An American president does not act like Trump

Donald Trump is the poster child for all manner of despicable human traits and no small number of serious personality disorders, and that does not include his inherent tendency towards criminality and corruption. In fact, it is so universally agreed that Trump epitomizes “bad” that only the most fervent Republican, racist and religious sycophant would argue that there is anything decent about the man.

For well over a year, some ridiculously naïve people continued to express confidence that as time passed, Trump would settle in and possibly stop heaping disgrace on the office he should not be occupying; by now only a fool would argue that Trump is not getting worse by the day. Republicans, for the most part, have behaved as if Trump is normal and are seemingly terrified of condemning Trump for demeaning the nation’s highest office he single-handedly transformed into a cause for national embarrassment.

A couple of days ago Senator John McCain issued a damning statement questioning what kind of “American president” Trump is after he ignored all counsel and congratulated Vladimir Putin’s “sham election” victory. One can read a world of intent into Mr. McCain’s brief, but stinging, comments targeting Trump, but the overall gist is that Trump is no kind of American president, or in McCain’s words; “an American president” would not act like Trump. One imagines that in McCain’s mind, Trump is no kind of American – period.

At least Trump garnered some criticism from a Republican unlike his blatant and extremely public display of Schadenfreude late last week; a display that should disabuse any American of their belief that Trump has any socially redeeming qualities whatsoever. It is the height of absurdity, and a monumental disgrace to America, that he is the head of the Executive Branch of government he is regularly defiling. Trump has inflicted a world of damage on the White House as an institution, and ignoring the criminal component of his administration, it is his words and gross behavior that have defined his “presidency” as patently obscene.

It is probably true that no president has ever publicly celebrated the termination of a long-serving federal officer; Trump accomplished another first by rejoicing over the firing of Andrew McCabe a few days before his retirement. What is not surprising is that Republicans were mute at a crass public display by their standard bearer that any decent person considers morally evil; taking pleasure in another’s misfortune is a malicious act by anyone, much less “America’s leader.” Trump’s action was so despicable, that it is curious his religious right adherents were not railing on the Oval Office sinner for violating a biblical edict as well as common decency.

Taking pleasure in another’s misfortune is universally considered less acceptable than envy, and it is noteworthy that envy is a mortal sin. Philosophers contend that it is “morally more perverse to be pleased with another’s misfortune than to be displeased with another’s good fortune,” and most decent people would agree.  The 19th Century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer argued that feeling envy is a human trait, but to enjoy other people’s misfortune is diabolical. The Christian bible mentions over 20 times that reveling in the misfortune of others is a major sin that “certainly will not go unpunished.”

Trump’s major sin, a celebrating Andrew McCabe’s termination two days before he was eligible to receive his full pension, was a “dick move” if there ever was one. And, like the subsequent ‘tweets’ continuing to defame Mr. McCabe along with former FBI Director James Comey, Trump’s Schadenfreude certainly garnered criticism from Democrats. Mr. McCabe’s lawyer took the high road and said “We will not be responding to each childish, defamatory, disgusting, and false tweet by the president.”  

The former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, a man regardedas the epitome of “sober” by WaPo’s Gene Robinson, did respond with a “jaw-dropping message” that only lacked some well-placed profanity to be “perfect.” And, because he is aware of Trump’s struggle to read anything containing more than 140 characters at a time, Mr. Brennan took to Twitter to ensure Trump would be capable of reading the message:

“When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America . . . America will triumph over you.”

Mr. Brennan made good use of the Twitter character limit by omitting mention of Trump the sexual predator, but he made his point all the same; particularly informing the long campaign to fire Mr. McCabe was “scapegoating.”  In some circles Trump’s crusade to fire Mr. McCabe is another case of obstruction of justice. Trump openly questioned why Andrew McCabe was still at his FBI post in December and he has “spent months publicly slandering McCabe and pressuring Sessions to fire him.”

It is true that Trump has wanted Mr. McCabe gone for a long while because of his involvement in the DOJ’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign. Trump is still under the impression that government employees exist solely to protect him and his criminal enterprises like loyal lieutenants in a crime syndicate. It is noteworthy that Mr. McCabe said Trump asked him who he voted for in the 2016 election on more than one occasion.

If Trump doesn’t infuriate, terrify, and humiliate any American, then they are either a religious right sycophant, white supremacist bigot, or a corrupt Republican; it is highly likely that even some members of Trump’s immediate family are, at the very least, humiliated at the man’s blatant stupidity and lack of any sense of morality.

It is probably true, as John Brennan said, that Trump will not succeed in destroying America, although no small number of pundits and observers rightly assert that he and his Republican cohorts have severely damaged America’s democracy.

Where Trump has, in fact, inflicted damage beyond repair is the office he has no right occupying. Trump has successfully destroyed whatever level of respect owed to the office of the presidency because of his venality, moral turpitude, gross stupidity, perpetual mendacity and overt loyalty to foreign leaders. He has demeaned the federal judiciary, blatantly attacked America’s Intelligence community, and has openly violated the document he “so help me god” swore to support and protect; and throughout it all his Republican support remains solid.

If the man sitting in the Oval Office is allowed to publicly campaign for a public servant’s termination because he is doing his job, and then publicly gloat and celebrate the public servant’s firing after 21 years of devoted and loyal service to America, that office is as dirty and corrupt as its occupant; because as Senator McCain alluded, an American president does not act like the vulgar un-American Trump.

John McCain Says It’s Time To Defeat Everything Trump

There are a few Republicans alive who have a sense of the terror represented by Trump and his dirty minions, but they seldom let loose with how they really feel about the danger he represents to America at home and around the world. There was a fair amount of attention given to Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Bob Corker (R-TN) a couple of weeks ago when they expressed the sentiments of a growing number of Americans sick to death of Trump. There was also plenty of condemnation for waiting until they didn’t have to worry about Trump’s base throwing them out of office in next year’s midterm elections to talk like they were good Americans, but that doesn’t apply to Senator John McCain.

Obviously Mr. McCain is no fan of Donald Trump and he made that perfectly clear in a speech on Monday night at the Brigade of Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis Maryland. In fact, Mr. McCain is rightfully concerned, and blatantly unhappy, about the state of the Union with a “crackpot nativist” being allowed to live in the White House. In what was termed as “apparent veiled swipes” at Trump, McCain certainly didn’t hold back from saying exactly what is plaguing the current “political environment” in America.

Anyone in their right mind would argue that the Arizona Senator was doing more than making “veiled swipes” at Trump, but if that works for some journalists, that’s their interpretation. However, it is impossible to even pretend that McCain wasn’t deliberately targeting Trump in his speech, and just because he didn’t utter the fascist’s name, there is no misinterpreting that he believes Trump is a clear and present danger to America at home and around the world. So much of a threat according to McCain, that he warned the midshipmen that “it’s time to wake up.

Senator McCain said:

We have to fight against the propaganda and crackpot conspiracy theories. We have to fight isolationism, protectionism and nativism. We have to defeat those who would worsen our divisions. We have to remind our sons and daughters that we became the most powerful nation on Earth by tearing down walls,  not building them.

The focus of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee Chairman’s speech was “serving the country” and  “leadership,” so it made perfect sense he attacked what most Americans, including military leadership, consider a gross lack of leadership represented by Donald Trump. He continued on a theme he used in a speech earlier this month in Philadelphia where he criticized “the administration” and its “half-baked spurious nationalism;” especially the so-called “America First” mantra Trump uses to rile his devotees. Of particular note, Mr. McCain used the occasion to “detail the lessons America learned from the rise of fascism and World War II” and Trump’s repudiation of America’s place in the world as a leader. Mr. McCain said:

“We are asleep to the necessity of our leadership, and to the opportunities and real dangers of this world. We are asleep in our echo chambers, where views are always affirmed and information that contradicts them is always fake. Our failure to remain engaged in Europe and enforce the hard-won peace of 1918 had made that clear. There could be no more isolationism, no more tired resignation – no more ‘America First.’”

It is highly likely that Senator McCain is well in tune with the military’s mindset and had little qualms defaming Trump without using his despicable name; Trump is not popular with America’s military officers. According to a survey by the Military Times just released last week, a majority of military officers “have an unfavorable opinion of the Commander in Chief.” The poll’s results show that 53 percent of the respondents “hold an unfavorable opinion” of Trump and about 31 percent “view him favorably.” It is almost incomprehensible, but sixteen percent of military officers were fairly “neutral on the matter.

Trump does a little better among enlisted soldiers with a pathetic 47 percent viewing him favorably and 37 percent holding an “unfavorable” opinion of the commander in chief. It is telling that less than half of enlisted personnel have a favorable opinion of Trump and a majority of officers have an unfavorable opinion.

It isn’t clear if the survey was conducted before Trump attacked the Gold Star family of Sgt. La David Johnson and Representative Frederica Wilson (D-FL) for taking up their cause. It is certain that both enlisted personnel and officers were offended at the lack of leadership, and common human decency, in the way Trump treated Mrs. Johnson and Ms. Wilson. It is also likely that soldiers, whether officers or enlisted personnel, would have had much harsher comments for Trump than Senator McCain could utter in a public forum.

Everything McCain said about Trump, and it was all about Trump, was accurate to a fault. And although he could have been even more blunt, he definitely made his feelings, and the feelings of a majority of Americans, about Trump perfectly clear. No matter the details of what Senator McCain said about contrary opinions “always being fake,” “crackpot conspiracy theories,” or having to fight “nativism and protectionism,” the most prescient point he made was that  “It’s time to wake up to defeat those who would worsen our divisions;” it should be considered a clarion call to action from a real American war hero who sees the clear and present danger living in the White House.

Threats Failed to Sway Heroic Women Who Saved Healthcare

After the late-night defeat of the GOP’s attempt to take healthcare away from who knows how many millions of Americans, there is a fair amount of praise being heaped on Senator John McCain. If one listens to the typically patriarchal platitudes for a male – courageous, committed, maverick etc – it might appear that he was the only Republican interested in saving the lives of many of those untold millions who still have healthcare, for now. McCain’s vote was important, but no more important than, and certainly not as courageous as, those of two female Republican Senators.

What is woefully being under reported is the heroic action of two Republicans, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and it is down to sexism. Their votes to preserve healthcare for millions of Americans did not come without extreme pressure from Trump that makes their break from the cruel Republicans much more courageous, brave, and “mavericky” than John McCain’s. As an aside, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that McCain’s no vote was a vindictive and pointed “f*ck you” to Trump for his comments last year disparaging Senator McCain’s military service record including being held captive in a North Vietnamese prisoner of war camp for five years.

So as it turns out, the two Republican ladies drew the wrath of more than just the bully in the Oval Office for not toeing the party line and voting with their consciences according to their regard for Americans they were elected to represent.

Last week this “really big” man representing Texas in the House of Representatives, Blake Farenthold, lashed out at the Senate’s lethargic effort to repeal “Obamacare” and leaving tens-of-millions without healthcare.  But instead of blaming the deliberately secretive process, massive outcry from the public, and cruelty to millions of Americans, he naturally attacked Republican women.

According to this “extraordinarily big” man, if those “repugnant” female Republican senators were men, they would be facing him in a gunfight out in front of the capital. That is the kind of pressure Senators Collins and Murkowski faced and yet they still did what only one Republican man had the “courage” to do; serve the people and preserve medical care for tens-of-millions of Americans.

What really incited “big” Texas Farenthold to want a shootout with other Republicans was his claim that any Republican senator who failed to vote with the barbarians was breaking their 2016 campaign pledge. Farenthold said:

[It was] “repugnant that the Senate does not have the courage to do some of the things that every Republican in the Senate promised to do. Some of the people that are opposed to this … are some female senators from the northeast. If it was a guy from south Texas I might ask them to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style.

Something Farenthold may not be aware of is that not only is the state represented by Murkowski not in the Northeast,  no Republican in the House or Senate, including himself, or the punk in the White House, campaigned on a promise to take healthcare away from upwards of 30 million Americans – they just didn’t.

And in Murkowski and Collins’ cases, they certainly didn’t campaign on stripping healthcare access and reproductive choice from low-income women; something that has always been a major evangelical goal behind all seven years of the Republican Obamacare repeal effort.

Ms. Murkowski’s no vote was particularly courageous after being publicly harassed and threatened by Trump and his sycophant running the Interior Department, Ryan Zinke. The top man at Interior threatened Murkowski that the Trump administration would withhold funding for infrastructure and energy-related projects important to Alaska if she didn’t vote the way Trump demanded. The message from the Trump administration was that there would be punitive retribution against Alaska residents for Senator Murkowski’s vote against the GOP’s health care repeal legislation.

Predictably, the tough guys in the GOP would not speak up in Ms. Murkowski’s defense for voting her conscience, or call out Trump for what any sane person would deem bullying, “extortion” and “blackmail.” Where the men in the Republican ranks failed, Democrats in the House stepped up and are seeking to initiate an investigation and lawsuit into Trump’s “hit man” Zinke for calling Senator Murkowski to warn her that the administration’s support for energy projects in the state are now at risk because she failed to vote as ordered.

The House Democrats led by Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources committee, were joined by a pair of conservation groups, the Center for Western Priorities and the Western Values Project, to alert Zinke and Trump that they “crossed the line” with their threats of political blackmail. Representative Grijalva said:

Running a department of the federal government means you serve the American people as a protector of their rights and freedoms. It doesn’t mean you serve the president as a bag man for his political vendettas. Threatening to punish your rivals as political blackmail is something we’d see from the Kremlin.

The Western Values Project filed a “Freedom of Information Act” request seeking all internal documents related to Secretary Zinke’s calls to Murkowski as well as any others that he made to other GOP senators for the purpose of “political blackmail.” The executive director of the Center for Western Priorities, Jennifer Rokala, said in a statement:

Ryan Zinke is revealing himself as Trump’s hitman. He’s now threatening to hold public lands and energy policy hostage over a health care bill. This is the U.S. government, not the Corleone family.”

Plenty of Americans would argue that under Trump the government is a veritable mafia crime organization, except that typically organized criminals would not target women for attacks, blackmail or extortion, or Aaron Burr-style gunfights.

It is notable that John McCain did the right thing in voting to preserve healthcare for tens-of-millions of Americans, but it was not heroic or courageous as no small number of media outlets claim. However, the two Republican women, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins were courageous when one considers the undue pressure and threats they absorbed from the thugs in the Trump administration, and the veiled threat from the “big man” from Texas. What reveals the level of cowardice, and patriarchy, in the Republican ranks was a gross lack of support for two of their own who voted like no small number of Republicans wanted to, but were too terrified of the punk in the White House and his thugs.

If the media has to hand out praise to any Republican for stepping up for the people they represent, then they have to first acknowledge the courage of two Republican Senators for standing up to the bully in the White House and voting according to their conscience; something only two Republican women were willing to do under duress and threat and something Senator McCain did not have to endure.

Three Senate Republicans Defect In a Blow To Trump And Koch Brothers

In what was a surprise bit of encouraging news this week while the country was witnessing obstruction of justice in the White House, three Senate Republicans joined Democrats to hand Donald Trump, the Koch brothers, and their fossil fuel cohort what is being called a stunning defeat. It has been well-documented that one of Trump’s major goals was repealing each and every one of President Barack Obama’s efforts to protect the American people, the environment, national security, and to encourage big oil to stop wasting energy. Three Republican Senators stymied Trump’s crusade this week in a victory for the environment and Americans’ well-being.

The Senate was attempting to do Trump’s and the Koch brothers’ bidding in repealing a late Obama-era limit on methane emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands. The gift to the fossil fuel industry was blocked due to the “defection” of Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine, John McCain of Arizona, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. The three Republicans joined Democrats to defeat a barely-passed House resolution in February to “repeal the methane leak rule.” It is difficult to comprehend what kind of cretins would even consider abolishing a rule that prevents a nasty greenhouse gas, and threat to human health, like methane from being deliberately leaked into the atmosphere.

That rule was “issued” last November was an update to a 30-year old regulation meant to “govern” the deliberate leaking and venting of natural gases such as methane. Methane is known to be a particularly “potent greenhouse gas” responsible for contributing to anthropogenic climate change. It is a common energy industry, primarily the fossil fuel industry, practice to “burn off vast supplies of methane gas at drilling sites” because it is not as profitable to sell as oil. The rule specifically targeted drilling sites on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property to prevent “methane waste” that Trump and the oil industry claims is far too strict of a regulation on the poor beleaguered oil industry.

The Senate, like the House, had been assisting Trump, and rewarding the Kochs, in their goal to halt federal oversight of the drilling industry using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to both abolish current regulations and prevent them from ever being implemented in the future. Trump had been on a “repeal” roll since taking office and has signed 13 different CRA resolutions to eliminate President Obama’s environmental regulations. It is noteworthy that prior to Trump’s “scorched Earth” effort to roll back environmental regulations, that 1996 CRA law was only used “just once before Trump” became president. Trump is a dirty hypocrite because he and his Republican cabal complained bitterly and condemned a real President, Barack Obama, for executive overreach in issuing new rules to protect the people and environment.

Republicans, and Trump as well, have touted their fossil fuel deregulatory crusade as a means to American energy independence and an effort to provide Americans with plentiful and cheap fuel for electricity generating plants. However, the amount of methane burned off into the atmosphere each year from drilling operations is more than enough to provide electricity for about three-quarters-of-a-million (740,000) American homes. When the amount of natural gas that is leaked, or burned off, is included, those wasted gases would power about 5 million American homes each year.

The resolution to repeal the limit on toxic gas leaks had incredible support from Senate Republican leadership as well as the Koch brothers’ oil and gas industry. That support included “a six-figure, multimedia advertising campaign that targeted reluctant Republican lawmakers” that have thus far resisted aiding Trump’s childish and moronic denial of climate change. The oil and gas industry had made pressuring the Trump administration to eliminate the BLM rule one of its highest priorities and one they wanted accomplished immediately.

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, John Barrasso (R-WY) not only supported the House-passed resolution to “kill the rule,” he appealed to Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to circumvent the normal congressional legislative process and just revoke the methane leak rule unilaterally. But as Reuters has reported, a dictatorial edict by the Interior Secretary would have “involved a laborious bureaucratic process” that would have been “ultimately vulnerable to legal action” from environmental groups and concerned citizens.

The Republican Representative who sponsored the House legislation, Utah Mormon and anti-federal land crusader Rob Bishop is chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee who said Republicans in the Senate had “no rational reason not to vote for it.” Earlier this year, Bishop told The Hill on learning that Lindsey Graham was reluctant to support the repeal; “Senator Graham doesn’t live in the West, and doesn’t understand these issues, clearly.” What Senator Graham does understand, unlike a frightening number of Republicans, is that climate change is a real and present danger and any effort to reduce emissions exacerbating it are worthwhile for the sake of the economy, people’s health, the environment and national security.

The issues are not about oil industry gas leaks and Bishop knows it. The issues for Republicans, particularly Utah Republicans, is their outrageous insistence that the federal government has no right to own land it purchased or regulate its use. This is particularly true in Western states like Utah and it was the primary reason for the so-called Bundy Standoff in Nevada.

Senator John McCain, a Republican who does live in and represent constituents in “the West” gave Mormon Rob Bishop a very clear and rational reason why he joined Democrats to shut down the Kochs’ repeal effort. Senator McCain said,

While I am concerned that the BLM rule may be onerous, passage of the resolution would have prevented the federal government, under any administration, from ever issuing a rule that is similar.”

While the oil and gas industry and its Republican puppets were demoralized and angry that one of their efforts to increase the damage from climate change was thwarted, environmental groups were pleasantly surprised. The Executive Director of the Sierra Club, Michael Brune responded to the Senate vote and said:

Today is a victory for our public lands and for the health of families across America, and a defeat for Donald Trump, corporate polluters, and their friends on Capitol Hill. People across the country will continue to resist and hold Congress and Trump accountable for any efforts to put the profits of polluters before the health of our families and our communities.”

It is likely there won’t be many instances that any Republican will oppose Trump’s, the Koch’s, or their fossil fuel industry cohort’s efforts to wipe out sane regulations to combat climate change, preserve energy, or protect the health and well-being of American citizens. But whatever the reason Senators McCain, Collins, and Graham stood up to Trump, the Kochs, and fossil fuel industry, it is an encouraging sign that there are at least three Republicans who understand that they cannot fulfill their mandate to work for the general welfare of the American people and still pander to the Koch brothers’ oil industry. In this particular instance McCain, Graham and Collins opted to protect the people and in these dark times even one Republican, much less three, opting to serve the people is worth celebrating. It may be a long slog before it ever happens again.