IF YOU DON’T ALREADY LOVE HIM…by Jen Hayden

IF YOU DON’T ALREADY LOVE HIM…by Jen Hayden

…This story about Al Franken dissing Ted Cruz should do the trick

Minnesota Senator Al Franken has a new book coming out entitled Giant of the Senate. From the description, it sounds like a fascinating look at how Franken eked out a razor-thin victory to put him in the United States Senate, and discovered he had a talent for governing:


This is a book about an unlikely campaign that had an even more improbable ending: the closest outcome in history and an unprecedented eight-month recount saga, which is pretty funny in retrospect.

It’s a book about what happens when the nation’s foremost progressive satirist gets a chance to serve in the United States Senate and, defying the low expectations of the pundit class, actually turns out to be good at it.

It’s a book about our deeply polarized, frequently depressing, occasionally inspiring political culture, written from inside the belly of the beast.


Writing about his time in the Senate thus far, Senator Franken dedicated an entire chapter to just one of his colleagues–Senator Ted Cruz, a man who is reportedly deeply despised by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Jonathon Tilove, the chief political writer for the Austin American-Statesman, has shared a portion of this chapter on Twitter. Senator Franken is careful to detail why he feels justified in calling out Ted Cruz specifically:


For what it’s worth, I feel fully justified in doing so, because Ted Cruz violated basic Senate protocol himself when he went to the floor and called Mitch McConnell a liar. It was the sort of thing that just isn’t done, a breach of decorum so shocking that even I haven’t committed it. And I love calling people liars!

Anyway, here’s the thing that you have to understand about Ted Cruz. I like Ted Cruz more than most of my colleagues like Ted Cruz. And I hate Ted Cruz.


Snort. Senator Franken does not stop there. He relayed this hilarious story about his Minnesota colleague, Senator Amy Klobuchar, asking for guidance with a joke she was going to deliver at the annual Gridiron Club dinner, an event that typically features the president of the United States, various elected representatives, and members of the media. The joke was about Ted Cruz. Senator Franken tagged along as Senator Klobuchar spoke to Senator Cruz about the joke beforehand and, whelp–read the exchange for yourself:


“Ted,” Amy smiled, “I’ve written a joke about you for the Gridiron, and I wanted to get your okay.”

“Sure,” Ted smiled back. “What’s the joke?”

“Well,” Amy smiled, “here it is: ‘When most people think of a difficult cruise, they think of Carnival. But we Democrats in the Senate think of Ted.'”

I noticed, of course, that she had softened the joke a bit, changing “a bad cruise” to “a difficult cruise” and changing “we think of Ted” to “we Democrats in the Senate think of Ted.”

Ted smiled. Then he offered a suggestion. “What if you changed ‘a difficult cruise’ to ‘a challenging cruise’?”

Oh my God. What a putz! Now the joke isn’t funny. I could tell that Amy was thinking the same thing. And so could Ted. So before Amy could respond, he smiled even more broadly and said magnanimously, “I’ll tell you what. I believe in the First Amendment. You go ahead and tell your joke.”

Wow, that was patronizing! I decided to step in.

“Say, Ted,” I smiled. “I did a rewrite of Amy’s joke, and I think it’s a lot better. Want to hear it?”

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Amy having two successive thoughts: 1. “Oh no–Al’s not going to do this!” 2. “But I definitely want to be here if he does.”

Ted was still smiling. “Sure!”

“Okay. Here it is: ‘When most people think of a cruise that’s full of shit, they think of Carnival. But we think of Ted.”

And there went Ted’s smile. For once, he had no words.

I nodded, turned around, and walked away.


From all of us in the peanut gallery, thank you Senator Franken.

[Editor’s Note: This article was reblogged by Daily Kos. Daily Kos has marked this column “Share this article.” We are doing so with that permission.  We are suggesting to readers that, if you like liberal political material, you should subscribe to Daily Kos!]

 

 

TRUMP DANGEROUSLY CLOSE TO OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE by Milt Hankins

TRUMP DANGEROUSLY CLOSE TO OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE by Milt Hankins

“Treason,” according to the Oxford American Dictionary, is “treachery toward one’s country or its ruler.” “Treasonable,” is “involving the crime of treason.” Only a thin line separates treasonable and treason.

To simplify, an activity might be “treasonable” without intent; that is, not rising to the level of treason per se. I know this distinction to be true. To understand it in strictly legal, indictable terms would require the services of a federal prosecutor, I suspect.

A step below treasonable behavior, as I understand it, could be something like “obstruction of justice;” that is, attempting to intrude upon, delay, or quash an investigation which might expose one to charges of treasonable behavior. As I understand it, if the President of the United States or any of his associates were knowing “colluding with the Russians” during the recent presidential election with a view toward influencing the outcome of that election, it would be treasonable behavior.

MANY FACES OF TRUMP

If the President of the United States, having discovered that an investigation into such a collusion was underway by any qualified government agency (i.e. the F.B.I.) and interfered, in either a formal or a casual way, to surreptitiously intrude upon, delay, or quash that investigation would be, as I understand it, an “obstruction of justice.”

If, theoretically, the aforementioned investigation, as a result of this high-level interference, was stopped, then this obstruction of justice would contribute to treasonable behavior, as I see it.

As I write, we have clear knowledge that certain members of the Donald Trump Campaign were in regular communication with the Russians. We also know that one of these campaign staff members was very close to Candidate Trump–so close, in fact, that the president actually appointed him to a high-level, high-security position within the administration. Other campaign operatives have been linked directly with Russia, as well.

GENERAL MIKE FLYNN

Let me move beyond generalities. In view of the above, clearly, General Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and others connected with the campaign are dangling over a double-edged sword.

Owing to the testimonies of several high-level officials in the intelligence services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the president himself may, knowingly or unwittingly, be implicated in attempts to obstruct the aforementioned investigations.

One example. According to Reuters, “Trump asked [FBI Director] Comey to end any investigation of Michael Flynn; to end the agency’s investigation….” President Trump has denied this allegation; Director James Comey is on record as having a memo, which he wrote on the subject, and told some associates that he was “uncomfortable” being alone with the president, partly at least because of the president’s attempt to influence him.

DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY

Subsequently, the President fired Director Comey.

Allegations, which have risen to the level of Washington, D.C. swamp stench, have brought on, according to CBS news, the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to investigate “possible links between Russia and Trump campaign associates.” The Senate and the House of Representatives are proceeding with their own investigations.

Time will tell whether we have obstruction of justice, treasonable behavior or treason that reaches into the White House.

IS MELANIA TRUMP MISERABLE AS FIRST LADY? by Laura Italiano

IS MELANIA TRUMP MISERABLE AS FIRST LADY? by Laura Italiano

[EDITORIAL NOTE:  The following article first appeared in New York Post.  It was reprinted on February 15, 2017 in News Corp. It also appeared in Post Digital Network’s DECIDER.  The author has taken considerable material from a US Weekly article.  We re-print it, acknowledging all of the aforementioned sources.  We took our manuscript from the internet and will assume it is in the public domain unless otherwise notified.]  

Melania Trump is secretly miserable as first lady, a new report claims.

Private, self-conscious, and smarting from some harsh, even mocking press, Melania is “struggling with the realities of her new role and the scrutiny that comes with it,” US Weekly says in its Feb. 27 cover story, citing family sources.

“This life wasn’t her dream. It was Donald’s,” a Trump family friend, stylist Phillip Bloch, told the magazine.

THE PRESIDENT AND FIRST LADY

“Truthfully, it’s a lot to cope with.”

Since Inauguration Day, Melania has spent almost all her time hiding inside the “gilded cage” of the family’s lavish, $100 million Trump Tower penthouse on Fifth Avenue — where treasured son Barron, 10, has a whole floor to himself.

And she won’t be pressured into giving up her privacy.

Recently, the White House team begged her to come to Washington and give her husband a PR boost by presiding over the traditional first lady tours at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — and posing for press photos, sources told US.

“She was told, ‘All you need to do is show up on one day and take photos,'” one family source said. Melania declined.

Melania couldn’t even be cajoled into accompanying the Japanese prime minister’s wife, Abe, on the traditionally first lady-hosted Capitol tour for spouses of visiting dignitaries.

Negative scrutiny from late-night hosts — Jimmy Kimmel quipped last week that she’s “trapped like Rapunzel” in Trump Tower — and from her libel suit against the UK’s Daily Mail have not helped.

In the much-covered lawsuit, Melania sued the Mail for implying she’d once worked as a high-end escort, an implication that the newspaper later retracted.

Celebrities and fashion designers, critical of her husband’s policies, have publicly shunned the Trumps, another blow.

US WEEKLY COVER

And while she’s fluent in five languages, Melania is self-conscious of her heavy Slovenian accent, US claims, an accent that has also been fodder for late-night jibes.

With pickets surrounding her building, she’s even given up her chauffeured trips escorting Barron to and from his private school.

After school, they both stay in, with Barron doing his homework and watching cartoons, US said.

She’s happiest at Mar-a-Lago, the Trump estate in Palm Beach, Florida, where she joins her husband on most weekends.

But while she did entertain Akie Abe in Florida — smilingly posed for the requisite photo op at Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in nearby Delray Beach — it was a struggle.

“Don’t let her smile [in the photographs] fool you,” the source said. “She hates this.”

The source added, “Melania is unhappy with how her life ended up.  She is miserable.”

 

 

IS “FLIP-FLOPPING” AND LYING NOW ACCEPTABLE FOR A PRESIDENT? by Milt Hankins

IS “FLIP-FLOPPING” AND LYING NOW ACCEPTABLE FOR A PRESIDENT? by Milt Hankins

“Flip-flopping” once sounded the death knell for presidential candidates or politicians. President Donald Trump holds the record for “flip-flopping” and outright lying. It doesn’t seem to hamper his relationship with his base constituency. According to Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post, during the campaign, Trump flip-flopped so often it was impossible to determine his actual policy positions on anything. President Trump still flip-flops and lies on a regular basis!

Candidate Trump asserted many times that he would not reduce funding for Medicaid, the health-care program for the poor. He tweeted: “THE REPUBLICANS WHO WANT TO CUT SS & MEDICAID ARE WRONG.” Now, the president embraces congressional plans to replace Obamacare (ACA), changing the financing base for Medicaid to a block grant system.

In a Fox News interview (Aug. 9), Trump discussed the stock market. “If rates go up, you’re going to see something that’s not pretty. It’s all a big bubble.” Campaigning in Ohio on Sept. 5, he said: “We have a very false economy. The only thing that is strong is the artificial stock market.” Now that the stock market is reacting somewhat positively, presumably, to the Trump presidency, the president has repeatedly celebrated the continued rise of the stock market as evidence that his presidency is positively affecting the U.S. economy. (Kessler, The Washington Post)

Trump maintained that unemployment figures are “a complete fraud as evidenced by the jobless claims number.” He claimed during his campaign that the real unemployment was anywhere from 15% to 43%. He tweeted in August, 2016, the employment rate is “ONE OF THE BIGGEST HOAXES IN MODERN AMERICAN POLITICS.” Now, accepting unemployment numbers as reported, he told WH spokesperson Sean Spicer, “[unemployment statistics] may have been phony in the past, but [they’re] very real now.”

Trump often declared NATO outdated because it doesn’t cover terrorism, and, because the various countries do not pay their dues. After a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jan Stoltenberg, he changed his tune, saying it was no longer obsolete. “The secretary general and I had a productive discussion about what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism. I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change, and now they do fight terrorism. I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete.”

Trump has frequently stated that China is a currency manipulator–as recently as ten days before he announced China is NOT a currency manipulator. He said China was a “‘world champion,’ of devaluing the yuan.” Trump flip-flopped following his meeting with China’s president in Mar-a-Lago, his posh Palm Beach, Florida resort.

 

In more than a dozen tweets in 2013 and 2014, Trump consistently opposed U.S. military action in Syria, urging then-President Barack Obama against launching air attacks on Syria for allegedly deploying chemical weapons. Trump said the United States should focus on domestic issues instead. President Trump took military action days after a chemical weapons attack in Syria, mocking Obama for inaction after declaring a “red line in the sand.” About his decision to order the airstrike [against a Syrian airbase], Trump offered no acknowledgment of his previous strong stance against such action.

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN

Does President Trump know Russian President Vladimir Putin personally? As recently as April 12, 2016 Trump claimed: “I don’t know Putin.” In November, 2015, Trump repeatedly asserted he not only knew Putin, but knew him “very well,” and that he had a “relationship” with the Russian president.

Candidate Trump stated several times that he would be in the White House essentially “all the time” since there is so much work to be done.  President Trump has spent nearly every weekend of his presidency, at tremendous taxpayer expense,  at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida playing golf!  

DONALD TRUMP–A LIAR!

Additionally, he is flying his wife Melania (who is a “more-or-less” First Lady) from Trump Tower in New York City along with members of his staff to Florida for the weekends.  He is holding top-level meetings with foreign leaders at Mar-a-Lago, while the White House in Washington, D.C. (which is staffed and maintained by the United States government for such purposes) stands virtually vacant.  Is the president billing the taxpayer for the use of his “winter White House?” Who knows?

These are merely a few examples. It’s difficult to know what policies, or lack thereof, are “firmed up” in President Trump’s mind. If we don’t know precisely where he stands on important policy concerns, how can we expect to be functional in our dealings with countries around the world? It is paramount that countries, and particularly adversaries, know where the United States stands while dealing with crucial questions–war and peace depend upon it!

According to a survey (April, 2017) Pulse (MSNBC) over 90% of responders agreed that violence is on the rise since Donald Trump was elected. I believe one of the reasons for this is a growing uncertainty about where we are going and what lies ahead with an administration that is becoming increasingly hawkish; while, at the same time, becoming obviously more and more unstable. Is President Donald Trump flying by the seat of his pants? We don’t know!

A LOOK AT TRUMP’S FIRST 60-SOME DAYS by Milt Hankins

A LOOK AT TRUMP’S FIRST 60-SOME DAYS by Milt Hankins

It is with considerable consternation that I try to understand how folks can say anything positive about the Trump administration. We are nearing a third of the way through his first year in office. It doesn’t look promising.

Trump made wide-sweeping promises about what he could do, including putting coal miners back to work, major infrastructure projects, repeal (which was later changed to “Repeal and Replace”)

AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE

the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), important immigration reform, comprehensive tax reform, and reduction of regulations, especially in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Some I hoped for…others, not so much!

What we are getting is bluster and sputter. What’s shaking with some of these promises and declarations?

According to reports from coal-mining country in southern Kentucky and West Virginia, not much has come from the White House that is boosting the return of coal jobs.

COAL MINERS

What little we are seeing, we can attribute to the efforts of West Virginia’s Governor Jim Justice.

CLEAN MOUNTAIN STREAMS

The executive order that removed restriction on dumping coal mining waste didn’t bring the opening of new mines, but it certainly unnerved a lot of people who live downstream and depend on fresh, clean water!

Legislation concerning the Affordable Care Act is stalled by any number of dubious “improvements;” and from what I’m observing many Republicans are questioning the proposed plan. What’s not to question when it will cost 10-20 million people their healthcare insurance over the next few years.

Immigration reform? Other than money in the federal budget (which is likely to be DOA in the Congress) for a wall along our southern border, not much is happening here either.

ISLAMIC IMMIGRANTS

It appears that the administration is having a difficult time getting an immigration restriction on some Middle Eastern countries–which says to me that the new administration can’t even come up with a workable, temporary immigration proposal that passes judicial muster.

The truth is coal jobs are NOT coming back and repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act is doubtful. Comprehensive tax reform has turned out to be little more than a campaign ploy, which we hear about every four years. And, this country of immigrants is not going to look favorably on turning back people who are suffering. We had sad experience with that when we turned back Jews who were fleeing Hitler’s death camps. By boatloads we sent them back to their deaths.

Okay, so you say I’m expecting too much. Here’s how I look at it. President-to-be Trump said, “I can fix it!” He bought votes with startling promises. He even said he would accomplish “on my first day in office” some things that he has apparently forgotten. At the least, he has put some of his most brazen assertions about what he could do on the back burner.

President Trump hasn’t even filled a majority of important sub-level cabinet positions in his administration. He has assailed the nation’s press, calling it “the enemy of the people.” He has insulted his predecessor in a most noxious fashion–actually accusing him of a felonious act. He won’t even apologize, or admit the truth, after a congressional investigation has found absolutely no evidence of wiretapping or surveillance of Trump Tower before or after the election.

Trump has spent an inordinate amount of time pouting like a spoiled child.

He has piled up enormous travel and security expenses for us taxpayers running back and forth almost weekly between Washington, D.C. and his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach; in addition, taxpayers are paying for his wife and son’s security at Trump Tower in New York City. 

THE PRESIDENT’S HOME IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

Considering that the nation provides a beautiful, perfectly adequate home for the president and his family in the nation’s capitol, this is a disgrace!

Mr. President, I’m a patient man. Let’s see what you can accomplish in your first 100 days.  So far, it isn’t looking very promising. And I’m afraid you are proving those right who say you are “unfit” to be president of the United States.

SEVERAL PEOPLE QUESTION THE PRESIDENT’S LITERACY LEVEL by Milt Hankins

SEVERAL PEOPLE QUESTION THE PRESIDENT’S LITERACY LEVEL by Milt Hankins

l.. MILTON HANKINS

I’d be the last person to question the literacy of a president–under normal circumstances. But, in the Trump era, nothing seems too outrageous. Frankly, evidence suggesting that the president may have literacy issues is piling up.

This is not a fly-by-night, conspiracy theory concern, i.e. as Obama’s citizenship. In the July 30, 2016 issue of The Times of Israel, Michael Jaffe bluntly titled his article “Does Donald Trump have a literacy problem?” Jaffe said, “Almost all of the words he utters are no more than two syllables. Given his authoritarian, narcissistic personality and thin skin, one can imagine a collective reluctance among his entourage to set Trump straight. … This and Trump’s difficulty with stringing sentences together might be an indication that Donald Trump’s language faculty, more specifically his literacy, may be lacking.”

In The Daily Beast, Matt Wilstein headlined his article “Samantha Bee Is Convinced Donald Trump Can’t Read.” Wilstein pointed out that Canadian political commentator Samantha Bee (host of Full Frontal) has “produced significant evidence…that Donald Trump may be, in fact, illiterate.”

Bee said in a recent segment, “[I] began by reviewing tape of a recently unsealed deposition in which Trump was repeatedly asked to read from legal documents and refused, first saying he didn’t have his glasses and then using the excuse that he’s not a lawyer.”

Bee continued, “How can you expect someone who isn’t a fancy-pants lawyer to read words? At first, I thought Trump was lying, but then it hit me…You heard it here first: People are saying Donald Trump can’t read.”

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

Wilstein continued: “Over the next six minutes, she [Bee] meticulously laid out the evidence, including the fact that the only book title Trump can recall when people ask him what he’s read recently is All Quiet on the Western Front and his unnerving practice of shouting things he wants to tweet at his staffers during the day. Even his signature is suspiciously missing recognizable letters.”

In the Washington Post (July 17, 2016), Marc Fisher wrote, “As he has prepared to be named the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump has not read any biographies of presidents. He said he would like to someday. He has no time to read, he said: ‘I never have. I’m always busy doing a lot. Now I’m more busy [sic], I guess, than ever before.'”

Alex Shepherd wrote in The New Republic, “Donald Trump doesn’t read books.” He points out that following an interview with Megyn Kelly, Kelly sensed “that Trump may not have read a book since sixth grade.”

STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS

Politico’s Jack Shafer has similar concerns. He says “Donald Trump Talks Like a Third-Grader.” In an August 13, 2015 article, he pointed out, “Run through the Flesch-Kincaid grade-level test, [Trump’s] text of [debate] responses score at the 4th-grade reading level.”

Shafter concluded, “…Trump’s verbal deficit, as grating as it may be on the ears of the educated class, has not caused him much political pain.”

No one appears, according to my research, to have seen President Trump privately reading a legal brief, the President’s Daily Brief (PDB), a document, or a book. Not even a magazine! I don’t ever recall seeing him wearing glasses either. It is strange, isn’t it?

TRUMP’S LITERACY REMAINS A PUZZLE

[L. Milton Hankins, the publisher and editor of Columnist with a View writes a weekly column for the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch.  This article first appeared in the March 13th edition of the Herald-Dispatch.  Hankins can be reached at:  amsmilt@windstream.net.  Comments on articles are also welcome in the webzine.  Those who have editorial-opinion type pieces they would like considered for publication in Columnist with a View may submit them to amsmilt@windstream.net or send hard copy to P.O. Box 913, Ashland, KY 41101.]