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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Trump Immaturity - more Foreign Policy evidence

"...China is not a subcontractor on a construction project, and it has means at its disposal to apply its own pressure on the new US administration."  
Christopher Hill in Project Syndicate: World Affairs.
Photo of Christopher R. Hill

Christopher R. Hill, former US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia, was US Ambassador to Iraq, South Korea, Macedonia, and Poland, a US special envoy for Kosovo, a negotiator of the Dayton Peace Accords, and the chief US negotiator with North Korea from 2005-2009.
In all honesty, Donald Trump is the dangerous example of a man who got what he wished for and "now what?" Being elected president (by a minority of voters) is not a "genie" joke and he can't go back inside his prophetic bottle on the Florida beach at Mar-a-Lago. Christohper Hill writes about Donald Trump and North Korea in an essay for World Affairs

Here's my abstract about what he wrote:
Obviously, MaineWriter isn't an expert on international diplomacy. Yet, I know enough to realize my inadequacies. Nevertheless, I have opinions, just like Donald Trump.  He and I share equal opinions because his are probably as informed as mine- since he is easily bored and doesn't like to sit through intelligence briefings. 

Of course, that's the problem.  I'm allowed to contemplate my opinions or modify them over time. On the other hand, Donald Trump cannot govern international affairs from just taking seriously his own opinion.

Can Trump Manage North Korea? By Christopher Hill

DENVER, CO – US President Donald Trump’s administration, like many before it, has had a rocky start; but the most pressing challenges are yet to come. 

Among them will be North Korea, whose leader, Kim Jong-un, used his New Year’s Day address to announce that his country has built – and is prepared to test – an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Trump, who was still the president-elect at the time, sprang into action, tweeting, “It won’t happen!” One can only imagine how the North Korean government might have interpreted this statement. Trump may have been issuing a threat and establishing an official red line through his favorite means of communication; he also might merely have been making a prediction, and betting against North Korea’s technical prowess. Or maybe he just wants to keep everyone guessing about what he will do.

Whatever his motivation, Trump has now inherited the perennial North Korea problem – a recurring global crisis that has been on every US president’s list of foreign-policy concerns since the 1980s. But this time, the threat is real: during Trump’s watch, North Korea could very well obtain the means to strike the United States with a weapon of mass destruction.

The North Korean government is not so much interested in testing the new US president as it is in testing nuclear devices and missiles. As its weapons program lumbers forward, it has made little effort to hide its periodic failures, marking a departure from past practices. Speculation about North Korea’s motives for pursuing nuclear weapons is as old as the effort itself. But while it would be useful to know North Korea’s true objective – regime survival, global prestige, self-defense, and regional hegemony are the most frequent explanations – it ultimately doesn’t really matter.

There are no good options for addressing the problem; and yet Trump cannot simply ignore it, or outsource it to China, as he suggested doing during the presidential campaign. An effective strategy requires that all forms of US power be deployed, especially diplomacy and cooperation with China.

Beyond North Korea, Trump has also inherited difficult challenges elsewhere in East Asia. China has continued to take a hard line on its territorial claims in the South China Sea, which means that the US will have to remain vigilant to ensure safe access to the region’s vital shipping lanes. 

Meanwhile, South Korea has been mired in a corruption scandal that culminated in the impeachment of its president, Park Geun-hye. A presidential election could be held as early as May, but there is considerable uncertainty ahead. And while Japan’s relationship with South Korea has improved in recent years, that might change as the latter’s political situation evolves.

For Trump, any strategy to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear program against this complicated backdrop should include some obvious, but crucial, elements. 

For starters, the US must maintain strong ties with its two regional allies – Japan and South Korea. The new administration will have to be smart about pursuing other goals, such as trade and military cooperation, with these countries. Both tend to be extremely sensitive to changes in public opinion, and the US must take care not to arouse grievances over secondary issues, especially during what could be a turbulent year in South Korea.

Of course, the difficulty of managing these two alliances pales in comparison to managing the relationship with China. For China, the North Korea problem cannot be reduced to concerns about regime collapse and a resulting wave of refugees. Chinese officials’ opinions about North Korea vary, and they are not all favorable; but an important one holds that North Korea’s demise could affect China’s core interests, if changes on the Korean Peninsula – such as South Korea’s emergence as a successor state – are seen as putting China at a disadvantage vis-à-vis the US.

After the US election, Trump and his advisers appeared to have concluded that the best way to upend China’s strategic position was to subject all past conventions, including the “One China” policy, to reexamination. The thinking behind this approach is that China will ultimately make concessions to regain its prized status as the only Chinese government that the US will recognize.

But, to use Trump’s phrase, (ie, in Trump's opinion)“It won’t happen.” China is not a subcontractor on a construction project, and it has means at its disposal to apply its own pressure on the new US administration. Raising issues that have long been resolved is not conducive to bilateral cooperation, and will only exacerbate the growing strategic mistrust between China and the US.

Governance is about setting priorities, and US foreign policy toward China has too often sought a broad array of goals, without stopping to ask if some objectives might be more important than others. For example, will major trade concessions from China really do more to advance US interests than nullifying the North Korean threat? It is now incumbent upon the Trump administration to make a clear-minded assessment of US interests in the region, and to prioritize its policies accordingly. (MaineWriter: In other words, don't assume a Trump opinion is a solution!) One can only hope that Trump can focus on the North Korean nuclear threat, which is very real – because it could become acute (OMG!) sooner than anyone expects. 

(MaineWriter:  Kim Jong-un just had his own half brother poisoned in Malaysia- probably in an act of jealous sibling rage. Could this revenge be a harbinger of what the crazy despot wants to do to the world? And how will Donald Trump respond? In my opinion, it's doubtful that Kim Jong-un cares to learn how to use Twitter.) Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un share a particular kind of immaturity, meaning, they both seem to believe in their opinions as being omnipotent.

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Nurse robots? In a universe of possibilities it had to happen- but not so fast!

Obviously, nurses don't want to think of ourselves as being replaceable. We are especially adverse to being taken over by "nurse robots". Nevertheless, this wave of high tech but "no touch" care is more reality than sci-fi, especially given the enormity of the projected nursing shortage coupled with an aging population.

This may be a landmark Lillee Gelinas article, published in 2017. Yet, in about 10 years (or less) nurses will likely find this robotics news as ho-hum as reading about how only physicians were once upon a time considered qualified to take patients' blood pressures or listen to lung sounds. Robots can do a lot.
Related image
But, not so fast!  Robots can't think in ambiguities. IOW, "I felt better yesterday than I do today"; "Can I drive my car after surgery?" 

(Robotic nurses? Say it ain't so! Well, yes, certainly it is so; but nurses must climb to a professional level of expertise where we're able to master what the robot can't do- which is to really care about the patient. Robots cannot assess a patient's family situation or their capacity to achieve wellness.)

Robotic nurses: No substitute for real RNs
February 2017 Vol. 12 No. 2 
Author: Lillee Gelinas, MSN, RN, FAAN

For the past decade, care innovation has exploded with new tools and technology. Keeping up with all of the new devices and gadgets available to ease caregiver burden and increase safety is hard. One machine that’s gaining a lot of attention and investment lately is the robotic nurse, also known as the nursebot.

What’s fueling the rapid development of automated caregivers? I believe it’s the result of three major trends: growth of an aging population, advances in technology and information systems, and never-ending nursing shortages.

As nurses, we’re used to seeing robots filling and delivering medications in pharmacies, assisting in the operating room, and supporting telehealth strategy. But can robots deliver nursing care? Yes, according to several experts and current research.
Social urgency: the aging population

Today, people live longer and have fewer children than past generations, creating a larger elderly population relative to a shrinking labor force. The Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging (DHHSAA) estimates that by 2030, the 65-and-older population in the United States will reach 72 million, compared to 46.2 million in 2014.
New technology for caregiving

In Japan, where nearly 30% of the population is over 65, its birth rate is low, and not enough people are entering the workforce to care for the elderly, a proposed solution includes robotic nurses. Japan has several versions of robotic nurses that can perform simple tasks, like taking vital signs and moving patients.

In the United States, Duke University’s School of Engineering and School of Nursing have collaborated to create the Tele-Robotic Intelligent Nursing Assistant (TRINA). Nurses and physicians remotely navigate this robot without entering a patient’s room. TRINA can transport linens, take vital signs, and deliver food and medications. Since the Ebola outbreaks, robots and other technologies are being tested to diminish risks for providers who care for patients with infectious diseases.

Researchers from the University of Michigan, University of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University are working on a nursebot called Pearl. This assistive robot reminds patients about routine activities such as taking medications and guides them through their environment as needed.

Ethics and decision making

With demands for caregivers growing, seeking technology solutions that fill the gap makes sense. 

Nevertheless, a robot isn’t a substitute for the essence of our profession—assessment, critical thinking, and therapeutic high-touch skills. On the other hand, if robots can support basic patient needs and give nurses more time to do what they do best, then everyone can benefit.

Questions about robotic technology focus on ethics and decision making. For instance, can a machine be programmed with 1) a reliable set of ethics; 2) the ability to assess a clinical situation and make judgments about the correct clinical course of action; and 3) the capacity to respond appropriately to ambiguous situations? Right now, the answer is no.

Current robot prototypes are designed as nursing assistants to supplement care. It’s an important distinction, so our terminology should reflect that. Robots are care assistants and that’s the only way we should refer to them. Rest easy. 

There’s no substitute for the real RN. (Of course not!)

Lillee Gelinas, MSN, RN, FAAN

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Russian-Trump dossier espionage gets deep

Donald Trump to Russia- "Russia, if you are listening". Well, obviously, Russia was listening in on Donald Trump long before he used his famous "dog whistle" signal, giving cover to Vladimir Putin for election the hacking in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Let's face it, Donald Trump's election was illegitimate and this evidence is showing up in the massive resistance he's seeing to all of his punishing and draconian executive actions.

"...Flynn’s dubious conduct and the Trump White House attempt to cover it up..."- Joe Conason
Why That Bizarre “Russian Dossier” Can’t Be Ignored
This photograph of Lt. General Flynn with Vladimir Putin tells the truth, the whole truth, and he must now testify under oath to explain what he did,, why he did and when he did it.

Conspiracy theories notwithstanding (litany of mysterious incident associated deaths included) the facts are evident taht none of the world's intelligencies agencies disavow the espionage in the Russian -Trump Dossier. This reticence is significant. If the dossier obtained by Britian's intelligence M16 were illegitimate, the world's espionage agencies would, by now, have discredited the inforamtion in any of a myriad of clandestine ways.  Instead, there've been a litany of mysterious deaths since the release of the information and those who are among the deceased had access to the espionage that led to the dossier being released to M16.

Why That Bizarre “Russian Dossier” Can’t Be Ignored by Joe Conason

To see Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn depart his White House post in a miasma of misconduct — amid memories of his “lock her up” bluster about Hillary Clinton at the Republican convention last summer — was satisfying. To hear that he might be replaced as national security adviser by someone saner is reassuring.

But Flynn’s ouster is only the first chapter in a potentially historic scandal that has scarcely begun to unfold. The contradictory accounts and explanations offered by presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway, press secretary Sean Spicer, and others around Donald Trump left crucial questions unanswered and even more skepticism about how Donald Trump's advisers seem to be deliberately telling lies to the media.

According to the most plausible version, Sally Q. Yates, then the acting attorney general, informed the White House counsel’s office in late January about NSA intercepts of conversations between Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. Transcripts showed that contrary to public assertions by Flynn — bolstered by Vice President Mike Pence — the retired general and Trump campaign adviser had discussed with the ambassador the possibility of lifting sanctions imposed on Russia by President Obama. Accompanied by a Justice Department national security official, Yates told White House counsel Don McGahn that they feared Flynn might be vulnerable to Russian blackmail.
The same day, McGahn informed Trump and senior aides about Yates’ concerns. But the president did nothing to contain or curtail Flynn for more than two weeks — until he requested the national security adviser’s resignation on February 13 (IOW, Trump said,"You're fired!"). At the next day’s press briefing, Spicer said that the “erosion of trust,” rather than any actual wrongdoing, had forced Flynn’s removal.

What Flynn did exactly, and under whose auspices, are important questions that must be answered publicly (and IMO, under oath!). While he may not have incurred criminal liability by lying to the vice president, he could be in trouble if he lied to the FBI — which is investigating the Russian entanglements of Flynn and others. Eventually, he may have to testify before Congress under a grant of immunity (under oath?- I hope). In the meantime, Trump could easily declassify transcripts of Flynn’s “perfectly normal” conversations with Kislyak — both before and after Election Day.

Yet instead of acting to reassure the public, Trump is complaining about “leaks” from U.S. intelligence services

Trump's whining ill befits a man who urged the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails and then repeatedly celebrated the Wikileaks exposure of stolen Democratic email files. 

Besides, it is now obvious that Trump would have done nothing about Flynn, the “kompromat” national security adviser, had the leaks not exposed this dangerous situation.

Beyond Flynn’s dubious conduct, however, and the Trump White House attempt to cover it up, an even deeper problem is festering. The allegations in the controversial dossier compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele are increasingly plausible, even if still “unconfirmed” — supported by independent reporting and circumstantial evidence. Image result for picture of a dossier
Steele's dossier has never been discredited.

Steele’s investigation allegedly uncovered a web of clandestine and illicit connections between Trump, his associates and campaign staff, and Russian government and corporate entities close to President Vladimir Putin — and the dossier included copious details, including specific plans, conversations, and relationships.

Now, as politicians of both parties recognize the imperative to investigate the Russia connection, the Steele dossier will provide a roadmap.

CNN reported that U.S. intelligence officials have confirmedbased on American communications intercepts — that some conversations among Russian officials and others occurred exactly as described in the dossier. Those findings have “given US intelligence and law enforcement ‘greater confidence’ in the credibility of some aspects of the dossier.”

The Steele dossier also described an enormous proposed payoff by the Russians to Trump and his associates, who were to receive 19 percent of Rosneft, the state-owned Russian energy firm, in exchange for guaranteeing the end of US sanctions under a Trump presidency. Then at the end of last year, an unprecedented deal involving Rosneft shares actually occurred — when Russia privatized 19.5 percent of Rosneft under mysterious circumstances.

The supposed buyers were Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund and Glencore, a huge resources company (founded, ironically enough, Marc Rich, the late trader whose pardon by President Bill Clinton in 2001 provoked a furor). According to Reuters, the true buyers of the Rosneft shares remain unknown, hidden behind a series of shell companies in the Cayman Islands. Such a hidden selloff of public property is mind-boggling — and deeply suspicious.

Nothing has been proved yet except that Flynn is a liar, and that Trump’s crazed and chaotic White House failed to discipline him until there was no other choice. 

Now the Republicans who knew Trump was unfit to serve will have to rein in this perilous presidency. Had they only put country above party last year, they — and we — would not be facing this crisis.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Senator John McCain has a reputation for doing what's right

Historically, Senator John McCain built his reputation as a straight talker. In my opinion, he could've been President of the United States if he had picked a diferent running mate in the 2007 election. Unfortunately, Senator McCain caved to the right wing Republicans and selected Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, as his running mate. As we know, she more or less ruined his chances because of her inability to connect with skeptical voters in either political party.

Senator John McCain gave a speech  critical of Donald Trump, in Munich, Germany

Now, it appears the Republicn Party loyalists are worried about how Senator John McCain is telling the GOP how he really feels about Donald Trump. I seriously doubt that Senator McCain isn't saying new or secretive about Donald Trump. In fact, everything Senator McCain says about Donald Trump is accurate, exccept the Republlicans won't admit to it publically. Instead, they seem to prefer criticizing Senator McCan for being honest  rather than hold Donald Trump accoutnable for inept political leadership.

John McCain blasts Trump in Munich speech 
CBSNews Reports

WASHINGTON, DC -- Republican Sen. John McCain delivered a withering critique of President Donald Trump in a speech Friday that highlighted fractures within the GOP, as the new administration struggles to overcome a chaotic start.

Speaking in Germany at the Munich Security Conference, McCain didn’t mention the president’s name, according to the prepared text, while he lamented a shift in the United States and Europe away from the “universal values” that forged the Western alliance seven decades ago. 

McCain is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Trump has repeatedly questioned the value of NATO, calling the military pact obsolete, and sought instead to stoke a relationship with (the US enemy) Russian President Vladimir Putin. In fact, Mr. Trump’s defense secretary, Jim Mattis, has accused Putin of wanting to break NATO.  It seems like Donald Trump wants to help Putin achieve his goal, in spite of the US alliance with European nations in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

McCain, who openly quarreled with the president, said “more and more of our fellow citizens seem to be flirting with authoritarianism and romanticizing it as our moral equivalent.”

Moreover, McCain lamented the “hardening resentment we see toward immigrants, and refugees, and minority groups, especially Muslims.” During the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump promised to stop Muslims from entering the U.S. and shortly after taking office issued an executive order banning travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations. (In fact, two court decisions have put this draconian edict into limbo pending Trump's executive order revisions.)

McCain also said the alliance’s founders would be “alarmed by the growing inability, and even unwillingness, to separate truth from lies.” While bashing the news media for being dishonest, Mr. Trump has ignored facts and sought to blame others for his miscues. Trump tweeted Friday that the news media are “the enemy of the American people.”

He went on, saying of NATO’s founders that the most alarming part for them would be a “sense that many of our peoples, including in my own country, are giving up on the West, that they see it as a bad deal that we may be better off without, and that while Western nations still have the power to maintain our world order, it’s unclear whether we have the will.”

“I refuse to accept that our values are morally equivalent to those of our adversaries,” the Arizona Republican went on. “I am a proud, unapologetic believer in the West, and I believe we must always, always stand up for it. For if we do not, who will?”

Mr. Trump has suggested before that the U.S. is not morally superior to foreign powers like Russia. Asked in an interview with Fox News about his attempts to foster a positive relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin -- a “killer” -- the president responded with this: “There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers...Well, you think our country is so innocent?”

The senator said he’s aware there is “profound concern across Europe and the world that America is laying down the mantle of global leadership.” But he said that’s not the message they would hear from him or other American leaders “who cared enough to travel here to Munich this weekend.” Mattis had already addressed the conference. Vice President Mike Pence and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly were also scheduled to give speeches.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Thankfully, Senator John McCain is a Republican who will speak "truth to power". As a straight talker, Senator McCain must continue to follow his conscience by telling the world about the wrong minded world view policies of Donald Trump.

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Politics of eating in Trump Towers- a culinary perspective

It's rare to find an article linking the business of eating, and serving food with presidential politics, especially in such overtly descriptive and clever narrative.

Seems like Trump Towers is obviously not the place to be seen in New York City. Nevertheless, the nuanced take away from this culinary political report is evidence of tax payer support for an ostentatious business-residence in Trump Towers.

Diving Into Donald Trump's Culinary Abyss
Robert Sietsema & Nick Solares explore Trump's New York Dining

NewYorkCity- When the 68-story Trump Tower opened at 5th Avenue and 56th Street in 1983, the structure was already tainted by scandal. 
Image result for Bonwit Teller graphic
Bonwit Teller before the building was razed, completely destroyed and became the ostentatious Trump Tower

It replaced the Bonwit Teller department store, a limestone Beaux Arts structure distinguished by two semi-nude figures in bas relief dancing with scarves at the top of the façade. Trump had promised the pair to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but they were jackhammered as soon as demolition began, causing the Times to gripe, "Evidently, New York needs to make salvation of this kind of landmark mandatory and stop expecting that its developers will be good citizens and good sports."

The demolition was largely accomplished by a crew of over 150 undocumented workers, who came to be known as the "Polish Brigade." They put in 12-hour shifts without construction helmets, and many camped out at the site for the duration of the months-long operation. In addition, the new building was erected by S & A Concrete, a firm owned by "Fat" Tony Salerno and "Big Paulie" Castellano, head of the Genovese and Gambino crime families, respectively, as reported by CNN.

In shades running from pink to dark red, 2,500 tons of gleaming Italian marble went into the tower’s 5-story lobby and atrium, making the soaring space seem like the mausoleum for some Renaissance prince. The sheets of marble scamper up a rear wall to form the uneven backsplash for a 60-foot waterfall that constitutes the atrium’s focal point, creating a muted babble in the background. A bridge spanning the chasm communicates with the Trump Bar — sporting a coruscated crimson awning that might have been ripped from the Renaissance Faire. Nick Solares and I stopped there for a drink, as part of a program to eat our way around Trump Tower to see what it revealed about the presidential candidate.

Trump Bar was nearly empty at midafternoon. (The same proved true of an evening visit three days later.) Two monitors overhead were tuned to Fox News, as a bartender in a green vest and security guard with an earbud stood on either side of the bar kibitzing. Eventually the image of Donald Trump, hair flying, flickered on the screen, and one of them asked the other in hushed tones, "Are you going to vote for the chief?" The other snickered, "Who else is there, Hillary?"

Open from noon until 10 p.m., Trump Bar seats around 40 in three small rooms, including one deep in the interior that affords a discreet exit onto 56th Street. 

In a video commemorating Trump Tower’s 30th anniversary, The Donald rambles on about his self-branded tavern, perhaps unconsciously echoing Barbra Streisand’s song "People": "People come, they meet other people, they fall in love, numerous people have met people and gotten married just by meeting at the Trump Bar." But his ability to become enthusiastic about the alcohol at the bar is severely limited: Trump’s a teetotaler.

The menu features signature cocktails that are high priced even by Midtown standards. Yet who could resist the Billionaire Martini ($20)? Fabricated from Chopin potato vodka and Noilly Prat vermouth, the rim is spanned by a skewer of pimento-stuffed olives and baby plum tomatoes, which dribble grease untidily onto the surface of the cocktail. Much more distinguished is a Bordeaux blend that comes from Trump Winery (Formerly, Kluge Vineyard) in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump acquired the property through a heartless piece of real estate chicanery in 2011.

Offering only a small selection of beers and wines, the menu’s focus is on outlandishly named mixed drinks, which include the Snickerdoodle (Fra Angelico and crème de cocoa [sic]), The Boardroom (a cucumber-mint gimlet), and "You’re Fired" (a conventional bloody mary). The last two refer to the Trump reality TV show, The Apprentice, which was filmed upstairs. Trump Bar also boasts a menu of snacks, which do little to affirm the luxury that the place aspires to. There are no silky pates, oysters mignonette, or steak tartares. Instead, the bar snacks, which might have come from a 60s bridge party, include potato chips with sour cream dip, mozzarella sticks, and beef chili.

Instead of those, we went for broke and blew $13 on a "grilled jumbo chili cheese dog." It took 20 minutes to arrive (it had to be fetched from somewhere in the bowels of the complex), during which time we sat contemplating the awful martini. When it finally landed the frank proved to be of decidedly normal length, split in half and littered with chili, cheese, and chopped raw onions. Not great date food. "This is a very good frank," observed Solares, "but it doesn’t need all this crap on top, and it’s way too expensive."

Ice cream is "runny" reports the food writers- 
Robert Sietsema and Nick Solares

Trump Bar is the only one of the four dining and drinking establishments at Trump Tower located in prime, street-level real estate. The other three – Trump’s Ice Cream Parlor, Trump Café, and Trump Grill (sometimes spelled Trump Grille) – are all situated on the below-ground level of the atrium. Visible from above, it looks like an idle marble quarry during much of the day. The trip downstairs is by a dizzylingly fast escalator that furnishes an inadvertent thrill ride.

At the end of the atrium floor is the Trump Café’s steam table, a 40-foot-long affair that might have been borrowed from a public high school. It’s divided into five sections, each with its own menu: hamburgers and pizzas, soups, do-it-yourself salads, sandwiches, and entrees. One day I tried the bacon cheeseburger ($12.40) and found the patty rubbery and way overcooked, real prison food. A couple of slices of half-melted American lay wanly on top like spent runners, and some terrible fries tasting of burned vegetable oil accumulated on the side.

Later that day I sampled freely from the 10-item entrée menu, which changes daily, though it invariably favors Italian pastas and deep-fried stuff. The fried chicken ($13.50) had a thick breading and consisted of three dry pieces of breast. It wasn’t inedible, though the flavored steak fries that accompanied were

On the same pass I also ordered "beef tacos" ($13.50) which turned out to be a fried tortilla bowl heaped with romaine lettuce, grated yellow cheese, and plain ground beef that was so devoid of flavor, it rendered an insult to Mexicans every bit as profound as Trump’s previous pronouncements. Trump food is bland food.

Trump food is bland food.

I went another day to sample the breakfasts at the Trump Café, and found the floor darkened, except for spotlights on a few tables. (Indeed, much of the Trump Tower public amenities are dead during much of the day.) The promised menu was much diminished, and food — including French toast, oatmeal, and skimpy three-egg omelets — is all prepared for carryout, whether you choose to eat it there in the dark or not.

If you decide to dine at Trump Café (officially open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., but winding down much earlier), seating is provided next to the waterfall’s pool and in little pockets of tables here and there around the basement floor.

Tables also surround the Trump Ice Cream Parlor, a free-standing counter with an old-timey feel. Available in 12 flavors, including cappuccino crunch and cake butter, the ice cream is almost too soft to be scooped. ("It’s made in New Jersey," one soda jerk exclaimed, doubtlessly a Chris Christie supporter.) The Tahitian vanilla we tried was nearly flavorless, while the strawberry reeked of artificial flavoring. We had it incorporated into a freshly made crepe, which the guy criss-crossed with Reddi-Wip and Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup. Once again, these products didn’t quite square with the luxury pretenses of the tower.

The two of us eventually made our way to the flagship of the underground fleet, the Trump Grill. It consists of three rooms at successively higher levels clad in stained woods, separated from the rest of the basement by brass rails but fully visible to any malcontents lingering outside. Over the bar hangs a rather mournful oil of Donald Trump’s mustachioed father, Fred, and nearby hangs a 19th century genre painting showing a cloaked gentleman in a tri-corn hat looking around the corner cautiously as he conducts a lady clutching what we suppose to be his bastard baby, probably intended to communicate a moral precept. Like most of the cultural markers around the complex, it seems apropos of nothing.

I won’t bore you with all the details of our meal, which was lunch, since that’s the only one served in the Trump Grill. There were perhaps five other diners in a restaurant that seats around 80. The food here was of a higher quality than at the café or bar, but that’s not saying much. The Caesar salad ($12) was perfectly edible, though skimpy on the croutons and nearly devoid of anchovies; a half serving of large lobster raviolis ($14) was far exceeded in volume by its cream sauce, with a good quantity of lobster meat in round pouches far too thick-skinned.

Elsewhere, Nick Solares will appraise the meat main we consumed, one a burger, the other a sirloin steak. As a general principle, the menu was totally unadventuresome and predictable, though competently prepared, like food you might find in a country club: chicken paillard in lemon-caper sauce, pan seared Atlantic salmon with steamed broccoli and cauliflower, shrimp scampi, and lobster roll with shoestring fries. Avoid the fries at all costs. The entrees were priced mainly in the mid-20s. This is food chronically afraid to take chances, food for timid people with digestive problems.

A gold-colored plaque prominently displayed awards Trump Grill the Star Diamond Award of the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences. (Who knew hospitality was a science?) It’s signed by three prominent chefs: Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Alain Ducasse, and David Bouley, and dated 2015. As you exit the Trump Grill, it’s hard to avoid fantasizing about forcing all three chefs to eat there together, under the portrait of Trump’s dad, and wonder what they would say about the food. Would they repeat their endorsement again next year?

The lobby and atrium of the Trump Tower is considered a pubic amenity, so mandated by zoning concessions that permitted the tower to be built 10 stories taller than would have been allowed under the law. Disingenuously, much of the space in this public facility is devoted not only to Trump-branded restaurants, but to stores and kiosks flaunting Trump merchandise: a bomber jacket with TRUMP in giant letters across the back, a white Trump teddy bear, tie tacks, leather golf accessories, cardigan sweaters, baby onesies, Trump-authored books, female perfumes and male colognes, and baseball caps that read, "Make America Great Again," the slogan for Trump’s presidential campaign.

After a visit to Trump Tower, it’s hard to see the presidential candidate as anything but a small damaged ego plagued with the infantile obsession of putting his name on everything. (MaineWriter- agree with everything but the descriptive "small" unless it's describing his hand measurements.)

A man whose shallow pronouncements are more likely to elicit guffaws than thoughtful reflection. Of the Trump Tower he says, deadpan, "It’s just about the number one tourist attraction in New York." Visit the facility and look around you at 7 p.m. some evening, and see if you agree. (Ahhhh, MaineWriter will pass!)

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Dear Speaker Paul Ryan

Please stop advocating for cuts to Social Security, Medicare, affordable health care, Medicaid and other urgently needed social service safety net programs. 

I know you remember how your own family needed these urgent assists when you qualified for the benefits!

On President's Day, I'm reminded how close your important position as Speaker of the US House of Representatives is in succession to President of the United States. 

In this ominous responsibility, I know you take your elected leadership role very seriously. Nevertheless, in leading all of America as House Speaker, I implore you to please remember your obligation to provide compassion for people who, just like you, grew up in a family who relied on Social Security benefits after the untimely death of your father, when you were a teenager. Your mother, Betty Ryan, relied on widow's benefits to help support you and your family.
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Betty Ryan with her son Speaker Paul Ryan

It makes no sense to advocate for the euphemism of "tax reform" when the real intention is to pay for this policy by cutting safety net programs relied on by beneficiaries, just like your own mother.

WASHINGTON (AP) — At age 15, Paul Ryan was already feeling isolated from his father, who had grown distant from his family and leaned heavily on whiskey. Then, one morning the future congressman found his alcoholic father in bed, dead from an apparent heart attack at age 55.

It's a formative story the Republicans' 2012 vice presidential nominee hadn't publicly told before being nominated to run on the Republican ticket with Governor Romney. In an interview with The Associated Press, Ryan said the event shaped him as a politician and as a family man. "Having not had a dad for a long time, it brings you much closer to your kids and your family," Ryan said from New York, when he was interviews before a book tour to promote, "The Way Forward: Renewing the America Idea." (Interesting, Ryan conceptualizes the American Idea rather than the "American Dream". Hmmmm?) In fact, America is not an "idea" but a vision created by intellectually motivated Founding Fathers who were inspired to improve our human condition.  Speaker Ryan, you concept of cutting taxes for the purpose of improving the economic condition of only one percent of Americans, who already pay less than their fair share, simply put, is not a good idea.  It will put millions of people into poverty.  

Rather, your "idea" is harmful and regressive public policy. Whatever gave you this cruel tax cutting obsession? Was it Ann Rand? She died in 1982 and wrote during the Cold War era. Moreover, it's doubtful her political philosophy would support regressing the human condition, harming the poor and middle classes. In fact, her interpretation for the  economic philosophy of capitalism, which she supported, includes an obligation for revenue sharing.

Surely, your life experience taught you better than to rob from the poor and middle classes to pad incomes for the rich.

Please, on President's Day especially, I implore you on behalf of all of us and your family history, to stop the obsession with tax cuts at the expense of social service benefits.  Your proximity to the succession of President of the United States provides you with a rare opportunity to improve the human condition for all Americans regardless of our social or economic status. In taking your political leadership role as seriously as I know you do, please put compassion, rather than austerity, as your human priority.  

Juliana L'Heureux

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Donald Trump insults Americans and allied nations but Russia gets a pass

Fake news isn't a new concept - Hitler called it 'lügenpresse'- writes Andrew Sullivan in

The anti-American behavior of Donald Trump is alarming, all the while his cult supporters, who are victims of mass hypnosis, just can't hear the urgency.  Mayday! General quarters!  

Image result for graphic for General Quarters

General Quarters! Mayday! Republicans will have to take responsibility for ruining our national security and cruelly dismantling domestic, humanitarian, social safety net programs. Somewhere in this mess is a convoluted Trump to Putin secret code, ie, "Russia if you're listening!"

Donald Trump insulted China by calling the President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan before he was inaugurated; but, he said, she is the person who called him.  (Daaaaaling, it's not you, it's me....excuse).

Donald Trump insults Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto by insisting on building a wall in Texas for the purpose of keeping out Mexican immigrants. Fortunately, President Nieto said, "México no pagará por el muro". In other words, "hell no!". Nieto cancels visit to Washington DC, by mutual consent, says Donald Trump. (Daaaaling, let's agree to disagree!)

Donald Trump hangs up during a telephone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, because he disagrees with an agreement about the US accepting refugees.  (Daaaaling, this is clearly an irreconcilable difference!)

Now, on February 18, 2017, Donald Trump invented a false story about a terrorism attack in Sweden, knowing there was no such incident! Clearly, an insult to the Swedish people, but I'm pretty sure Vladimir Putin was chuckling. (There's not much trust between Sweden and Russia because, frankly, the Swedes know better.)

On the other hand, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB operative and an expert at co-opting spies, is really an okay buy with Donald Trump. There's absolutely no problem with Russia's illegal invasion of the Ukraine, seizing the Crimea or saber rattling about borders with Scandinavia.  Oh, by the way, it's an annoyance to know there's a Russian spy submarine cruising along international waters along the coast of Connecticut because Donald Trump could easily just take care of the situation if he really wanted to do so, or so he says.

Unbelievable! Why is Donald Trump's relationship with Putin so chummy, when this bizarre camaraderie is clearly smoking with the stench of treason?

Of course, the question is about the motive, writes Andrew Sullivan in

Why on Earth would any campaign for president be in constant, secret touch with the intelligence agents of a hostile foreign power?

I cannot know. Maybe Flynn is a rogue loner. It’s also possible, I guess, that the Trump campaign just wanted to keep in touch with the intelligence services of one of this country’s nemeses, if only to wish them Merry Christmas — five times in one day. It’s also conceivable that Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort’s deep ties to the Putin regime were utterly irrelevant to the sudden amendment, this past summer, to the GOP party platform that removed a call to send arms to Ukraine. It’s also possible, I suppose, that deep down I’m straight.

But there’s one explanation that chills me even more than a foreign power’s potential blackmail over an American president. And it is that Trump and Putin are natural allies in their fight against the postwar, U.S.-led international order that has kept the peace for 70 years. Putin and Trump, after all, share a Bannonite foreign policy: a robust defense of nationalism; a view that NATO is obsolete; support for far-right parties throughout Europe; and the goal of smashing the European Union so that Russia can once again extend its tentacles into Eastern Europe, and the U.S. can play one European power off another. 

Maybe Putin has kompromat (short for literally "compromising material") on Trump’s actions, but no such motivation is even needed, writes Sullivan. Trump and Putin want to form a pincer movement to destroy what we have known for a long time as the West.
Trump and Putin want to form a pincer movement to destroy what we have known for a long time as the West.

Their domestic politics also have disturbing parallels. Trump would love nothing more, it seems to me, than to be an American Putin, treating the country as he long treated his own corporate fiefdom. He once explained he admired the autocrat because Putin has “great control over his country.” Like Putin, Trump would love to control the media. Like Putin, he has developed a leadership cult, devoted to the masses. Like Putin, he believes in a government that has “killers.” Like Putin, he threatens his geographic neighbors. Like Putin, he has cultivated an alliance of convenience with reactionary religious conservatives, to shore up his power. Like Putin, he believes there’s no moral difference between American democracy and Russia’s.  Like Putin, Trump is enriching himself by public office. And, like Putin, he has targeted a minority as a scapegoat — Putin targeted the gays to gin up support while Trump targets the Muslims and Mexicans. And as Putin has RT as his conduit, so Trump has the Murdoch empire.

I feel like I know Stephen Miller, the youthful Montgomery Burns who lectured the lügenpresse last Sunday morning in his charm-free Stakhanovite baritone. I feel like I know him because I used to be a little like him. He’s a classic type: a rather dour right-of-center kid whose conservatism was radicalized by lefties in the educational system. 

No, I’m not blaming liberals for Miller’s grim fanaticism. I am noting merely that right-of-center students are often mocked, isolated, and anathematized on campus, and their response is often, sadly, a doubling down on whatever it is that progressives hate. Before too long, they start adopting brattish and obnoxious positions — just to tick off their SJW peers and teachers. After a while, you’re not so much arguing for conservatism as against leftism, and eventually the issues fade and only the hate remains.
Stephen Miller - lügenpresse
Think of it, in some way, as reactionary camp. 

Think Ingraham and Coulter and Yiannopoulos (Breitbart News aka "barfcart-news". They're reactionaries in the classic sense: Their performance-art politics are almost entirely a reaction to the suffocating leftism that they had to endure as they rose through the American education system. 

As a young, lonely conservative in college, I now wince at recalling, I threw a Champagne party to welcome Reagan’s cruise missiles to Britain. Of course I knew better — and could have made a decent argument for deterrence instead of behaving like a brattish dick. But I didn’t. I wanted to annoy and disrupt the smugness around me. If you never mature, this pose can soon become your actual personality — especially when you realize that it can also be extremely lucrative in the conservative-media industrial complex. 

I think of Ann Coulter, whom I met recently, backstage at Bill Maher’s show. What struck me was her sincerity, searing intelligence, and grasp of the facts. In another universe, she could have become a reasoned defender of a sane conservatism. Instead she ended up writing In Trump We Trust. In exactly the same way, Miller really is a product of Santa Monica and Duke — their living, breathing, raving antibody.

Steve Bannon, on the other hand, is quite something. I’ve read and reread his 2014 speech at the Vatican to see if I can find any coherence in it, and I confess I failed. It’s a hodgepodge of melodrama, hysteria, and a defense of some kind of “enlightened capitalism” along Judeo-Christian lines, in the face of an imminent Islamist takeover of the planet. It’s the 1950s versus jihad, an attempt to convey the gist of the entire Drudge Report every day and turn it into a thesis. He argues that we are just “at the very beginning stages of a global conflict” that could eradicate 2,000 years of Western civilization. It reads like the apocalyptic, paranoid fantasies of someone who writes letters to the editor, single-spaced, in all caps.

Now, go check out this Vice journalist’s impression of Bannon in 2014. It does not reassure: “He’s buzzing with intensity, with two pens clipped to his shirt collar. Over the next 90 minutes, he barely touched his food and never took off his coat.” He just prattles endlessly and manically on. Among the gems that emerge from the conversation: Ebola requires a massive immigration crackdown or we’re all going to die; ISIS is plotting to assassinate the Pope; and then this calm overview: “The world is in a meltdown right now. I mean, the world is on fire. And all of a sudden it’s going to dawn on people, this is not a problem for guys in the Middle East. This is a problem for you in Kansas City.” You begin to realize that he called himself a “Leninist” for a reason.

It took me a while to get into HBO’s The Young Pope. I kept waiting for it to have a relationship with some believable version of reality — and then a kangaroo kept bouncing around the Vatican. At first I couldn’t understand what was metaphor and what was plot, what was dream and what was supposed to be real, what was a miracle and what wasn’t. In the first few episodes, the Trump analogy — of an unhinged novice accidentally finding himself in a position of supreme power — did the unforgivable thing of failing to distract me from the anxiety besieging Washington.

But if you let the series just lull you into acceptance, its themes are powerful. The filmmakers understand how attractive the most rigid orthodoxy can be for the young. Abandoned by hippie parents as a boy, Jude Law’s youthful Pius XIII insists that the Church needs to turn inward and embrace mystery and fear and obedience again. He’s Benedict XVI with charisma. His vestments twinkle and shimmer; the slippers remain ruby-red; and the full papal regalia is only slightly mitigated by the Holy Father’s inspired chain-smoking. He starts out as a vindictive, sadistic, and arrogant narcissist acting out his deeply buried childhood traumas (can we ever get away from Trump?). But he is also, the series slowly reveals, some kind of a saint. His prayer is like a controlled seizure of concentration. He performs quite astounding miracles. 

And in time, people of the modern secular world, at first repelled, find themselves drawn to him, smiles on their faces, relieved at last to be in the presence of divine authority, any authority that can make sense of their world.

I’ve often wondered if saints are actually like that: not holy in a conventional sense, and certainly not “nice” — but often unpleasant, antisocial misfits who are only subsequently seen for what they truly were.

Do you remember the days when president Obama predicted that at some point in his presidency, the “Republican fever would break”? It never did of course. If anything, it kept getting worse — from birtherism to jeopardizing the U.S.’s credit rating to Benghazi and then those fricking emails. But it occurs to me that the fever could only really break if the Republicans were no longer in opposition and were actually confronted with the difficult project of running the country. Yes, I know we’ve been hoping for this for years, chasing phantasms as the crazy gets crazier, but could the fever be finally breaking right now? The Republican base’s talk-radio politics, their Breitbart alternative facts, their railing constantly about Obama’s various alleged iniquities — none of that is enough to actually govern. But that is all they have known for so long. At some point, the Republicans are going to have to raise the debt limit; they are going to have to pay for the wall; they’ll have to replace the ACA with, well, er, something quite fabulous. They have no excuses anymore, after all.

And yet, lo and behold, Republicans seem paralyzed. (MaineWriter opinion here- Republicans are victims of mass hypnotic hysteria caused by Trump cult negative charisma.)

Legislatively, they are at a standstill, and the ACA endures and becomes more popular. There is no magic cure for bringing back blue-collar jobs. They will surely divide over tariffs. Even tax reform could be a liability if it isn’t directed at those low-earning core Republican voters, rather than Trump’s fellow plutocrats (and good luck with that). All the rabid rhetoric against Obama’s essentially moderate policies, in other words, is beginning to dissipate into thin air. Yes, they can deregulate. Yes, they could borrow even more to goose the economy. But it’s going to be fumes before too long. Maybe this is how the fever eventually ends — when, instead of constantly ducking responsibility, they actually have to take some.

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Alternative fact creator Kellyanne Conway victim of her own ambition

"...watched her the way a person might stand at the kitchen window and watch a raccoon abscond with the first tomato of summer.." Gloria Ryan.

Image result for picture raccoon stealing food graphic
Kellyanne Conway- like watching a *raccoon, stealing food. 
You can't seem to stop her from telling "alternative facts". 

Rather than recognized as the overrated transition leader of the Donald Trump campaign, Kellyanne Conway is, instead, remembered as the inventor of "alternative facts". Her ambition was so all consuming that she forgot to check her ego at the White House door. Now, the news media have given her the boot as a result of being an "UN-reliable source".

The Downfall of Kellyanne Conway By Erin Gloria Ryan in The New York Times.

As Kellyanne Conway sleepwalks her way through a series of increasingly embarrassing interviews, it’s been hard not to feel sorry for her. (Not MaineWriter because Conway's craving for adulation is only exceeded by Donald Trump's narcissism!)

It was difficult not to feel bad for her when “Saturday Night Live” depicted her as a craven hack driven to “Fatal Attraction”-style debasement by a desire to appear on the news. When the cast of “Morning Joe” pointed out that Ms. Conway’s recent appearances on news shows proved her a useless source of information, when they sneered at Ms. Conway’s apparent White House ostracization, it was difficult to not feel stirrings of sympathy.

But I can’t feel sorry for Kellyanne Conway. Not anymore.

Not long ago, Ms. Conway felt like a vital part of a system that needed smart people on both sides to make it work. As a pollster who studied the electoral behavior of women, she served as a bridge between the right wing and a demographic that often seemed to perplex them.

The first time I saw Ms. Conway speak was at a New Yorker Festival panel in 2012. I was new to New York City. I was new to writing about politics. I was new to writing, period. On a panel about women voters, Ms. Conway spoke with a pragmatism that stood in opposition to contemporary TV personalities like Elisabeth Hasselbeck, whose brand of delicate pouting defined the conservative zeitgeist. 

Ms. Conway didn’t appeal to her audience’s sympathy. She had facts.

I liked watching her speak then. I watched her the way a person might stand at the kitchen window and watch a raccoon abscond with the first tomato of summer. I didn’t agree with what she was doing, but I admired her chutzpah.
Once she took the reins of Donald Trump’s campaign, though, she went from smooth to slippery. She’d hammer Hillary Clinton for talking too much about gender and duck behind her femininity in the face of legitimate criticism ("people are very nasty" is the whine I hear from her squeaky voice!). If she succeeded, it was because she was Kellyanne. If she failed, it was because she was a woman.

In the months leading up to the election, Ms. Conway generously lent her womanhood as a smokescreen to the Trump campaign. She tried to insert a watered-down version of feminism into the candidate’s platform, despite the fact that no mainstream feminist-leaning organizations supported him. When her boss was caught on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women, Kellyanne Conway “as a woman”-ed her way out of it. Confronted about Mr. Trump’s chauvinism, she snapped back that women who were in poverty were not served during the Obama years, as though that somehow undid her boss’s history. I gasped so frequently when she spoke that after each interview was over, I’d feel faint, like I’d spent the last several hours blowing up balloons.

When Ms. Conway breached federal ethics laws by hawking Ivanka Trump’s “stuff” in the press briefing room, she got off with no immediate penalty besides being “counseled on the subject.” She told Fox News that the president supported her, that she was lucky to have a nice boss like Donald Trump and that every woman in America should hope to have a boss like him. She made it sound as though declining to punish a woman for ethics violations was somehow feminist, and as though all that matters to women is how their bosses treat them personally, not how their bosses impact the lives of other women.

If I weren’t too exhausted to feel insulted, I’d have felt insulted.

As Kellyanne’s once-forceful cable news denials have disintegrated into whimpers, I can’t say I feel anything for her at all. I don’t mind when people point out how tired she looks. I simply cannot dredge up any sympathy for a person who has acknowledged the structural problems most women face only when she is personally facing them, or used them as derailing tactics when she’s losing an argument. I can’t mourn the downfall of a fair-weather feminist, a woman who has used her power to hurt other women.

Ms. Conway made her bed. And now it’s time for her to get some sleep.

*Postscript- My apologies to raccoons!

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fake president creates "fact check news"

‘This feels like a fake presidency’: Mika Brzezinski - co-host with Joe Scarborough on "Morning Joe", says Trump "Crossed the line’
"Trump’s need for validation and legitimacy have forced him over the edge." - Jason Easley in PoliticusUSA

Unfortunately, Donald Trump created a culture of chaos in less than one month on the job. His legacy is already cast as an illegitimately elected president who consumes American tax money while creating conspiracies about fake-news.  
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough blasts Donald Trump for his attack on the media.  #fake_president creates #fake_news and fact checking the White House in real time.
Rather than "fake-news", in less than one month, Donald Trump has created a different kind of "fact check" journalism. There' s never been a news conference in the White House where journalists challenge the credibility of the President of the United States! Now, after the February 16 debacle unweildly perfornace, Donald Trump created a culture of "fact checking" rather than information sharing.

Joe Scarborough Annihilates Donald Trump By Calling Him A Fake President Who Has Lost His Sh*t
By Jason Easley on Fri, Feb 17th, 2017 at 6:26 pm

After Trump declared the press the enemy of the people, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough unloaded on Trump by claiming that the president has "lost his sh*t," and he suggested that Donald Trump is a fake president.
 In fact, Donald Trump created a culture of fact checking news.  As a result, journalists are more focused on factual analysis than ever before. Thank goodness for the smartphones!

After Trump declared the press the enemy of the people, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough unloaded on Trump by claiming that the president has “lost his sh*t,” and he suggested that Donald Trump is a fake president.

Scarborough responded to Trump’s statement that the press is the enemy of the people by tweeting: 

"It's not even Saturday morning and someone is already losing his shit."- Joe Scarborough

Although not one to always agree with Joe Scarborough, but he is one hundred percent on the money. No person who took the presidency seriously would ever declare the media to be the enemy of the people. What Trump’s attacks on the media are really about is that when Donald Trump doesn’t like the message, he shoots the messenger.

What America is witnessing is a president is the midst of a public tantrum. (Also, Donald Trump is exhibing dangerous unstable mentally ill behaviors!)

Scarborough was also correct that it has been disgraceful that so many Republicans who claim to love the Constitution have kept their mouths shut and sat on their hands while Trump has trampled a document that they claim to cherish and defend. The left has been shining a light on Trump’s treatment of the Constitution from day one. It’s time for conservatives to step up and join the fight.

Trump’s need for validation and legitimacy have forced him over the edge. As Joe Scarborough said, Trump is “losing his sh*t” over the fact that he is failing as the president.

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Connect the espionage dots - Trump to Russia "If you are listening"

Even White House adviser Reince Priebus won't deny the Trump to Russia communications link.
Priebus held the party line on news coverage of President Donald Trump on Friday, dismissing reports about scrutiny into the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia as exaggerated without saying, definitively, that none of the president’s associates contacted the country before the election.

Priebus refuses to say that there was no contact between Trump campaign and Russian intelligence- reports DailyKos
by Mark Sumner
Image result for Reince Priebus photograph
A Don Knotts impersonation: So, I'm just sayin' Russia did communicate, just that it wasn't like what fake news is reporting, but, of course, there was some communications only not exactly what is said about how it was reported...or something like that.
Does Priebus look like Don Knotts, God Rest His Soul, or whaaaa?
Russian eavesdropping is so much a part of the country's national life, it's like knowing there will be heavy traffic while driving in New York City.  To believe otherwise is fanciful thinking. There's plenty of eavesdropping trafficking going on with the Russians.

Which is precisely why 17 international intelligence agencies are not saying anything to deny the espionage disclosed by a former British operative with M16, the equivalent of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). A dossier with salacious intelligence exits. Only Donald Trump is denying the authenticity. In the dossier, it describes what Donald Trump did with his free time while he was in Russia during the 2012 Miss Universe Contest, which he hosted in Moscow.  Since that time, Donald Trump's son, "Junior" has given interviews where he's admitted to Trump investments in Russia. Nevertheless, at a raucous press conference led by Donald Trump on Feb 16, 2017, we heard the lies denying any investments or deals with Russia. 

Yet, evidence overwhelmingly supports the contrary. There's the M16 espionage report, there's the admitted communications between Lt. General Flynn with the Russian Ambassador which Trump denies directing and there's his son "Junior" having given interviews admitting to doing lucrative deals with Russia.  At the root of this chaotic information is one four letter word:  L I E S.  Donald Trump does not know how to tell the truth. As a result, America is in peril while enduring his unwieldy leadership.

Here's what Sumner reports in DailyKos:
“....fake news” has been defined as any news not favorable to Trump, so it’s easier to translate between Trumpese and English. Take for example this interview with oft-forgotten (especially inside the White House) Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. (Oh, yeah, him?  Yikes, forgot about him.)

Priebus refuses to say “nyet” to any conversation between Trump’s team and Russia. He’s just saying that they weren’t as chatty as the press is implying.  (Obviously, having dinner with Vladimir Putin, meant Lt. General Flynn only discussed the quality of the vodka shots served with every course.)

Image result for Lt General Flynn with Putin at dinner picture
How was the vodka, President Putin? 
A scale is developing of Russia’s level of involvement with the Trump campaign. There was the senior Russian diplomat who said.

"Obviously, we know most of the people from his entourage,” Rybakov said. “… I cannot say that all of them but quite a few have been staying in touch with Russian representatives.” 
So that’s “quite a few” members of Trump’s team “staying in touch.”

Then there were the intelligence reports that showed. 
Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials. (HELLO? "Russia, if you are listening", is the code Donald Trump used to signal for this clandestine - or apparently not so much- communications to continue happening.)

That’s a “members … and other Trump associates” and “repeated contacts.”

Priebus says that these reports are “exaggerated.” So what would it mean if Priebus is telling the truth? Was it “some” members of Donald Trump’s campaign team “regularly” checking in with Russian intelligence? Maybe it was only “a few” members who were “occasionally” calling up Moscow. How about a “handful” who were “rarely” on the line to Putin.

Somehow, no matter what qualifiers are added, this all seems like bad news for Donald Trump … (or maybe, in his weird dictionary, meaning fake news). Meaning it's real news, because Trump calls it "fake". Surely, "fake news" has now become a euphemism for "real news" that Donald Trump just doesn't happen to like or with which he disagrees. In other words, Russian eavesdropping is fact and the Donald Trump campaign was, indeed, engaged in clandestine communications. It's irresponsible for Republicans to live in denial about the serious implications of this gruesome invasion of our national security.

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Donald Trump circles the drain with more lies

Trump’s Electoral College Win Was Not the Biggest Since Reagan- by PETER ALEXANDER and CARRIE DANN

Peter Alexander
NBC journalist Peter Alexander
Although Donald Trump exhibited bizarre behavior at his 77 minute marathon Feb 16, news conference, the one undeniable moment he'll never erase as "fake news" came from journalist Peter Alexander.  What was most telling about this presser exchange was how Donald Trump immediately blamed somebody else for his unfactual "false" information. I suspect if there's one moment Donald Trump could erase from the video, it would be his exchange with Peter Alexander. Too late!

Trump’s Electoral College Victory
Ranks 46th in 58 Elections

Donald J. Trump claimed he won the electoral vote in a “landslide,” but he ranks below most presidents in the electoral vote and popular vote margins.

NBC’s Peter Alexander gives Trump in-person fact check

President Donald Trump, after lambasting the media as “dishonest people,” received an in-person fact check from NBC’s Peter Alexander at a White House news conference Thursday on a false statement the president had made moments earlier, leaving Trump blaming staff for giving him the wrong information.

Trump had claimed in his opening remarks that he had won the biggest Electoral College victory since Ronald Reagan, which is demonstrably false. 

Alexander asked in the Press Conference: “You said today that you had the biggest electoral margin since Ronald Reagan,” Alexander said, sitting feet from the president. He then began to list recent electoral victories bigger than Trump’s, which include both of Barack Obama’s victories, both of Bill Clinton’s victories and George H.W. Bush’s 1988 victory, all since Reagan. “Well, I was talking about Republicans,” Trump said. George H.W. Bush, who was also a Republican, received 426 electoral votes, well above Trump’s 304. “Why should Americans trust you?” Alexander asked. Trump said he had just been given the information, seeming to imply he had been given incorrect information.

“It was a substantial victory, you do agree with that?” Trump asked.
“You’re the president,” Alexander responded.

Well, in my opinion, Alexander missed his golden opportunity to disagree with Trump; but likely chose to end his bold query on a professional note.  Kudos to Peter Alexander. 

Americans can't take more of these bizarre Trumponian disasters especially when the the lies are now owned by Donald Trump himself. He can't blame his misinformation on others when he's the creator of his own fake news!  In fact, the next time Peter Alexander asks a White House press conference question, he should demand for Donald Trump to produce a mental health assessment by a qualified psychiatrist, instead of a piece of paper signed by Gastroenterology physician Dr. Harold N. Bornstein of Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.
Image result for circle the drain graphic
Get out the plungers!

Donald Trump went swirling down the political drain at the bizarre February 16, 2017 White House News Conference.  He won't bounce back from this debacle because his cult followers can't save him from swirling disasters of his own making.

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