Archive

2016 Election

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”.

 

A day or two ago, Mike Pence was told by a supporter that she was basically ready to take up arms against the US government if voter fraud was responsible for Donald Trump losing the election. How she would make that determination was unclear, but after listening to the emotion in her voice as she asked her question, it seemed that ANY Trump defeat will be seen by people like her as voter fraud. Furthermore, given Trump’s predilection for crying about his treatment by, well, everyone, he can be expected to willfully fan the flames as well.

Making matters worse, Pence encouraged the idea. Instead of reassuring her of the overall health of the US voting system, he chose to discuss the ongoing investigation of voter fraud is his state, seemingly calling the entire election system into question. He then stepped things up a notch by suggesting that everyone needs to sign up to be volunteer poll watchers to prevent such things from happening as if voter fraud was a routine occurrence in our elections.

Those of us who pay attention know that Donald’s push for ‘poll watchers’ is nothing more than a blatant attempt to dress up voter intimidation in a pretty new outfit by creating the illusion that his supporters are there to help. Don’t be fooled. He just wants his own army of brown-shirts to ‘police’ polling places that they have no business policing.

How could 20 antagonistic (in some locations open-carry) Trump supports be anything BUT intimidating when they linger and leer at minorities trying to enter voting locations? Let’s get real, this is terrifying and dangerous stuff and predicting conflict to follow this scenario isn’t a stretch.

Worse than the demagoguery and private army building is the fact that people like this unfortunate woman aren’t clever enough to know they are being manipulated. They listen to to right-wing radio, watch right-wing TV, and read right-wing press. Then they hear voices like Trump who today suggested the US would literally end and ISIS would take over America if Hillary wins the election. Oh. My. God.

Donald isn’t just nuts, he’s downright dangerous and he’s begun treading into some dark places in his quest for power. With every proclamation of imminent doom, his die-hard followers are becoming more excitable and extreme.

So this begs the question: where does the line between free political speech end and dangerous political speech begin? Does the unthinkable need to actually happen before we recognize our peril?

Demagoguery is dangerous for a reason and if this woman’s worldview isn’t a perfect example of why, then you’re not paying attention. Race bating, fear mongering, and false cries of persecution are the demagogue’s tools. They should not be tolerated to any degree because they lead to conflict. Today it’s just threats, but things will only get worse if this continues.

This is possibly the most important reason we need to defeat Donald Trump. We need to win decisively. The Donald Trumps of the world can’t be allowed to overcome the strength of our republic.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, Hillary won. She had a total command of the issues. The email scandal was addressed firmly and immediately – and quite effectively I might add. Her admission of a mistake and her taking full responsibility shut down the entire conversation. There was literally nowhere left to go after that, and the entire topic was dropped. Donald left it alone, basically defeated in his attempt to make it a debate issue. One of many missed opportunities for him, handled by a well-prepared Secretary Clinton.

Meanwhile, Clinton was mostly effective at digging into Trump on a range of issues. It wasn’t enough that she speculated about his not paying taxes. She was able to tie not paying taxes to his not having contributed to such things as wounded soldiers, schools and other government funded items that almost everyone can agree on. It was very effective.

When it came to his birther movement leadership, she told a personal story about how it upset the president, at once humanizing him while portraying Trump as a heartless, lying antagonist. Personally I think should could have made more of a point that the movement is inherently racist (see my previous post on the topic). She basically mentioned it was racist and moved on. Meanwhile, Trump’s answer was typical self-promotion – that he did a good job simply because he accomplished his arbitrary goal of getting a birth certificate (even though that wasn’t his goal), never mind whether it was racist or not. I’m not even sure he understood her criticism, as his response didn’t address the racist charge.

I have to admit, while I don’t agree with Donald Trump’s portraying the country as a place of doom and gloom, he was effective during the first few minutes of the debate in his attempt to do so. This was his opportunity to define his reason for running, and he was effective, by and large. It was also Hillary’s missed opportunity to rebut his assessment. The economy is better than it was 7 years ago, less people are out of work, the stock market is doing well, the military is stronger than ever, and on and on. Trump’s vision of America went largely unanswered, and I hope Clinton does a better job in the next debates of answering his rhetoric.

This last point would really be my only critique of her performance, which was, overall extremely refined and well-prepared. She was poised, articulate and knowledgeable. Who can argue with that assessment? She had answers for Trump’s criticisms and didn’t seem phased by his on-stage bullying and his repeated interruptions. She had an answer for everything, well thought-out and defensible.

Meanwhile, his zingers fell flat. His joke about getting onto Pennsylvania Avenue (one way or another) was a dud, and not delivered well. He sounded like an old coot trying to talk about cyber warfare and there were numerous other instances where he seemed to ramble as a result of not understanding the issues at hand.

Overall, it’s fair to say Secretary Clinton’s preparedness paid off. And frankly it’s difficult to imagine that the next debates will be any different. In fact, my prediction is that she’ll do better. She’ll be confident walking in, while Trump, knowing he’s faced criticism for his performance in the first round will be more aggressive and, you’ll see, will be likely to make mistakes as he undoubtedly will step up attacks on Clinton to try and earn points with his base. In the end, I expect him to sink himself, perhaps by attacking Clinton over the Lewinsky scandal, ill advised as it would seem – something he (somehow) managed to avoid in the first round.

 

People accuse Trump of being racist, and I don’t know if that’s true or not. But what I do know is that he manipulates people using racial issues and he does this for personal gain. So whether or not he himself is actually racist is the lesser of evils. When Trump accuses President Obama of not being born in the United States he is willfully manipulating the racist element in society who would believe such a lie. In fact, he’s speaking directly to this group.

This tactic is insidious, one might say evil, even. To the fringe element, it is a call to violence. So, Trump openly, nakedly aspires to use the fear and hatred of others for his own personal gain. If that is not evil, then I do not know what evil is.

People accuse President Obama playing the race card. We have all heard it at one time or another. That President Obama would address racial issues as a black president seems like it would be a foregone conclusion. Some may call that ‘playing the race card’ but we know better. I would defy the detractors to find an example where President Obama has used race in such a blatant way as Trump, who for nearly 5 years perpetuated a known, outrageous and race-based lie.

Trump has used race as a cornerstone of his political rise. He built his foundation on racism and exploiting the racist fears of the under educated who form a large segment of his base. His recent ‘admission’ (if you can call it that) that President Obama was born in the US rings hollow. His followers don’t believe him, and neither do the rest of us. Instead, we all the see the truth of his statement on the subject for exactly what it is, regardless of our political affiliation: It’s just another cynical attempt to win the election. The difference is that the racist elements of his base doesn’t care.

Listen, the idea that somehow Donald Trump would become a palatable candidate over Hillary Clinton simply because she’s not as healthy as a 40 year old is laughable. First of all, isn’t that the purpose of having  a running mate?

Frankly, Hillary Clinton could have 2 broken legs, gout, tuberculosis, lockjaw, be wheelchair-bound, oxygen dependent and aggressive brain cancer and I’d still cast my vote in her direction to keep Donald Trump from winning the election. Is that clear enough? She could be half digested by fungus, gutted and have her head placed on a stick in front of the castle and I’d still vote for her over Trump.

I wonder if I’m making my point clear enough?

Who cares if she coughs? It’s completely irrelevant. We have processes, stand-ins and everything else we need to keep the government running smoothly should something terrible happen. None of it is a reason to consider voting for the conman in chief wanna-be Trump. Somehow this has become an election issue. I say confront it head on: Oh, she’s not feeling good? I could give a rat’s ass. My ballot was cast months ago.

 

Evan McMullin doesn’t have a chance at winning the presidential election. He’s banking on a strategy that no neither Clinton or Trump can get a majority of the electoral college needed to win. Then the race would be decided by the house of representatives. This is why he’s running. He wants to be elected by 435 people who have heard of him, not 300 million who haven’t.

But who is Evan McMullin? No one really knows, and given his near complete obscurity, no one is going to know, probably ever. Personally I think it’s presumptuous to assume you could handle the mantle of the presidency just because you’re an adult and have a clever way to snake yourself into office.

He’s not running for country. He’s just another person on an ego trip. Anyone crazy enough to mount an unwinnable campaign (no, he won’t win) is probably pretty extreme in one way or another. Any rational, main-stream person would know enough not to try. So as a politician suddenly under the scrutiny of the presidential press corp, he’s likely to obliterate himself much like so many others before him who weren’t ready for the limelight. And that’s to say nothing of his actual views. Like about, well, everything.

I’m not saying he wouldn’t make a good president. I’m saying it’s extremely unlikely he’d make even a D level president given his lack of hands-on political experience in front of a microphone held by an adversarial press.

I don’t think I’m doing anything but stating the obvious here, but someone needs to take the time to say it. Go home Evan. You don’t deserve to be president – on so many levels – so if not for ego, then why are you running?