Tag Archives: Trump

The Tragedy of Sean Spicer

As anyone who’s been watching the news this past week knows, Sean Spicer had a terrible week, as did those of us who unfortunately were exposed to the utterings of this empty-headed, moronic, Trump sycophant spout his ignorant comments about Hitler and the Holocaust, all garnished with the mangling of Bashar al-Assad’s name not once, but multiple times. It is commonly known that when in a hole, the best way to get out is first to stop digging, a lesson Mr. Spicer should not have had to learn at such a late stage in his career.

Of course, Spicer has had zero credibility ever since his infamous inauguration attendance lie in support of President (urp!) Trump, but the difference between that outright lie and the ignorant misstatement he spouted regarding Hitler’s use of poison gas in what he amazingly called “holocaust centers” took him to a new level of incompetent buffoonery.

One may(?) be tempted to ask, how the President’s Press Secretary could be possessed of such ineptness. Was it ignorance? Stupidity? Born of Holocaust denial?

Well, here’s my theory, at least.

Spicer was born in 1971. He’s neither a member of Tom Brokaw’s “greatest generation” nor a baby boomer. In other words, he’s two generations removed from World War II. He’s a product of the combination of a failing American education system, contemporary Republican ignorance and misunderstanding of history, and the ongoing, virtually endemic racial and religious bigotry that’s come to reside at the core of the Republican Party. These multiple forces have come together in Spicer to create a person who, unfortunately, is not a one-off in contemporary American society but has become one of its outstanding exponents. I strongly doubt that Spicer is willfully malevolent. More, he’s simply naïve, ignorant, and oblivious, and it’s a problem we will likely face increasingly in the future. “Sad.”

Many of us who pride ourselves on being liberal and progressive are justly horrified by what we see happening in and to our country. Those ideals we have grown up respecting seem to be getting trampled (Trumpled?) with ever-increasing frequency and an almost vengeful intensity. As the three branches of government, all now controlled by a party that would take us back to days of Jim Crow, isolationism, and a world that they erroneously believe was somehow idyllic, we face the real possibility that the minority in our country, soon to be a minority-majority, will revolt. And this is how revolutions, often violent, happen.

It is imperative that the majority of Americans, whom we know to disagree with the direction in which we are now being taken – remember that Clinton won the popular vote – become vocal and politically active. And we must express ourselves at the polls. Millennials, who stood on idealistic principle for Bernie Sanders and refused to vote for Clinton, sacrificed a view of the possible for the unattainable perfect. If they do not come out with other minorities and liberal progressives and vote in 2018 to help take back the Senate and chip away at the Republican margin in the House, the reactionary headlong rush to the Dark Ages will continue, and women’s rights, science and medicine, the environment, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, separation of church and state, and the living conditions of the poor will all suffer as the Constitution continues to be trampled in the name of creating a more “Christian America” run by robber barons and right wing religious fanatics.

Finally, it never ceases to amaze me how so many people who are the victims of Republican policies continue to support the party. Trump, both directly and aided by his spokespeople, continue to lie and then act in ways damaging to those who elected him. Which brings me back to Sean Spicer, a man whose time should never have come but has, and should be given the boot immediately. The man has no credibility and is nothing more than a simple, ignorant, Trump toady, afraid and probably unable to stand up to the boss and speak intelligently to the press and American public. He needs to go, and he needs to go now.

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Donald Trump, Deconstructed

Here are a few questions about Donald Trump:

  • Why does he avoid teleprompters?
  • Why does he love the poorly educated? (He said so, remember?)
  • Why did he not realize that he had signed an executive order placing Steve Bannon on the National Security Council?
  • Why does he not type most (or at least many) of his own tweets but, rather, dictate them to staff to type?
  • Why has he refused to take daily briefings from intelligence and national security staffs?
  • Why does he not read lease agreements?
  • Why does he not read books?
  • Why does he speak at no greater than a fourth grade level?
  • Why does he surround himself so closely with Don, Eric, and Ivanka?

The answer may be as simple as it is shocking: President Trump can barely read. Whether it’s dyslexia, ADHD, or just simply that he never learned to read above lower grade school level, all indications are that it’s not just that he doesn’t read. It’s that he literally can’t read.

Inability to read explains much of what we saw during the campaign and, certainly, what we’ve been seeing in the weeks since his inauguration. And I am totally serious, here – this is not a joke. I think the man is functionally illiterate. How else can we explain what we’ve seen? His grown children stay close because they are clearly aware of their father’s inability to read. They protect him by filtering all that goes in and out. They know, and they cover for him.

It accounts for why he doesn’t read his briefing documents, newspapers, or other materials. He simply can’t assimilate them, and so he is totally dependent upon his staff and television to give him what is ultimately highly filtered and potentially biased input. Thus, he is easily manipulated by those around him, accounting for how Steve Bannon ended up on the NSC. Bannon simply had him sign the order, knowing that it would not be read before the signature was affixed. The proof of this is that Trump now says he “wasn’t briefed” about what he was signing. The ugly and frightening truth is that Steve Bannon is more the President than is Trump, a fact terrifyingly satirized by Saturday Night Live, when the actor playing Bannon (dressed as the grim reaper) took over the President’s role, relegating an infantile Trump played by Alec Baldwin to the side, where he sat at a child’s desk and played like an idiot with a toy.

Trump, the real estate mogul, has stated that he does not read lease agreements and, on one occasion documented on video, when challenged to do so he was unable to interpret one. Trump, the politician, disparages teleprompters because he can’t read them. And Trump, the ersatz everyman, says he loves the poorly educated. Of course he does: he’s one of them.

The man elected to the Presidency of the United States is an ignorant, arrogant, bullying, misogynistic, impulsive, functionally illiterate dolt who is at risk of, and is likely already a victim of, manipulation by those around him, Steve Bannon being arguably the most dangerous. He has appointed a Cabinet of the most unqualified, individuals imaginable, and the team as a whole is committed to a vision of America that will only do grave damage to those who gave him his greatest support but are too blind to see what they’ve done and what is about to befall them.

There is an old saying: the fish stinks from the head. Look no further here. It’s that guy who can’t read the handwriting on the wall. I almost, but not quite, feel sorry for him. I do feel sorry for those of us who know what’s coming.

Where, Oh Where, Do We Begin?

It’s been less than two weeks and it’s already hard to know where to begin. The irrational, executive order on immigration and refugees? The firing of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates (instantly making her a martyr), the firing of the ICE Director, the directive to start building the wall, threatening to send U.S. troops into Mexico, hanging up on the Australian Prime Minister? Well, these among other travesties and incompetent acts are all worthy of discussion, but for now I’d like to say a few words about President Lout’s appointment of the man likely to be our newest Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch.

First, a bit of review. In the presence of a vacancy on the Court, it is the Constitutional duty of the President to make a nomination, following which it is the responsibility of the Judicial Committee of the Senate to vet the nominee and of the full Senate to confirm or not confirm the nominee, as the case may be.

In the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s unexpected death last year, President Obama fulfilled his Constitutional duty by nominating Judge Merrick Garland, a universally respected, highly qualified, moderate jurist to take the deceased Scalia’s seat on the Court. Senator Mitch McConnell, aka “The Turtle”, vowed that no nomination made in the final year of President Obama’s term of office would receive any consideration by the Judicial Committee. In doing so, he excused his raw and unconstitutional action by citing what he called the “Biden rule”, a nonexistent rule based solely upon something Joseph Biden said several years ago but having no basis in legislative law. McConnell. thus laid the groundwork blocking any fair and required action on the nomination. This disgraceful act resulted in the theft of the nomination from President Obama, and left the Court one justice short of its normal complement of nine individuals. The Court responded by failing to take on a number of cases that it otherwise might have considered.

So now, Presidential Lout, fulfilling a campaign promise to pick someone acceptable to the far and evangelical right, has nominated an extreme conservative to fill the empty slot, and Republicans are gloating over their unconstitutional triumph. Worse, it should be noted that the Lout’s gang is accusing Democrats of being obstructive by threatening to filibuster the nomination. This, of course, is utter hypocrisy given prior Republican behavior.

It seems inevitable that Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed, although the Democrats may be able to delay confirmation to some minimal extent. But I do believe that an additional protest is warranted. I suggest that when the roll is called for confirmation, EVERY DEMOCRAT SHOULD, INSTEAD OF VOTING “NO” OR BOYCOTTING THE VOTE, LOUDLY PROCLAIM A VOICE A VOTE FOR MERRICK GARLAND. This will do nothing to change the outcome, but at least it will get the attention of the public and remind everyone of the disgusting and obstructive behavior of Senate Majority Leader Turtle and his cohorts in governmental crime.

As a final comment regarding Neil Gorsuch, there are those who have suggested that the Lout might not be getting quite what he is expecting with the appointment. Gorsuch is a strict constructionist, yes, and a far right conservative, yes, and takes a radical view of religious rights (the Hobby Lobby decision) and, consequently, is no friend of women’s rights, but because of his belief in strict adherence to established principles embodied within the Constitution and legislation, there is a glimmer of hope that he at least will not mindlessly support the wild decrees of the Lout. If true, this would be at least one positive in what so far seems an abysmal turn of affairs in our beloved country. Not enough to justify, in my mind, his confirmation to the Supreme Court, but the simple fact is that he will be confirmed, so we need to take whatever small hope there may be that he won’t be the disaster we’re nevertheless expecting.

“Inauged”: My New Word for “Now We’ve Been F**ked by You Know Who”

Well, it’s done. He is the President. Yup. Trump and his coterie of billionaire country rapists are now our official leaders. How does it feel? Like you could benefit from several hours on a bidet? I feel your pain.

As most of my readers know, especially if they’ve clicked on the “Books by” link on my Facebook site, I write and have two published works of fiction, Zendoscopy (a serio-comic coming-of-age tale) and Spacebraid and Other Tales of a Dystopian Universe (sci-fi fantasy stories). What many may not know, however, is that I’m a retired M.D. An ob/gyn, to be precise about it. I spent 16 years in clinical practice, and then segued into administrative medicine, taking on several roles during the balance of my career: senior health plan executive, market medical director for a large health plan and, ultimately, heading up physician, hospital, and ancillary provider peer review (medical quality of care management) for 13 western states for a very large insurance company. Along the way, I also did some teaching in a university-affiliated ob/gyn residency program. Having worked in these several sectors of our health care environment, I’ve developed some pretty strong opinions about where health care should be heading. And folks, lemme tell ya, it ain’t a goin’ in that direction today.

At first, I thought I’d provide you with a historical review of how we got to where we currently find ourselves but, as I began to write, I realized I could fill far more paragraphs than anyone would want to assimilate on the subject. So, instead, here’s a considerably shorter review with my take on it all.

The pre-mid-1980s 80/20 insurance plans and employer-based health care model provided coverage that encouraged people to ask for everything and physicians to provide it…and more. This led to uncontrolled costs and opened the door for so-called “managed care”, a model that promised evidence-based health care with cost controls and some inevitable loss of choice for patients. Big business saw an opening and stepped in to run it, leading to substantial abuse in the name of bolstering corporate profit. The promise of better care at lower cost was sacrificed on the altar of stratospheric executive pay. Health care, quite simply, became an immoral, profit-centered business.

The Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”, or “Obamacare”) was an attempt to deal with the problem and provide coverage for the millions of Americans who lacked health insurance. It is important to remember that the basic idea from which grew the ACA was, in fact, a Republican plan and was even implemented in Massachusetts by then-governor Mitt Romney. But the version known as the Affordable Care Act was the specific plan promoted by our nation’s first black President, and as Senator Mitch McConnell famously articulated, nothing proposed by President Obama would ever be approved by Republicans, including the formerly articulated Republican health care plan. The racism inherent in the Republican position was obvious and odious.

President Obama’s offering included a “public option”, essentially a program of universal coverage provided through an alternative that would, in effect, compete with the private health care system. This was a non-starter for business-protectionist Republicans, who screamed “socialized medicine” and forced Obama to drop it. As a result, the ACA ultimately passed on a straight party-line vote without the one component that would have led to truly comprehensive coverage availability for everyone. The ACA as enacted was far from perfect but it was a compromise that Republicans could at least say didn’t eliminate the insurance companies from the health care market, and it did allow more than 20 million people who formerly lacked insurance to gain coverage. Other benefits of the ACA are well known and I won’t take time to delineate them here.

Now, the Republicans, who’ve tried some sixty times without success to dismantle the ACA, see their chance finally to kill it. But as in all the years since its adoption, they have been unable to present a viable alternative. What they’re learning is that health care does not operate according to simple market-based supply and demand rules. Demand for health care is relatively inelastic – everyone needs it eventually and, often, unpredictably. To drop 20 million or more from the insurance roles will only cause them to delay care, become sicker, and then seek care in emergency rooms, where treatment is outrageously expensive and, to a great extent, paid for by taxpayers in the form of government expenditures and increased direct health care costs. It isn’t more cost effective than covering people through insurance and, being wasteful of resources and inefficient, it makes no sense to abandon the ACA with this as the inevitable result.

What is the answer? No matter how distasteful it is for the right wing, the ONLY viable answer is universal coverage, sometimes referred to as “Medicare for all”, although it would likely differ in some respects from Medicare. It would, in essence, be a federally funded program that could use private insurance companies as fiscal intermediaries under contract for reimbursement. Everyone would be covered by a safety net assuring a basic standard of care. Those who could afford it could purchase upgraded levels of coverage from the insurance companies, say, for cosmetic or advanced infertility treatment. We would abandon the dysfunctional employer-based health care model, with funding (as now for Medicare/Medicaid) coming from tax revenues. It would not be more expensive per capita than what we are paying now in premiums.

That’s a somewhat oversimplified view of what needs to happen, but I’m confident in predicting that it won’t happen anytime soon. Entrenched interests will see to that. But how long will we be able to justify our present system or whatever the Republicans may try to implement when we’re confronted by the well-functioning universal coverage systems of other Western, developed nations? Our present system, with its fragmented incentives of patients v. doctors v. hospitals v. insurance companies v. drug companies is an utterly unnecessary disgrace with higher costs and worse health outcomes than most if not all Western European countries. But we won’t get what we need until we all stand up for it. This will take a degree of political awareness and activity sorely lacking today in the American public, many of whom voted against their own best interests in the recent Presidential election.

Maybe those folks will eventually wake up and realize they’ve been conned. If so, I hope it happens before the suffering becomes too severe. Say, in time for the next midterm elections.

Does Donald Trump Have ADHD?

We have all learned over time and especially during the course of the Republican cluster fuck of debates and primaries, and his recent performance in the first Presidential debate, that Donald Trump is a bloviating, unprepared and unqualified, misogynistic bully. But does he have ADHD? Consider the following:

  • Lack of preparation for the debate with Clinton: Was this because of an inability to concentrate on the vast amount of material that would need to be in his command for the debate and ultimately, of course, as a qualification to be President?
  • His frequent (51 by general agreement on the number) interruptions of Clinton during her allotted debate speaking time: Was this simple rudeness or a manifestation of poor impulse control?
  • His facial expressions, sniffling as if he’d just snorted cocaine, and one word or sound utterings: Were these things a manifestation of his inability to hold still and focus?
  • His frequent, disjointed, rambling answers, in which he would string together almost random thoughts separated by the nonsensical, non-contextual “because”.

I would suggest that these easily observed and impossible to ignore behaviors are sufficient for at least the suspicion that Trump suffers from adult attention deficit  hyperactivity disorder, more commonly known as “ADHD”.

And so we come to the critical question: Is the Presidency a job for someone with ADHD and its associated poor impulse control and lack of ability to focus, to be coherent, and to control his facial expressions? His appalling attitudes, social views, and political ignorance aside, do we really want someone like this to represent the United States of America both domestically and abroad?

The time to come out and vote is almost upon us. Can anyone justify the position taken by one woman who was interviewed after the debate? She called Trump a “jackass” but said that party loyalty demanded that she vote for him. Is this the immorally low bar to which we have sunk?

Yes, Clinton has made some mistakes over time, but is there really any choice here? If you care about the country, you should know the answer.

Donald Trump is a Russian Spy (Maybe)

I think that Donald Trump is a Russian spy. Here’s the evidence.

First and foremost, he is an ardent admirer of Vlad (the Impaler) Putin. Of course, I can’t be sure whether it’s political or sexual attraction to the ex-KGB guy with the penchant for going shirtless, but I’ll give The Donald the benefit of the doubt and assume the attraction is political. Philosophically, they do seem to be well aligned. And they’re both bullies.

Next, Trump supports the Russian invasion of the Crimea and feels that the US should recognize the extended Russian claims over Ukraine.

And then there is his urging of Russian cyber-intelligence to hack into US servers, especially Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server. In other words, he’s advocating espionage against the United States by a foreign entity. One more step over the line and he’ll be guilty of treason.

Trump spends most of his time running down the country as an out of control mess, a place where everywhere you turn you expose yourself to the possibility of a violent death at the hands of people who don’t look like you (read: white). And in much of the time during which he isn’t trying to scare the bejesus out of the poorly educated and bigoted masses, he disparages the military, thus providing propaganda support for Russia. His recent attack on the parents of an American soldier, including his unconcealed racist insinuations about Muslim culture forcing the soldier’s mother to remain silent, goes far beyond the limits of decency and, again, speaks to his lack of loyalty and respect for American ideals and institutions. In this latter regard, no one is spared from his attacks, as evidenced by his recent verbal attacks on firefighters for simply enforcing limits on legal occupancy at his rallies. Firefighters!

While all this speaks to his borderline treasonous behavior, one has to ask why he’s acting this way. Could it be that he’s in severe financial trouble and needs money from the Russians to keep him afloat? Well, that’s just unsubstantiated speculation on my part, something Trump does all the time as he makes de facto accusations with implicit rather than explicit language.

Of course none of this Russian stuff explains why he also seems to be supporting ISIS. You don’t believe that he supports radical Islamic terrorist activity? For starters, just look at his ongoing denigration of America and its armed services, or his railing against what he says is the incompetence of the American government. He’s the best propaganda tool ISIS could wish for.

All of which leads me to ask one final question. Who would ever have thought that the Republicans, of all people, would nominate a modern incarnation of Benedict Arnold? Apparently all their flag waving is just a cover for the real goal of modern Republicanism: fascist, racist, ignorant dictatorship with Donald J. Trump as their anointed leader. So who’s Trump, himself, actually aspiring to be? I’ll leave the possible names from history unsaid, but you know who they are.

And the irony of all this is that Republicans brought this on, themselves. Trump is neither more nor less than the logical, inevitable outcome of years of Republican radicalism, bigotry, and waging economic and class warfare. Some Republicans are finally waking up to this ugly fact and the monstrous mess they’ve created, but party leadership remains spineless. How else to explain McConnell, Ryan, Priebus, et al., as they express their disapproval but refuse to retract their endorsement of the Party’s candidate. With gutless wonders like these at the head of the Party, is it any wonder that white supremacists and high school dropouts have felt justified in crawling out from under their rocks to support the beast?

As of today (3 August), some Party regulars are openly hoping Trump will voluntarily drop out of the race. Hah! Still no spine – just sit back, take no action, and wish for the high flying egotist to back out. The cowardice would be shocking if it weren’t so predictable. On the other hand, maybe Trump will be “disappeared” by a Russian extraction team. After all, that’s what they do when a spy’s cover is blown. And wouldn’t that be just dandy?

Of Mobs and Demagoguery: The Republican Convention of 2016

The 2016 Republican National Convention has now (thankfully) passed into history, but its effects are likely to be long-lasting. In no particular order, here is a listing of some relevant aspects of its frightening legacy, along with some observations of my own (of course).

  • The initially unlikely nomination of Donald Trump, a bloviating, bigoted, xenophobic, nationalistic, verbally abusive egomaniac has become a reality, the result of the Republican takeover by right wing extremists and evangelists. The party is now, de facto, the party of white supremacists, religious nut cases, and those with no understanding of the actual history of the United States and its founders.
  • The virtually complete takeover of the Convention’s proceedings by Trump forces resulted in trampling dissent and led to a mob mentality with behavior of the delegates that all too often (e.g., during Chris Christie’s kangaroo court performance), resembled that seen during the rise of the Third Reich. Personally, I found all those raised arms pretty terrifying.
  • Although one expects negative hyperbole denigrating the candidate of the opposing party, the behavior of the delegates as egged on by many speakers transcended the bounds of decency. Instead of being a celebration of the Republican nominee, the convention became an ugly hatefest, and if all that unites the base is hate, one wonders what Republicans will be voting for, rather than against in November.
  • We learned that Melania Trump is, as reported by the L.A. Times, an admirer of Michelle Obama, certainly an embarrassment of sorts for The Donald and others who have spent such an inordinate amount of time hating the Obamas.
  • The honesty, hard work, and dedication to principle so touted by Melania in her plagiarized speech bears no resemblance to the actual conduct of the candidate. In fact, listening to her, one would have been more than hard pressed to identify whom she was speaking about if she weren’t the candidate’s wife.
  • Every time the camera panned to the Trump family and showed his beautiful children, the only thought I could entertain was “Stepford”. In fact, so many of the women, in particular, in the arena had the same blond appearance of the Trump women that I considered the possibility that they were all programmed robots. Of course, an awful lot of the men on the convention floor looked more like beer swilling knuckle-draggers than intelligent specimens of the human species. Just sayin…but we know that Trump’s major appeal is to the white, poorly educated of our country. Just those whom we want to choose our leaders, right? And it is worth noting that this convention reportedly had fewer minority attendees than any other recent Republican convention despite the Party’s sticking some minority speakers on the program for show.
  • After the 2012 re-election of President Obama, the Republicans held that much touted autopsy on their stunning failure and came up with some reasonable conclusions about the Party’s wrong direction and what needed to be done to redirect efforts to broaden their base. The current outcome is the result of the party’s total failure to channel their own findings toward any sort of remedial action and a demonstration of how moderate influences within the party were completely overrun by the darker forces of radical religion and what now passes for conservatism but is really a complex mixture of paranoia, fear, bigotry, and a foundational philosophy anchored in preserving an American caste system.
  • Trump’s final address to the convention on Thursday night was simply raw meat for the already converted. It was a classic example of playing to white fears, denigrating the opposition, and offering no specifics while throwing out a few barely acknowledged platitudes in the vain attempt to convince a wider audience to support the ticket. And, boy, did he sound angry.
  • Neither Trump nor any other speaker acknowledged the overt bigotry and radical, chauvinistic nature of the Party’s platform, suggesting either total hypocrisy or an overt intention to deceive. In fact, if one looks at the history of VP nominee Mike Pence (Mike Pence???), one can see clearly through the deception. He is, in fact, the embodiment of the platform: a radically conservative, angry white guy out to “restore” the country to an idealized state that, in fact, never actually existed. If he and all the others of his ilk get their way, millions will lose their health care, women will once again begin dying from septic illegal abortions, climate change will be ignored, environmental degradation allowed to proceed unchecked, quality education reserved only for those who can afford it, and voter suppression will continue to run unchecked, among other “conservative” delights. Oh! Wait! It really is the Republican Party’s platform!
  • The funniest thing I heard anyone say all week came from Stephen Colbert, who commented, “Mike Pence was born after a bolt of lightning struck a jar of mayonnaise.” (See prior bullet point…)
  • In the final analysis, the 2016 Republican gathering accomplished only one thing. It played successfully to the already committed base without expanding support among elements of the public it needs to attract to have any chance of winning in the November election. Pundits say that the Party is losing more voters than it has been gaining, resulting in a net loss. We can only hope.