Bob Schwartz

Trump: “The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!”

Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) – almost unheard of. Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client – totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 21, 2018

Trump is not even my 45th favorite President. My favorite Presidents (out of 45):

46. Donald Trump

Also:

The government didn’t “break into” Michael Cohen’s office, home and hotel room. It was properly executing a difficult-to-obtain search warrant.

New York is a one-party recording state, that is, the permission of only one of two parties is needed to legally record a conversation.

The New York City Bar Association advises that a lawyer may tape a conversation without disclosing to the other party “if the lawyer has a reasonable basis for believing that disclosure of the taping would impair pursuit of a generally accepted societal good.”

We know that Trump does not understand or respect the proper administration of justice or “generally accepted societal good.” Which is just one more reason he is my 46th favorite President.

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How Bizarre Things Are: There Is a Sane Shadow Government Trying to Run America in Spite of Trump—and That May Be Okay

There are government agencies that issue statements and policies that contradict or correct what Trump says. There are reports that military leaders have an informal agreement to passively defy any truly crazy and dangerous orders that Trump issues. There are reports that after Trump attempted to subvert the unity of NATO, American military leaders immediately told their international counterparts not to worry because nothing was changing. There is widespread belief that some of the most capable and reasonable members of Trump’s team won’t resign because they believe they are holding the line between order and disaster.

When you put this and other pieces together, a picture emerges. There is right now a sane shadow government trying to uphold the conventions of an orderly and intelligently managed American government. Under most other circumstances, in other times and places, this might be considered subversive and reprehensible. But under these particular circumstances, we might actually—as strange as it seems—be thankful.

Is it any wonder that at least half of America, and probably more, feels like strangers in their own land, transported to some unprecedented alternative bizarro universe, and wakes up each day wondering what fresh hell awaits them in the news?

Time for Billionaires and Companies to Spend Money to Protect Democracy and Make Elections Secure

Washington Post :

House GOP refuses to renew election security funding

House Republicans on Thursday approved a spending bill that excludes new money for election security grants to states, provoking a furious reaction from Democrats amid a national controversy over Russian election interference.

The spending bill passed 217-199. Democrats’ bid to add hundreds of millions more in election spending was rejected 182-232 — as Republicans were unmoved by Democrats floor speeches decrying the funding changes and chanting “USA! USA!”

At issue is a grants program overseen by the federal Election Assistance Commission and aimed at helping states administer their elections and improve voting systems; Democrats want to continue grant funding through 2019, while Republicans say the program already has been fully funded.

A number of Republicans, especially in Congress, no longer seem to believe in democracy, because they do not want to risk losing on a level playing field. That is precisely the reason that Trump accepted (or solicited) Putin’s help in winning his election, and why Republicans now worry about helping states make elections fair and secure.

That’s why American billionaires and companies should step in and fund state election security, since the Trump-run government apparently won’t. This isn’t a controversial or partisan matter; it is an American matter. These billionaires and companies can and should offer assistance in many ways—all of which require millions of dollars, all of which these people and companies have.

How could any American billionaire or company find the funding of secure and fair elections objectionable? Even if it sometimes seems that some do.

Logical Proof that Putin is President of the United States (and leader of the Republican Party)

Logic, even playful logic, is not particularly popular with Trump and many of his supporters. It has been tossed on the trash heap, along with truth, selflessness, courage, patriotism and sanity.

Logic can be helpful in critical times like these. Using what might be called the Transitive Property of Dominance, we find:

Trump is President of the United States.
Putin dominates Trump.
Therefore Putin is President of the United States.

and:

Trump is leader of the Republican Party.
Putin dominates Trump.
Therefore Putin is leader of the Republican Party.

This has many uses. Most importantly, when you see a Republican official, or see a Republican candidate on a ballot, unless you are absolutely sure he or she is an active opponent of this dominance (not just rhetorical objection), you can assume that for all practical purposes you are looking at Putin.

The logic may not be formally pure. But the point is essential and inescapable.

Trio Gnossieme

Trio Gnossieme

The birds
The cicadas
The wind through the branches.
A yellow flower twitches.
Nothing still.

©

Compassion Toward Your Things

Much is said and written, in many traditions, about awareness, mindfulness and realization. But this one thought, said just this way, is new to me.

Speaking for the Baal Shem Tov, the first ancestor of Hasidic Judaism, Martin Buber writes about our relationship not just with creatures but with our things. The idea of being compassionate toward your possessions may seem eccentric. Nothing could be more central. If everybody—and everything—is not free, who is?

From The Legend of the Baal-Shem:

Around each man—enclosed within the wide sphere of his activity—is laid a natural circle of things which, before all, he is called to set free. These are the creatures and objects that are spoken of as the possessions of this individual: his animals and his walls, his garden and his meadow, his tools and his food. In so far as he cultivates and enjoys them in holiness, he frees their souls. “For this reason a man must always be compassionate toward his tools and all his possessions.”

Lying Without Consequence: “Trump’s top economic adviser says deficit ‘is coming down rapidly,’ contradicting virtually all available data”

Diogenes Searching for an Honest Man in the Trump Administration

 

Lying is Trump’s practice and the policy of his administration, even about the most significant public questions. But that is the not biggest issue.

The biggest issue is that there is no consequence for the lies. When the nation’s top economist completely misrepresents the state of the economy—in spite of all evidence to the contrary—nothing happens to him. Or to his boss. In fact, it seems that the best qualification for a job in the administration—and for keeping on Trump’s good side—is to be the biggest possible liar.

Washington Post:

President Trump’s top economic adviser said Friday that the federal deficit is “coming down rapidly,” contradicting estimates by nonpartisan analysts, Congress’s official scorekeeper and a branch of the White House.

Larry Kudlow, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, said on Fox Business that stronger economic growth was creating enough new tax revenue to bring down the deficit.

“The deficit — which was one of the other criticisms [of the GOP tax law] — is coming down, and it’s coming down rapidly,” Kudlow said. “It’s throwing up enormous amounts of new tax revenue.”

@larry_kudlow: “The deficit… is coming down, and it’s coming down rapidly. Growth solves a lot of problems.” pic.twitter.com/H375h7rV0a
— FOX Business (@FoxBusiness) June 29, 2018

It’s hard to know where Kudlow is getting his numbers. The deficit from January through April was $161 billion, according to Treasury, up from $135 billion at the same point last year. And it will deteriorate further from here, since the Treasury collects a large amount of tax revenue during April when taxes are due for most Americans….

Commenting specifically on the 2017 tax law, the CBO said it would increase deficits by $1.27 trillion over the next decade, even when including the positive effects of the law on the economy.  Annual deficits require the government to borrow money to finance its operations, adding debt. The CBO estimates that the amount of debt the United States will have in a decade will equal almost the total size of the economy.

Official White House data suggest deficits are increasing, too. The White House’s Office of Management and Budget says the deficit is rising from $665 billion in 2017 to $832 billion in 2018, and will approach $1 trillion annually in 2019.

“Deficits are not going down. They are going up,” said Marc Goldwein, senior vice president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan think tank that advocates for budget discipline.

Make America & Russia Great Again

#MARGA

Trump’s Summit with His Real Boss: “Who’s Your Daddy?”

It would not be surprising if, when Trump meets with Putin in July, the first words out of Putin’s mouth are “Who’s your Daddy?” That’s probably the way they greet each other in their frequent phone calls. They both laugh, but that acknowledges that in reality, Putin’s the boss.

How did that happen? There is plenty of speculation. The best guess is that Trump has been laundering Russian money through his business for decades (the main reason he will never release his tax returns). Putin knows this, down to the dollar, down to each individual oligarch or Mafiya member.

Expectations from the “summit”:

Trump will repeat that Putin assured him that Russia has not and will not meddle in American elections. Who do you believe, Trump will ask, Putin or our lying intelligence agencies?

Trump will announce a new strategic relationship with Russia, something none of his incompetent, weak-willed predecessors could ever accomplish. Together, Trump will say, America and Russia will accomplish great things that nobody but Trump could deliver. MARGA!

Putin will remain more silent. But he—the world’s richest man and one of the world’s most powerful—will still be amazed at the trick he has been able to pull off. Not even Stalin was able to put an American president in his murderous pocket.

Who’s Trump’s Daddy indeed.

Are we scared yet? CBS was interviewing an ICE whistleblower at home. Then government agents showed up.

I’m regularly asking: Are we scared yet? YET? Here’s a story today, with a video, that supports answering: we better be.

CBS was interviewing an ICE whistleblower at home. Then government agents showed up.