Today I saw this quote from John Bowden at The Hill:

“In recent weeks, Fox News’ dominance in the ratings has slipped. MSNBC beat Fox three nights in a row in primetime on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the key 25-54 demographic last week, mostly thanks to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. Fox News maintained a larger total number of viewers, but trailed MSNBC in the most valuable demographic.

Maddow finished #1 across all cable news, with 734,000 demo viewers and 2.87 million viewers.”

This along with the slow implosion going on over at Fox News, and the overall news and information climate may be changing for the better.

As you may know, there’s been an uproar over the sudden firing of FBI Directory Comey. It raised many questions for various reasons. Presidents don’t typically fire FBI directors. It’s only ever happened once before. And FBI directors, as with all law enforcement, are expected to remain apolitical. FBI directors have 10 year appointments and generally enjoy near total bi-partisan support when appointed.

So when an FBI director is hastily fired, it raises questions. Considering that the Trump campaign is under investigation by the FBI, questions become almost inevitable. Why now? Who’s idea was it? What were the circumstances that lead to the decision? Why such drastic changes to the official explanation? It’s clear from the shifting reasons provided by the White House, something unusual is going on. Explanations never change so significantly over such a frenzied period without good reason.

So, here’s a quick explanation of what is probably going on.

As was recently reported, Comey had asked for resources to expand his probe into the campaign investigation sometime in the not-to-distant past. This information made its way to the Oval Office where Trump decided it was time to act. He fired him immediately and has plans to replace him with someone who will let the investigations die.

But it turns out Trump invited Comey to the White House in January. He already knew he was under investigation or soon would be. He wanted to feel Comey out. Would he pledge loyalty to Trump, or would he follow the investigation wherever it led? In Trump’s mind, it couldn’t be both, and he soon had his answer. He couldn’t count on the FBI director’s unquestioning support.

At the meeting, Trump says Comey asked to keep his job. Comey says Trump asked for loyalty. Given that Trump invited Comey, and that Trump knew his campaign was being investigated, Comey’s version is a far more believable scenario.

Last week, Trump threatened Comey publicly with the existence of recordings by directly suggesting that he may have made “tapes” and that Comey said damaging or possibly illegal things during their meeting. This is a highly unlikely scenario for a number of reasons. First and foremost among them, it’s probably safe to assume Donald Trump doesn’t want his private conversations recorded by anyone for any reason, “believe me!”. Second, why would Trump invite the FBI director to the White House and then make a recording of the conversation? Did the President believe in advance that the FBI Director would, during their first meeting, admit to a crime? That’s just very unlikely.

So let’s just assume for now that the now-infamous tapes tweet was just an empty threat and there are no tapes. But regardless of the existence of tapes, Trump is clearly threatening Comey, the man he just fired. When someone threatens you about ‘leaking’, there’s usually a motivating factor. So Trump is clearly motivated by something.

And since Trump is threatening Comey, then that leads to a very plausible explanation for why Comey has declined to testify in front of congress, even in private. He WANTS to tell his side of this story but he can’t. He’s being publicly, brazenly threatened by the most powerful man on Earth who’s also a billionaire. Would you testify?

Meanwhile, the former FBI director doesn’t want to appear like a disgruntled employee. He’s got the respect and support of his former organization to consider as well as the public. He can’t go on camera and willingly spill the beans on Donald Trump without losing a lot of respect from both within his old organization and without. Not because anyone loves Trump, but because the leader of the nations most respected law enforcement organization can’t be a loose lipped individual.

But Comey is no idiot. He knows his revenge will come soon enough and he’ll be able to tell the world what happened. He just doesn’t want the world to think he did it to get back at Trump. So he’ll wait, because he knows eventually he’ll be subpoenaed. Then he can spill the beans without anyone thinking he’s trying to get back at his old boss. Plus, there’s far more impact and respect if your testimony has to be subpoenaed.

Meanwhile, Trump’s original plan was to ask the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to submit a memo that would be used as justification for the bloodletting. This would give Trump the rationale to fire Comey without the appearance of a cover-up as he attempted to interfere with the FBI’s ongoing investigation. But problems arose when Trump declined to tell Rosenstein that he would rely on that letter as the primary justification, pinning the entire decision on Rosenstein’s shoulders. For Rosenstein, it was a bridge too far. He revolted and threatened Trump with a resignation if the explanation wasn’t retracted. At this point, Trump realized that he had to take over the messaging so he quickly sat down for a rare one on one interview with Lester Holt, one of the most respected names in journalism, to ‘set the record straight’.

Realizing the cover story had fallen apart, he quickly took the blame for the decision to let Comey go, but went further, forcefully diminishing the importance of the memo by saying he had already made up his mind long before the memo was written. But this only leads to another curious question: Why would Trump ask the Deputy AG for a letter he planned on ignoring and didn’t need? The only plausible explanation was that he wanted to use it as a cover story and rationale in the firing of Comey.

The best defense is a good offense. This was never truer for any individual than Trump. He threatened Comey and the media in general. He explained that his staff can’t possibly get all the facts correct at their own press briefings and he even threatened to cancel them altogether, providing written statements instead, and doing a presser every two weeks.

So, Trump is looking more and more desperate – at least desperate enough that he felt it was worth taking extraordinary risks like firing the FBI director, and asking for the creation a cockamamie excuse (in memo form) he planned to pin on fall guy Rosenstein without so much as a head’s up. Those are huge risks to take, and it’s reasonable to assume there’s an equally large and damaging reason for taking them.

What is Trump so afraid they’ll uncover in this Russian meddling probe? I guess we’ll eventually find out. Whatever he’s trying to hide, his only hope is to appoint an FBI director who won’t pursue the already open investigations. Someone “Loyal”.

 

Sean Spicer has the hardest job in America. He must continuously spin an alternate reality to people who ask difficult questions like “where’s the proof?” And “what did the president mean when he said…?” I imagine his mind must really be battered as he tries to live on both worlds – the one where he tells reporters that Steve Bannon left the NSC because he accomplished his objectives, and the real one. The reality where Trump’s inauguration crowd was the biggest ever, and the actual one.

After a while, it must begin to affect a person in nefarious ways. How could it not? Living a life where you’re continuously required to invent a completely different reality than the one we all experience is nothing short of mind-blowing.

The healthcare law is a ‘disaster’. Climate science is fake. The list goes on and on and on. Daily, the press secretary is required to fib, massage, or outright lie.

Meanwhile, one must ask themselves, who are they lying to? Certainly not the reporters, who shake their heads in disbelief and write things down wondering why they didn’t become a doctor like their parents wanted.

No, the people who it affects the most are the dumbest. Those who don’t have the ability to reason for themselves and walk around thinking Trump and all his nonsense are real. People like Michael Flynn Jr. who thinks General McMaster must be a communist spy and ISIS sympathizer because he refuses, reportedly by Flynn Jr., to use the term ‘radical Islam’. Good thing he’s not in government.

Spinning alternate realities is bad for everyone. It’s bad for the mental health of the perpetrator who must, on some level, begin to lose his grip on reality. It’s bad for the casualties who can’t discern the truth from the noise, and it’s bad for the country as whole. Half the people are walking around living in a completely different reality than, well, reality.

Well, not really. But there’s a lot to be said about Trump losing healthcare. So many angles to discuss. The one I prefer has to do with Democrats. It’s surprisingly not obvious that Trump would blame the Democrats for this failure, but blame he did. “Look, we got no Democratic votes. We got none, zero,” he conspicuously told the New York Times. Well, you never actually asked for any, did you?

Throughout this process, I haven’t heard a single democratic name mentioned in the press as part of this process. Chuck Schumer was mentioned in today’s news, but not because of the historic non-vote. Instead he was in the paper for claiming the democratic votes to filibusters Trump’s Supreme Court pick.

So it came as a bit of a shock that suddenly the democratic resistance was to blame, even in the ultra-partisan Washington political atmosphere. Throughout the last few days of political wrangling, it didn’t even seem like there were two major parties in Washington at all. Democrats? We still have those around here?

The inherent non-news about democratic involvement in the legislative process went calmly unnoticed, but miss it we did. The Republicans just took everything over and then choked themselves on their own success. The word bipartisan was harder to find in the news on Friday than a republican on Mars (yes, the planet).

Did Trump ever pick up a phone to Nancy Pelosi and I missed the news release?

As an aside, I’d also like to mention that Trump’s deal-making skills aren’t that super duper after all. I know it’s only so much hyperbole and I’m stating the obvious, except I’m not. Trump’s big promise is his deal making skills. That’s his appeal. But to make deals, you need to involve all parties. What we saw was that Trump’s business acumen isn’t about win/win. It’s win/lose. He wins and you lose. This is why his furious but unfruitful outreach over the last few days included not a single dime’s worth of calls to the left side of the isle. And he paid the price for his arrogance, miscalculation and greed.

If Trump was the leader he claims to be, he’d lead. It’s clear he doesn’t really understand true political leadership. He understands only winning or losing. So today he got to lose.

Trump’s White House appears to be spiraling out of control. There’s already massive controversy, back-biting, leaks, subterfuge, carelessness, betrayal, and a generous helping of alt-facts. It’s been less than a month.

Now, one could argue that things just need to stabilize for Trump and that all he needs is time. But Trump isn’t just in a rough patch. He’s a in a whole new environment. Surrounded by a bureaucracy that he condemns and that despises him, betrayals small and large await in the days ahead, and enemies lurk in the shadows of every building in Washington.

The Republican establishment hates Donald Trump. He scares them for a variety of reasons. He’s unpredictable, spiteful, and a loose cannon. He’s also unversed in many matters of government that would benefit a president.They all know he’s in the wrong place and got there the wrong way. They didn’t want him to begin with and only grudgingly accepted him as he won more and more popular support of their mutual voting base.

But support doesn’t translate to love or loyalty, and the establishment would have an easy time convincing their cohorts to turn on Trump given the right set of circumstances. The reason? Pence. An insider. Far more mainstream than Trump, but very conservative. A dream candidate who handled himself well during the VP debate. The presidency would fit nicely with Republican’s wish list were it handed to Pence. They just need a good reason to oust Trump.

So here’s my prediction.

There’s a very good chance that Republicans are secretly hoping for a good enough reason to impeach. But the catch is that the reason needs to be iron clad or they risk the wrath of Trump’s base. They can’t just impeach, but given something egregious enough, they could do it and oust Trump whilst installing Pence.

By the look of it, it might not be long before something like this comes up. With Russian hacking, a Trump/Russian dossier, and now Mike Flynn and the Russians? It’s hard to ignore all of the Russian ties. Any investigation that shows Donald Trump had any secret contact with the Russians could prove to be a terrific reason to oust him and still maintain the support of the faithful.

I guess we’ll all have to wait and find out.

Trump’s Republicans today killed the Election Commission as part of their continued assault on our freedoms and our right to vote, while still pushing the phony, baseless claim of ‘massive voter fraud’. I haven’t heard of a single person charged with voter fraud. You would think the ‘millions’ of people would be easier to find, eh?
 
Trump plans to rig the next election in his favor with a nefarious combination of voter suppression laws, gerrymandering, and the elimination of this so-called ‘wasteful’ government agency charged with making sure elections aren’t tampered with. Saying it’s shameful doesn’t cover it. California needs to leave the union. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Trump is giving the EPA to a climate change skeptic who has ties to fossil fuel. He’s giving our foreign policy to Exxon, one of the biggest special interests in the country. Our government is quickly becoming too corrupt to salvage under this so-called ‘drain the swamp’ liar.
 
Every day there’s another terrible headline. I can’t even read the news anymore. I think at some point we have to recognize that there’s no longer any middle ground. Either you want your kids praying in public schools, or you don’t. Either you want healthcare for everyone or you don’t. Either you believe in the power of diversity, or you don’t. Either you believe regulation, while more expensive for business, protects people or you don’t.
 
The people I know who support Trump are willing to overlook the obvious danger signs. They claim he doesn’t mean what he says. They claim it makes sense to stuff the government full of morons like Ben Carson and Rick Perry, or billionaires or bankers while they roll back banking rules. They say it doesn’t matter that Trump peddles racism and xenophobia and alternative facts, or has ties to the alt-right and their white nationalist agenda. They are willing to overlook all of it. When they finally realize the full extent of their missteps giving this loose cannon the reigns of power, it may very well be too late.

One of the biggest problems in today’s political discourse is that people seem to have lost sight, or purposefully ignore, much of their own commonsense. Instead, political affiliation seems to have taken over as the driving force behind our decisions and points of view.

Let’s take one modern example: Trump’s new Muslim ban. Now let me be clear: I detest Donald Trump. He has no business in the White House, and does not deserve to be president. But, would I call his recent executive action to ban people from certain countries “A Muslim ban”?  Not really. There are dozens of countries that are majority Muslim not on his list. And I know many well-meaning liberal people who are smart enough to understand that an actual Muslim ban would look much different than this limited order.

On the other side of the argument the administration says that an immediate ban from these locations is absolutely necessary. Why? That wasn’t President Obama’s take, and we didn’t have any terror attacks from non-citizens under his 8 years. If these places were really interested in attacking us they could do it very easily. It’s not as if guns are hard to come by in the US. 9/11 was over 15 years ago.

The ironic thing about this specific debate is that both sides have relied illogical arguments to make their point.

So what is really going on?

The political left realizes that continuing to insult Muslims could actually provoke the dangerous circumstances this order is said to prevent. It seems very ill conceived, and was obviously crafted hurriedly and without a lot of thought considering the green card scandal and obvious lack of guidance to the various departments. It’s also been characterized as overly broad. The problem with Donald Trump insulting minorities is that any attack in response to his bellicose blather will just turn into a reason for him to grab more power and suppress his political opposition.

Meanwhile, the political right gets to feel some form of appeasement from their new leader whose first wall “to keep out them foreigners”, as it turns out, is more of an ocean. The xenophobes argue it’s not a Muslim ban, but that’s exactly what they want. So they are approving of the position they are arguing against.

*sigh*