Five Ways to Destroy Democracy

Steve Schmidt, a life-long Republican and Senior Campaign Strategist for John McCain’s presidential campaign, can no longer abide Trump’s daily lies and non-stop attacks on our most venerated institutions. So he did what many other high-profile Republicans have done – he firmly renounced his affiliation with the Republican party.

Then he went further. A few days ago on MSNBC he delineated five specific ways Trump is destroying our democracy. Here’s my annotated version of his passionate warning…

One, he incites fervor in a base through constant lying.

There are now thousands of documented lies. It’s to the point that just about every sentence he utters or tweets is laced with half-truths, distortions, and full-blown lies. TRUST NOTHING TRUMP SAYS.

Two, he scapegoats minority populations and he affixes blame for complex problems to them and them alone.

Among his favorite targets are Muslims, Mexicans, Democrat politicians, educated people (the “elites”) and journalists (‘the worst people in the word,” “your enemies”). Every problem is their fault, nothing is his fault.

Three, he alleges conspiracies that are hidden and nefarious and linked to those scapegoated populations.

Paranoia infests his world view. The FBI, Robert Mueller, the Obama/Hillary team, the Intelligence community, the (imaginary) Deep State are all, according to his warped mind, out to get him. He’s made outrageous allegations against Obama, with zero evidence. There seems to be no conspiracy theory that he finds outlandish.

Four, he spreads a sense of victimization among those fervent supporters.

“They’re taking your jobs … they’re murderers, they’re rapists.”  You might recognize this tactic – it’s straight out of the playbook of the worst dictators in history. He’s saying, in effect, “get them before they get you.”

And five, he asserts the need to exert heretofore unprecedented power to protect his victim class from the conspiracies and the scapegoated populations.

As Trump proclaimed at the Republican Convention in 2016, “I alone can fix” America’s problems. In his view Congress, the judiciary, the free press and even the Constitution are nothing more than impediments to his consolidation of power. And it’s going to get worse as he feels ever more threatened.

Through all of history, (if) you understand totalitarianism, you understand how democracies fall. You will find those five behaviors (in Trump).

For sure, that’s no bull, Schmidt. It’s just scary.

Thanks for caring about the truth.

Ken

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DO Trust the Polls.

Starting almost immediately after the inauguration the polls have been delivering bad news for Donald Trump. Does that concern his hard-core fans? Of course not. They scoff at poll numbers, saying, “Yeah, you mean the same polls that showed Hillary winning in a landslide?!” I’ve read and heard that response too many times.

But it’s nonsense.

Look at what actually happened in the 2016 presidential race. On the eve of the election most polls showed Hillary up by around three percentage points nationally. She ended up winning the popular vote by 2.1%, which translated into nearly 3 million votes. Every poll cautions about its built-in margin-of-error which in most cases is 2 or 3 points. So the polls were, in fact, correct! They said more Americans were going to vote for Hillary than Trump, and that happened.

And more to the current situation, recent polls show that Americans are waking up to the disaster the Trump administration has become:

(Trump’s) overall disapproval among Americans has reached record highs…Just 37 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing just over five months into his tenure, while 51 percent disapprove.

The polling agencies compete hard against each other. Each wants to, needs to, deliver reliable figures.

So, dear Trumpsters, feel free to add or subtract one or two percentage points to any particular poll, but know that it’s certain your guy is deeply unloved. And know that when they say less than 20% of Americans approve of the new healthcare plans, it’s truly a warning sign of deep dissatisfaction.

And here’s the juiciest finding:

In addition, by a 24-point margin, Americans believe former President Barack Obama was, by far, a more effective leader in comparison to Trump, 58 percent to 34 percent.

HA! Poor Donny. That’s gonna leave a big fat bruise on his delicate ego.

And finally, let’s look at one aspect of the only “poll” that counts, the actual election. The most embarrassing loss that can happen to any presidential candidate is to lose his or her home state. Well, Trump lost New York State by 21 percentage points. That’s bad. Very bad. Probably unprecedented in U.S. history. Far worse, however, is what happened in his home county, Manhattan. Those folks have had Trump in their faces for decades. They know him better than anyone. Do you know how Trump did in his hometown?

He won a pathetic 9.7% of the vote! Hillary got 86.6%.

Too bad NYC didn’t do a good enough job of telling America what we’ve all known for years – that “The Donald” is, was, and always will be a narcissistic scam artist. And we didn’t need a poll for that.

Thanks for caring about the truth.

Ken

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The Real Tragedy Behind Comey’s Firing.

Most press coverage of Trump’s sacking of the FBI director has focused on the timing and strange circumstances of the action. And certainly that all needs to be looked at. There is, however, something more far reaching than the immediate issue.  As a result of Trump’s actions, the post of FBI director has become politicized, and the regrettable repercussions of that fact will last for decades.

The 10-year term of the Director was specifically chosen to overlap presidential administrations. Remember, prior to this week only one other FBI Director had ever been fired. Back in 1993, President Bill Clinton, six months into his first term, fired then-FBI Director William Sessions. But here’s the difference: back then, a Justice Department investigation found that Sessions had engaged in a pattern of unethical behavior and expense-account padding.  In other words, there was a clear legal rationale for the sacking, aside from any political consideration.

Why, on the other hand, was Comey fired? Trump said he was a “showboat” and a “grandstander.”  Which, of course, coming from the King of Bluster, is laughable.  And he said the FBI was “in turmoil.” No, it wasn’t.

But wait, you might say. Didn’t the Democrats want Comey fired for what he did to Hillary?

As I posted on Facebook:

No, the Dems are NOT two-faced.

They wanted Comey’s hide when, DURING THE CAMPAIGN, he broke all precedent by talking about the ongoing email probe.

But then IN THE MONTHS AFTER THE ELECTION he made it clear that there was an FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Dems and all patriotic Americans surely want that probe to continue — without political interference.

The firing absolutely looks like there is an attempt to quash that investigation. And THAT’s why Dems are screaming.

Here’s the other overlooked fact. President Obama surely was furious at Comey for what he did during the campaign. He could have canned Comey.  But he didn’t.  He knew better than to let his personal animosity supersede the historic independence of the nation’s premier law enforcement agency!

Now Trumpty Dumpty has permanently laid waste to the long-held separateness between the Executive branch and the FBI. And all the king’s horses and all the king’s men won’t be able to fix it.

The bottom line is that in the future, whenever a president is unhappy with the FBI director, he or she will feel much less hesitation about swinging the ax. The dangerous precedent has been set.

It’s a damn shame.

Thanks for caring about the truth.

Ken

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Colbert Should Apologize…

A couple of nights ago late night TV host Stephen Colbert went on a particularly venomous – and hilarious – rant against Trump. The trigger for his outrage was Trump’s interview on CBS’s Face The Nation during which the president insulted the host, John Dickerson, a highly respected journalist.

“I call your show Deface the Nation” our leader said with a smirk. And later on Trump turned and walked out, mid-sentence, on Dickerson when the questions made him uncomfortable.

So Colbert forcefully shot back, defending his CBS colleague, and now some folks say he must apologize for one or two things that were, frankly, raunchy and probably over the line.

Should Stephen Colbert apologize? Only under certain conditions.

Colbert should say, “Mr. President, I’ll apologize when you apologize to President Obama for falsely accusing him, without any credible evidence, of illegally wiretapping you.

“I’ll apologize when you apologize to the thousands of dedicated poll workers whom you defamed by claiming, falsely, that Hillary Clinton received millions of illegal votes.

“I’ll apologize when you apologize to the patriotic members of the Intelligence community whom you repeatedly slandered with false accusations.

“I’ll apologize when you apologize to the American people for the five years of lying about the citizenship of the first black President, and your lies about having investigators in Hawaii (“you won’t believe what they are finding”) when there were no such investigators.

“I’ll apologize when you apologize to the American people for lying about your tax returns, your involvement with Russia, your charitable donations, and your promise to divest yourself from your businesses.

“And finally, I’ll apologize when you apologize to John Dickerson, the staff at Face the Nation and CBS News, and the thousands of hard-working, loyal American journalists whom you slander daily with your lies about ‘fake news’ and who are doing their job by trying to bring truth to the American people. The First Amendment was written precisely to counter would-be tyrants like you who seek to demean and diminish the vital importance of a free and vigorous press corps.”

And then, and only then, should Stephen Colbert apologize.

Thanks for caring about the truth.

Ken

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The Russian Connection

You see it on social media every day: Trumpsters question why Congress and others are looking into, as Trump likes to say, “what the hell is going on?” between Russia and Trump’s inner circle.

OK, Trumpkins. Let’s look at what we know for sure.

  1. FBI director James Comey announced on March 20th that his agency is actively investigating Russian meddling in the presidential election. We can assume evidence had already been discovered by his team or else he would not have gone public with that disturbing news.
  1. The Russians wanted to tip the scales in Trump’s favor. Fake news stories about Hillary were sent out by the hundreds from Russia and its neighbors. As Hillary kept pointing out in the debates, 17 U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that Russia interfered in our presidential election—and every bit of it was against Hillary and therefore pro-Trump. Why? What were they expecting for their efforts?
  1. Over the past few years Trump has criticized seemingly every person and entity except Russia and Vladimir Putin. Why?
  1. His hidden tax returns. Lots of smoke there…

We know Trump lied about his tax returns when he said, “I’ll be happy to release them once the audit is over.”  But we now know that an audit (if there really is an audit!) has nothing to do with the ability to release returns. Plus he could have released tax returns from other years. By being the only presidential candidate in decades to hide his returns we can say with certainty that he has something he doesn’t want you to see. For just one worrying concern: To whom does he owe money?  If it’s Russia, as many suggest, we need to know that. (Check my earlier column on what he’s likely hiding.)

  1. The list of people close to Trump who have questionable connections to Russia keeps growing. And those folks – including new Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort, new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, senior advisor and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and others – lied or tried to mislead about those connections.  Why?

Those are the facts.  And every one of these points is A BIG STORY.  New evidence pops up daily.

So please don’t say “this is a witch hunt.”  It’s not.  In this case, there is a thick layer of smoke, and where there’s smoke, there’s liars.

Spread the word. We have to keep the pressure on. Our democratic values and America’s reputation as a trusted world leader are at stake.

Thanks for caring about the truth.

Ken