What If They All Wrote Tell All Books?

Given the revelations detailed in the book by former National Security Advisor John Bolton, I began to wonder: What would we learn if all the high-level members of the Trump administration who were dismissed or resigned wrote books detailing their tenure? But after some research, I discovered that the books would make up an entire library. After all, nearly 300 cabinet-level officials have been fired or abandoned ship since Trump took office.

Allow me to repeat that. Approximately 300 high-level officials have left the Trump administration in just 3-1/2 years! That would be an astounding turnover rate for a McDonalds. Hell, it would be an astonishing rate for sewer workers.

So far, the number of officials who have resigned or have been shown the door includes 3 White House Chiefs of Staff, 8 Deputy Chiefs of Staff, and at least 16 Special Assistants to the President. It also includes 3 Secretaries of State, a Secretary of the Treasury, 2 Secretaries of Energy, 3 Secretaries of Health and Human Services, a Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, a Secretary of the Interior, 2 Attorneys General, 2 Solicitors General, 2 Directors of the FBI, a Director of the Secret Service, 3 Secretaries of Labor, a Secretary of Education, 4 Secretaries of Veterans Affairs, an Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, and dozens upon dozens of Under Secretaries, Assistant Secretaries, Senior Advisors, and other high-ranking officials.

Given the current pandemic, it’s alarming to note that the turnover has also included 2 Directors of the CDC and 3 Commissioners of Food and Drug Administration, as well as untold numbers of scientists.

More alarming still is the fact that 4 Secretaries of Defense, 4 Secretaries of Homeland Security, 3 National Security Advisors, 25 ranking members of the National Security Council, 3 Directors of National Intelligence, a Director of the CIA, 2 Secretaries of the Air Force, 3 Secretaries of the Army, and 2 Secretaries of the Navy have been fired, retired or resigned. (And, of course, Trump’s first National Security Advisor has spent the last several years in jail.)

In addition, 24 Deputy Secretaries of Defense and other high-ranking defense officials have left their posts.

If, as Trump promised, he was only going to hire “the very best people,” you have to wonder about the quality of those who remain. Are they even better than those who left? Or are they merely the only ones who are so morally and ethically compromised that they have chosen to remain loyal to a divisive, cruel, lying, racist, misogynistic, pussy-grabbing, human rights-violating, conman who only obtained office by conspiring to rig our elections with a foreign rival?

Reimagining Police.

Since the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing violence, I’ve been struggling to know what to write about policing in America. Despite many encounters with lazy and corrupt Bullies With Badges, my attempts to identify and explain necessary changes have seemed inadequate. Fortunately, a former police officer has described the problems better than I, or most anyone else, could.

I highly recommend you read the linked article entitled “Confessions of a Former Bastard CopConfessions of a Former Bastard Cop.”

If you read it, I believe that you will never view police the same way again. There are far more than a few bad apples in law enforcement. The entire apple tree is decaying from its roots.

We’re All Complicit In George Floyd’s Death.

Let me begin by stating that Minneapolis is a great city. It has been home to world leaders in music, advertising, graphic design, theater, education, medicine and more. In addition, it has been home to principled and forward thinking political leaders such as senators Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale and Al Franken. The city has great dining and entertainment venues, as well as a full range of professional sports. Most of all, it has long been a clean and safe place to live. It has also been known as a place that is charitable and tolerant of others. For those reasons, it has accepted an amazing number of refugees – from Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Liberia, Somalia, Eritrea, Tibet and more.

That has made Minneapolis a particularly vibrant place where the warmth of its citizens more than offsets the sometimes frigid weather.

Unfortunately, the city’s tolerance has extended to corruption and racism. That became clear for all to see with the murder of George Floyd by four Minneapolis police officers. Though I’m not black, I have long been concerned about below-the-surface racism in the city after stumbling across corruption within the city council, the mayor’s office, and, in particular, the Minneapolis Police Department in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

Police officers felt emboldened to stop people of color for any reason, at any time. They harassed the homeless. And some brutalized black people. From my office window, I personally witnessed six MPD officers cuff a black man, placing him face down in slush and snow. They then took turns kicking him before one finished the assault by emptying a can of mace in his face. I reported the incident, but since I was unable to get names and badge numbers, my report was ignored.

A series of police chiefs tried to clean up the mess that seems to have begun in the 1930s – one famous for his work in the South Bronx. But those chiefs were often blunted by the city’s police union. For example, when an off-duty officer brutally beat a college student in a downtown bar, he was fired. But the officer was returned to duty following arbitration and assigned to the role of department spokesman. Since then, many others have been fired for cause, but returned to duty following arbitration, even receiving back pay!

How on earth can any chief establish and maintain discipline under those circumstances? Though I support labor unions in general, the police union is most responsible for George Floyd’s death. But they are not alone.

The public has failed to demand better. Indeed, many are in denial that racism is a problem. Not here in Minnesota! They have decried racism at the same time they joined the white flight to the suburbs ostensibly in search of better schools, which explains why 65 percent of students in the city’s schools are children of color and 70 percent are living in poverty. Meanwhile, schools in some of the city’s suburbs have larger budgets and facilities that would shame many small colleges.

To be clear, Minneapolis is not an outlier. Racism exists in every city, in every state. Indeed, it has grown as result of President Trump’s actions and words.

Racism will only end when our governments – all of our governments – take it seriously and take steps to end segregation and inequality. More important, all of us need to confront racism whenever and wherever it raises its ugly head. We need to block the Websites which racists use to congregate and plan their hateful acts. We need to hold racist politicians accountable. And we need to make sure that law enforcement officers are charged for their crimes. The Minneapolis Police Department should take the advice of Mayor Frey and immediately arrest the officer who murdered George Floyd along with his three accomplices.

Barr’s Latest Attempt To Rewrite History.

Even before Donald J. Trump won the Electoral College, it was clear to US intelligence agencies that Russia had intervened in the 2016 election on his behalf. They had not only barraged social media with lies about Hillary Clinton. They hacked the DNC website, delivering Democratic strategies and internal polling to the Trump campaign, which helped sway key battleground states. In addition, Russian oligarchs funneled millions into GOP campaign coffers through the NRA.

These were not the unsolicited acts of a foreign rival. As revealed by the Mueller investigation, they were done in concert with the Trump campaign. For example, just hours after Trump looked into a camera and said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 33,000 emails that are missing,” Russian operatives began attempts to hack the Clinton campaign.

The investigation documented dozens of meetings between Russians and Trump associates. It also knew of dozens of communications between Russia and the Trump campaign that were either destroyed prior to the investigation or encrypted. It even documented an attempt to set up a so-called backdoor line of communications between the campaign and Russia. Though the Mueller team concluded that there was insufficient evidence to press charges of a criminal conspiracy due to the campaign’s lies, missing communications, and the unwillingness of Russians to testify, it wrote: “…the Office cannot rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would shed additional light on (or cast in a new light) the events detailed in the report.”

Contrary to Trump and his puppet Attorney General, William Barr, the investigation did not exonerate Trump. Nor did it rule out collusion.

The fact that Trump can continue to lie about his “exoneration” is the result of Barr’s successful attempt to mischaracterize the results by sending a misleading letter to Congress and holding a press conference before releasing the report itself. Further, Barr has continued to undermine the investigation’s findings by raising questions about the investigation’s origins and the FISA warrants issued to collect information.

It’s an old trick. If you can’t dispute the evidence, raise questions about how it was gathered. Cast the investigators as biased, incompetent or both.

Barr is an expert in the art of deception. In 1989, as Assistant Attorney General, he wrote a legal opinion justifying rendition – the arrest of fugitives on foreign soil without consent of a sovereign government – resulting in the US invasion of Panama and the arrest of Manuel Noriega. When Congress asked for a copy of the document, Barr refused to provide it, offering a “summary” instead. When Congress eventually subpoenaed the full document, it discovered that Barr had omitted key findings from the summary. Sound familiar?

Far from acting as an impartial advocate of justice, Barr has used his position to push for destructive and partisan policies under false pretense. To a great degree, he is responsible for mass incarceration, while claiming it would be good for black Americans. He launched an illegal surveillance program which gathered international phone records of innocent Americans. He pushed President George H.W. Bush to pardon Casper Weinberger for the Iran-Contra affair. And he was given the monicker “Coverup General Barr” by conservative columnist William Safire for his refusal to appoint a special counsel to investigate the scandal known as Iraqgate over the US role in the Iran-Iraq War.

It is precisely because of his ability to deceive and coverup that Barr was nominated to become Trump’s more than willing enabler. Having honed his abilities to undermine justice to a fine art, he once again sits atop a Department of Injustice. Using his power, he not only undermined the Mueller investigation. He began a partisan investigation of the FBI and US intelligence agencies. He has attacked the Affordable Care Act. He has even threatened governors for daring to invoke their emergency powers to shutdown businesses in response to the pandemic. (How dare they place the safety of their citizens over the re-election efforts of his Russian-loving, pussy-grabbing, child-caging, environment-destroying, money-grubbing, pandemic-ignoring, wannabe dictator!)

And just in time to help resurrect Trump’s failing re-election campaign, Barr has ordered a federal court to ignore Michael Flynn’s guilty plea of lying to the FBI. If the court agrees, the former National Security Advisor, conspiracy theorist, and leader of “Lock her up” chants will go free. Moreover, Trump will again be able to claim that the entire Mueller investigation was without merit. Never mind the evidence. Pay no attention to the many other convictions. Forget about Junior’s meeting with a Russian operative expecting to collect dirt on Hillary. And, by all means, ignore the incompetent response to the pandemic, the multi-trillion-dollar deficit, and the 33 million unemployed.

It’s all a Democratic hoax.

How Ronald Reagan Destroyed America.

For many Americans, Ronald Reagan was a great president who reawakened and re-energized the nation as exemplified by the “Morning in America” commercials created by some of my friends. They even credit him for ending the Cold War. But the credit more accurately belongs to Gorbachev.

To me, Reagan will always be the person who used a hostage crisis to win election and who turned Americans against their own government by portraying it as the enemy. And that’s only the beginning of his negative impact on the US.

He famously ran up deficits and tripled the national debt. He flipped the economy upside-down with his Trickle Down theory of economics leading to extreme inequality in income, wealth and opportunity. Under Reagan, we saw the end of national usury laws making it possible for national banks to evade interest rate caps leading to interest rates of 18%, 30%, 40% and more. At the same time, Reagan took away the tax deductions for interest paid by middle class and poor Americans on auto loans, credit cards and other personal loans. One result, as evidenced by a new Institute for Policy Studies Inequality briefing paper by Bob Lord, is that the taxes paid by America’s billionaires have decreased 79 percent since 1980!

Known by some as the “Father of Globalization”, Reagan’s economic and trade decisions led to the offshoring of high-paying American jobs. As he embraced multinational corporations, he attacked the labor unions – the very organizations that created our middle class by fighting for living wages, healthcare benefits and safe working environments.

The Reagan administration supercharged the era of corporate consolidations and legalized stock buybacks for corporate executives. Those decisions led to multi-million-dollar annual compensation for corporate executives, inflated stock prices, and mass layoffs of workers.

And though Reagan criticized Carter for the capture of US embassy workers in Tehran, he was responsible for the deaths of 241 Marines, sailors and soldiers who were killed on his watch after he sent them to Beirut with no plan of engagement. He waged war on the island nation of Grenada – yes, Grenada – for aligning with Cuba. He also circumvented congressional oversight by creating a shadow government that illegally sold weapons to Iran in order to finance death squads in El Salvador and Nicaragua.

And maybe Reagan’s worst decision of all was to call for the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine that led to the likes of Fox News Channel, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Alex Jones, and a host of others who have used hate, sensationalism and an avalanche of lies to divide us. I believe you can draw a direct line from that decision to Donald J. Trump and the most corrupt, conniving, inept and hateful administration in US history.

Now Available On Amazon:

Ironically, in the age of information, our nation has been compromised by lies and disinformation as never before.

Decades of consolidation, short-term thinking, corporate greed, extreme political ideologies, and poor leadership have left our nation’s economy, healthcare system and its citizens unnecessarily vulnerable.

Many of the decisions that led us to this point were made in good faith. Some were dictated by difficult situations. But others were made willfully and knowingly, their true purpose and their all-too predictable results hidden in a fog of falsehoods and lies. This book attempts to cut through the misinformation to examine the problems, explain how they happened and reveal the truth.

George Washington Warned Us This Might Happen.

Having watched the History Channel docuseries on George Washington and having completed further research, I could not avoid the conclusion that the “Father of our Country” had foreseen the dangers we now face. After leading the nation to liberty and setting the standard for future presidents, he offered some advice to all Americans in a prescient farewell letter. Though I’m certainly not the first to look at his letter in context with the current state of our union, the obvious warnings bear repeating.

In particular, Washington stressed that Americans must remain united in order to maintain our liberty. At the same time, he warned of the three greatest threats to our unity: Regionalism, Partisanship and Foreign Interference.

It now seems clear that, despite his warnings, we have fallen victim to all three.

Regarding regionalism, Washington feared that loyalty to states and geographic regions would lead to factionalism – that people would vote for their self-interests rather than for the good of the union. Of course, we now see evidence of factionalism in references to the “coastal elites” and to “flyover country.” Such attitudes are at the heart of the so-called grievance politics that resulted in the election of Donald J. Trump. We also see factionalism reflected in congressional decisions, such as former Speaker John Boehner’s demand that the Pentagon build unneeded Abrams tanks in his state of Ohio. And in Arizona’s battle to maintain airbases for the outdated A-10 Warthog against recommendations from the Pentagon.

As for the dangers of partisanship, Republicans have led us down that rabbit hole for the past five decades. It’s not that Democrats are entirely blameless. But Republicans have taken every opportunity to suppress votes and disenfranchise voters as evidenced in the recent Wisconsin primary. Not only did they endanger lives by insisting that the election take place in the midst of pandemic. It sets up the likelihood that many of those who stayed home or who were unable to wait in long lines will have their names purged from voting lists for this fall’s election. Republicans have used their control of state houses to gerrymander districts to ensure their re-election. They have also used the filibuster, parliamentary tricks and dirty money to stuff the courts with ideological judges, and to block the initiatives of their Democratic rivals. But none of that compares to the hyper partisanship that Trump has displayed by calling the COVID-19 crisis a “Democratic hoax” and by favoring Republican-controlled states with medical supplies during the pandemic!

Even worse, mountvernon.org explains that Washington feared partisanship would “open the door to foreign influence and corruption” resulting in decisions on “ill-founded jealousies and false alarms.” He feared that it might lead to the election of “those in league with foreign conspirators.” Of course, that’s exactly what happened in 2017 when Trump was allowed to take office after soliciting and receiving help from Russia during the campaign. If you read the Mueller report, that fact is undeniable. The collusion with a foreign government was breathtaking in both its scope and breadth. But Trump didn’t stop there. Almost immediately after winning the public relations battle over the Mueller investigation, he again sought help from a foreign government to undermine a political rival. An action that led him to be only the third president in US history to be impeached.

Finally, Washington warned us to guard against would-be despots who would use parties as “potent engines…to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government.” Of course, we’ve already seen that in the Trump administration. Trump has almost entirely and repeatedly ignored the interests of the majority of Americans who voted against him. He has used the national treasure as his personal bank account. And he has removed anyone who has failed to show their undying loyalty. Loyalty to him. Not the nation. It’s frightening to think of what he might do if he manages to retain office.

Given how Washington’s warnings have gone largely unheeded, I was astonished to learn that Washington’s farewell letter is recited annually in the United States Senate, a tradition dating back to the Civil War. Maybe some year, Republicans will actually listen to the reading. That’s assuming their actions don’t destroy the nation first.

Trump’s Fatal FEMA Fiasco.

George W. Bush was rightly ridiculed for his “doin’ a heckuva job, Brownie” comment following FEMA’s failed response to Hurricane Katrina. So what should be the consequences for Trump’s “…thank you for the amazing job you’re doing…We’ve set every record you can set” statements about delivering medical equipment to New York? Or his “The federal government has done something that nobody has done anything like this other than perhaps wartime” comment. Or his, “My administration has done a job on really working across government and with the private sector, and it’s been incredible” claim?

One might rightfully give the administration praise if any of it were true.

But, instead of delivering the personal protection equipment that medical personnel need for dealing with COVID-19 patients, the administration has left them in danger. Some nurses have likened their efforts to help patients as “a suicide mission.”

So, what has gone wrong with the administration’s response to the pandemic? The short answer is almost everything.

First, over many years, much of the manufacturing of N-95 masks, shields and gowns has been shipped overseas, primarily to China. So, when the outbreak began in Hubei province, China understandably used most of its production. In fact, the Trump administration sent 18 tons of masks and other equipment to China from our nation’s emergency stockpile. This further reduced the emergency medical stockpile that was already diminished following the Swine Flu epidemic. Though the Obama administration had requested funds to rebuild the stockpile, the Tea Party dominated Congress withheld funding as a way of limiting the debt ceiling.

To make matters even worse, from the time he took office, Trump and his administration had recommended large cuts to the National Institutes of Health and to the Centers for Disease Control. And, when John Bolton became the White House Chief of Staff, he recommended that the National Security Council’s pandemic response team be cut and folded into another agency. That left the team leaderless and gutted.

As the outbreak continued in China, Trump denied that the virus posed a threat by publicly calling it a Democratic hoax.

By the time the first case showed up in Washington state, the US was facing a perfect storm. Trump continued to call it a Democratic hoax and refused requests for help by Washington Governor Inslee, calling him “very unpleasant” and “a snake.” For six critical weeks, Trump continued to dismiss the threat, saying “it’s all under control.” He even claimed that it would disappear as the weather warmed.

As a result of the administration’s delay in recognizing a national emergency, the virus had spread and we were woefully short of supplies. Worse yet, the administration claimed, and continues to claim, that the task of dealing with the crisis is up to the individual states. In fact, Trump’s son-in-law and advisor claims that the national emergency stockpile is “ours.” Ours? Who is he referring to? Does he believe that it is the sole property of the Trump administration and its supporters?

The administration’s recent actions and statements indicate that might be exactly the thinking.

To explain, consider the administration’s process for distributing masks and other personal protection equipment: FEMA purchases masks from manufacturers in China and elsewhere. Those masks are sent to private distributors. The distributors then offer them for sale on the open market to the highest bidder. That bidder may be one of the 50 states, a foreign nation or a private entity. In some cases, the bidder is FEMA, itself. That’s right, FEMA sometimes repurchases the masks at a higher cost than what they originally paid the manufacturers! Why? So Trump can reward loyal red state governors, some of whom have made no attempt to mitigate the pandemic, by giving them priority over blue states.

You read that right. Trump is facing re-election soon, so he is politicizing life and death!

I’m not exaggerating.

The Fractured States of Trump.

From the moment he rode down the golden escalator to announce his candidacy for president until now, Trump has managed to avoid accountability for his actions. Sure, he was rightfully impeached for abusing his power to pressure an ally into investigating his likely opponent in the coming election. He was deservedly investigated for colluding with a foreign rival to win election in 2016. And his moral compass was fully exposed by the Access Hollywood tape, by the many accusations of sexual assault and rape, by his verbal attack against a Gold Star family, by his Trump University scam, by his Trump charity scam, and by the thousands of lawsuits filed against him and his companies. But there were no real consequences.

Trump has proven to be the Teflon Don.

Even after steadfastly refusing to reach out to the 59.6 million US citizens who voted for someone other than him, he has paid no price. Not once has he acted as a president of the United States of America. Rather than unite, he prefers to divide, to offend and to marginalize. Like a crime boss, he demands loyalty from everyone surrounding him. And he views those who refuse to support him as the enemy.

During the past three and a half years, those of us who voted against him have been disgusted by his decision to cage immigrants and refugees; by his orders to rip children away from their parents; by his obedience to Putin; by his taking of sacred lands from Native Americans for mining and oil exploration and for his stupid wall; by his allowing…no…encouraging corporations to pollute our air and water; by his treating the climate crisis as a hoax; by his weakening of the international alliances that keep us safe; by his mocking of opponents; by his ballooning of the national debt in order to make the swollen stock markets look good for his reelection campaign; by his dismantling of our nation’s most necessary institutions or by appointing political hacks and sycophants to lead them; by his packing of our courts with unqualified ideologues who will give support to his illegal and unconstitutional acts.

Though Trump has been incompetent and disruptive as a president. He has excelled at greed, narcissism and cruelty. He and his MAGAtt supporters have reveled in punishing immigrants, people of color and, most of all, the “libs.”

Yet the coronavirus has exposed the Trump presidency as never before. It has shone a light on the failures of his administration, his lack of credibility, and his determination to politicize everything, even the suffering of those who have contracted the disease. By previously dismantling the agency that had been created to respond to pandemics, Americans were left vulnerable – without proper leadership. By failing to distribute test kits in a timely fashion, healthcare providers were unable to react appropriately. By cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy during a good economy, Trump has left the Fed and Congress with few mechanisms to deal with an impending recession. By downplaying the severity of the virus, he allowed the disease to spread. And by saying that he didn’t want to allow a cruise ship with known victims to dock for fear that they would make the numbers look bad, he revealed his narcissism and cruelty for all to see.

Is it any wonder then that Americans are beginning to panic? That the stock traders are worried about the future?

It is now clear that we don’t have capable or caring leadership. What we have in our nation’s highest office is a deranged, orange-tinted 73-year-old who acts like a selfish infant.

Trump’s Broken Promises. (Part Ten – Personal Behavior)

The final installment of this series concerns the promises Trump made about his behavior. He derided anyone who claimed he was not presidential, claiming he would be the best president ever.

Andrew Jackson: One of the first clues that this would be no ordinary presidency came when Trump chose Andrew Jackson as his model and hung Jackson’s picture in the Oval Office. Jackson, of course, was a slaveholder and a racist who was responsible for The Trail of Tears which resulted in more than 45,000 Native Americans being removed from their homes in the Southeast and forced to march to “Indian Territory” – now Oklahoma.

Vacations and Golf: Trump ridiculed President Obama for playing golf while in office and promised that he would not take any time off for vacations or golf. In fact, Obama played golf a total of 113 times during his first term in office, mostly on military and public courses.

By contrast, Trump is projected to play golf 302 times during his term. Since becoming President, he has spent a quarter of his days at one of his golf properties charging Secret Service $650 per night for each officer. He even charges them for golf cart rental! That’s why his Treasury secretary has refused to reveal the resulting cost of Trump’s security until after the 2020 election. But the total is known to be in the hundreds of millions. By vacationing and holding meetings at his own properties, he also rakes in taxpayer money for other government officials. And lobbyists, foreign dignitaries and others seeking access to the president are encouraged to spend money at his hotels and resorts.

Tax Returns: Trump promised to release his taxes as soon as the audit was finished. He still hasn’t. And he has sued to prevent them from being released. The case has gone to the Supreme Court.

Sexual Assaults: Trump was famously caught on tape bragging about his sexual assaults and intrusions into the dressing rooms of teenaged beauty queens. But when numerous women came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct and rape, including one who was 13-years-old, he said they were lying and promised to sue them after the election. He has not. But some of the accusers have sued him and more accusers have stepped forward. To date, at least 23 credible women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct. And one woman who accused him of rape has a court-mandated order for Trump’s DNA.

Private E-mail Servers: Trump promised he’d prosecute Hillary Clinton and lock her up for using a private e-mail server while Secretary of State. Instead, Clinton was fully exonerated after a lengthy investigation. Stunningly, many in Trump’s administration have also used private e-mail servers for government business, including his family members and his former deputy national security advisor who used a private server to discuss the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.

Lies: Trump has accused his political opponents, Robert Mueller, the media and Congress of lying. But even if they have (and they most certainly have not), Trump is the king of lies. To date, the Washington Post and other fact-checking organizations have documented that Trump has made more than 15,000 lies and misleading claims as of mid-December. And he seems to be lying at an even faster pace in 2020.