn Trump’s action and call for his swift impeachment and removal from office. Can’t they see by now? For the good of the country; for the good of the world, Trump must removed from office.


Just yesterday, it seems, people of good will were debating whether it might be counterproductive for the Democrat-controlled House to impeach Trump even though there would be no chance of getting the two-thirds vote in the senate required to convict and remove him from office. That argument is moot. Trump and his enablers have dropped any pretense of disguising their ambition to turn America into an authoritarian state. Failure to impeach Trump would be amount to the surrender of American democracy to a villainous cabal.

How Does It Feel?

So begins the lyric of a great Bob Dylan song. As more and more evidence of Trump’s transgressions surfaces and impeachment moves closer, Trump and his agents escalate their bombast and propaganda, expressing faux outrage that exceeds the genuine outrage of the rest of us, so it feels like we’re standing on a windy plain fixated at the blackening sky and tornado coming.

The Autocrat’s Playbook

Astute observers have noted that Trump and his enablers have faithfully followed prescriptions from “The Autocrat’s Playbook.” In his New York Times column the other day, Roger Cohen remarked on one of Trump’s favorites: “Repeat something often enough, brazenly enough and aggressively enough to people dazed enough by the cacophony around them, and they will lose their bearings enough to believe anything.”

Facing piercing criticism, Trump called for the impeachment of House Intelligence chairman Adam Schiff. As further revelations of his perfidy surfaced, he called for the impeachment of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Accuse the accuser, only in a louder voice, is Trump’s way. 

Excerpt from an email sent to my “pen pal” in Ukraine on the occasion of her 18th birthday. 

It’s an interesting time we’re having here in the U.S. because we have a president who is a thug and would like to run our country the way Putin runs Russia. Moreover, the U.S. vice-president, the secretary of state (our foreign minister) and the attorney general (our minister of justice) are in league with him, and nearly all the members of his party in Congress (roughly equivalent to parliament in most countries) are supporting him, so it’s unlikely that he can be removed from office for violating the Constitution and not at all certain that he can be removed as a result of the election scheduled for November 3, 2020. The fate of American democracy hangs in the balance.

They Can Run, But They Can’t Hide

Republican members of Congress dance and duck and squirm rather than proclaim, as they have a moral obligation to do, that Trump should be impeached and removed from office. I got an email from Senator Cory Gardner yesterday telling me what great things he’s doing. Google him and you’ll read, “Fifth generation Coloradan Cory Gardner is fighting to protect our values and future.” Fighting to protect our values, but not saying a word about Trump’s and his cabal’s despicable efforts to supplant American democracy with autocratic rule? Like his Republican colleagues, Gardner runs, he struts, he crows, but he can’t hide his subservience to the cult of Trump.


A Terrible Truth

Yesterday, in one of his typically incisive Facebook postings, Robert Reich noted: “Trump has now openly encouraged Ukrainian and Chinese leaders to investigate Joe Biden — on camera. This is an impeachable offense, and Trump committed it right in front of our eyes. Members of Congress who haven’t yet supported formal impeachment no longer have a choice. Unless they come out in support, they are violating their oath to protect the Constitution.”

Of all the terrible truths were facing today, perhaps none is more terrible than that in failing to condemn Trump and call for his impeachment almost every Republican member of Congress is violating his or her oath of office.

A Book That Needs To Be Written

Some qualified expert (a psychiatrist?) should write a book explaining the etiology of the psychopathology that causes certain informed persons in government –– Vice-President  Mike Pence, Attorney General Bill Barr, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Senator Lindsay Graham, for example –– to prostitute themselves and trash American democracy by trying to help Trump stay in office and be reelected. 


One doesn’t tend to think of a thug as a well-educated, well-groomed man wearing a well-tailored suit and a tasteful necktie, but that can be an even better disguise than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. By their shameful efforts in stonewalling Congressional committees carrying out their Constitutional duties of executive oversight, in their efforts to exculpate Trump in the face of his patent betrayal of his oath of office in his interactions with the president of the Ukraine, and in their strenuous efforts to wipe Russian interference in the 2016 election off the history books by constructing an alternative false narrative, the attorney general, William Barr, and the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and their aides, along with others engaged in this nefarious enterprise, have shown themselves to be morally no better than street thugs, in fact worse, because they know better.

Articles of Impeachment

I agree with veteran Washington observer Elizabeth Drew, who wrote persuasively on the subject in an online New York Times column yesterday, that even though it will take longer to prepare them, the Articles of Impeachment should be multi-pronged rather than limited to Trump’s admitted appalling behavior in his dealings with Ukraine. It will be useful to educate the public on what the president’s oath of office requires of him, and of the numerous ways in which he has breached it. Trump should be let off no hooks.

Such Strange Times

Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, announced that the whistleblower (concerning Trump’s machinations with respect to Ukraine) will testify before the Committee in closed session. Apparently, his or her identity is to be kept secret. In not such strange times, the whistleblower might be sequestered through the witness protection program, but that program is administered by the Justice Department, which is headed by a Trump loyalist who has shown no respect for the Constitution or his oath of office.  Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe had good reason to comment on a talk show yesterday that the whistleblower is a “profile in courage.”

     Meanwhile, Trump and his allies emit impassioned fusillade after fusillade of counter accusations, misinformation, denials, distortions, obfuscations, and sheer lies. Trump’s role-model is Putin, who, if he could identify the whistleblower, would make sure that he would have an unfortunate “accident.” At least that’s not as bad as Stalin, who, as a precaution, would have had anyone who might be the whistleblower executed.

Letter to the Editor of my local (Colorado) newspaper

Real Republicans, Gardner and Tipton

My sentiments lie with the economic philosophy of Democrats, principally because the system has become increasingly rigged in favor of the rich and very rich, whose after-tax wealth has greatly increased over the past few decades in relation to that of the poor and the middle class. Nonetheless, I agree with much of what real Republicans believe in. Real Republicans believe in personal honesty, truthfulness, respect for the Constitution and the rule of law, opposition to executive overreaching, free trade subject to reasonable protection of U.S. interests, strengthening alliances with other democracies, and opposing tyranny in all its forms. 

     President Trump has consistently disregarded every one of these principles. Yet, Senator Cory Gardner and Congressman Scott Tipton and most other Republicans have supported and protected him and continue to do so even though it’s become clear that he tried to shake down Ukraine president Zelensky, holding up military aid authorized by Congress and implying to Zelensky that restoring it would be conditional on Zelensky doing “a favor” –– not a favor to benefit the United States, but to benefit Trump’s political campaign!  

     Even when Trump acts like a mob boss instead of a president, Gardner and Tipton choose to go along with him. Their policies favor the rich and super rich at the expense of everyone else. What’s more, they’re not even real Republicans. For that reason alone they should be voted out of office.

What’s Wrong with These People?

That was the heading of a recent Washington Post column by  Jennifer Rubin. She was talking about people who are aware of Trump’s criminality and across-the-board unfitness to hold office, yet continue to support him. Trump is not only guilty, in some respects by his own admission, of high crimes and misdemeanors, he’s deranged. In a column in this morning’s online New York Times, Roger Cohen quotes recent remarks of Trump at the United Nations: “I didn’t do anything. I don’t know if I’m the most innocent person in the world.. . . I just said I’m the most presidential except for possibly Abe Lincoln when he wore the hat — that was tough to beat. Honest Abe, when he wore that hat, that was tough to beat. But I can’t do that, that hat wouldn’t work for me. Yeah, I have better hair than him.”  

      What’s wrong with these people is that they are deeply morally flawed.

Strange Times

What a terrible period in our country’s history this is. It’s not just Trump. His entire Administration is awash with corruption, abetted by right wing propagandistic media and by Republican members of Congress, just about every one of whom has shown no respect for truth or desire to preserve our democracy. Harvard Constitutional law professor Lawrence Tribe, quoted by Jennifer Rubin: “The massive White House coverup of Trump’s abuse of power vis-a-vis Ukraine & Biden, including evidence of concealment, is now clearly documented. Bill Barr is up to his eyebrows in the criminal conspiracy. He’s Trump’s John Mitchell. Mitchell ended up in prison. It’s all unraveling.” Unravelling. Rampant criminality exposed to public view. But these are strange times. I don’t feel at all sure that truth and justice will prevail.


Any person of good will who has followed the course of events over the past three years is aware that Vice-president Pence is grossly unfit to serve as president of the United States. His position as first in line of succession to the president has consistently been the strongest argument that could be mounted for not removing Trump from office. Now it appears that Pence may have participated in Trump’s recently exposed appalling abuse of power and betrayal of his oath of office in his interactions with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.  

Jennifer Rubin wrote yesterday in a Washington Post column, “It is obviously necessary to determine if the vice president, in case of [Trump’s} removal or resignation, is fit to take over. Congress should move swiftly to subpoena him and obtain all documents relating to this travesty.” 

This observation precipitated the instant fantasy in my mind of Trump being impeached and removed from office, Pence being duly sworn in as president, then immediately impeached and removed from office, whereupon the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is sworn in as president as prescribed by the Constitution. This won’t happen, but sometimes it’s fun to dream.


It’s a relief that Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, has finally initiated a formal impeachment inquiry. There are multiple grounds on which Trump should be impeached and removed from office. Articles of Impeachment will be drawn. The House will likely vote to impeach Trump.  The vote in the senate will fall short of the two-thirds majority required for conviction. The 2020 presidential election is approaching. Tumultuous times lie ahead. We’ve entered one the most critical periods in the country’s history. 

Simple Logic

There is no serious question that Trump should be impeached. Impeaching Trump is the right thing for the House of Representatives to do. Many Democrats, following the lead of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have felt that impeaching Trump might backfire because senate Republicans, who have consistently tolerated and defended Trump’s transgressions, would refuse to convict him and remove him from office, and that a great many voters would then think that Trump had been exonerated. 

Refusing to convict Trump would be the wrong thing for Republicans to do. If Democrats refuse to impeach Trump, they would be failing to do the right thing because Republicans would do the wrong thing, which is illogical, and that’s a matter of simple logic.


Like nearly every other reasonably informed and well-intended American voter, I’m hoping that the Democrats will nominate the candidate most likely to defeat Trump in 2020. That calculus must anticipate the prolonged campaign of smears, ruses, disinformation, voter suppression, probable election results manipulation, and other assaults on our electoral process that are certain to be waged by Trump and his domestic and foreign allies. Despite Warren’s ill-advised playing up of her apparently 1/32 American Indian heritage and her clumsy handling of criticism of it. I believe that her high intelligence, legal acumen, and manifest sincerity and passion would carry the day for her against Trump. I think her moral and intellectual superiority would shine through.

Trump and Republican Politicians

The Republican Party used to stand for integrity, fiscal responsibility, respect for the Constitution and the rule of law, opposition to executive overreaching, free trade subject to reasonable protection of U.S. vital interests, strengthening alliances with other liberal democracies, and opposing tyranny in all its forms. Nearly every Republican member of Congress has thrown these principles aside and chosen instead to support, protect, and empower a money-grubbing, mercurial, mendacious, self-dealing, narcissistic, crude, corrupt, proto-fascistic, law-defying, aspiring autocrat. They do so because they think it serves their narrow political and economic interests. 

    These interests alone would fall far short of a sufficient reason for them to play along with Trump if they were persons of good moral character. It’s a startling conclusion to reach, but an inescapable one, that almost all Republican members of Congress aren’t.

What It’s Come To

In a flagrant violation of a federal statute, Trump loyalists attorney general Barr and acting director of national intelligence McGuire have blocked testimony to the House Intelligence Committee of a whistle blower who was privy to a phone call between Trump and the president of the Ukraine in which Trump apparently made, or offered to make, a commitment that, if brought to light, would unquestionably amount to a “high crime or misdemeanor,” an impeachable offense. As Jennifer Rubin noted in a Washington Post column yesterday, by acquiescing in the administration’s unconscionable defiance of the law, Republican members of Congress have betrayed their oath of office to ‘defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic’.”

King Trump

So much of Trump’s behavior can’t be claimed to be legal that he’s taken the position that he is above the law, like the king who inspired the American Revolution a quarter-millennium ago. In a case being pursued in New York State courts, his lawyers have raised the claim that he cannot under any circumstances be investigated for criminal wrongdoing while he is president. They don’t imagine there’s any merit in this claim. Their purpose is dilatory, the equivalent of  throwing sand in the wheels of justice.

Sociopaths and Sycophants

A sociopath is a person who lacks a conscience, who has no concern for anyone but himself. A sycophant is someone who is willing to debase himself and cast aside moral principles in order to curry favor with someone with greater power, hoping thereby for personal gain. Sycophants sense that their efforts will gain them nothing with anyone who has a good moral character, but they are skilled at identifying morally deficient people in superior positions who will be susceptible to their blandishments.

Sociopaths, having no moral compass to guide them, often feel insecure and in need of sycophants to reassure themselves and help them carry out their agendas. Sociopaths feel more secure and more powerful when they are surrounded by sycophants, so they seek them out and gather them into their orbit. Trump is a sociopath who has worked diligently to surround himself with sycophants and weed out anyone with any sense of honesty and decency.  Vice-president Mike Pence and attorney general William Barr are outstanding examples of sycophants who have fastened themselves to him.      

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is not one of Trump’s sycophants. He is a sociopath in his own right with his own following ––  sadly, all the other Republican members of the U.S. Senate. 

Trump and the Environmental Polluting Agency

Headline: EPA scales back federal protection of water bodies to 1986 standards.

Trump’s purpose in life isn’t to injure or destroy our country. He only wants to further enrich himself and satisfy the needs of his grotesquely warped and inflated ego. The effect of his behavior is therefore one of collateral damage, which, it turns out is as great as what one would expect if his sole purpose was to reduce America to a pitiful vestige of its former self.

Deadly Distractions

Headline:The planet’s largest rainforest is on fire. Brazil and the world must halt the destruction before it’s too late.

Challenges on this order are what we should be leading the world in meeting. Instead we’re mired in distractions, owing to the sociopathic behavior of Trump, his enablers, and their counterparts throughout the world. The ship could be saved from sinking if crew members would unite to patch the hull, but they are engaged in highly important, but relatively minor, matters, oblivious to the peril they’re in.

The Hong Kong Protestors

Headline: Hong Kong protesters confront tear gas with petrol bombs in 15th weekend of protests. The determination and persistence of Hong Kong protestors, as well as their numbers, are extraordinary and instructive. When it becomes clear that freedom  –– basic human rights –– are under mortal attack by a far more powerful government, besieged people may act as if their lives were at stake. Sometimes their heroic efforts are successful. More often they are crushed. An honorable, courageous, and inspiring  U.S. president could do a lot to persuade Xi Jinping that it is in his interest to desist from oppressing these people. Trump, as he demonstrates every day, has none of these qualities.The protestors are on their own.

The War on Truth

The subject of Michelle Goldberg’s terrific New York Times column today is the newly published sequel to Margaret Atwood’s acclaimed dystopian novel, A Handmaid’s Tale, but her main concern is that the conventional wisdom that free expression will save a society, that truth will carry the day, no longer appears to be the case. We’ve entered an era in which “truth is less suppressed than drowned out,” when “reality feels as if it’s disintegrating under the weight of digital simulacra and epistemological nihilism.” I agree. I think it’s the most challenging problem of our time. 

Ugly Times Lie Ahead

Trump is desperate to be reelected. He knows that if he isn’t, he will be exposed to criminal prosecution and possible prison time. His prominent supporters will be exposed as the knaves they are as well. That’s why Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent warned yesterday that Biden and other Democrats must be “prepared for the massive onslaught of absolutely brutal and distortive attacks that Trump and his propaganda apparatus will wage,” including  “shamelessly propagandistic media manipulation and outright disinformation tactics.”  

     There’s no question that this will happen, and that the Russians will be doing their best to help. It’s an indication of the moral disintegration of members of the Republican establishment that they  countenance such tactics –– they have already shown that they will. 

Last Night’s Democratic Candidates Debate

I meant to write this blog before reading Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin’s comments on the debate, but couldn’t resist reading what she had to say first. (As regular readers or this blog know, I consider her to be the most astute pundit writing today.) In Jennifer’s opinion the moderates put in the best performance. I agree with her that Harris and Klobacher were impressive, and that Bernie is too strident and too old. I can’t share her high opinion of Biden. I think he is too old, has a mediocre mind, a spotty record, and is lacking in grace and humor. He sounded desperate to be forceful and decisive. I like Booker and Buttigieg, but neither of them had a breakout evening. Of course, any one of the ten candidates debating would be a better candidate than Trump by an astronomically wide margin. 

      Warren is most impressive, but I can’t understand why she refuses to articulate how, under her plan, a more progressive tax structure yielding enough revenue to pay for medicare for all would in truth require higher taxes on some taxpayers, but that their combined out-of-pocket expenditures for taxes and medical insurance would be lower because of the immensely greater efficiency of the reformed system. Well, now I understand. It’s simply too complicated to explain, especially given the time constraints of this type of debate. At this point, I’d be happiest with either Klobacher or Harris running against Trump.

Tonight’s Debate

At the the Democratic candidates debate tonight, I hope Jennifer Rubin’s advice will be followed:

To the Moderators: Ask questions about important foreign policy issues, an area that has been unwisely ignored in the previous debates.

To the Candidates: Instead of attacking fellow candidates, show how you would be the best at demolishing Trump.

The San Juan Islands

This week we’re staying at a house on Orcas Island by way of a break in our exploration of the Northwest. I can best describe these islands, which lie between Seattle and Vancouver Island, by saying that if you added lobsters, you’d have instant Maine.

Climate Change: Letter to the Editor

In a letter to the Herald (Sept. 9) headlined “Democrats need to meet some people,” Robert Goodrich asserts, “Climate change is the only scientific theory ever proposed that scientists are not allowed to question.” This sounds like it came out of the mouth of Rush Limbaugh or some other Trumpian propagandist. It’s an implausible assertion on its face: Who would it be who is not allowing scientists to question climate change? In any case, the evidence of climate change (global warming) is overwhelming and thoroughly documented.

Inconvenient Truths

Yesterday, I talked with a Mr. Rainier National Park ranger about measurement of extent of glaciers. She told me that they continued to shrink between 2012, when the photo I referred to in yesterday’s blog was taken, and 2015, but she knew of no measurements since then. I would have thought they would be made annually. 

Apart from other overwhelming evidence of global warming, glaciers are shrinking everywhere. If humans could act cooperatively and rationally, global warming could still be slowed to a crawl, but few are those who think there’s a chance of that happening. We seem to be close to a point where people give up hope and abandon thought of serious efforts to combat the peril. Imagine the mood on the Titanic after word spread that it was certain the ship would sink. It may be only a decade or two before everyone feels that way. 

Inconvenient Truths

Yesterday, at a visitors center at Mr. Ranier National Park. I saw large comparative photos of the same view of Mt. Ranier showing the extent of glaciers, one in 1921 and the other in 2012. They receded substantially during this period. I wondered to what degree they have have receded since 2012. It’s a good bet that Trump and any of his Park appointees would ban an updated photo. Deny, distort, contradict, and stifle inconvenient truths is the Trump way. 

Change and Time Scales

What impressed me most, driving from south-western Colorado to Mt. Rainier National Park, in Washington, the past few days, was the haze that hangs over the land, heavier along urban strips, such as in the vicinity of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Boise, Idaho. Sixty-six years ago, when I first drove across the West, from Chicago to San Francisco, distant mountains and ridge lines were sharply defined. Now, except at high altitudes, they have a gauzy look at any distance beyond a mile or so. The world is changing. All manner of statistics tell what’s happening. If you’ve lived long enough, you don’t need statistics –– you’re an eye-witness.

Trump and Right-Wing Propaganda

Some recent letters to the editor of my local newspaper are revealing of the mindsets of people who have been living in the cocoon of Fox News and other right-wind propaganda vehicles. One writer, indulging in an Orwellian turning of truth on its head, referred to the American Civil Liberties Union as “evil.” Another writes: “Large liberal news outlets like the Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN, and the AP have more or less declared that since Russian collusion can’t be found against President Trump, the plan is to accuse him and Republicans of being racist for the next two years.”

If voters elect the Democratic nominee next year, Trump will declare that millions of votes were fraudulently cast and that he was the victim of a deep state fake news liberal conspiracy, and tens of millions of Americans will agree with him. A lot of ugliness lies ahead.

Democratic Debating Strategy

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin has good advice for Democratic presidential aspirants: Instead of trying to show that you would be the best candidate to oppose Trump by focusing on how your  health care plan is best and your civil rights record is best, and so forth, show how you would be the most effective candidate in exposing, point by point, Trump’s appalling unfitness to continue being president.

Alta, Utah

En Route to Washington State, we’re staying at a moderately luxurious ski lodge with off-season rates. After a drive through hot hazy central Utah, it was a relief to exit the highway and ascend to the relatively cool and tranquil mountains, like having gauze pulled away from your eyes so the outlines of trees, rocks, and entire mountains became sharply defined and the air smelled clean. We arrived in time to walk on a deserted dirt road leading higher than we had energy or time to climb. 

Green River, Utah

It’s in the middle of this heat-wave-plagued state, and I hadn’t heard of it either, but it’s where Sara and I stayed last night on our three-week exploration of the Northwest. Along the way, we passed red rock formations gracefully eroded at such a rate that you probably wouldn’t notice a change in the landscape one century to the next. We crossed the Colorado River, which I was glad to see had enough water in it to reach its banks on both sides. Where does the water go?  None of it reaches the sea.

I’m not sure what the headline for this should be

Earlier this morning:

My website management company installed new software, violating the rule: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Somehow, the headline of yesterday’s blog replaced the listing “Daily Blog” on my home page, and I can’t extract it, so it looks like I’ll have a page devoted to the Democrats having a special duty to be accurate for the indefinite future.

     That’s not altogether bad, because this statement is true not just one day, but every day. Still, I’ve asked the good people managing this business to try to fix it Tuesday. I’m traveling tomorrow –– more about that later ––  and won’t post my next blog until Tuesday, probably still under the heading, “Democrats have a special duty to be accurate.”

Later this morning:

Amazingly (because it’s in the middle of the Labor Day weekend), my website manager just wrote to say she’d fixed this.

Democrats have a special duty to be accurate

Yesterday, Washington Post columnist Greg Sergent lamented that Joe Biden had conflated two stories he presented as an factual account of events. Biden brushed off criticism of this lapse, saying that what he recounted was true in spirit. 

     This won’t do. As Sergent writes, “Prosecuting the case against Trump’s nonstop lying and contempt for the truth and reasoned discourse is going to be a key part of making the case against his profound unfitness for the presidency.” 

      Democrats have a special duty to avoid giving Trump supporters any instances they can cite, claiming “What Democrats do is just as bad!”  Evasions such as Biden’s are far from being “just as bad.”. But that’s not the point, which is that Trump supporters should be denied any ammunition. They should have none.

Travesty and Tragedy

Headline: Trump to roll back rules for methane, a major source of climate change

Trump’s perversity is limitless. His presidency is a travesty and a tragedy. Except for those among them who are ignorant or deluded, his supporters reside on the same base moral plane.

Trio of Scoundrels

Jair Borosono, the demagogue running Brazil, fiddles while the Amazon rain forest burns. 

Boris Johnson, fixated on detaching the U.K  from the European Union, engineers a suspension of parliament to forestall common sense from taking hold.

Donald Trump, the accidental American president, displays contempt for the Constitution at every turn.

Trump:  What You Can Count On Him For

August 28, 2019

Headline:  “Trump pushes for new logging in Alaskan rainforest”

Those who criticize Trump’s erratic behavior should admit that no one can match his consistency in saying or doing what is contrary to the public interest and damaging to our country and to the world.

Corruption Writ Large

Trump wants the next meeting of the G-7 to be at one of his golf communities. Representatives of countries attending would have to pay his company for accommodations, meals, etc. 

You don’t have to be a lawyer, or familiar with the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, or have even heard the phrase “conflict of interest” to know that something would be profoundly corrupt about such an arrangement. Trump doesn’t care. He’s gotten away with so much, why shouldn’t he get away with this? 

Trump Summed Up

In an interview shortly before his death, Philip Roth gave the most concise and accurate assessment of our president I’ve seen: “Trump is a massive fraud, the evil sum of his deficiencies, devoid of everything but the hollow ideology of a megalomaniac.” 

Reasonableness, Agreeableness, and Reality

In a letter to the editor printed in my local newspaper this morning, the author, dismayed by the amount of rancor in our political discourse, pleads for reasonableness, agreeableness, and compromise: He writes: “Governing is about dialog. Governing is about compromise. Lose a little. Win a little. This is the stuff that makes America great.”  It’s a lovely sentiment, but betrays a shocking ignorance of what has been going on in our country and in the world. Pervasive ignorance may be the greatest threat of all.

Trump and His Enablers

Unless you’ve been living in the protective cocoon spun by Fox News and similar right-wing media entities, you’re aware that Trump has become increasingly obnoxious, incoherent, and irrational. His mind is so pervasively infected by malignant narcissism that he’s increasingly unable to act even in his own self-interest. He disgraces the United States, and  those who support him disgrace themselves. In allowing him to remain in office, Republicans render themselves vulnerable to everlasting shame.

Notes from the Ecological Scene

The Amazon rainforest has incurred  74,155 fires since January, an increase of 85 percent from last year.

Lake Tahoe, the clearest large lake in the United States, is losing its famed clarity because of algae growth. 

July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth. 

Colombia declared a national emergency on 8 August because of a fungus that threatens to devastate banana crops.




Air Pollution

Yesterday The New England Journal of Medicine reported on a massive study that confirmed already existing mountains of data linking air pollution with increased mortality. Even if climate change weren’t a grave threat to the continuing existence of our species, it would make sense to reduce emissions levels as fast as possible. Only the ignorant and the sociopathic proclaim otherwise.  


As Trump realized,  Greenland is a tremendously important piece of real estate. It should be under the most responsible stewardship possible. This principle rules out the United States as governed by Trump and his enablers as purchasers.


Stars No More

There was a time when every human being without impaired eyesight could look up on a cloudless moonless night and see thousands of stars, usually one or more brilliant planets, an occasional comet, sometimes a meteor, and the Milky Way stretching halfway across the sky. Years ago, on summer nights, I could see a faint fuzzy patch high up, the Andromeda Galaxy, our galaxy’s neighbor, 12 trillion trillion miles or so away.

These days, because of light pollution in more than sparsely populated areas, only a small and dwindling percentage of humans ever witness such a sight. Besides the numerous human-launched satellites presently passing overhead, we face the prospect of thousands more, which because of their low-level orbits will outnumber visible stars at night even in areas with minimal pollution. One of the most magnificent spectacles humans ever beheld, once universally available, will be lost to all.

India’s Tragedy

India, often referred to as the world’s largest democracy, has fallen under the rule of a friend of democracy in name only. Just as Trump has shown a great talent for attracting the support of white nationalists and supremacists, so, in India, recently reelected prime minister Narendra Modi has fueled his political engine by appealing to Hindu nationalists eager to change India from a multicultural country to one in which Hinduism reigns supreme.

Everyday Corruption

It’s been reported that Royal Dutch Shell will pay employees at overtime rates for attending a speech by Trump this week. Trump, learning that so many workers at Shell support him, will feel more warmly toward this company, causing him to treat Shell more favorably whenever the opportunity arises. This is how the brains of decision makers at Shell work. This is how Trump’s brain works. This is what goes on in this country every day: everyday corruption.


In traditional democracies, like the U.S., the U.K., and Australia, and in countries like Hungary and Brazil, where democracy had become a generally accepted ideal, democracy has lately been strenuously assaulted and in some countries brutally suppressed. 

Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum has recently written eloquently about heroic and imaginative protesters who have risked their lives and freedom in defiance of quintessentially corrupt and repressive regimes in Russia and China. Trump, an exponent of authoritarian rule, has no interest in their cause. Our cause is to work to end the death grip on our country of Trump and his enablers.

Three Cheers Ready for John Hickenlooper

The United States continues to be in an undeclared national emergency caused by support of Republicans for our sociopathic president. If American democracy is to survive, Democrats must win the presidential election in 2020. If America is to flourish, Democrats must win the senate.

      Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper has commendably dropped out of the overcrowded field of contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination. As the politician with the best chance of ousting Colorado’s Trumpian supporter senator Cory Gardner in 2020, Hickenlooper has a patriotic duty to enter the senate race. 

I’m in readiness to give him three cheers if he does.

Moscow Mitch

Republican senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t like being called “Moscow Mitch.” Ordinarily, it would be demeaning, defamatory, undignified, unseemly, and contrary to long-established protocol to affix such a crass sobriquet to the most important and powerful senator in “the world’s greatest deliberative body.” But there is an exception, you see. There’s no problem at all with it once it’s revealed how McConnell intervened to lift sanctions on a Russian company after it had invested $200,000,000 in a new aluminum plant in his home state. In a just and fair society, being called “Moscow Mitch” would be the least of McConnell’s troubles.

The United States –– A Medical Report

I read that Trump’s approval rating with prospective voters is about 43%, and hasn’t varied much from that since he’s been in office. This isn’t a high approval rating, but it’s appallingly higher than it should be. That such a large percentage of the population is satisfied with Trump tells us that there is something gravely wrong with our country, as if it had fallen seriously ill and may never recover. Many smart and good people are trying to treat the patient with the best medicine they know of, but our country’s condition is what I believe doctors call “critical,” and the prognosis is “guarded.”

A Picture That Says It All

The image hangs in my mind: Trump and Melania in El Paso; Melania holding a baby whose mother and father were murdered by the shooter; Trump, grinning, giving a thumbs up, signifying that this photo-op is a success, showing how concerned he is for victims.

That powerful people who know better keep this horror of a man propped up is the American tragedy of our times.


I got a first-hand report that far north of the Mason-Dixon line many Trump supporters are displaying  the Confederate flag. Do they favor secession from the Union? 

Apparently so: Trumpians want not just the southern states, but the entire country, to secede from the Union, to abandon everything America has stood for. They’re eager to reconstitute our nation into a new confederacy, a proto-fascist state. So it would seem, though I doubt if their thinking has advanced that far. They are prisoners of their resentment. Displaying the confederate flag is their way of expressing it.

Hiatus July 31 – August 11

Sorry not to have noted this earlier. Daily Blog is on vacation until August 12th.

The March to Autocratic Rule

Dan Coats, a stalwart Republican but a decent man, is being  forced out as Director of National Intelligence. Trump has  appointed a partisan lackey named John Ratcliffe to replace him. If Ratcliffe is confirmed, intelligence unfavorable to Trump will be suppressed, and another step will have been taken in the march to autocratic rule. 

Summer Reading

The idea is to read something light and diverting, so you’ll stay relaxed at the beach and not get all wound up reading a book that’s serious and intellectually demanding, but boring is not relaxing, so you might consider instead a classic that gripped you when you read it a long time ago but remember hardly anything that was in it. Three in that category for me I’d like to read before Labor Day are Faulkner, As I Lay Dying, Morrison, Beloved, and Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude. 

Headline: In Brazil, Amazon Protections are Slashed and Forests Fall.

Like the United States, Brazil has fallen into the grip of a proto-fascist menace to his country and to all humanity. Whether legal or not, permissible is the new rule for Brazilian loggers, ranchers, and miners. The Amazon rain forest is critical to Earth’s ecological health. Efforts to save it have been abondoned. Human rapaciousness is uncontrolled.

Next Week’s Democratic Candidates Debates

The candidates should avoid attacking each other about issues that may be very important, yet are insignificant compared to the ruthless assault on American democracy being conducted by Trump, Republican politicians, and their allies in the media. Which candidate can best get across to voters what is at stake in the 2020 election: liberty, decency, honesty, and truth itself. That is the question.

Trump’s Campaign Strategy

Widespread public understanding of the degree of Trump’s venality and criminality would result in certain defeat for him in the 2020 elections. For that reason, as Anne Applebaum pointed out in her Washington Post column yesterday, the strategy of Trump and his enablers will be ”to make facts so suspect, and institutions so shaky, that nobody believes in anything.”

Russian Interference Threatens 2020 Election, Mueller Warns

Headline in last evening’s online Washington Post

Trump encourages it. Congressional Republican refuse to support measures to counter it. Their behavior evidences a massive moral failure and betrayal of our country on the part of almost every single one of them. If they remain in power after the 2020 election, America the beautiful, “the last best hope on earth,” will be reduced to a memory and a dream.

Mueller Testimony

Mueller testifies before Congressional committees today. Former Solicitor General Neal Kaytal points out that Trump has declared that the Mueller Report found “no collusion,” “no obstruction,” and “complete and total exoneration.”

Given the content of the Report, which, of course, only a tiny percentage of people have read, the answers Mueller gives will enlighten a few people to what all those who have been attentive already know, that as to these key propositions, Trump lied, lied, and lied.

Wild Times Ahead

Washington Post pundit Paul Waldman yesterday treated readers to a nightmarish description of how Trump and his enablers will conduct his reelection campaign. Lies, distortions, and diversions, magnified by propaganda-spewing media outlets, voter suppression, cyber attacks, more sophisticated and massive Russian interference, Twitter storms, stuff we haven’t imagined. Wild times lie ahead.

Headlline: Trump Campaign Selling 10 Plastic Straws for $15: “Liberal Paper Straws Don’t Work.”

Clever marketing, aimed at people who sneer at efforts to reduce environmental harm, the same people who are likely to admire Trump.

Trump’s Core Principles of Governing

Robert Reich has identified them:

divide and conquer,
lie and distort,
conjure up conspiracies,
accuse the accusers.

Friday’s Washington Post Pundit 2020 Power Ranking

Friday’s Washington Post Pundit 2020 Power Ranking shows Joe Biden still leading the pack; Kamala Harris, 2nd; Elizbeth Warren, 3rd; Pete Buttigieg, 4th; and Bernie Sanders, 5th.

Biden vs. Harris will be the featured attraction in the next debate, scheduled for July 30, and Warren vs. Sanders in the July 31 debate. Right now, it looks like one of the five front-runners will be the eventual nominee, but if a near deadlock for leadership occurs, a compromise consensus candidate might be chosen. Best bet for that, I think, is Senator Michael Bennett, of Colorado. 

Trump’s Role Model

The Man Without a Face –– The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin, by Masha Gessen, is an inside look at Russian history over the past couple of decades and a revealing portrait of an unremarkable former KGB officer who gradually gained despotic control over his country. Vain, shallow, crude, vengeful, ruthless, brutish, and with insatiable greed for money and power, Putin is a natural role model for Trump.

The Surreal is the Real

I watched a clip of Trump at a rally, vilifying his critics, who in this case are members of Congress who happen to be women of color, inciting the crowd to chant, “Send them back!” Here, for all to see, is the master demagogue doing what he excells at, providing the world with another example of how he disgraces the office of president and degrades our country. Every day that Republicans continue to tolerate this monster, they disgrace and degrade themselves.

Another Sickening News Report in the Trump Era

Washington Post reports: “Six officials running nonprofit migrant child shelters earned more than $1 million in 2017. Southwest Key’s former CEO made $3.6 million that year. The company shelters a little more than a third of the minors held by Health and Human Services.” 

The Normalization of the Unacceptable

Christiane Amanpour warned against it when Trump was elected. We can’t pretend it hasn’t happened, most glaringly among Republicans in Congress who tolerate Trump no matter how much he debases and degrades the office of the presidency and damages our country. Two recent quotes capture the present circumstances:

Robert Reich: “{Trump} is a symptom of our eroding political system. He’s the product of years of stagnant wages and big money’s corruption of our democracy combined with a long legacy of racism and bigotry.”

E. J. Dionne: “Trump has so debased the standards of our politics that we stop noticing how low we have sunk.”

Trump Admires

Trump admires dictators and aspires to be one. He emulates them in his indifference to human rights and the rule of law. Stung by criticism, instead of trying to reform himself, he has created a commission to reform human rights, meaning to narrow them or obliterate them.

Dog Days

These are the dog days of summer. That’s what we used to call mid-July when I was a kid growing up on Long Island: In the heat and sultryness, you could sit in a sailboat for what seemed like hours waiting for the wind to come up. Once, sailing on Long Island Sound, the flat calm lasted so long, we dove off the boat to cool off. Moments later, the air stirred, and the boat began sailing away by itself. I swam hard and caught it before it got away. This story has no point except to give a dog days explanation of why there was no blog here for the last two days.

News Item: By more than two-to-one (68% to 25%), white evangelical Protestants say the U.S. does not have a responsibility to accept refugees.

Conclusion: Most white evangelical Protestants aren’t Christian.


North Carolina has 13 Congressional Districts. In 2018, approximately 50% of voters voted for Republicans and 50% for Democrats. Ten Republican candidates were elected to Congress and three Democrats. This appalling imbalance resulted from Gerrymandering by the Republican-controlled legislature. Democratic-controlled legislatures have been guilty of this same offence. The Supreme Court recently ruled that Federal Courts are obliged to do nothing about it. Speaking for the four dissenters, Justice Elena Kagan correctly described the decision as one that “debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people.” 

As the year wears on, American democracy slips into ever greater peril.

Iran / Republicans

At Trump’s direction, the U. S. withdrew from the nuclear treaty with Iran despite Iran’s being in compliance with it. Freed of the constraints of the treaty, Iran has exceeded the uranium enrichment limits set by it. Trump had no reason for his action other than to appear to be tough. The resulting dangerous crisis is entirely of his making. It’s a tragedy of our times that Republicans continue to tolerate him.

Headline: 40% of Americans still struggle to pay bills.

Rising income inequality, significantly exacerbated since Trump took office, is indicative of a degree of decadence historically associated with a nation’s, or an empire’s, decline and fall. 

Traveling. Will resume tomorrow.

Traveling. Will resume tomorrow.

Traveling. Will resume tomorrow.

Independence Day, 2019

The Fourth of July has never been celebrated with such fanfare as has been orchestrated for today by a president who is doing his best to restore tyrannical rule, from which, in 1776, America declared itself independent.

Trump’s Shows How a Dictator Would  Celebrate Independence Day –– tanks rumbling down the street; war planes flying overhead, etc.

Jennifer Rubin, in her Washington Post column“This is why a lying braggart and ignorant narcissist must go. He defiles and deforms everything he touches, putting our American creed and values in jeopardy.”

Treatment of Children at Border Detention Camps

Barbaric, cruel, and life-time damaging treatment of children at border detention camps continues. Republicans are complicit in this child abuse by failing to even criticize Trump much less fulfill their Constitutional duty to impeach and remove him from office for, among a long list of impeachable offenses, child abuse. They should all be voted out of office.

Mean-Spirited People

Avid (sometimes livid) Trump supporters and enablers are quick to attack any Democratic candidate who they fear might expose, to a much wider audience, that their avatar is a total fraud and charlatan. In view of her strong performance in the Democratic candidates debate, it was inevitable that Kamala Harris would become one of their prime targets. I read that she was castigated because she wasn’t black enough. Not only that, she wasn’t descended from American slaves. Her grandparents were Jamaican, apparently a worse fault even than Obama’s in having a father who was Kenyan. And, come to think of it, they say, Harris’s grandparents were Jamaican slave owners! And so on, and so on, and this is the sort of crude calumny we can expect a steady stream of between now and the election. The cardinal characteristic of Trump supporters, other than those who are woefully deluded, is that they are mean-spirited, just like the man to whom they’ve given their allegiance.

Traveling –– no blog today

Election Interference: The Grim Outlook

Trump and Putin met at the G-20 the other day, and someone took a video of them showing Trump, grinning, as he told Putin not to meddle in our elections. That was revealing, as commentators pointed out. Even more revealing was the self-satisfied smile on Putin’s face in reaction to being issued a stern warning by the president of the world’s greatest democracy and commander and chief of the most powerful military force on Earth. We can expect Putin to employ every artifice available, at whatever cost it takes, to bring about Trump’s reelection, and we can expect Trump to do everything he thinks he can get away with to encourage Putin in his efforts. We’ll be very fortunate if American democracy makes it through the Trump era intact.

Last Night’s Democratic Candidate Debate

Our country needs not only to rid itself of the sociopath we have as president; it needs a sea change in public attitude, a revolution of desires. I hope the Democrats nominate a candidate who is capable, authentic, vibrant, and inspiring. 

     Last night Kamala Harris stood out from the other candidates in persuasiveness, judgment, and authority. She is, at the moment, my first choice. Gillibrand showed some of the same stuff, but was narrower in her focus. Biden didn’t make any serious gaffes, but there’s nothing inspiring, in fact there’s something depressing, about him. Sanders was assertive, but imprecise, and I think he lacks broad appeal. He would be a very risky bet as a nominee. Buttigieg was solid, but not likely to inspire a big turnout among African American voters. Bennet was solid and sharp, though short on charisma. The other candidates seem to be good and capable people, but peripheral. Among candidates with any stature, Hickenlooper, in particular, seems out of his league. (He should be running for the senate.) It will be interesting to see how the polls are affected by the debates. 

Democratic Candidate Debates

Most of the candidates debating last night put forth policy proposals that are far superior to anything embraced by Republicans. For example, legislation proposed by Democrats would tend to reverse the trend toward greater income and wealth inequality. 

       But how would Democrats get remedial legislation passed in the likely event of continuing Republican control of the senate? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will surely continue to use his outsized power to prevent a Democratic Administration from accomplishing anything requiring senate approval. This is a problem for which no candidate could provide a solution. Democrats must take control of the senate. Otherwise, their excellent ideas will never spring to life from the paper they’re printed on.

Headline: U.S. returns 100 migrant children to overcrowded facility.

“Overcrowded” doesn’t come close to describing conditions

so abhorrent that public pressure forced the Administration to move the children elsewhere, which they started to do, but then realized they didn’t have any elsewhere, so they moved them back. What a failure, not just in absence of competent management, not just in the absence of compassion, not just in the absence of minimal standards of decency toward other human beings, but of imagination.

Donald Trump, Serial Child Abuser, Continued

It’s the hallmark of a sociopath that he has no conscience. As a color-blind person can’t tell one color from another, a sociopath can’t tell cruelty from a round of golf. 

In his latest Washington Post column, Eugene Robinson wrote: ”President Trump’s immigration policy has crossed the line from gratuitous cruelty to flat-out sadism. Perhaps he enjoys seeing innocent children warehoused in filth and squalor. Perhaps he thinks that’s what America is all about.”

Some day people will look back and ask, How could this have happened? Why was this destructive dishonest poseur allowed to remain in office?

Donald Trump, Serial Child Abuser

Trump is abusing migrant children by separating them from their families and keeping them in detention camps in disgusting, unsanitary, and cruel conditions. Just one instance: Visitors have described inadequate food, water and sanitation for the 250 infants, children and teens at a Texas border patrol station. One visitor described “a whole cell full of kids . . . who were forced to sleep on the floor.” 

Trump could stop this. He is responsible for its continuance.
It’s yet another reason –– there must be dozens by now –– that he should be impeached and removed from office. Republicans blocking such action are complicit in his abhorrent and criminal behavior. 

Big Money and Politics

The theory of democracy is one person equals one vote, but very rich people have such power that, as a practical matter, depending on the particular circumstances and the effectiveness on its use, a million dollars poured into political projects can equal perhaps 500 votes, and a billion dollars perhaps 500,000 votes. 

      The very rich overwhelming vote for, and financially support, politicians who promote the interests of the very rich. These very rich people had to reinvest only a tiny portion of the their windfall savings from the Trumpian tax cut primarily for the rich and especially for the very rich and even more so for the super very rich to ensure the continued subservience of targeted politicians.

     Maybe we can break through this. Maybe politicians who favor sane, pragmatic, fiscally responsible policies to reduce income inequality and provide greater opportunities for lower income people will be elected in sufficient numbers to gain control of legislative bodies. Maybe our country can be set on a better course.

Republican Senators Can’t See the Big Picture

Imagine that you are a Republican senator, for example Cory Gardner, of Colorado. You know Trump is a fraud, a blowhard, an ignoramus, and a pox upon the land, but you’re afraid that if you say so, Trumpians will wage a primary fight against you, and because Republican voters support Trump by a large margin, you will lose. 

     For this reason, you think it doesn’t make sense for you to oppose Trump except in occasional trivial instances you can brag about during the general election campaign.

     You think you’re being smart, but you’re not, because you’re not seeing the big picture: that Trump is degrading the country and dragging it down, month by month. increasing the likelihood of catastrophic consequences for the people of the United States, including the people of Colorado, including you, Cory Gardner. 


Joe Biden must know by now that he’s famous for making gaffes. It’s become evident that he has no ability to stop himself. The other day he reacted defensively after being called out for cluelessly reminiscing about how well he got along with two notorious, racist, ante bellum variety, now long-deceased senators, James Eastland and Herman Talmadge, from Mississippi and Georgia respectively. Shockingly revealing about this incident was that Biden bragged that Eastland called him “son,” and never called him “boy.” “Boy” is, of course the sneering epithet raists like Eastland directed at African American males. 

     Responding to criticism, Biden asserted that he hasn’t a racist bone in his body. I believe he doesn’t, but he does have some defective neurons in his body. If he becomes the Democratic nominee, I will unreservedly support him, but I hope he doesn’t.

Fiscal Responsibility and Political Sense

In a Washington Post column yesterday, Max Boot made a strong case that Elizabeth Warren’s array of bold proposals would blow up the deficit even more than the grossly irresponsible tax cut for the rich and especially the super rich enacted by Republicans a year and a half ago. Moreover, the centerpiece of her revenue-raising plans, a “wealth tax” on very rich people, is of doubtful Constitutionality (especially given the current composition of the Supreme Court) and in any event likely vulnerable to tax avoidance schemes of the sort rich people’s lawyers are so adept at inventing.

This country badly needs enactment of progressive reforms, but Democratic candidates must be rigorous in mapping out how they will be fiscally responsible, and Constitutionally acceptable. It makes political sense as well as fiscal sense to do so.

What’s Gone Wrong with Our Country?

Something has gone gravely wrong with our country. Otherwise, Trump would have been impeached and removed from office by now. I’ve seen that his approval rating recently was about 42%. That’s low by normal standards, but apparently his approval rating before he was elected was even lower. It’s horrifying that there is a serious risk that he might be reelected, and that if loses in anything but a landslide, he’ll likely attribute it to fraud and try to remain in office anyway!

     Truth is supposed to shine through. Somehow, Trump and his enablers have managed to squelch it, distort it, contradict it, and divert from it enough so that great numbers of people have been blocked from it. I wish I were confident that our country won’t be turned into a Trumpian state, but I’m not.

Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren

It seems almost miraculous –– the 37-year-old mayor of a not very large midwestern city may be the most articulate and have the soundest judgment and the most impressive grasp of the workings of business and government and the issues facing our country of any of the twenty candidates who will be on the debate stage Wednesday and Thursday the 25th and 26th of June. Polls indicate that Joe Biden would be most likely to beat Trump in the 2020 election. But that may change after a couple of rounds of debates. There are half a dozen others I think would perform more impressively as president, Buttigieg among them, though my present favorite is Warren. She is passionate, intellectually formidable, and her values are ones we all should share.

The Stark Horror of the Moral Descent of the Republican Party, Cont.

Yesterday the Washington Post reported that Trump called both the Washington Post and the New York Times “the Enemy of the People,” and he added: “The good news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been made GREAT again, and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT), both of these horrible papers will quickly go out of business & be forever gone!”

The silence of Republican lawmakers in the face of such remarks, rather than condemning them and swiftly removing this abominable man from office, is but a scrap in a heap of evidence of their moral degradation.

The Stark Horror of the Moral Descent of the Republican Party, Cont.

In her column yesterday, Slate’s stellar legal analyst, Dahlia Lithwick, asked: “How is it possible that the president—whose chief occupations seem to be tweeting, lying, lying about what he tweeted, watching television, and committing crimes –– is not on the hook for anything?” This morning, in her New York Times column, Maureen Dowd commented on Trump’s “Nureyev leap into the absurd,” going from no collusion to pro-collusion.”

Constitutional government of “the world’s greatest democracy” is ablaze; yet Republicans, who have the power to control and remove this lawless and dangerous president and his sinister vassal, the nation’s chief law enforcement offer, are content to watch impassively, as if enchanted by the flames.

The Stark Horror of the Moral Descent of the Republican Party, Cont.

Each day, it seems, Trump supplies yet another ground for impeaching and removing him from office. He manifests lawlessness and lack of concern for anything but his personal aggrandizement with every utterance and tweet. The stench of corruption flows out of the White House, permeates the atmosphere, and spreads across the land. Yet Republicans band together to protect him and allow him to remain in office. What consequences will there be for their doing so?

The Stark Horror of the Moral Descent of the Republican Party

Jennifer Rubin shines a light on it with a single question in one of her Washington Post columns yesterday: “Why is there not a single Republican other than Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.) who is willing to denounce such conduct {Trump’s invitation to foreign powers to help him in the 2020 election}, read the Mueller report’s findings on obstruction and seek to protect our democracy by removing a menace to our national security?

Good and Bad Members of Congress

There are many criteria to consider in determining whether a senator or representative is a good member of Congress or a bad member of Congress, but it is certain that a member of Congress is a bad member of Congress if he or she has either (a) not bothered to read the Mueller Report, or (b) has read the Mueller Report and has failed to repudiate Trump. 

The Race for the Democratic Presidential Nomination

Joe Biden leads in the polls, but despite his long experience in the senate and as a two-term vice-president, it’s become evident, I think, that Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg would be a superior chief executive of the United States. They each exceed Biden by a clear margin in intellect, judgment, industriousness, energy level, meticulousness, and character. 

Billionaires –– Good and Bad

Think what an enlightened U.S. government could do to transition energy production from fossil fuels to renewable energy! Instead, we have not just an unenlightened government, but an abhorrently irresponsible one, many of whose leaders are subsidized by fossil fuel promoters, like the Koch brothers. Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has pledged to spend $500,000,000 in an effort to phase out coal-fired utilities. Michael Bloomberg is a good billionaire. The Koch brothers are bad billionaires. It’s as simple as that.

The Race for the Democratic Presidential Nomination

Despite his shortcomings and some outstanding people running against him, the latest polls indicate that Joe Biden has a commanding lead over other contenders. I suspect that’s not because he is so favored as a prospective president in comparison with Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, for example, but because of a perception that he is the candidate most likely to beat Trump. 

    There is no question that “electability” dwarfs all other considerations in selecting a candidate to run against Trump, but Biden is prone to missteps, and there’s a good chance that one or more of his opponents will distinctly outshine him in the debates, the first of which just 16 days away. If that happens, the calculus may radically change.

Republicans and Conservatives

In a letter to the Editor of The New York Times former solicitor general Charles Fried rightly criticized mainstream media for calling Republicans “conservatives.” It’s irresponsible to use the terms interchangeably. Almost without exception, Republicans in Congress have thrown conservative values and principles overboard. Journalists should call them “McConnellites,” “right-wingers,” “party loyalists,” “Trumpian toadies,” or some other accurate synonym of Republicans. Calling them “conservatives” won’t do.

A 2020 Congressional Campaign Kicks Off

In my somewhere-between-pink-and-red Congressional District, (Colorado 3rd C.D.), even though she lost decisively in 2018, Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush announced that she would once again challenge the Tea Party stalwart and Trump-enabling Republican incumbent, Scott Tipton, in next year’s Congressional election. 2018 was a strong year for Democrats in Congressional races, a year in which it seemed that Diane had a good chance to flip our district into the Democratic column; yet she lost decisively. She’ll need a new strategy if 2020 isn’t to be a repeat of 2018.

     Tipton’s operatives reacted to the news of Diane’s candidacy with derision. His strategy in 2018 is not likely to change. It’s to incessantly trumpet the Big Lie that Diane is a radical extreme left wing dangerous socialist. There is no basis in truth in this whatsoever, but that’s no deterrent to Tipton. Truth is inconsequential to him. He’s Trumpian through and through.

Impeachment Proceedings

It’s time to end the debate as to whether an impeachment inquiry should be initiated as a matter of principle or deferred because it could be politically counterproductive. The former course should be taken because of the overriding consideration that courts are more likely to enforce Congressional subpoenas if they are issued in conjunction with an impeachment hearing. The House of Representatives must assert its authority or, like the senate, be subservient to autocratic rule.

How a Narcissist Thinks:

Headline: “Trump is ‘making up’ for not serving in Vietnam with increased defense funding, he says.” 

In deciding whether defense funding should be increased, a rational leader would reflect on whether or not it is needed. This is not the way a narcissist approaches the question. A narcissist thinks that the decision should depend on him, in this case on how he has acted in the past. Thus, Trump concludes that defense funding should increase because he avoided serving in a war fifty years ago. If he had served in a war fifty years ago, increased defense funding would not be needed. It all makes sense in the narcissistic mind.

The Fight for the Senate

Even if the Democrats hold the House and win the presidency in 2020, American Democracy will still be on the ropes if the Dems don’t win control of the Senate. That’s because Republican senators, led by their proto-fascist leader, Mitch McConnell, will almost certainly block progressive legislation advanced by Democrats, block Supreme Court nominations, and stall lower court nominations. Republican strategy will be the same as it was during Obama’s second term: paralyze the government, find a suitably stirring populist to run for president in 2024, retake control of the government. and continue to stuff the judiciary with right-wing ideologues to ensure perpetual, unchecked, one-party rule. 

      The stakes are so high that three candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hickenlooper, of Colorado, Bullock, of Montana, and O’Rourke, of Texas, have a patriotic duty to defer their presidential ambitions and try to oust the incumbent Republican senator in their respective states. It’s tragic that chances of this happening are close to nil.

The Constitution at Bay, continued

Trump has committed multiple criminal and impeachable offenses. His daily conduct disgraces, demeans, and endangers our country. Yet all Republican senators and, with but one exception, all Republican members of the House of Representatives have chosen to ignore their duty to uphold the Constitution by removing him from office. By such conduct they turn America the Beautiful into America the Sordid. 

The Constitution at Bay

The Trump Administration defies lawful Congressional subpoenas as a matter of policy and, in clear violation of statutory federal law, has refused to release Trump’s tax returns to the appropriate committee of the House of Representatives. The Washington Post reported, “Federal prosecutors on Friday declined to make public transcripts of recorded conversations between Michael Flynn and Russia’s ambassador to the United States in December 2016, despite a judge’s order.” Acting in obeisance to the White House and contrary to its Constitutional duty, the Justice Department has defied the order of a federal court to turn over documents pertinent to a case before it. These acts bespeak an unabashed effort to convert our form of government from a Constitutional democracy to an autocracy. This unprecedented and tragic turn in the course of American history has been made possible by the Republicans controlling the senate, who continue to countenance Trump’s lawless behavior no matter how extreme it gets.

      It’s no longer tenable to argue that an impeachment inquiry should be deferred until more politically opportune time. Democrats have a duty to defend the Constitution, and that requires impeaching Trump and Barr. The gravity of the situation –– the enormity of the behavior of Trump and those allied with him –– must be vividly conveyed to the American people.  

Trumpian Travesty on Tour

Anne Applebaum, Washington Post European expert, reports that the U.K. will spend about 18 million pounds on security for Trump’s visit and that the U.S. will spend many multiples of that sum.

The U.K. is in a state of total malfunction and dysfunction, as is evidenced by its invitation to Trump for nothing resembling a useful purpose. Trump, however, has a purpose: to make himself look like he’s an important world leader. He is important, it’s true, in that he’s a terrifying menace to his country and to the entire world.

Democratic Race Update

With less than four weeks until the first  Democratic presidential candidates debates, Joe Biden retains a commanding lead in the Washington Post Pundit 2020 Power Ranking. Kamala Harris is in second place, followed by Elizabeth Warren. It’s daring even to guess, much less predict, but I’ll guess anyway: I think the most probable ticket is Biden and Harris. Biden and Amy Klobuchar is also a strong possibility, because she is from Minnesota and has a strong record in attracting independent-minded voters in rural areas. There’s a lot to be said for including someone from the heartland on the ticket.


Congressional Democrats have been debating whether the House should impeach Trump. Every informed person of good will is aware that Trump should be impeached by the House, convicted by the Senate, and removed from office, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tamped down the impeachment movement. She advocates waiting until, in the course of further Congressional investigations, the case against Trump seeps more broadly into public consciousness. She and those persuaded by her thinking believe that impeaching Trump at this point could backfire politically. 

     Pelosi’s thinking is undoubtedly formed in part by opinion polls, which show that, although most voters disapprove of Trump, only a minority favor impeaching him at this time. I suspect that these polls may be misleading; that a substantial number of voters who favor holding off on impeachment are doing so not because they think impeachment isn’t warranted, but because they know that the Republican-controlled senate will not convict Trump, and fear, as Pelosi evidently does, that he will gain politically in the process. This view is understandable, but given the abundance of evidence of Trump’s multiple high crimes and misdemeanors, my view is that by not at least opening an impeachment inquiry, Democrats give the impression that there may not be sufficient grounds for impeachment, when in fact they are overwhelming.


The statement Mueller’s delivered yesterday about the Mueller report provided no new information, and he said he doesn’t want to be questioned about it. In acting this way, he is being careful not to exceed the confines of his assignment as special counsel. He has solidified his reputation for being circumspect. 

     Mueller plans to resign from the Justice Department and resume life as a private citizen. He thinks his work is done. It’s not, because he is not any private citizen. He is one who possesses a great deal of information that is of the highest public interest, and he is in a unique position to inform a perplexed and divided citizenry of the true facts and the true stakes. The appropriate Congressional committees should subpoena him and grill him under oath in public session. We can count on him to be truthful. Only those wanting to cover up the truth have reason to object. Unless Mueller wants to be remembered more as an competent and dutiful robot than as a courageous and patriotic citizen, he has no reason to object either. 

Democratic Candidates Update

Yesterday’s Washington Post Pundit Power Poll showed that Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old former Rhodes Scholar gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has raced ahead to 4th place in the rankings. Buttigieg is impressive, and more and more people are mastering how to pronounce his name, which isn’t exactly an asset. In the first of a series of so-called debates to be televised in June, Buttigieg is likely to turn in a superior performance. Biden and Sanders are still numbers 1 and 2 on the list. I wish they would drop out –– they are too old and each has other significant liabilities as well.

Progressives Be Truthful

This morning, the Washington Post fact checker noted that 

Planned Parenthood had exaggerated the number of women who died annually from botched abortions prior to Roe v. Wade. Progressives have a special burden to be unwaveringly meticulous and absolutely truthful. The Washington Post fact checker has also noted that Trump has told more than 10,000 lies since he took office. When progressives cite that as one of the many reasons he is unfit to hold office, his propagandists should not be able to cite instances of lies or sloppy misstatements by progressives. Don’t let Trumpians draw false and cynical equations. Don’t let them cry, Everyone lies. So what else is new? 

Lies and Big Lies

Trump traffics in lies. Large numbers of his supporters admire how he gets away with it. It appears that the Republican senators and cabinet members who allow him to stay in office admire how he gets away with it.

     Despite the efforts of Trump and his enablers to becloud overwhelming evidence of his criminality and gross unfitness to hold office, truth has been filtering into public consciousness. When ordinary lies don’t suffice, aspiring despots resort to Big Lies. Trump and his enablers have fabricated a monstrous one: that the Mueller investigation was initiated and conducted as part of a treasonous attempt by Democrats to force a duly elected president out of office. To invest his Big Lie with an aura of authenticity, Trump has ordered the attorney general to investigate this fabricated scandal: those responsible for betraying their country should be prosecuted and locked up. 

    In his long history of fraudulent conduct, this may be the biggest and most outrageous con Trump has ever attempted. Republicans controlling the senate who encourage it or tolerate it deserve as much condemnation as Trump himself.

How Far We’ve Fallen

Posted by Robert Reich: 

”We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” 

– Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861

“My Campaign for President was conclusively spied on. Nothing like this has ever happened in American Politics. A really bad situation. TREASON means long jail sentences, and this was TREASON!”  

– Donald Trump, Tweet, May 17, 2019

Democrats Candidate Race

Joe Biden retained the lead in Friday’s Washington Post Pundit 2020 Power Ranking. Elizabeth Warren advanced from 4th to 2nd place. They were followed by Sanders, Harris, and Buttigieg in that order. Fifteen others will qualify for the first debates, which will be held June 26th and 27th. Warren appears to be putting together the most progressive and constructive legislative agenda of any of the candidates, but even if she’s elected, none of it will get implemented unless Democrats gain control of the senate.

 My guess is that Biden and Harris would make the strongest ticket, but there’s a good chance I’ll change my mind after the first debates. Harris and Buttigieg would be an interesting combination and would have the added virtue of freaking out the bigots. 

American Democracy’s Prognosis

Our constitutional system of checks and balances may be the best in the world, but it’s no better than an old rag if key people in power choose to violate their oath of office to protect and defend it. There’s no evidence of such a commitment on the part of Trump, the attorney general, or any of the Republicans who collectively control the senate. As a result, the prognosis for American democracy is somewhere between fair and poor. If Trump is reelected, or otherwise manages to remain in office, it will be next to hopeless.

Where We Are

Each day that Trump continues to obstruct justice and display his contempt for the Constitution gives further evidence that his occupancy of the White House is dangerous in the extreme. That cabinet members and so many members of Congress continue to support and protect him is one of the saddest facts in our beleaguered world, sadder even than the existence of Trump himself.

Where We Are

Regarding the tragedy that so many members of Congress continue to support and protect Trump, E. J. Dionne noted in a Washington Post column Wednesday: 

There is one other thing {the framers of the Constitution} certainly didn’t have in mind: that extreme partisanship would so obliterate institutional patriotism that congressional Republicans would put the interests of a power-abusing president over the legitimate rights and prerogatives of the legislative branch of government. Democrats should not have to be fighting Trump’s imperiousness on their own.

Robert Reich: “Trump has threatened to direct Attorney               General William Barr to prosecute his political enemies. At a       rally in Pennsylvania he accused members of the FBI and         Democrats in Congress of “treason” for investigating him and his associates — which was immediately greeted by chants of ‘Lock them up!’

“We cannot become inured to this authoritarian behavior. Dictators and despots twist the rule of law to punish their enemies and suppress opposition. It is up to us to work as hard as we can to remove him — and his enablers — from office in the next election. Together, we must reclaim our democracy.”

We can expect Trump and his enablers to show no restraint in their efforts to convert our country from the world’s greatest democracy to an authoritarian state. It’s entirely likely that Trump would initiate war with Iran as a pretext for claiming emergency powers. Our sweet land of liberty is engaged in a fight for its life.

Dealing with Adversity –– the Trumpian Way

To help coal companies increase their profits the Administration loosened rules restricting pollution from coal-fired utilities. This had the effect of causing many more premature deaths among people in affected areas, which was disturbing to Trump and his enablers because it raised the danger of public pressure to reinstate anti-pollution regulations. The E.P.A. plans to handle this crisis by changing the way it calculates the health risks of air pollution, thereby causing the risk of predicted deaths to be much lower. 

A Lone Voice in the Republican Wilderness

This past weekend Justin Amash, a Republican Congressman from Michigan tweeted that: “Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented Mueller’s report. President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct. Partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances. Few members of Congress have read the report.” 

He elaborated: “Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment. In fact, Mueller’s report identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence.” 

Amash’s judgment is supported by more than 900 former federal prosecutors who signed onto a letter making this exact point. Amash’s statement is news only because every other Republican has acted as if there is nothing to condemn about Trump’s conduct, and many of them have lent support to Trump in his quest for an imperial presidency. That so many Republican legislators and others in positions of power have sunk to such moral depths has opened a deep crack in the foundations of American democracy.

The Rot Spreads into the Judiciary

With unfailing aid of nearly every Republican senator, Trump has been able to stuff the federal courts with an unprecedented number of unqualified and partisan judges who will all enjoy life appointments and play a key role in protecting Trump and contaminating the law in furtherence of his execrable agenda. Long after Trump is gone, this cadre of irresponsible jurists will endure like patches of wet sand clogging the wheels of justice. Diana Lithwick writes in Slate: “Senate Republicans’ assembly-line processing of unfit nominees brings Donald Trump closer and closer to the imperial presidency he so deeply craves.”

The Call of Duty

Senator Sherrod Brown, of Ohio, answered the call of duty, which was to defend his critical senate seat in Ohio instead of running for president. Governor Bullock, of Montana, former Governor Hickenlooper, of Colorado, and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, of Texas, are in each case the Democratic Party’s best hope to capture a vulnerable senate seat held by a Trump-enabling, Mitch McConnell-obeying Republican. They should answer the call of duty: They should withdraw from the presidential race and run for the senate.

A Democratic president can arrest the current trend toward authoritarianism, but Democrats must hold the House and retake control of the senate to have a chance of initiating legislative reforms and undoing the damage of the Trumpian years. Gaining Democratic control of the senate is almost as important as ridding the nation of Trump.

I doubt if any of these gentleman will answer the call of duty, too ego-bound are they to resist chasing the biggest prize.

The Race for the Nomination

A recent Quinnipiac poll showed that Biden would win by 11 points (53 percent to 42 percent) in a hypothetical match-up against Trump, Bernie Sanders would win by 7 points, and Elizabeth Warren by 3. Pete Buttigieg and Kamala D. Harris would tie Trump. Beto O’Rourke would lose by 2.

It will be interesting to see the polls after the first candidate debates, six weeks from now. If Biden performs well, he may pull further ahead, as voters seek unity and certainty in the nomination process. 

Instructions for Turning a Democracy into an Autocracy

Use voter suppression, invite the help of a ruthless foreign power, and have a little luck to ensure that an aspiring despot gifted in the art of demagoguery becomes the chief executive.

Contrive to elect a majority of members of the upper legislative body who are willing to confirm the aspiring despot’s nominations of politically compliant judges and cabinet members, including, most importantly, the chief law enforcement officer.

Lie so often that the public gets used to it and treats it as normal.

Flout the law in every instance in which it’s useful to do so.

Create false domestic and foreign emergencies to divert public attention from your efforts to convert your country’s form of government into an autocracy.

The Art of Doing Nothing

I saw an ad for an app that features various scenes you can watch while doing nothing for thirty seconds, a practice it’s claimed is good to follow every day. It has a calming effect. I’ve been meditating, an ancient technique of doing nothing, for twenty minutes a day. The idea of being able to do nothing for only thirty seconds a day appeals to me. What a time saver. And I bet that if you get really good at it, you can cut down time spent doing nothing to ten or fifteen seconds a day. Imagine a grand master guru of this art, someone who manages to spend no time at all doing nothing. A bridge too far, in my opinion.

Autocrat School

Hungary’s strong-man ruler, Viktor Orban, visited the White House to tutor Trump in the art of converting a democracy into an autocracy. He praised Trump’s natural gift for demagoguery. Trump modestly said he had been inspired by Vladimir Putin, of course, but even more by Orban’s beautiful work in suppressing the free press in Hungary, banning a leading university, and making a lot of money on the side. Orban assured Trump that Trump was the greatest leader of modern times. What a coincidence! Kim Jong-un said exactly the same thing last time he and Trump met. 

Trump was buoyed by Orban’s visit and thrilled by Orban’s praise of him. Having your greatness recognized by a keen judge of character is the most satisfying thing in the world.  

Mass Atrocities

The New York Times has reported in detail on Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assid’s torture prisons. It makes for sickening reading, and it’s sickening that the “civilized world” has allowed this monster to remain in power. After the dissolution of the Soviet empire, it appeared briefly that the community of liberal democracies, with whom it was hoped Russia would align itself, would preserve, adhere to, and spread enlightened norms, and that we would not again witness institutionalized mass atrocities like those that will endure forever as great ugly blots in 20th century history.  

The recent solidification of authoritarian regimes in various countries and the emergence of new ones in others give warning that humanity may be sliding toward barbarism. Soulless leaders of some major powers, including, most lamentably, the United States, are so lacking in decency and compassion that they view mass crimes against humanity with indifference. 


Those who allow themselves to be woven into Trump’s webs of fabrications, feed his beasts of corruption, hypocrisy, and cruelty, and affect outrage at members of Congress fulfilling their constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the executive branch, in their actions and in their silences, have been conveying our country ever closer to the maw of authoritarian rule. In so doing they expose their essential characters, whose etched ugliness let us hope becomes visible to more and more people in the weeks and months ahead and not just, as it surely will, in the light of history.

Democratic Candidates

Yesterday’s Washington Post 2020 Pundit Power Poll top seven ranking:

  • Biden
  • Sanders
  • Harris
  • Warren
  • Buttigieg
  • Booker and Klobuchar (tied) 

Biden has a big lead.  As for Sanders, as I have written before, it would be best if he would drop out, but there’s no chance of that before the primaries. Harris is consistently strong, and a Biden-Harris ticket might be an effective combination. Warren, with her energy, passion, and a whole slew of policy ideas, will invigorate the debate, and she has a shot at heading it. Buttigieg is impressive and no doubt has a great future, but I think his entry into the presidential race is premature.  If he could win a state-wide election in Indiana, he’d be strong contender to be on the Democratic ticket in the following presidential election. Klobuchar is an attractive candidate and on my short list for the ticket. Cory Booker is a good man, but doesn’t quite make it in my opinion. And I think O’Rourke needs more seasoning.  He would perform a greater service to the nation by withdrawing and running for the Senate against the Republican incumbent in Texas.

Trumpian Logic

The Trump / Barr / Republican Enablers position is that: 

A president cannot be indicted while he’s in office;

The attorney general’s decision to exonerate the president is not subject to question;

Congressional Committees have no right to examine critical potential evidence of presidential crimes;  

When the founding fathers drafted the Constitution, they had no interest in protecting the United States from falling under autocratic rule even though gaining freedom from it was the purpose of the American Revolution.

Mirabile Dictu

Chris Hayes: “Trump is the most successful con-artist of all time.”

We don’t live in the time of the greatest poet, the greatest composer, the greatest painter, the greatest philosopher, the greatest scientist, or the greatest statesman, but we do at least live in the time of, and are able to witness, the all-time greatest master of something.  

Barr’s Bad Faith Exposed

That more than 600 former federal prosecutors have signed a statement asserting that the facts set out in the special counsel’s report justify prosecuting Trump on multiple counts of obstructing justice after Barr had proclaimed the contrary to be the case exposes him for betraying his oath of office. In choosing to serve the aspiring autocrat in the White House instead of the people of the United States, Barr has revealed his true character: that of a thug equipped with glib tongue instead of a pistol.

The Gathering Storm

In a Washington Post column yesterday Karen Tumulty quoted Harvard Law School professor and Constitutional expert Lawrence Tribe’s reaction to Trump’s most recent imperialistic utterances:Tribe wrote, “This is as loud a warning as anyone could ask for: Trump has no intention of leaving his sinecure and exposing himself to jail time. . . If he plans to stage his own coup, I’d count on the judiciary, the military, and, ultimately, a popular uprising to stop him. Best = landslide.”

A Hopeful Thought

June 26 and 27 we will see the first two rounds of Democratic presidential candidate “debates.” Of the 20 qualifying candidates, 10 will stand behind podiums the first night and the other 10 the second night. Fair-minded undecided voters will scrutinize the performance of each candidate. This is a high quality field. I expect most of the candidates to perform ably, put forth sensible progressive policy proposals, and refrain from personally attacking other candidates. I think the overall effect will be to educate the public on various issues and sensible approaches to addressing them. I think most viewers will come away feeling positive toward one or more candidates and enlightened as to what a relief it would be to have any one of them president instead of Trump.

Civil War

No shots have been fired. None likely will be. But what is it but civil war when the president and attorney general are supported by a majority of senators and a substantial block of voters and propagandists in defying the law, ignoring the Constitution, spreading disinformation, and seemingly attempting to convert America into a proto-fascist state?

To cite but one example of Republican-supported assault on American democracy: Despite conclusive evidence of Russian interference in our electoral process, massively documented in the Mueller Report, last week Trump admitted he’d just had an hour-long phone talk with Putin in which the subject of Russian interference in our elections didn’t come up. 

Trump and his supporters have all but invited Russia to reprise its efforts to swing the election to Trump in 2020 and are putting the brakes our intelligence agencies attempts to uncover and thwart continuing Russian interference.

Even non-shooting civil wars can be ugly. That’s likely to be the character of the eighteen months between now and the election. And if Trump loses by a narrow margin, he will claim fraud and refuse to accept results, whereupon unpredictable, possibly horrific, consequences will ensue.

The Challenge

If our nation is to avoid slipping into fascist rule next year, the Democratic candidate for president must win, and he or she must win by more than a very tight margin or post-election-night chaos will likely ensue. 

The Proto-Fascists

William Barr was caught lying in testimony to a Congressional committee. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, called him out on it; she said that he had committed a crime. Under normal circumstances, this would have ended Barr’s career. Not just that: he would be prosecuted. The attorney general of the United States would see to that. Except Barr is the attorney general of the United States. He is also a proto-fascist, a loyal lieutenant of the proto-fascist who is president of the United States. It’s uncertain whether America will survive as a democracy. There are multiple factors that could tip the scales either way.

The Sociopathic Mentality

One might think that if you were a shady, smug, bullying, blustering big-time real estate developer with no aspirations other than to live a glitzy self-indulgent life and make money and be admired, but then somehow through a weirdly unlikely concatenation of events you became president of the United States, you might be awed by this opportunity and want to emulate past outstanding presidents and faithfully execute your duties and uphold the laws and work tirelessly to advance the interests of our country and all its people and give up your shady ways so you would be admired throughout the world and be remembered in history as someone who, thrust into a position of great power, met the challenge and rose to the task and worked to make the world a better place. One might think so, but if the individual we’re talking about is a sociopath, his mind doesn’t work that way. That’s because he has a brain aberration –– he is deprived of any conscience, any sense of duty to others, any sense of shame. He is incapable of changing his behavior.

Sociopaths attract other sociopaths, people, who though their personal styles may differ, share a pathological acquisitiveness unburdened by any sense of responsibility to others and are blind to anything other than raw opportunity for themselves.  Enter Attorney General William Barr into the Trump orbit.

Democratic Campaign Notes

Joe Biden has pulled significantly ahead of Bernie in the polls. Democrats want clarity and unity. At the moment, despite his age and flaws, Biden, who is, after all, by far the most experienced candidate and is universally acknowledged to be a decent warm-hearted guy, appears to be the best bet to be the Democratic nominee. Thankfully, Bernie has taken Indivisible pledge to wholeheartedly support the Democratic candidate. Warren has been gaining momentum –– she is probably the most capable and articulate of the lot. Harris is still very much in contention. Biden and Harris would be a formidable ticket. 

Factors for Rating Presidential Candidates; Note

Yesterday I posted ratings for three leading Democratic contenders and for Trump. I should have explained that I didn’t rate other leading candidates, such as Kamala Harris, who was in third place in the most recent Washington Post 2020 Power Pundit Poll, because I don’t feel I know enough about her. The same is true of William Weld, who is contending Trump for the Republican nomination.

Some might think that Trump’s survival as president despite being grossly unfit for office should earn him better than the “C” I gave him for political skill. I didn’t mark him higher because I don’t ascribe his endurance to his political skill, but to the immorality of those in powerful positions who have kept him propped in his pulpit.

Factors for Rating Presidential Candidates; Examples


  • character                             B+
  • judgment                            B-
  • authenticity                         B+
  • intellectual intelligence        B-
  • moral intelligence                B
  • essential knowledge            A-
  • political skill                        B


  • character                           B+
  • judgment                           B-
  • authenticity                        A-     
  • intellectual intelligence       B+
  • moral intelligence               A-
  • essential knowledge           B
  • political skill                       B


  • character                             A
  • judgment                             B+
  • authenticity                          A
  • intellectual intelligence        A
  • moral intelligence                A
  • essential knowledge            A
  • political skill                        B


  • character                            F                     
  • authenticity                         F
  • judgment                            F
  • intellectual intelligence       C
  • moral intelligence                F
  • essential knowledge           D
  • political skill                       C


After decades of resisting taking up meditation, I’ve been practicing it for the past several weeks – 20 minutes a day, trying to concentrate on my breathing without interrupting the normal pattern and banishing extraneous thoughts that surface as soon as I become aware of them. I’m moderately disciplined at resisting fidgeting and refraining from scratching occasional itches that assert themselves. I’ll never become an accomplished meditator. Even so, practicing seems to have something of a calming effect. When my timer goes off –- a soft ching –– I feel as if I’ve been brought back from another world. 

Is it worth it – 20 minutes of doing nothing every day? Probably so. 

Democratic Contenders / Particularly Biden

Former Vice-President Joe Biden formally entered the race a couple of days ago and immediately jumped into the #1 spot in the Washington Post Power Pundit Poll. Biden is the most recognizable candidate and the one with the highest name recognition. The top five are now:

  • Joe Biden
  • Bernie Sanders
  • Kamala Harris
  • Pete Buttigieg
  • Elizabeth Warren

I expect some slight repositioning, but these five will probably stay in the top ten. I’d like it if one of them, or someone lower on the list, emerges as a clear frontrunner, a candidate who has all it takes be president and then some, someone most people can get enthusiastic about, someone who doesn’t make me feel a little depressed at the thought of their being in the White House, like Joe Biden, for example, who a Washington Post article this morning headlined as the “master of not quite getting it.” The article was referring to how he had called Anita Hill to express “his regret for what she endured” in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing he conducted at the time of the Clarence Thomas confirmation. He didn’t quite get what should have been easy to get.

The best thing I can say about Biden is that he would be a better president than Trump by an astronomically wide margin. I’d like to be able to say more about the candidate the Democrats nominate.


Biden is only moderately intelligent, he’s uninspiring, he carries a considerable amount of political baggage, and he’s too old, but it may develop in the coming months that, among the twenty Democratic candidates, he is the one most likely to beat Trump. If that happens, he’s my man.

Presidential Campaign Developments

Most leading contenders for the Democratic nomination spoke at the She the People Forum in Houston yesterday. Watching excepts, I was particularly impressed with Elizabeth Warren. She is  passionate, authentic, and immensely capable. She remains at the top of my list of favorites. In my latest ranking, the top three are women U.S. Senators.

  • Elizabeth Warren
  • Amy Klobuchar
  • Kamala Harris
  • Cory Booker
  • Pete Buttigieg

Beto O’Rourke dropped off my top five –- I think he lacks gravitas and needs more experience.  I would be happier if both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders dropped out. They won’t, of course. They are leading in the polls. 

Anxiety Report

I’m worried that the Democrats won’t put up the strongest possible candidate to oppose Trump. And I’m worried that some people will be so emotionally involved with their favored candidate that they won’t vote for the nominee if it’s someone else. There are indications that this is a serious danger in the case of Bernie supporters.

Of course, I’ll enthusiastically support the Democratic candidate even if he or she turns out to be my least favorite of those who vied for the nomination.

Here are my favorites –– the five best candidates for the Democrats to nominate. My ranking may –– in fact probably will –– change in the coming months:

  • Elizabeth Warren
  • Amy Klobuchar
  • Kamala Harris   
  • Beto O’Rourke
  • Pete Buttigieg


Every member of the House of Representatives has a Constitutional duty to impeach Trump. Morally there is no question it’s the right thing to do; yet arguably it may be counterproductive politically and psychologically! What a dilemma! Best to initiate an investigation of whether there are grounds for impeachment even though we aleady know there are. Proceed deliberately, clinically, unwaveringly, and without missing a beat. 

Mueller Redux

it’s likely that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will testify in May before the House Judiciary Committee. There’s reason to hope that his honest answers to well-constructed questions will reduce the percentage of the population that views Trump favorably. The wheels of justice are grinding, though they grind exceedingly slow.

A Looming Menace

Even in the highly redacted form in which it was made public, the Special Counsel’s Report exposed Russia’s wide-ranging and massive interference in the 2016 presidential election. We’ll never know if that attack on our country was decisive in Trump’s election, but we can be certain that the Russians will try to tilt the 2020 elections the same way and that their efforts will likely be more strenuous and more sophisticated than in 2016. 

Combatting this looming menace should be one of the nation’s highest priorities; yet we can expect Trump and his enablers to be inert in the face of it, and, to the extent they think they can get away with it, to encourage it. No one can rest easy until Trump has been sent to prison, or, at the very least, returned to his towers and golf courses.

The Impeachment Question

The Special Counsel’s Report, even in its redacted from, is replete with evidence that Trump is criminally liable for attempting to obstruct the Special Counsel’s investigation of Russian interference in United States elections. There is no question that Trump should be impeached, convicted, and removed from office. This is not happening only because few, if any, Republican senators would vote to convict Trump regardless of how culpable he is: they themselves are brigands and scoundrels who put personal desires ahead of Constitutional duties. That is the state of affairs in our country today. 

Democrats in Congress –– every one of them –– understands that Trump should be impeached, but they are divided as to whether to initiate proceedings, because they know that impeachment by the House would not lead to removal by the Senate, and many, including their leaders, think that the political and psychological effect of impeachment would be to increase chances that Trump would be reelected. Sadly, they are probably right.

Truth and Tragedy

The redacted version of Special Counsel Mueller’s Report lays out a 180-page roadmap for prosecution of Trump for obstruction of justice. It comes across clearly that Mueller would have sought to indict Trump were it not for Department of Justice guidelines proscribing indicting a sitting president. Trump toady Attorney General William Barr’s “finding” that Trump did not obstruct justice has been exposed as a fraud and a betrayal of Barr’s Constitutional responsibilities.

It’s a great tragedy of our times that so many legislators and officials in positions of power are content to participate in the conversion of the United States from a democracy to an autocracy for what they see as their personal gain, though it gravely damages their country and befouls their own lives.


Attorney General William Barr plans to give a press conference this morning, hours in advance of making the highly redacted Mueller Report public. Why not after people have had a chance to read it and question him on it? He’s wants to give the already truncated report a spin that will linger in people’s minds and he wants to avoid answering hard questions. In choosing to act as Trump’s publicist and defense lawyer, Barr has breached his Constitutional duty to the people of the United States. That’s the level he’s sunk to, joining legions of scoundrels who, at some point in life, for whatever reason, choose the low road. After Barr dies, he’ll live on in disgrace in history books.


Former Republican Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld has launched a primary campaign against Trump. In so doing he is performing a noble public service. Other Republicans dissatisfied with Trump, like former Governor of Ohio John Kasich, have backed off, complaining that they can’t win a primary contest against Trump because a clear majority of Republicans support him.

That’s not a good enough reason to sit on the sidelines. The foremost responsibility of any politician is to help the nation rid itself of Trump. Trump will not likely be willing to debate Weld, but Weld can convince some who would otherwise vote for Trump in the general election not to do so. Weld should be relentless in exposing Trump’s depravity. Honorable Republicans should support Weld vocally and financially. Every Republican that Weld can persuade not to vote for Trump is a victory for Weld, regardless of whether he wins the nomination, and even more so a victory for our country.

Heroes and Villains

Last evening Rachel Maddow interviewed South Bend, Indiana, mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg in an exhibition of civilized, literate, substantive, humanistic discussion of the sort that shines in sharp contrast to the cynical dissembling by characters in Trump orbit like Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin. Life is dominated by heroes and villains. America’s future will turn on whether voters can tell which is which.

Surreal Land

Our country has become surreal land. It’s screamingly obvious that Trump is morally, temperamentally, and intellectually unfit for office; yet instead of acknowledging that one of their own is a monster and removing him from office, Republicans support him and encourage him. They accede to him. They become more like him. They act as if some hallucinatory mental disease has taken over their brains, and there’s no indication it will ever run its course.


Rarely a day goes by that doesn’t brings news of fresh instances of execrable behavior on the part of Trump and his enablers and like-minded dark-souled characters around the world. It’s uplifting to read of exceptions, people who inspire us to reject cynicism and despair and work to bring about a better world: young leaders like New Zealand president Jacinda Ardern, who shone with goodness and strength after the Christ Church massacre, and Slovak President-elect Zuzana Caputova, who announced: “My three priorities are in the areas of rule of law and justice, social care, and protecting the environment.” 

The Race for the Democratic Nomination

Yesterday’s Washington Post 2019 Power Pundit Poll shows Senator Kamala Harris maintaining her first place lead. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, in second and third place respectively, have been scoring higher in various polls, but I guess the pundits ascribe a lot of that to their very high name recognition. Perhaps the pundits feel as I do that Harris will emerge as a stronger and more appealing candidate once they are all lined up on the debate stage before what is likely to be a very large TV audience. 

Or someone else. The times they are a changin’ you know that for sure when you note that a 37-year-old gay mayor of a small mid-western city, Pete Buttigieg, is in 4th place, and a black woman from Georgia, who hasn’t held an office higher than minority leader of a state assembly, Stacey Abrams, is in 9th place, up from 12th a week ago. 

Yes, the times are a changin’. Let’s hope for the better. We sure need it.

Notes from the Autocrat’s Handbook (Official 2019 U.S. Edition)

1.  Make sure you have enough senators who approve of your autocratic agenda to confirm your appointment of flunkies to key cabinet posts and judgeships.

2.   Make sure you can count on your flunky appointees to support you rather than get hung up on their Constitutional duties. Fire ones, like former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who turn out to have a honorable streak.

3.  Tell your reliable flunky Attorney General –– in this case William Barr –– to deny Congress and the public access to any material in the Special Counsel’s Report that would reflect badly on you and to make up phony excuses for withholding it.

4.  Tell your reliable flunky Treasury Secretary –- in this case Steven Mnuchin –– to refuse to release your tax returns to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee as required by law and make up a phony excuses for withholding it.

Democratic Strategy

With a dozen or so potential candidates for their presidential  nomination, all of whom are superior to Trump by an astronomically wide margin, the Democratic Party should have a sure road to the White House in next year’s election, but it would be folly for Democrats to be complacent about their prospects. 

Major missteps could lead to the catastrophe of Trump’s reelection, and one seems to be in the making. Bernie Sanders has introduced his Medicare-for-All bill. Its aim is worthy, but, to tens of millions of people who are satisfied with their present coverage, it’s likely to be alarming. Even more alarming is that Sanders doesn’t say how much his plan would cost, and how it would be paid for. 

What’s more, because the plan is so generous, it would be enormously expensive. In its present form it’s irresponsible, foolish, and highly vulnerable to effective political attack by Republicans. Promoting it would allow the Republicans pivot from playing defensive to coming out swinging: Save America from Socialism! 

Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand have signed on as co-sponsors to Sanders’s plan. In doing so, they’ve done him a favor and themselves, the Democratic Party, and the country a disfavor. All policy proposals should include a realistic accounting of how they will be paid for. 


What a loathsome person is Attorney General William Barr, who while affecting to be following the law is doing everything he can to withhold critical portions of the Mueller report not only from the public, but from Congressional committees charged with oversight. Barr is a star performer in the cadre of Trump enablers attempting to transform the United States from a country subject to the rule of law to one subject to the rule of unprincipled men. All that’s needed for their success is a critical mass of strategically placed complicit elected officials and appointees.

Can America Regain Moral Leadership in the World?

The Trump effect has been to bring out the worst in our natures. Can the mindset of Americans ever be reset, be retuned to laudable values? Yesterday, Jennifer Rubin, talking about matters that should be central in political discourse leading up to next year’s elections, noted: “We certainly need to have a conversation about and a commitment to what we used to call civic virtue — respect, tolerance, humility, honesty, empathy and the rest.” 

Notes from the American Kleptocracy:

Courtesy of Robert Reich: “How much did some corporations benefit from Trump’s tax cuts? Well, the tax cuts boosted JPMorgan’s profits by $3.7 billion, helping the bank post record profits last year. The company has plowed most of the money — $55 billion over the past 5 years — into buying back shares of its own stock, which boosts payouts for executives and wealthy investors. Meanwhile, Trump and the Republicans’ $1.9 trillion in tax cuts have exploded the deficit and wages have continued to stagnate for American workers.”


All sixteen –- or is it more like twenty –– Democratic candidates would be a better president than Trump by an astronomically wide margin. The question is: who would be best to run against him. Some astute pundits think a moderate candidate would be best: Don’t scare swing voters who might be vulnerable to Republican propaganda that the Democratic candidate is a dangerous, extreme, radical, left-wing, socialist nut!

Maybe so, but I’m hoping that the candidate who becomes the Democratic nominee is inspiring. It’s almost a necessity, for what this country needs is not just an ordinary honorable and competent president; we need one who could change the national mood, someone who could precipitate a revolution of desires. More than anyone else I can think of, Elizabeth Warren might do so.

The Race

Kamala Harris sprinted ahead of Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden to take the lead in Friday’s Washington Post Pundit 2020 Power Ranking. I was happy about that because I like Harris, and I think Sanders and Biden would both do the nation a service by dropping out. 

Astonishing Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana, held on in 4th position. In a WaPo column yesterday, Jennifer Rubin gave readers a good idea why such a thing could happen, as well as why Stacey Abrams, the black legislator from Georgia who was narrowly defeated in last November’s Georgia gubernatorial race (and would almost certainly have won had not voter suppression taken a toll at the polls) is in the ranking at all. Buttigieg and Abrams are both spectacularly smart, decent, dedicated, sensible, self-disciplined politicians.

The Psychopathology of William Barr

Why does Attorney General William Barr debase himself by shielding Trump from scrutiny? Trump, of all people. Barr has an authoritarian mind. He wants to be part of an authoritarian structure. He wants it so badly, it matters not how depraved the authority is. Indeed, serving a scoundrel of such eminence may be what Barr requires to achieve inner security, self assurance, and peace.

It’s a weird psychopathology, but a common one, pervading much of the Republican Party. Neuropsychologists would perform a great service to the world if they could unmask its workings. I’d advise them not to start with Barr, however, whose cognitive workings might present them with daunting complexities, but to first investigate Vice President Mike Pence, the archetypal simple-minded case.


Yesterday the House Ways and Means Committee exercised the committee’s statutory authority by demanding that the Internal Revenue Service deliver to it the last six years tax returns of Trump and of a number of his business entities. Trump’s refusal to expose his tax returns to public scrutiny is a conspicuous marker of his turpitude, evidence of his unfitness to be president. 

Headline: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) released more than a decade’s worth of her personal tax returns Monday afternoon. She joined Sens. Elizabeth Warren, (D-Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) as well as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

Why have other Democratic candidates stalled on releasing theirs? By failing to do so, they make Trump look less despicable. If you’re running for president, failing to release your tax returns should be a disqualifying factor. No excuses. No exceptions.


Headline: “Trump takeover of the Republican Party almost complete.” A generation ago or less, few would have believed that a sociopath on the order of Trump could be elected president of the United States. Fewer would have believed that if such a thing happened, the Republican Party would care so little for the interests of the nation and the world that they would support such a man and enable him to remain in office. Across the Atlantic, who would have believed that Britain would enter into such destructive and self-destructive behavior as to produce the Brexit fiasco. Unpredictability rules. It’s a stunning fact. We can only hope that unpredictably good things will happen too.


Biden isn’t a sexual harasser, but his lately highlighted longterm practice of excessive touchy-feelyness is indicative of a lack of sensitivity, an area of built-in cluelessness, and so must be counted as a significant political deficit. He has too many of them.

The Fundraising Quandry

It takes a lot of money to make a serious run for the presidency. I read that Trump has over seventy million bucks in his campaign fund. If he’s half as rich as he says he is, he could shove in a hundred million of his own. His billionaire buddies will help. Meanwhile, Democrats have to raise a lot just to run against each other. Excellent candidates like Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, and Kamala Harris want to get big money out of politics, but have bowed to reality and are reportedly running around the country seeking big money. I understand that Elizabeth Warren is the only one who is eschewing super PACs and relying on small donations. I would like to send six or eight Democratic contenders I like best each $20, but I’m going to hold back until after I’ve seen how the candidates perform in the first debates, scheduled for June 26 and 27th. Democrats will have to have a lot of money left to beat Trump. 

An Enduring Image

In some ways my mind is like a file of photographs. From time to time a new one is added. Anytime I want, I can call one up and look at it. One sometimes appears of its own accord. 

A new enduring image was added last week: that of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff addressing Republican colleagues who had called for him to resign because of his support of the Mueller Investigation and his efforts to uncover facts about Russian interference in U.S. elections, probable complicity of Americans in such criminal activity, and other threats to U.S. national security. 

“You many think it’s okay,” Schiff said repeatedly, each time reciting incontrovertible perfidious acts on the part of Trump, those associated with him, and others either hostile to or indifferent to the interests of the United States, “but I don’t. I don’t think it’s okay.” The enduring image is not only of Schiff’s soft-spoken, devastating rebuke of his colleagues, but of the obvious discomfort of those at whom it was directed: Any of them who were honorable would have slunk away in shame. None were. None did.

My enduring image is a portrait of Schiff’s grace, courage, and intellectual acuity and of his Republican colleagues, every one of them shot through with rot. 

Character and Tax Returns

For Democrats to win the White House next year, there must be no blurring of the sharp moral distinction between the Democratic nominee and Trump. Among the myriad of indicia of Trump’s moral turpitude is his refusal to release his tax returns. His shameful example should not be taken as a license for Democratic presidential aspirants to emulate him. Any of them who equivocates about releasing tax returns or has not released them by the first debates in June should withdraw from the race. Politicians are not entitled to their privacy if they want to be president. 

I’ve read that the only Democratic candidate who has released tax returns so far is Kirsten Gillibrand. She may be a stronger candidate than I had thought. No excuses for failing to release your tax returns, candidates. Make them public or drop out.

Headline: “Trump demands that Schiff {Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee} resign from Congress.”

In a properly run dictatorship thugs would have dragged Schiff away long ago.  


Last evening, I watched Chris Hayes interview Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and aspirant for the Democratic presidential nomination, and found him to be as impressive as I’d been led to believe he would be. He’ll likely elevate the level of discourse in the candidate debates. He’s gay, which presents a political hurdle to overcome, as does his lack of experience and what might be called excessive youth. He’s only 37, and what’s worse, he looks about 27, which is, thankfully, a problem he’ll surmount in the years ahead, and we can hope that intolerance of gays will continue to decline. It’s uplifting to see young politicians as honorable, astute, and capable at Pete Buttigieg coming to the scene.

The Communications Challenge

The case for voting Trump out of office in 2020 and replacing him with a highly qualified honorable and competent Democrat is overwhelming. For a good summary of it, see Jennifer Rubin’s March 25th Washington Post columns. The big challenge for Democrats will be to get their case across to the public in the face of relentless propagandizing by Republicans and their media allies, who we can expect to endlessly express faux righteous outrage at the detestable campaign Democrats have waged to undermine a Constitutionally elected president who is dedicated to making America great again, even going so far as to conduct a high-profile investigation of the president pursuant to their fake claim that they could prove “collusion,” and even though their investigation has been exposed as a total fraud, continuing to conduct their own multiple phony Congressional investigations in a desperate effort to distract the public from thinking about the fantastically great job President Trump has been doing in creating a booming economy, protecting our borders from terrorist gangs, destroying ISIS, and defusing the Obama-caused nuclear standoff with North Korea.

It’s too soon to tell whether truth will win out.

The Contenders

Here is how last Friday’s Washington Post Pundit Power Poll ranked candidates in the race to secure the Democratic presidential nomination:

  • Biden
  • Harris
  • Sanders
  • O’Rourke
  • Booker
  • Klobuchar
  • Warren
  • Buttigieg
  • Hickenlooper
  • Bennett

I’ve ruled out Biden and Sanders for age and other reasons, O’Rourke for inexperience and lack of self-discipline and rigor in his thinking, Buttigieg for inexperience, Hickenlooper primarily for lack of gravitas, and Bennett, at least temporarily, because of lack of clarity as to his positions. I downgraded Klobuchar because of her recently disclosed sub-optimum behavior as a prosecutor and in managing her staff. I’ve upgraded Harris because she has recently exhibited political acumen and articulated several sound and imaginative policy positions. The result is my own power poll ranking:

  • Harris
  • Warren
  • Booker
  • Klobuchar

My preferences may shift more than once in the months ahead.

Smiles and Body Language

One of my mother’s favorite observations was, “They say it was a smile that put Roosevelt in the White House.” That may have been an exaggeration, but there’s some truth to it. Amy Klobuchar and some other presidential candidates have nice smiles. Candidates with forced smiles, tight-lipped smiles, reflex smiles, and flashing smiles aren’t to be trusted. 

Former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks related an interesting anecdote the other day. Several people were asked to judge Michael Cohen’s latest statements after reading them. They all doubted his credibility. After watching a video of the same testimony, they all found him credible. Body language made the difference. There’s a good chance that it will make the difference in the candidates’s debates. 

Skipped my blog today. I’m excuseless.

Campaign Note

Headline: As a prosecutor, Amy Klobuchar declined to go after police involved in fatal encounters with black men

The above isn’t Fox News propaganda, but the headline to a responsible report in the Washington Post, which, along with reports of Klobachar’s ill-treatment of staff members, puts a damper on my enthusiasm for her. In 2016 Hillary was kept on the defensive during her campaign because of missteps such as her handling of email and her highly paid speeches at Goldman Sachs gatherings. 

At least a dozen highly capable people are running for the Democratic presidential nomination. Ones who will have to be constantly defending themselves against reasonable serious criticism should step aside. Democrats should choose as their nominee someone with unquestioned competence, integrity, and humanity. 

Campaign Websites –- Harris and Warren

Kamala Harris’s website, besides showing close-up pictures of her –– she’s glamorous-looking, and that probably counts for not nothing –– informs us that she is tough, principled, and fearless, and that she works for the people and always has.  I’m willing to believe it, but I think candidates’s websites should set forth policy positions. They should lay out the progressive, pragmatic, and fiscally responsible policies they will press for as president.  I’m impressed by Harris, but i’m more impressed by Warren, who as the ever astute Jennifer Rubin puts it, is “brimming with solutions to just about every problem you can imagine.”

Klobuchar and Warren

Klobuchar’s website abounds with generalities, yet as a senator and in interviews she has displayed a high level of competence, and she has staked out sound policy positions across the board. I like Klobachar and Warren best among the contenders.  Klobachar may have a political advantage in being from Minnesota –– she’s an elite, but not a coastal elite. Warren’s Oklahoma origins and family background may be somewhat helpful to her. 

Getting It Right –– The Antipode of Trump

Michael Moore is a national treasure. I’m always invigorated by his postings on Facebook. Last night’s is an example. Along with a striking picture of Jacinda Adern, he noted:  “What a true world leader looks like. The prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, put on a hijab, said ‘They are us’, announced the gun laws were going to change, and called out white supremacists, haters, and Donald Trump. She’s 38. SHE.”

Campaign Websites –- Elizabeth Warren

For the rest of the month I’m taking a look at websites of contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination. I’m starting today with Elizabeth Warren. 

One of the worst problems in our society is the growth of inequality and the anti-democratic and dehumanizing effects of extreme wealth and the corrupting power that accompanies it. The 400 richest Americans — or the top 0.00025 percent of the population — now own more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans. Warren’s proposals would begin to address this outrage, attempting to provide some measure of economic security and opportunity for all, invigorate our society, and arrest the appalling trend toward gilded decadence. Her plans include an ultra-millionaire tax on America’s 75,000 richest families to produce trillions that can be used to build an economy that works for everyone, including universal childcare, student loan debt relief, and down payments on a Green New Deal and Medicare for All, and allow us to make a historic investments in housing that would bring down rents by 10% across America and create 1.5 million new jobs. Wrenchingly difficult to attain politically but pragmatically doable.  

Bold sweeping initiatives like this is the way to go, but it’s critical that they make sound economic sense and that they can be practicably implemented. I’m confident that Warren understands that. What a tonic a Warren presidency would be for America. 

Democratic Candidates

Like a lot of people, I haven’t decided which one to back. Some promising youngish candidates –– Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, and Andrew Yang –– strike me as lacking sufficient experience, and in O’Rourke’s case, maturity.  Biden and Sanders strike me as too old and in each case burdened with other problems. Of the two with experience as governors, Jay Inslee strikes me as too focused on a single issue (climate change) and John Hickenlooper as too unfocused generally. Senator Cory Booker is impressive, though vague on policy positions, as far as I have observed.  Of the four women senators running, I rule out Kirsten Gillibrand because she’s shown herself to be disturbingly opportunistic. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar have impressive strengths and, in each case, political vulnerabilities. 

Every one of these people would be a better president than Trump by an astronomically wide margin. It will be intensely interesting to see which one, if any, emerges as the strongest candidate.

How a Thug Thinks

Trump wants to remain in office indefinitely. He knows that if he were reduced to being an ordinary citizen, he’d be subject to prosecution and probable conviction and incarceration. Unlike some thugs, he thinks out loud: 

“I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump — I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”

Most Republicans support him.

I’m traveling this week and am suspending this blog until Saturday March 16th.


Apparently Joe Biden is about to enter the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. He’s already leading the Washington PostPundit 2020 Power Ranking. Biden has the most impressive experience of any of the candidates, but I wish he’d drop out. He’s significantly older than Trump. For anyone with a strong sense of responsibility (which of course excludes Trump), being president of the United States is one of the most stressful and demanding jobs in the world; it’s not for someone who will be entering his eighties during his first term, and Biden has already endured extraordinary personal stress in his family, which may be the reason he’s shown himself to be ambivalent about running. He is known for gaffes, and it’s likely that he would make some gaffes during the campaign. If he does, it will be attributed by his foes to his advancing age. He sometimes shows poor judgment, for example recently in calling Pence “a decent man.” If Biden doesn’t know that Pence isn’t a decent man, there’s something wrong with him. If he does know, and said it anyway, there’s something wrong with him. If Biden becomes the Democratic nominee, I will strongly support him. He would be an infinitely better president than Trump.

Political Developments

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley have taken themselves out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Just as well. Though Brown was near the top of my list of favorites, the Dems have a deep bench, and Brown and Merkley can do a greater service to the country by protecting their seats in the senate. I wish that instead of entering the presidential race, former governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper had made a comparable decision, staying home to challenge Republican incumbent senator Cory Gardner, who is a Trumpian toady and should be sent packing.

Knaves and Fools

Congressional Republicans and their media allies are not only knaves in protecting Trump, they are fools, unable to see that their own self-interest would be better served by impeaching him and removing from office. Their short-term opportunistic political benefit in shielding Trump is far outweighed by impairment of their personal stakes in our country, which has been seriously damaged, undermined, and imperiled by Trump’s mendacity, incompetence, corruptness, narcissism, vanity, and meanness.

Hurrah for Michael Bloomberg

Many notable politicians are so ego-bound that it’s hard for them to imagine that they shouldn’t run for president even though they could serve their country much better in other ways. Seventy-seven-year-old former NYC mayor and super billionaire MIchael Bloomberg is not among them. Realizing that his chance of becoming the Democratic nominee was very slim and that running as an independent, like his fellow billionaire Howard Schultz, could have the horrifying result of Trump being reelected, Bloomberg plans to back Democrats in key races as he did in last year’s midterm elections. This is bad news for Trump and Trump enablers and good news for our country.

House Investigations Relating to Trump

Republicans are pointing to wide-ranging investigations by committees of the House of Representatives as evidence that Democrats are waging a political campaign to undermine Trump. It’s not the process of investigations that will undermine Trump, it’s the facts that they will bring to the light of day, stripping away all pretence that Trump is fit to remain in office.

The Democratic Presidential Debates

Time hurtles along. The first Democratic Presidential “debate” is only three months away, though some much-talked-about candidates, among them Joe Biden, Senator Sherrod Brown, and Congressman Beto O’Rourke, have yet to announce that they are running. The debates will be held in two sessions with as many as ten candidates at each session, standing at their lecterns, making their pitches. Let’s hope most of them drop out before the end of the year.

My favorite to head the ticket is either Senator Amy Klobuchar or Senator Sherrod Brown, but I’m keeping an open mind. One consideration overwhelms all others: Who is most likely to beat Trump?

Headline: “Republicans rally around Trump as threats mount.”

Our political system would be healthiest if we had two strong honorable major parties. Alas, so fast that we could barely register it happening, the Republican Party descended into unplumed moral and intellectual depths. Jennifer Rubin nailed it: “Fidelity to the Constitution, ensuring the nation’s security, and even simple honesty are foreign to this gang. They have become apparatchiks in Trump’s authoritarian scheme.” 

Authoritarian rulers don’t ascend to power single-handedly; they rely on unprincipled, opportunistic, strategically positioned lieutenants to assist them in undermining and eventually destroying democratic institutions.

Our Constitutional system of checks and balances presumes that those who have a duty to check and to balance the president will do so. Occasional peeps and squeaks aside, Republicans have propped Trump up. Their moral depravity is a great tragedy of our times.

What Course Will History Take?

Trump assumed office with only a dim understanding of, and no respect for, our federal system and system of checks and balances. Belatedly he has learned how dangerous it was for him to become president. His hope now is that masses of dogged followers, media allies, corrupt cabinet members, a fawning vice-president, authoritarian-minded judges, and unprincipled Republican members of Congress will protect him from eventual prosecution, universal contempt and disgrace, a prospect that looks increasingly unlikely, but not certain, to be the course history takes.

A Call to Duty

It becomes ever more obvious that Trump should be impeached, removed from office, and prosecuted. Republicans in Congress have demeaned the G.O.P. and betrayed their country by protecting and enabling him. Given the moral bankruptcy and gross irresponsibility of the Republican Party, it’s critically important for Democrats to gain control of the presidency and the Senate and to retain control of the House in next year’s elections. 

In every state in which a Republican senate seat is vulnerable the strongest possible Democrat should oppose the incumbent Republican. Democrats need neither Colorado governor John Hickenlooper nor Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke to win the 2020 presidential election. Other candidates and prospective candidates for this office are as strong or stronger. Hickenlooper has a patriotic duty to forgo running for president and instead run against Senator Cory Gardner in Colorado, and O’Rourke has a patriotic duty to forgo running for president and instead run against Senator Jon Cornyn in Texas. I will not support either of them for the Democratic presidential nomination, principally because neither of them should be seeking it.


The weight of the evidence seems to be that presidential candidate Senator Amy Klobuchar has been abusive toward staff members to a degree that casts doubt on whether, despite the cheeriness and equanimity she displays in public, she lacks the temperament to be the best nominee the Democrats can put forward to run against Trump. New York Times columnist Bret Stephens has suggested that Klobuchar should resolve, and promise publicly, to be more considerate in her interactions with people who work for her. This strikes me as a good idea. So few politicians ever admit errors, it would be refreshing for a leading contender do so. In other respects Klobuchar stands out as an exceptionally promising candidate. She would be wise not to barricade herself behind a wall of rationalizations of her behavior. 

No to Bernie Sanders as a Presidential Contender

There are plenty of highly qualified candidates running for the Democratic presidential nomination. Those who have evidenced significant drawbacks should drop out, the sooner the better. I’ve already suggested that Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders should stay out of the race because of their age and other issues. Yesterday I learned that Sanders has equivocated about making his tax returns public. That’s a disqualifying issue. Bernie, if you have reservations about releasing your tax returns, you should withdraw from the race.

Tax Policy

Inequality has been growing for several decades. It’s well past the obscene level. New York Times columnist David Leonhardt reports that, since 1980, average net income of the bottom 90% has grown only about one-fourth the rate of the GDP growth. For the top 2% to 9%, average income growth has roughly matched the rate of GDP growth. For the top .01% to 1%, average income growth has been about twice the rate of GDP growth. For the top .01%, average income growth has averaged about five times the rate of GDP growth. It was in this environment that Republicans enacted a tax overhaul designed primarily to benefit the rich and especially the superrich. This country needs, not just a “wealth tax” or a 70% marginal rate on incomes over a million dollars per year, but a tax system that’s revenue-neutral or positive and much more progressive across the board.

First Order of Business for the Next President

Democratic presidential contenders have put forth various policy proposals that they intend to implement if they are elected. In her Washington Post column yesterday Jennifer Rubin pointed out that the first order of business for the next president is to “repair the presidency”–– to institute policies and procedures to prevent the kinds of corruption, nepotism, and other affronts to decency and to our Constitutional system that have characterized Trump and his entourage. Rubin lists eleven measures that should be taken for starters. I hope every candidate agrees with her.


New York Times article based on interviews with present and former members of Senator Amy Klobuchar’s staff gives the impression that she is too ungentle with people who work for her: she rebukes staff members too sharply and too often and is ferociously demanding. Tough to take, but a lot less tough than being in the Marines, and it’s valuable experience for those subjected to it. One interviewee complained that Klobuchar said, “I’d trade three of you for a bottle of water.” My reaction to this is that if they didn’t laugh instead of feeling humiliated they need desensitivity training.

The Race to Run against Trump.

Yesterday the Washington Post published its weekly “power ranking” of candidates vying to oppose Trump in 2020: Bernie Sanders, who last week announced that he’s running, sprinted into fourth place, just behind Joe Biden, who hasn’t yet said whether he’s gong to run. Among the ten leaders are four women, including one of the two African Americans in the race, and a gay guy, Indianapolis mayor Pete Buttigleg, who may be held back because he’s only 37 and his name is hard to pronounce. (It’s “Boot-edge-edge”).

  • Harris
  • Klobuchar
  • Biden
  • Sanders
  • Warren
  • Booker
  • Brown
  • O’Rourke
  • Gillibrand
  • Buttigieg


By calling Vice-President Pence “vile,” am I displaying the kind of incivility and disrespect that is said to be tearing the country apart? Personal attacks tend to be unhelpful even when warranted, but glossing over shockingly egregious behavior is dangerous. Trump and his enablers are threatening American democracy to the core. Trump is a moral catastrophe of a human being. Pence, who appears to have dedicated his life to fawning on him, is an example of behavioral and spiritual degradation that is vile. Polarization may issues from caprice. In this case it issues but facts.

Bernie Sanders

It’s a little spooky how many people have entered the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Bernie Sanders’s candidacy in 2016 was exciting. This time it’s not. Like so many politicians, Sanders is unrestrainedly ambitious. He can’t understand that he’s too old; that it’s time for a younger fresher person to head the ticket. 

For anyone who has high moral character –– and I have no doubt that Sanders qualifies in that respect –- being president of the United States is a tremendously demanding job. Sanders has tremendous energy, but I wonder if he could keep from running out of steam during a term lasting into his mid-eighties. A second term would seem out of the question for someone his age in 2024. I’m in general agreement with his progressive agenda, but, as was the case in 2016, it’s not adequately researched. I don’t think he adequately connects the fiscal and tax policy dots. I hope someone who is more pragmatic as well as progressive wins the nomination.

Editorial Note: The software program for this blog is pretty primitive. When the word count reaches a certain level, it both screws up the format and font size and stops working until I remove a lot of it. Trying to tame it, I’ve removed and archived all postings prior to Feb. 1, of this year. If I ever have time, I’ll clean up the font size and spacing as well.


Jennifer Rubin, whom I keep citing because she is such an exceptionally astute observer of the political scene, devoted a recent Washington Post column to Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, who is likely to enter the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Brown has established himself as a pragmatic progressive. He espouses policies that are fiscally responsible, yet would go a long way toward reversing the trend toward the enrichment of the few at the expense of the many that has characterized our society for the past several decades and accelerated since Trump took office. Brown may turn out to be the best choice to lead Democratic ticket.


I call your attention to Roger Cohen’s current online New York Times column reporting on a conference in Europe at which Pence “inflicted on the audience an extraordinary exercise in obsequiousness, arrogance and mawkishness.” It’s worth reading it to appreciate how Pence is not just vile; he’s vile in an particularly repulsive idiosyncratic way. 

Democrats: Progressives and Centrists

A possible pitfall for Democrats during the months of political jockeying leading up to the Democratic nominating convention is clashes between progressives and centrists that undermine the common effort to depose Trump at the ballot box. Internecine warfare can and must be avoided.

Race for the Democratic Presidential Nomination.

 Every Friday the Washington Post releases its power ranking of candidates to run against Trump in the next presidential election. I liken this to a horse race. Some horses tend to be early leaders; others are stretch runners. There’s nothing close to a clear favorite in this one, and it has hardly begun. Old hands at the track know that the lead can change wildly during the course of the race like this. At the three-week mark, Kamala Harris is holding the lead. Amy Kobuchar is running second by a neck. Joe Biden, who hasn’t yet announced that he’s in the race, is nevertheless running third. Elizabeth Warren is edging up along the rail

There are four women among the ten leaders in the race.  I bet that one of them will be on the the Democratic ticket as either the presidential or vice-presidential nominee. 

Republican Challenges to Trump

It’s good news that a prominent Republican, former Massachusetts governor William Weld, intends to challenge Trump for the Republican nomination, though Weld says he’ll have to raise a considerable amount of money before undertaking an all-out campaign. Let’s hope other Republicans follow his example or run on an independent ticket, pledging to restore traditional conservative principles –– honesty, decency, competency, fiscal responsibility, and sound judgment –– to the White House.  Whether they think they can win the nomination or the election should have no bearing on their decision. The only question they need to ask is whether they can weaken Trump politically and increase the chance that he’ll lose in the general election. That is a noble goal in itself.

The Democratic Presidential Primary Debates

Upwards of 20 Democrats have either entered the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination or are expected to. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has announced how it will run the primary debates in a way that is fair, democratic, and doesn’t result in a ludicrous numbers of aspirants on the stage at once. There will be two heats –– two nights of debates. Lots will be drawn to determine which night and with which other candidates each candidate will debate. No more than 20 candidates will be allowed to debate; no more than 10 will be on stage at either of the two nights of debating. To make the cut a candidate must rank high enough in polling or have secured at least 65,000 “grass-roots” donations. The first debate will be held this June, sooner than I would have thought likely.

Tell the Truth

Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler has documented thousands of lies Trump has told since he took office. Trump is a pathological liar. His supporters resort to a time-proven method of dodging the ugly truth that Trump’s habitual lying is indefensible by from time to time catching a Democrat making a misstatement. Kamala Harris, who is one of the leading aspirants for the Democratic nomination, earned “4 Pinocchios” from Kessler by suggesting that, because, on average, tax refunds were down, tax liability had increased for middle class Americans.” This was not case. 

Harris had plenty of reasons to attack the Republican tax cut, which was designed primarily to benefit for the rich and especially the super rich, but she carelessly seized on a specious argument. Now we’ll be hearing endlessly from the right-wing media that Harris is a notorious liar and totally untrustworthy.

Democratic candidates have a special obligation to be scrupulous about being factually accurate. Our nation’s survival as a democracy is at stake. 

The Limit

By agreeing with Democrats on a compromise that would increase funds for border security but rebuff Trump in his demand for 5.7 billion dollars dedicated to his Wall, Senate Republicans displayed that there is, at last, a limit to how much damage they’re willing to inflict on the country to please the Trump and his deluded and cynical supporters. The result, Jennifer Rubin notes, is that “Trump is left with his cultlike followers, vague threats to ‘finish’ the wall regardless of Congress, his mindless chants and his sycophantic right-wing media.” It’s a hopeful development, but as long as Trump remains in office, our country remains in peril.


I’m traveling and suspending this blog until Wednesday, Feb. 13th.

The Right Candidate to oppose Trump

Jennifer Rubin suggests that a good choice would be someone “youngish, knowledgeable, idealistic, empathetic, and high-energy,” to which could be added honorable, all qualities that Trump lacks. In the course of the campaign the contrast would become evident to all but the most deluded and cynical, which there’s reason to hope doesn’t comprise more than 40% of the population.

The Tragedy of Our Times

Headline: “The United States will withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between Russia and the United States.”  As Katrina vanden Heuvel observed in a Washington Post column yesterday, it’s an act that initiates a new arms race. Consider Trump’s rationale for this decision, bestowed on the world last fall: “we have more money than anybody else by far. We’ll build it up until [China and Russia] come to their senses.” 

That, as I recently read, 88% of Republicans support Trump, is the tragedy of our times.

Trump Delivers a Devastating Attack on Himself

One of Jennifer Rubin’s columns in the online Washington Post yesterday had the effect of being a devastating attack on Trump. Rubin said very little. Most of the column consisted of a verbatim transcript of remarks Trump made in the course of being interviewed by Margaret Brennan of CBS. Trump’s own words –– a stunning display of appalling ignorance and incoherence –– were more revealing of his gross unfitness to hold office than anything any critic could say against him.

Universal Access to Basic Healthcare

Nearly every advanced democracy assures all its citizens access to basic health care.  Everyone in our country should have access to basic health care too. Opponents falsely claim that it would be too expensive.

The U.S. spends more on healthcare per capita than any other country. That’s not because people in the U.S. are getting better health care. It’s because our health care system is so inefficient. We would spend less on a well-planned, well-administered universal health care system than we spend under our present system. 

Prospective Democratic presidential candidates haven’t been getting that message across. Right-wing attackers have been shrieking that universal access to health care would bankrupt our country. As a result, some proponents of universal access to basic health care have gotten skittish and have been backing away from it. Instead, they should marshal credible and accurate studies and data showing what can be accomplished and what the savings would be and hammer it it in until most people realize that everyone in the U.S. can and should have access to basic healthcare too.


Senator Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota, a former prosecutor, is experienced, smart, compassionate, tough-minded, pragmatic, honorable, competent, and likable. The Washington Post’s perceptive columnist, Jennifer Rubin, has commented on Klobuchar’s “emotional equipoise, a blend of relaxation and concentration, stamina leavened by cheerfulness.”

I can think of political drawbacks or personal deficiencies in the case of every one else I’ve seen mentioned, who is running or thought likely to run, but none in the case of Klobuchar. It’s too early to endorse a particular candidate, but there’s a good chance that a year from now I’ll be arguing that Amy Klobuchar should be the Democratic nominee.

The Early Line

Recently and unoriginally, I likened the competition among aspirants for the Democratic presidential nomination to a horse race. I predicted that Kamala Harris would be one of the front runners.  In the same vein, the Washington Post has begun rating people who are have already entered the race or appear likely to do so. The ratings reflect the consensus of Washington Post columnists. They are ranking candidates in order of strength, by which I think they mean likelihood to defeat Trump. Leading the field out of the gate are Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Sherrold Brown, and Beto O’Rourke in that order.  Howard Schultz, running as an independent and who should have been scratched, is running 11th. Keep your eye on Amy Klobuchar, in 7th and moving up on the outside.

What Shultz Thinks

Howard Schultz thinks that if his personal platform is conservative enough, he’ll get a huge number of Republican votes because Republicans know in their hearts that he would be a much better president than Trump; that he’ll get practically every independent vote because he is a quintessential independent and is running on an independent ticket; and that he’ll get a lot of Democrats votes because he’s basically a liberal, has been “a life-long Democrat,” and because, as is well known, liberals like lattés.

Schutz is deluded. Most Republicans will dislike him for fracturing the Republican party by opposing Trump. Anti-Trump voters –– nearly all Democrats and most Independents –– will see him as a catalyst that would cause the horror of Trump’s reelection. Third party candidates don’t win presidential elections. Schultz has demonstrated that he’s politically naive. He is not going to be the exception. He’s an example of a man consummed by vanity.