Sunday, September 2, 2018

Sanity Sunday: The Weekly Review (Aug 27-Sept 2) and a Musical Break

by Nomad

Considering Trump's past antics, this week was seemingly tranquil. One reason for that was the McCain funeral to which President Trump was cordially not invited. Despite the sting of the shunning, Trump still managed to find ways to draw attention and, in doing so, make a complete ass of himself.

The Petulant Mr. Trump
On Monday, infantile Trump folded his arms, hoisted his chin and refused to approve of an official statement from the White House honoring McCain's military service to the nation. If loose-lipped aides were correct, Trump's refusal had to do with the use of the term "hero."

It was clear to everybody that Trump simply could not put aside his personal feelings about McCain and act like an adult. His is a restless kind of spite, sullen, moody and resentful.

In addition, there was some mean-spirited contempt on display regarding the lowering of the flag to half-mast. On Sunday, the flag was lowered but sometime after midnight, the stars and stripes had mysteriously been raised back up to its usual position.
It was a unambiguous break with tradition as well as the US flag code. After hours of outrage from veteran groups at the "blatant disrespect," the White House retreated in humiliating fashion on late Monday afternoon.

Beware of Violent People
On Monday, in a closed-door meeting with evangelicals. Trump warned group Christian right-wingers were "one election away from losing everything" and said their opponents were "violent people" who would overturn these gains "violently." In an obvious attempt to gain support through fear-mongering, Trump warned that if the GOP loses in November, the left would
"..overturn everything that we've done and they'll do it quickly and violently, and violently. There's violence. When you look at Antifa and you look at some of these groups — these are violent people."

Suppressing Voices
On Tuesday, the president got a nasty shock when he googled himself and discovered he was not as beloved and respected as Fox News had said.
For the usual Joe in need of redemption, this might have been a moment of enlightenment or revelation. Not so with the Gorilla-in-chief. He took to Twitter and immediately claimed the Google algorithms were against him, "rigged" and "bad."

He alleged that Google was "suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good." Director of the National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, told reporters that the Trump administration was "taking a look" at whether Google should be regulated.
That kind of talk about "liberal bias" in the tech world flares the nostrils of his pretend-victim conservative base.

Farewell John McCain
On Wednesday, Arizona Senator and Vietnam war hero John McCain was honored in a private ceremony at the Arizona State Capitol. It would have been McCain's 82nd birthday.
The following day, in an emotional eulogy, former Vice President Joe Biden paid tribute to McCain and told the grieving family:
"I promise you the time will come, because what's going to happen is six months will go by and everybody is going to think, well, it's past. But you're going to ride by that field or smell that fragrance, receive that flashing image, and you're going to feel like you did the day you got the news. But you know you're going to make it when the image of your dad, your husband, your friend crosses your mind and a smile comes to your lip before a tear to your eye. That's when you know,."

Embed from Getty Images

On Friday, there was a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol, and on Saturday, a wreath-laying ceremony at the Vietnam War Memorial, followed by a private ceremony at Washington National Cathedral.

His daughter, Meghan's speech was one of the most moving of all the eulogies. Obama, in an obvious reference to Trump, said:
So much of politics today is small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insult and phony controversies and manufactured outrage. It is a politics that pretends to be brave and tough, but in fact is born in fear."
The ceremonies concluded on Sunday as the family traveled to his final resting place in Annapolis. 

In his farewell letter to the nation, McCain wrote:
We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.”
How history will remember John McCain is uncertain. It is too early to tell. He was a mixed bag, cantankerous and short-tempered while at other times, high-principled and noble. Yet, for his spirited defense of American ideals in the face of the contemptible Trump administration, McCain deserves our respect.

Credibility Issues
Without the slightest crumb of evidence, Trump blamed China ("Jina") for hacking Hillary Clinton's emails during the presidential election. He demanded the FBI and the Department of Justice investigate this lead or "their credibility will be forever gone!"
In a tweet, the president made jokes that Russia might have ("just kidding") been behind the hack attack.
(Sideways wink and barely detectable smirk to pint-sized Putin.)

The FBI had no fears about losing its credibility. An official at the Agency simply said:
"The FBI has not found any evidence the (Clinton) servers were compromised."
Mission Accomplished in Puerto Rico
Also on Wednesday, Trump gave himself a hearty pat on the back for a job well done in Puerto Rico after twin hurricanes ravaged the island nation. And what's the occasion? Well, on Tuesday, the governor revised the death toll from 64 to 2,975.
Compare that to another Republican success story: Hurricane Katrina which resulted in 1,833 deaths.) 

 Despite that, Trump was proud of his accomplishments, saying
"I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico. We're still helping Puerto Rico."
In March, Fluor Corp. and PowerSecure, contractors in charge of to repairing transmission and distribution lines, announced plans to draw down its workforce. The Army Corps of Engineers reportedly ended its work to rebuild Puerto Rico’s electric grid back in spring with more 16,000 residents still without power. 
What kind of "help" Trump is referring must be something of  “warmest condolences and sympathies" variety. 

In yet another sign that Trump's truth is not a universal sort of truth, the president accused NBC of "fudging" his 2017 interview with Lester Holt. In this live interview, Trump admitted that his decision to fire FBI director Comey was not related to advisory memos from Rosenstein and DOJ chief Jeff Sessions. It was related to "this Russia thing."  Here's the exact quote.
He [Rosenstein] made a recommendation, he’s highly respected, very good guy, very smart guy. The Democrats like him, the Republicans like him. He made a recommendation. But regardless of [the] recommendation, I was going to fire Comey. Knowing there was no good time to do it!
And in fact when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, “You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”
A mighty admission since that would appear to constitute obstruction of justice. Now, Trump wants us to believe he didn't say what he clearly did say. 
Few people love fudge more than I do -especially on a Sunday but Trump's retraction seems like the act of a man painted in the corner by his own words.

Hatred and Extreme Bias
His war with the free press continued on Thursday when Trump took a swing at top NBC and CNN execs, calling on AT&T to fire CNN chief Jeff Zucker "to save credibility!"
In a tweet, he claimed that "hatred and extreme bias of me by CNN has clouded their thinking and made them unable to function." 
Trump has become an expert at cloudy thinking and dysfunction.
He also predicted that NBC chairman Andy Lack would be fired 
"for incompetence, and much worse." The cherry on the top was this: 
"When Lester Holt got caught fudging my tape on Russia, they were hurt badly!"
A neat example of unsupported claims can morph into Trumpian "facts."

Kompromat by Any Other Name
Meanwhile, back in real-world, the New York Times reported that candidate Trump and lawyer Michael Cohen attempting fruitlessly to purchase all the damaging information in the safe of American Media's National Enquirer. 

The suppressed information- or kompromat, as the Russians call it, reportedly dated back to the 1980s. The deal was- for unspecified reasons- not finalized As far as can be determined, the goodies are now in the possession of the Mueller investigation since American Media Inc. chairman and CEO David Pecker decided to cooperate with special counsel investigators. 

Polls Show Growing Public Disapproval for Trump
More insulting news arrived for Trump on Friday when polls showed that 60% of Americans now disapproved of Trump's performance as president.
According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Friday, nearly two-thirds of American adults support Mueller's ongoing investigation into Russian interference. A majority of respondents – 52 percent — say they "strongly" support Mueller's probe. Twenty-nine percent said they oppose it.

Fifty-three percent say they think Trump attempted to interfere in Mueller's investigation in a manner that amounted to obstruction of justice. To make matters worse for Trump, nearly half of Americans, 49 percent, believe Congress should initiate impeachment proceedings that could result in Trump’s removal from office. Forty-six percent say Congress should not.

The polls also threw ice water on possible plans to fire his Attorney General and replace him with a person willing to shut down the Mueller probe. Sixty-two percent of Americans support Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation. 

Flipping Oligarchs
On Saturday, the New York Times reported on efforts by the FBI to recruit Oleg V. Deripaska a Russian oligarch with close ties to Putin. 

Between 2015 and 2016, officials at both the FBI and the Department of Justice attempted unsuccessfully to turn Mr. Deripaska into an informant.
In exchange, they were hoping for information on Russian organized crime and, later, on possible Russian aid to President Trump’s 2016 campaign, according to current and former officials and associates of Mr. Deripaska.
Had the "flipping" of Deripaska been successful, the Trump campaign might well have been stopped dead in its tracks before Trump was nominated by the GOP.

Covering Up for Kavanaugh
Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh just happens to be the most disliked Supreme Court nominee in decades. In an effort to ease Kavanaugh's confirmation, the White House is withholding from the Senate more than 100,000 pages of records related to the 53-year-old circuit court judge. The administration has cited executive privilege, which opposition party leader, Chuck Schumer called
"not only unprecedented in the history of SCOTUS noms, it has all the makings of a cover up.”
Lawyers for a former adviser in the Trump campaign, George Papadopoulos, say that, according to their client, on 31 March 2016 both Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions approved of a proposed meeting between the candidate and Vladimir Putin at some point during the campaign.
“While some in the room rebuffed George’s offer, Mr. Trump nodded with approval and deferred to Mr. Sessions who appeared to like the idea and stated that the campaign should look into it."
If true, this would contradict statements Sessions made under oath to the Senate last year. 
 *   *   *
All in all, this week reinforced the image of an American president lounging about admiring himself in a mirror, while fuming about things reporters are saying and attempting to produce as much mischief as he possibly can.

Sanity Sunday Music

This week, we will skip the playlist and will instead feature one artist's album. The artist, Peter Broderick from Carlton, Oregon and the album is called "Home" released in 2008.
I love the parts of our lives that are impossible to describe, the very subtle things that we feel that are so fleeting and amorphous and which there simply are not words for. 

Have a wonderful Sunday. To all those who are enduring hard days, I hope that you can find comfort through the music and the company of friends.