Saturday, January 28, 2017

Trump's Alarming First Week - Is He Mentally Ill?

Having safely escaped Tidewater Virginia for a long weekend of warm weather, there is one thing that we have not been able to escape: the continuing menace to the nation and the world posed by the current deranged occupant of the White House.  The first week of Der Fuhrer's presidency has been marked by bizarre lies and one demonstration after another that Trump likely DOES suffer from narcissistic personality disorder, a real danger to national security and the civil rights of everyday Americans.  As for immigrants and refugees, Der Fuhrer is imposing policies reminiscent of the bans that sent thousands of Jewish refugees from Europe to their deaths.  Everything revolves around satiating Trump's insatiable and fragile ego and pandering to the ugliest prejudices of his base.  Some Republicans have begun to display alarm, but most seem indifferent to the reality that the White House id now occupied by a madman who is incapable of controlling himself or moderating unhinged behavior.  A conservative columnist recaps the week's alarming cavalcade of unbalanced and ego mad behavior in a piece in the Washington Post.  Here are excerpts:
Week One of the Trump administration was among the most alarming in the history of the American presidency.
There have been scarier weeks for the country, certainly — the Cuban missile crisis and the Sept. 11 attacks. There have been more tragic ones — the Sept. 11 attacks again, the terrible toll of wartime, the horror of four presidential assassinations.
There have been occasions of terrible presidential judgment — Franklin D. Roosevelt’s order to detain U.S. citizens and noncitizens of Japanese descent during World War II. And there have been moments of looming constitutional crisis — during Watergate alone, the Saturday Night Massacre, the showdown with the Supreme Court over the release of the tapes, the impeachment inquiry that resulted in Richard Nixon’s resignation.
But the first week of the Trump presidency was alarming in a different way, because the frightening part involved the president’s own erratic, even bizarre, behavior.
Anyone who paid even glancing attention to the 2016 campaign already understood Donald Trump to be undisciplined, easily provoked and self-absorbed to the point of narcissism. But it was one thing to know that in theory; it was much more unsettling to witness President Trump in action. 
[Each day feeling scarier than the one before, and Trump’s sycophantic aides modeling his own fact-free rants — press secretary Sean Spicer’s falsehood-filled briefing-room tirade, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway’s brazen defense of “alternative facts,” chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon’s brutish admonition to the media to “keep its mouth shut.”
Trump himself outdid his petty obsession with crowd size with his delusional obsession with popular-vote fraud. . . . . What was once delusional ego-salving now appears headed for official inquiry.
This is ominous not only for the implicit threat of imposing new and unnecessary obstacles to voting, but also because it means that no one, neither American citizens nor foreign leaders, can believe the president of the United States when he makes an assertion.
[M]y lament about the week is largely devoid of ideological content. That is not because his policy moves are not appalling — they are. But you don’t have to disagree with Trump’s policies to be rattled to the core by his unhinged behavior.
What is to be done? In a meeting last week with The Post editorial board, Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chair of the House Oversight Committee, said he was weighing legislation to require presidents to undergo an independent medical examination, including for mental health. Chaffetz cautioned that he wasn’t “talking about some of the rhetoric that’s flying around” about Trump. Still, he said, “If you’re going to have your hands on the nuclear codes, you should probably know what kind of mental state you’re in.”
That can’t happen soon enough.
How anyone sane and rational can continue to support the man and make excuses for his bizarre behavior is baffling.  Are really that many Trump voters who put satisfying their bigotries ahead of the nation's long term welfare.  Trump represents "change" only because he is insane.  

Fort Lauderdale - 2017 - Day 1

We arrived safely in Fort Lauderdale yesterday afternoon after flying out of Richmond on a direct flight on Jet Blue (there are no direct flights out of Norfolk, which has less than great air service). We took a brief detour before going to the airport so that the husband could cut the Lt. Governor's hair at his office to keep him looking good as he begins his run for governor. 

We had not seen the home of the friends with whom were are staying since last year when it was under construction.  The finished result is gorgeous. After a "welcome" Cosmo, we had dinner at a great Cuban restaurant, Mario's Catalina Restaurant.  After that we headed to Wilton Manor and bought a few clothes at Mix Men's Wear - I bought a tuxedo jacket that I will wear to the Equality Virginia in event in April - before going to nearby Hinter's for drinks and dancing (my passion).   

This morning we are headed to Sebastian Beach, may do some more shopping this afternoon and then dinner and a play tonight.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Friday, January 27, 2017

Ignoring Trump at Our Peril

Never in my lifetime have I felt so much animosity toward or fear of a president of the United States, and that includes Richard Nixon and George W. Bush.  The latter two certainly had their psychological issues but despite policy disagreements and active dislike of them, I never viewed them as insane.  That cannot be said for Der Fuhrer who increasingly displays a deeply disturbed personality more akin to Hitler or Stalin than John Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson.  Yet disturbingly, far too many Americans continue to act like sleep walkers ignoring the clear and present danger Trump poses to not only America but the world at large.  We are at risk perhaps more so than ever in our history.  A column in the Washington Post argues that we are at great peril.  Here are highlights:
Where to begin? That’s the daily question for anyone trying to follow the words and deeds of the new administration, which is like drinking from two fire hoses — one gushing policy, the other spewing insanity.
Neither stream can be ignored. I wish I could agree with those who say we should pay little attention to President Trump’s verbal eruptions and focus only on concrete actions, but I can’t. It matters that the most powerful man in the world insists on “facts” that are nothing but self-aggrandizing fantasy. It matters that the president of the United States seems incapable of publicly admitting any error. It matters that Trump’s need for adulation appears to be insatiable.
The president’s most acute obsession is with the false notion that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton only because of widespread election fraud committed by “millions” of people.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan(R-Wis.) is among the many officials who have acknowledged there is zero evidence of the kind of fraud Trump alleges. It simply did not happen.
At a meeting with congressional leaders on Monday, Trump cited a different piece of purported proof, according to the New York Times: He told a story about how professional golfer Bernhard Langer tried to vote in Florida on Election Day but was not allowed to do so, while suspicious-looking voters ahead of and behind him, possibly Latin American immigrants, were permitted to cast provisional ballots.
[T]his simply did not happen. Langer indeed lives in Florida but is a German citizen. He has never voted in this country.
Why is any of this important? Because Trump, relying on a misinterpreted study and a garbled anecdote, has called for a “major investigation” of all this nonexistent voter fraud. He now has the vast resources of the Justice Department at his disposal, which means that if he wants a big investigation, he can have one. 
Trump’s fixation on his own popularity, or lack thereof, dovetails with the Republican Party’s long-standing political interest in minimizing the electoral weight of Democratic “urban” strongholds — meaning cities with large populations of minorities and liberals. We should prepare for a GOP attempt to channel Trump’s delusion into the rational, but nefarious, purpose of voter suppression.
Another example is Trump’s insistence on the value of torture in the fight against terrorism. Trump pledged during the campaign to bring back waterboarding and “much worse.”  . . . . How can allies fully share intelligence with the United States if they believe captured suspects may be tortured?
Trump’s off-the-wall statements and Twitter rants cannot be dismissed as mere attempts to distract. We have a president who is obsessed with his public standing, given to outlandish statements, eager to believe in conspiracy theories and unwilling to admit when he is wrong. To our peril, his character and moods will shape his policies.

Watching "President" Trump With Horror

Just six days into Der Fuhrer's reign of terror and I already cannot tolerate to hear his voice much less listen the mix of outright lies and ramblings of an mentally unsound narcissist.  Indeed, I am overwhelmed with the urge to scream at the television or switch from satellite radio to disc rather that endure the foul miasma that is Trump.  In such a mood it is easy to forget that outside of Putin's Russia which wanted America reduced and divided and neo-fascist groups in Europe, most of the world is feeling similar fear and disgust. As a piece in the New Yorker - have you noticed how the NYC news outlets hate Trump more than, thus suggesting that familiarity grows contempt - looks at the worldwide dismay and loathing.  Here are article excerpts:
On Thursday, Donald Trump’s sixth full day in office, I asked a British friend for his initial impressions. Noting that the new American President had moved swiftly, signing executive orders to end Obamacare, complete the Dakota Access pipeline, and begin building the border wall with Mexico, my friend shook his head and remarked, “The real problem is it’s not just America, is it? The whole world gets Trump, whether it likes it or not.”
In Britain, as elsewhere, there has been a widespread sense of impending catastrophe during Trump’s first week as President. Much of the chatter revolves around his transparently vindictive spirit—particularly toward Obama’s legacy—and his customary ridiculousness. Trump has long been seen abroad as an absurdly cartoonish figure, a perception compounded this week by his insistence about the size of the crowd at his Inauguration and by his spokespeople’s use of Orwellian phrases such as “alternative facts.” The Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell routinely depicts Trump as a monstrous slug of a man, with a bloated body, dark-orange skin, tiny hands, huge pouting lips, puffy white eyes, and a toilet seat on his head instead of his helmet of yellow hair. The contempt for Trump spans the political spectrum: the premier cartoonist at the Murdoch-owned London Times, Peter Brookes, presents equally grotesque images of Trump.
 [T]he underlying shock over the new American President is often palpable. Yesterday, a friend who is a prominent British journalist, and who has been reporting on Trump’s first week in office, sent me the day’s White House press-room handout. Marked “For immediate release,” the memo was titled “Praise for the President’s Bold Action” and featured adulatory quotes from various journalists. “Yes, it’s for real,” my friend deadpanned. “Worthy of Mugabe.”
The contrast between the media’s disdain for Trump and the Tory government’s craven pandering to the President is huge, as Trump might say. As Prime Minister Theresa May prepared for her visit to the White House this week, there was a widespread sense of embarrassment in Britain over the begging-bowl nature of her trip. . . .
The British will return from Washington with a little less dignity than before, but with their “special relationship” intact. Other countries are receiving more bruising treatment. Mexicans have been feeling justifiably offended by Trump for some time, but their sense of grievance has sharpened considerably since Trump’s gleeful Tuesday-night tweet that he would sign executive orders the next day to begin the construction of his long-threatened border wall.
As ever, Trump has laid down his gauntlet by tweet. Clearly, he intends to govern in the same way that he campaigned—for all the feelings of reproof that his diction and his opinions arouse in millions of people around the world. He will be motivated by his understanding that, in the modern age, branding is everything. Just as he made a fortune by cashing in on the Trump brand, Twitter’s hundred and forty characters allow him to exercise power with a minimum degree of actual statecraft. 
[S]ince Trump’s victory, many of my Latin-American friends have sent me their heartfelt commiserations. Almost all of them compared Trump to the populist despots who have long dominated their region. Seen from sophisticated aeries such as New York or London, their politics have often seemed clownish and tinhorn. No longer. 

Trump to Screw American Consumers with Proposed 20% Import Tax on Mexico

It is increasingly difficult to keep up with the lies and utter misogyny spewing forth from Der Fuhrer. Sadly, much of the media is still allowing itself to be used by Trump to distract the public from the harmful and regressive policies that his narcissistic majesty is unleashing.  His latest attempt to dupe the white supremacists and low information voters - read cretins - that comprise much of his base  is to announce that he will build a $15 billion wall along the Mexico/U.S. border and "make Mexico pay for it" by imposing a 20% import tax on goods imported into America from Mexico.  Even a Economics 101 course would predict the actual outcome: higher prices for American consumers and businesses. Trump obviously believes that his base of support is too stupid to figure out this basic economic reality.  The Dallas Morning News is having none of the lie and is correctly calling Der Fuhrer for his duplicity.  Here are some article highlights:
The White House floated the idea Thursday of imposing a 20 percent tax on Mexican imports, arguing that would be more than enough to pay for a controversial border wall — then quickly downplayed the idea as one of many under consideration.
Such a tariff on goods and services would be paid by U.S. consumers and businesses — people buying anything from avocados and tequila to automobiles. Energy companies, big retailers and other major business interests oppose such an import tax, arguing that it would drive up prices in the United States, curb demand, and erode profits. 
On its face, that doesn't appear to fulfill President Donald Trump's oft-repeated vow to force Mexico to pay for the barrier, which Mexican leaders have made clear they don't want and certainly won't agree to pay for. 
If anything, it's a tacit admission that the Trump administration can't cajole or coerce Mexico into paying for the project, at least in the near term.
Texas imported $84 billion from Mexico in 2015. With a 20 percent tariff, Texas businesses and consumers would have paid an extra $16.8 billion for the same goods and services. . . . a tariff that high would drastically suppress trade in both directions, and have other repercussions.
"The notion that a Mexican tariff of 20 percent represents the Mexicans paying for the wall is a flawed understanding of how tariffs work," said David French, a senior vice president at the National Retail Federation. "That would be a huge increase on prices paid by U.S. consumers."
Alfredo Duarte, president and co-founder of Dallas-based Taxco Produce Inc., said the proposed import tax will hurt American consumers more than anyone - especially anyone with a year-round appetite for tomatoes and avocados.
"We don't produce any vegetables here in the states" during the winter, he said. "We have to import vegetables. If people are still wanting to eat guacamole on Super Bowl day, we'll just go back to the time when we were paying $80 a case for avocados from California about 15 years ago." . . . He added that many large scale avocado and tomato growers in Mexico are owned by American companies.
"Trump is taking a shot at our jobs," warned Texas Democratic Party executive director Crystal Perkins. "Texas' working families and our economy depend on a strong relationship with Mexico. Minority President Donald Trump's 20-percent tax will kill Texas jobs, raise the price of goods for Texas families, and slaughter Texas' relationship with its largest trading partner."

Everyday I find it more difficult to see Trump as anything other than a dangerous, lying pile of human excrement. That 81% of evangelical Christians voted for him says all one deeds to know about the moral bankruptcy of the "godly folk."  

Friday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Click image to enlarge

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Fort Lauderdale Bound

After the holidays and the despondency of the last week, the husband and I are taking a short get away trip to stay with friends from Newport News at their home in the Sunrise area of Fort Lauderdale.  As a result, the posting frequency on this blog may be reduced.  We are packing and have the house sitter/dog sitter lined up to move into the house in the morning as we head to the airport.  As is my custom, I will post about the trip and our experiences - which will include many gay venues - plus, the news, of course.

Mike Pence's Ominous Extremist Shadow

While many are hoping for the quick impeachment of Donald Trump so as to save the nation from some ego motivated outburst that takes the nation to war, the main problem is that then we as a nation would be faced with a different menace:  Mike Pence, a true right wing Christian fanatic.  Even now, some suspect Pence as the puppeteer behind Trump's support for Christofascist policies, although much of that momentum could easily derive for Trump's willingness to pander to those who stroke his ego and appeal to his never ending narcissism.  A column in the New York Times looks at just how extreme and out of the mainstream Pence is in fact.  Here are column highlights that ought to send a shiver down the spines of sane and rational people: 
Do you think Donald Trump is just Mike Pence’s puppet?
Interesting idea, right? Particularly since the very idea would make our new president totally nuts. Hehehehe.
And it’s possible. Trump is not a man who concentrates on policy issues. So far, the parts of the job that have obsessed him most are crowd size and vote size. And yeah, the wall. But there has to be somebody behind the scenes deciding the non-ego questions. Pass the word that it’s Pence.
The best early evidence is reproductive rights.  Not an issue Trump seemed all that interested in during the campaign . . . . Yet one of the first things he did as president was to sign an order that will eliminate American aid to international health programs that provide information on abortion. . . . Trump’s targets global health in general. . . . . We’re talking about a potential loss of billions of dollars in American aid.
The only politician who would behave like that would be someone who had spent his entire career trying to impose his deeply held conservative religious values on people who had different beliefs.
That would be Mike Pence. This is the guy who, as a member of Congress, co-sponsored a bill that would allow hospitals to deny abortions to pregnant women who would die without the procedure. Whose war against Planned Parenthood when he was governor of Indiana led to the closing of five clinics. (None of them did abortions. They did, however, provide testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and one of the counties where a clinic was closed suffered a big H.I.V. outbreak.)
Pence, by the way, also voted against the Lilly Ledbetter act for equal pay for women. He once argued that having two working parents would lead to “stunted emotional growth” in children. In 2006, he said same-sex couples were a sign of “societal collapse.” I am just mentioning this for you to remember the next time you hear people say they hope President Trump is impeached.
The early Trump administration, however, looks as if it’s being run by somebody who can’t wait to jump into the abortion fray. Republicans in Congress are working away on defunding Planned Parenthood — an organization Trump once said he admired. And the Affordable Care Act, which guarantees women’s right to get birth control coverage in their health insurance, is of course target one.
I propose you also spread the word that the president has only gone on this anti-reproductive rights bender because he’s under Mike Pence’s thumb.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

American 'Christianity' Has Failed

Despite my upbringing as a Roman Catholic which included daily mass, serving as an altar boy for ten years and raising to the 4th Degree in the Knights of Columbus, I now consider myself to be a "None."  Some ask why.  The answer is actually pretty simple.  Between the continued moral bankruptcy of the Catholic Church hierarchy and the continued aiding, abetting and protection of predator priests and the behavior of most likely a majority of those who call themselves "Christian" while supporting everything that is the antithesis of the Gospel message, I have come to see Christianity, especially American Christianity, as a toxic evil.  Yes, there are church soup kitchens and some charitable works, but those positives pale in comparison to the hate, fear, selfishness and hypocrisy that are now the hallmarks of Christianity.  The support of Donald Trump in the last election by 81% of evangelicals and reportedly a majority of Catholics underscores this reality.  Most of the truly decent and moral people that I know are not active churchgoers.  Most, like myself could be better described as Nones.  A piece in Sojourner looks at the failure and ugliness of American Christianity.  Read the whole piece.  Here are excerpts:
American Christians — particularly white evangelicals — continue to sing the words: “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders …” but fail to realize the shameful irony that they’re largely responsible for refusing shelter and opportunity to some of the world’s most helpless and oppressed people.  This represents a predominant theme of Westernized Christendom: proclaiming Christian rhetoric while actively — or passively — practicing the opposite in reality.
Because while the gospels instruct followers of Christ to help the poor, oppressed, maligned, mistreated, sick, and those most in need of help, Christians in America have largely supported measures that have rejected refugees, refused aid to immigrants, cut social services to the poor, diminished help for the sick, fueled xenophobia, reinforced misogyny, ignored racism, stoked hatred, reinforced corruption, and largely increased inequality, prejudice, and fear.
If Christians refuse to help and actually use their political advocacy and opinions to further hurt refugees, immigrants, women, foreigners, minorities, the poor, the oppressed, the persecuted, the sick, the LGBTQ community — and aren’t abiding by the golden rule of loving their neighbors as themselves, then who exactly are Christians supposedly loving?
What benefit are Christians providing their communities, and what good are they contributing to the world around them? Because in America, it appears that the sole purpose of Christianity is to selfishly protect people’s own self-interests instead of sacrificially serving others.
The election of President Donald Trump has proven that numerous Christians are more worried about power, influence, and control than the gospel messages of humility, generosity, ministering to others, and love. . . . . it should be sobering for Christians to realize that that many who claim to follow the Prince of Peace, the Healer, the Light of the World, supported policies that are bringing darkness and pain to so many people.
These presidential orders, which will refuse help to many of the world’s most vulnerable individuals, are what many Christians voted for. . . . . love, joy, peace, happiness, and self-control are notably absent from the current administration. . . . The gospel of Jesus has been traded in for a narrative of fear. 
[W]hile there might be political, economic, financial, and safety reasons for implementing policies that harm people and refuse them help, there are certainly no gospel reasons.

National Pride March Coming to Washington, DC, in June

In the wake of the Women's March in Washington, D.C., there has been a great deal of talk of the need to have regular protests and demonstrations against the regime of Der Fuhrer and his Republican henchmen who seemingly view much of the citizenry in the same manner the Nazi concentration camp guards viewed the death camp inmates.  With this in mind - and in view of the anti-LGBT jihad likely to soon to be unleashed by the Trump/Pence regime - plans are underway for a National Pride March that will coincide with D.C. Pride the weekend of June 11, 2017.  The Washington Blade looks at the developing plan.  More details are on the March's Facebook page here. Here are highlights from the Blade:
A gay activist in New York City has set in motion plans for a “mass” LGBT march on Washington on June 11, which he hopes will be similar to last week’s Women’s March on Washington that drew hundreds of thousands of people.
David Bruinooge, 42, a Brooklyn, N.Y., resident who has friends and relatives in the D.C. area, said he was inspired to create a Facebook page announcing the march on Jan. 21 while he was watching the Women’s March on Washington at home on television.
He said he intentionally chose June 11 for the march because it’s the same day that D.C.’s Capital Pride Festival is scheduled to be held on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. near the U.S. Capitol. Bruinooge said his thought was the march would start in the morning and end at the site of the Pride festival.
Ryan Bos, executive director of the Capital Pride Alliance, which organizes the D.C. Pride events, including the Pride Parade set to take place on June 10, said he has spoken with Bruinooge and expects that Capital Pride officials will collaborate with the march organizers so the march and the D.C. Pride events will complement each other.
Bruinooge said that at Bos’s suggestion, he has changed the name of the march from Gays on the Mall, which he initially announced on Facebook, to the National Pride March.
He acknowledges he and others working on the march will have a significant amount of work to do logistically, including obtaining permits for street closings. He said he’s hopeful that Capital Pride officials will provide support and consider the march to be a joint Capital Pride project.
And, yes, the husband and I will make plans to attend.

Will the GOP Save Us From the Trump Monster?

Personally, I gave up on the Republican Party many years ago when I resigned from the party when it became clear to me that the GOP could no longer grasp or respect the concept of the separation of Church and state.  In the intervening years, the GOP has gone form ugly to downright hideous and grotesque.  Racism, white supremacy, religious extremism and contempt for objective facts and science are now the GOP norm.  It was a very different party in the days of my parents and grandparents. Now, with the election of Donald Trump as the Republican president of this once great nation, the GOP has reached a new low.  Lying and "alternate facts" pass for integrity and and honesty.  Thus, the question becomes that of who will save America from the Frankenstein monster it has unleashed?  I myself put almost zero faith in the willingness or ability of the GOP to redeem itself and save the nation.  I think that new popular forces and  new political approaches are all that stand between America and fascism or Trumpism, things that are not all that different.  Yet a column in the Washington Post calls of the GOP to rise to the occasion.  I will not hold my breath, but here are column excerpts:
What we know so far is that the man is who he is. There is no larger, finer man inside him trying to get out. Everyone who is paying attention knows this. Flags flying at the Capitol, the U.S. Marine Band, gray eminences in black coats, and He Who Is Smarter Than Those With Intelligence delivers 16 minutes of hooey and horse hockey about corrupt politicians betraying the people, and American carnage, and patriotism healing our division, though the division is mainly about Himself and though love of country does not necessarily make people stupid.
There might as well have been a 14-year-old boy at the lectern  . . . . The next day he motored out to the CIA and stood before the memorial wall honoring heroes who gave their lives in anonymity and he bitched about his newspaper coverage. The next day he boasted that his inauguration’s TV ratings were higher than those in 2013. The day after that, he told the congressional leadership that he lost the popular vote because millions of illegal votes were cast, which everyone in the room knew was a bald-faced lie, except perhaps Himself. The man is clueless, tightly locked inside his own small bubble. A sizable minority of Americans, longing for greatness or wanting to smack down an ambitious woman and to show those people in the hellhole coastal cities what the real America is all about, has elected him. To him, this minority is a mass movement such as the world has never seen. God have mercy.
Everyone knows that the man is a fabulator, oblivious, trapped in his own terrible needs. Republican, Democrat, libertarian, socialist, white supremacist or sebaceous cyst — everyone knows it. It is up to Republicans to save the country from this man. They elected him, and it is their duty to tie a rope around his ankle. They formed a solid bloc against President Obama and held their ranks, and now, for revenge, they will go after health insurance subsidies for people of limited means, which is one of the cruelest things they can possibly do. . . . . when upward of 30 million are left high and dry, people will suffer horribly.
The question is: How cynical are we willing to be and for how long? How long will Senate Republicans wait until a few of them stand up to the man? Greatness is in the eye of the beholder. American self-respect is what is at stake here, ladies and gentlemen. The only good things to come out of that inauguration were the marches all over the country the day after, millions of people taking to the streets of their own free will . . . . That’s the great America I grew up in. It’s still here.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Will White House Leaks Defeat Trump?

Despite his full blown assault on the free press, Der Fuhrer has one problem that may yet sink him and open the way for his removal from office: leaks flowing in a torrent from White House staffers and others. The picture that is emerging should surprise no one other than the most brainwashed or bigotry filled Trump supporters:  the occupant of the Oval Office is a thin skinned narcissist who cannot stand anything that does not further inflate his overweening ego and who will lash out at anything not in keeping with his alternate universe.  One can only hope that with time even the worse political whores in the Republican Party will wake up to the fact that Trump needs to go for the good of everyone in America.  I loath Mike Pence, but at least he isn't clinically insane and might be controlled by tradition and the ability to grasp some semblance of objective reality.  A piece in Talking Points Memo looks at the ongoing leaks flowing from the White House.  Here are highlights:
 We now have a story from The Washington Post ("The first days inside Trump’s White House: Fury, tumult and a reboot") to match yesterday's from The Times ("Rocky First Weekend for Trump Troubles Even His Top Aides"). They are each a classic type for a major newspaper.
But there is an underlying, not-made-explicit message to both which is perhaps the most important. We are three days into the administration and the Trump White House leaks not so much like a sieve as a bucket with no bottom.
The Trump White House not only leaks like crazy. It casually leaks the most intimate and humiliating details about the President - hurt feelings, ego injury, childlike behavior, self-destructive rages over tweets, media failure to credit his own grandiosity. We have simply never seen this level of leaking, with this little respect for the President's dignity or reputation, this early.
From The Post ...
Trump has been resentful, even furious, at what he views as the media’s failure to reflect the magnitude of his achievements, and he feels demoralized that the public’s perception of his presidency so far does not necessarily align with his own sense of accomplishment.
From Politico ...
One person who frequently talks to Trump said aides have to push back privately against his worst impulses in the White House, like the news conference idea, and have to control information that may infuriate him. He gets bored and likes to watch TV, this person said, so it is important to minimize that.
There is, to put it mildly, a rather clearly recurring theme: a torqued up man-child, alternatively rageful and fragile, both grandiose and profoundly insecure.
It is a bracing picture, chilling and hilarious. But don't lose the point: no White House leaks like this, leaks this much or leaks this casually about the President's emotional weakness. 

Again, no one should be surprised if they have even casually followed Trump over the years.  That said, it is frightening that we have someone mentally disturbed in the office of the presidency.  Trump needs to go and the sooner the better.  He is a clear and present danger to America and the world.

The First Amendment Will Not Protect the Press from Trump

One of the first things that dictators do is to legitimize the press - before taking control of it. Controlling the press and/or neutralizing it in the eyes of many is key to assuming dictatorial power and controlling the populace.  One need only look at the situation of the press in Putin's Russia or China to see the model that Trump seeks to inflict on America.  When Kellyanne "Goebbels" Conway spoke of "alternate facts" she was speaking of lies.  Anything that undermines "Dear Leader" will be countered with "alternate facts" regardless of their deliberate untruthfulness.  Some Republicans such as Lindsey Graham see the danger ahead.  Most sadly, either are remaining quite and participating in the lies through their silence or, worse, many are joining in with Der Fuhrer and seeking to deceive the American public.  A column in the New York Times looks at the increasing danger.  Here are excerpts:
When President Trump declared on Saturday that reporters are “among the most dishonest human beings on earth,” it was not the first time he had disparaged the press. Nor was it out of character when, later that same day, his press secretary threatened “to hold the press accountable” for reporting truthful information that was unflattering to Mr. Trump. Episodes like these have become all too common in recent weeks. So it’s comforting to know that the Constitution serves as a reliable stronghold against Mr. Trump’s assault on the press.
Except that it doesn’t. The truth is, legal protections for press freedom are far feebler than you may think. Even more worrisome, they have been weakening in recent years.
The First Amendment provides only limited protection for the press. Over the centuries, courts have affirmed that it prohibits government censorship and offers some protection against defamation lawsuits. But journalists themselves have few constitutional rights when it comes to matters such as access to government sources and documents, or protection from being hounded by those in power for their news gathering and reporting.
There are some legal protections, but the press also relies on nonlegal safeguards. In the past, these have included the institutional media’s relative financial strength; the good will of the public; a mutually dependent relationship with government officials; the support of sympathetic judges; and political norms and traditions.
[T]he public’s good will, which long sustained the freedom of the press in America, has evaporated. In the 1970s, nearly three-quarters of Americans reported they trusted the news media, and the press was able to translate this support into substantial opportunities for news gathering: People who trusted the media were more likely to bring them leads and to demand that the press be allowed to cover newsworthy events. Today, however, public confidence in the press has dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history.
As for the relationship between the press and government officials, that too has changed. Until recently, the press relied on politicians for access to information while politicians relied on the press for access to the public’s ear. This ensured that government officials would never shut out the press entirely. But with the fragmentation of the news industry, this is less true; the established news media can no longer claim to be the primary source of the public’s information.
In addition, the courts cannot be relied on — at least not as they once could be — for forceful protection of press liberties. The Supreme Court has not decided a major press case in more than a decade, in part because it has declined to do so, and in part because media companies, inferring the court’s relative lack of interest, have decided not to waste their resources pressing cases.
As each of these press-freedom pillars weakens, the one remaining pillar must bear more than its share of the weight. It’s the one, however, that President Trump now seems most keen to destroy: tradition.
It is primarily customs and traditions, not laws, that guarantee that members of the White House press corps have access to the workings of the executive branch.
This is why we should be alarmed when Mr. Trump, defying tradition, vilifies media institutions, attacks reporters by name and refuses to take questions from those whose coverage he dislikes. Or when he decides not to let reporters travel with him on his plane, or fails to inform them when he goes out in public. Or when he suggests he might evict the White House press corps from the West Wing and have his administration, rather than the White House Correspondents Association, determine who gets allowed to attend briefings.
We cannot simply sit back and expect that the First Amendment will rush in to preserve the press, and with it our right to know. Like so much of our democracy, the freedom of the press is only as strong as we, the public, demand it to be.
With far too many Americans complacent about protecting their own rights much less freedom of the press, those of us not already brainwashed by Fox News and/or Breitbart need to be very afraid and bestir ourselves to oppose Trump and his attempts to destroy the press with utmost vigor. If the press is muzzled, our right to freedom of speech will be the next target.  

Experts in Authoritarianism: Worried About Trump and GOP Failure to Rein Him In

While I have "friends" who voted for Trump and the GOP who refuse to open their eyes to Trump's troubling behavior and authoritarianism, political scientists and experts on authoritarian regimes of the past are having no difficulty in recognizing warning signs from Trump - and the GOP as well since that party now seems only too willing to close its eyes to violations of the U.S. Constitution so long as the party's extreme reverse Robin Hood policies can be rammed through.  One piece in Think Progress looks at the warning signs already on display and suggests that the time to organize is NOW.  Another in The New Republic looks at the sinister agenda behind Trump's and his sycophants continuous lies.  Here are excerpts from the Think Progress piece:
President Donald Trump has only had a few days to govern so far.  In that time, he staged a press conference where his press secretary blatantly lied to the media, told the National Park Service not to tweet, and met with an American intelligence agency in an “uncomfortable” meeting. One of his senior advisers introduced the worrying concept that the Trump administration’s lies will be considered “alternative facts.
ThinkProgress surveyed a group of political theorists and scholars of authoritarianism and asked them to evaluate the new president. Trump is already trying to rule in the style of a populist authoritarian, they said.
Sheri Berman, a political scientist at Barnard College, said that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway’s invocation of “alternative facts” was particularly alarming.
“It’s one thing to bash journalists but when you start talking about facts not being facts, and bar people from access to information, major red flags are going up,” said Berman.
“There is no doubt he is an authoritarian, which is completely logical because he has always worked in a structure in which he has absolute power and to me that is clear in his understanding that he sees politics as a business,” said Cas Mudde, an associate professor at the University of Georgia. “He sees democracy as ‘I have won, so I can do whatever I want or whatever I think is best for the country and I’m allowed to do that because I’m the CEO of America, Inc.’”
Trump has exhibited certain personality traits shared by authoritarian rulers, including a tendency toward nepotism, a fragile ego, and an unwillingness to gracefully accept criticism. But he will have a hard time consolidating power, so long as there remains political opposition, a free press, and checks and balances in government. Experts in authoritarianism said his movement also lacks the organization that would allow it to fully supplant existing institutions.
Totalitarian regimes of the past, like Communists in the Soviet Union or the Nazis in Germany, rose to power after incredible organization and could call upon hundreds of thousands of members. Despite already having an intricate structure in place, “even they achieved a totalitarian regime after a long time,” Mudde said.  “While I worry about autocratic tendencies, I don’t see ideology or structure for anything that is comparable to fascism.”
But there are certain moves Trump could make that would suggest a line had been crossed. “If he started passing laws or trying to use his influence to hinder CNN’s ability to report or broadcast [that would cross a line],” Berman said.
Other triggers would include using the government to “pass laws that impinge on certain citizens of ethnic or religious backgrounds,” said Berman. “Characteristics that are not just un-American, but antithetical to precepts of liberal democracy.”
Vigilance is important going forward, as Trump’s ascension to the presidency shows that a considerable portion of Republicans accepted the more radical aspects of his candidacy.
The toleration, or in some cases radicalization, of the GOP establishment is more threatening than Trump’s presidency on its own, said Ben-Ghiat.
“Formally, we have checks and balances. I’m of the school that those things are not going to stop him,” Ben-Ghiat said. “We put all the blame on Trump but the GOP has seen in him a kind of vehicle to get certain radical things they want done and [to push] a certain cultural shift in the nation.”
“The only thing between Trump and autocratic and illiberal democratic rule might be the GOP and I’m not sure how much that is going to do for us,” Mudde said. “I don’t think there is reason to panic. There is reason to organize.”
As noted, The New Republic looks at the rationale behind the incessant lies flowing from the mouth of Trump and his morally bankrupt surrogates.  Here are highlights:
The purpose of the Trump administration’s lies is not necessarily to deceive, but to separate the believers from the disbelievers—for the purpose of rewarding the former and punishing the latter. As chess champion Garry Kasparov, an expert in authoritarianism as an outspoken opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, tweeted on Saturday: Obvious lies serve a purpose for an administration. They watch who challenges them and who loyally repeats them. The people must watch, too.
[T]he Trump administration can blatantly lie, knowing that his base trusts him more than the “dishonest media.” And that’s exactly what Trump did in his CIA speech, which was rife with deceptions and examples of a narcissistic will to reshape the truth.  . . . . the president went on a tangent about Time.
 “I have been on their cover, like, 14 or 15 times,” he said. “I think we have the all-time record in the history of Time magazine. . . . . . (The all-time record is held by Richard Nixon, who appeared on 55 Time covers.) Aside from these lies and factual mistakes, Trump’s speech was genuinely weird on a number of a counts. His intended purpose was to mend fences with the agency, with which he’s feuded over their conclusion that Russia interfered in the election to help him defeat Hillary Clinton. Yet he did very little to reassure CIA staff, only briefly acknowledging their sacrifice and service by alluding to a wall commemorating agents who died in line of duty.
Rather, Trump was in full campaign mode, attacking the media (“among the most dishonest human beings on Earth”) and praising himself (“they say, ‘is Donald Trump an intellectual?’ Trust me, I’m like a smart person”). He also indicated the U.S. might reinvade Iraq for imperial plunder. While Trump’s antics might have impressed his fans watching from home, they seem to have done little to assuage worries in the agency. The New Yorker interviewed a variety of intelligence experts, including John MacGaffin, a high-ranking veteran of the agency. “What self-centered, irrational decision process got him to this travesty?” MacGaffin told the magazine. “Most importantly, how will that process serve us when the issues he must address are dangerous and incredibly complex? This is scary stuff!” Trump’s self-centered decision process is authoritarianism, and it’s anything but irrational. He campaigned in an authoritarian style, with rallies where he riled up large crowds to jeer at the press and protesters. One of the defining tactics of his campaign was disinformation, coupled with accusations of the same against the media. That hasn’t changed now that Trump is president.  The president will wage a rhetorical war against the media, with the intent of delegitimizing one of the few institutions that can hold him accountable, and he will wage it with his most effective weapon: Lies, damned lies, and false statistics. 
Adolph Hitler and the Nazi regime employed similar tactics yet my "friends" see no cause for alarm. Sadly, I suspect they'd have made great guards at Nazi death camps given their willingness to believe and appeals to hate and bigotry.