Monday, July 3, 2017

Gimme That Ole Time Corruption: Pat Robertson in the Schemes of Jay Sekulow and Donald Trump

Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power. - George Bernard Shaw

The Three Self-Dealers: Another Unholy Trinity Formed Around Trump?

President Trump solidified his ties to the Christian Right by appointing Jay Sekulow as his lawyer to handle the Trump-Russia-Collusion-Obstruction problem. Came highly recommended from the likes of Pat Robertson. And for several reasons:

1. Sekulow is chief attorney for the ACLJ - the Christian Right legal defense team founded by Pat Robertson

2. Sekulow's web of self-run non-profits funnel money to Pat Robertson's shadowy Advocacy Services

3. Sekulow is just as corrupt as both Robertson and Trump (primarily in his self-dealings and family-filled "non-profits") and and is just as much of a showman.

Washington Post
Since 2013, CASE [Sekulow's Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism] has forwarded $500,000 each year to a small charity called the Law and Justice Institute that has no employees and relies almost exclusively on CASE for its revenue,tax filings show. Sekulow is president of the Law and Justice Institute. The Law and Justice Institute, in turn, has paid $500,000 each year to Advocacy Services. Robertson is president of that firm, according to Virginia state records. Robertson’s spokesman did not address written questions about the payments from The Post. [emphasis mine]
And he's as bombastic and tenacious towards his enemies as Trump is:
First, Sekulow is at home in the spotlight. He hosts a daily radio show that airs nationally and online. He has been a regular contributor and on-air guest at Fox News. And his bombastic personality has stood out to several other attorneys in the Christian legal movement – asking to remain anonymous, one lawyer told me Sekulow “spends an inordinate amount of time tooting his own horn.” Judging by his past, appearing on various Sunday morning shows to defend Trump is a natural act for Sekulow.
What is Sekulow getting out of all of this? It's possible Trump may not pay Sekulow: he has a history of not paying legal fees (unless they're paid by the Trump Foundation). In fact, one of his former legal teams has liens against his properties.* It's possible that Sekulow - ever the media hound - has an agenda involving power over the media.

Trump is certainly no stranger to self-dealing and eager to appease the Christian Right via Pat Robertson, so again, Sekulow is a perfect match. Robertson has also defended Trump:
Lest there be any doubt that Christian televangelist Pat Robertson supports President Donald Trump, the longtime host of the 700 Club declared that God put Trump “in this office.”“He’s God’s man for the job,” Robertson said this week, as Right Wing Watch reported.
Pat Robertson was really angry with FBI Director James Comey, this morning: "Once again that clown that is in charge of whatever you call those people, FBI, is in charge of the headlines."
This last statement is ironic, since both Comey and Mueller came to the aid of Robertson's good friend and spiritual colleague John Ashcroft when he was in the hospital being besieged by Bush's White House staff.

About the only real difference Robertson has with Sekulow and Trump is that he really, really hates Russia.*


Note: pictured above with Trump, Robertson and 
Sekulow is Gary Marx, leader of the Faith and
 Freedom Coalition - the entity involved in the 
Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. Birds of a feather...

So dirty money and favors flow between these three seemingly opportunistic con men. In Pat Robertson's world, it's called "reciprocity," but without the God factor.

God has little to do with this trio of corruption.

Reciprocity. Corruption. Perhaps the best depiction of the two intertwined is in this scene from "Chicago."

*USA Today:
One law firm that fought contractors over payments and other issues for Trump — New York City’s Morrison Cohen LLP — ended up on the other side of a similar battle with the mogul in 2008. Trump didn’t like that its lawyers were using his name in press releases touting its representation of Trump in a lawsuit against a construction contractor that Trump claimed overcharged him for work on a luxury golf club.

As Trump now turned his ire on his former lawyers, however, Morrison Cohen counter-sued. In court records, the law firm alleged Trump didn’t pay nearly a half million dollars in legal fees. Trump and his ex-lawyers settled their disputes out of court, confidentially, in 2009.

In 2012, Virginia-based law firm Cook, Heyward, Lee, Hopper & Feehan filed a lawsuit against the Trump Organization for $94,511 for legal fees and costs. The case was eventually settled out of court. But as the case unfolded, court records detail how Trump's senior deputies attacked the attorneys' quality of work in the local and trade press, leading the firm to make claims of defamation that a judge ultimately rejected on free speech grounds.

*Again, Irony:
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill I apparently agrees with U.S. preacher Pat Robertson that Haitians brought the earthquake on themselves:
Kirill, speaking during a weekend visit to Kazakhstan, said the Haitian people bore responsibility for the calamity because they had turned away from God.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Trump Killed America's Dignity and Integrity. Does The Christian Right Care?

Of course, it is all too obvious that President Donald Trump lacks dignity and integrity.

After all, he killed both.

Dignity in particular fought a brave battle it did, but it was no match for the sheer bombast and inconsiderate crudeness of a con man whose slogan - Make America Great Again - should have been Debase America Always.

Last Memorial Day, President Donald J. Trump visited Arlington National Cemetery for the President's obligatory Memorial Day tradition, laying a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He delivered a proper (for him) address: he extolled the bravery of our soldiers.

Then he forgot where he was and proceeded to perplex, shock and amuse everyone with a childlike rendition of dignity, half-mouthing, swaying and smiling to no one. It was a sight: the smugness and arrogance of five year-old.

Integrity, on the other hand, never even had a chance: Trump annihilated it well before the election:

- Thrice married: the second to a woman he with whom he was having an affair. He bragged about his infidelities and said that having a wife and a mistress at the same time was "beautiful."

- Had over 428 liens against his properties before becoming President (50 more to come with his newest venture of the (now) infamous hotel in D.C. He was long known as "the biggest deadbeat in real estate."

- His ties to organized crime go back over twenty years.

The list of undignified experiences and quotations as well as the list of no-integrity dealings have been put forth for years, but supporters managed to brush them all aside during the campaign.

Look for the narcissist. The most obvious target in today’s lineup is, of course, Donald Trump. When he looks at a glass, he is mesmerized by its reflection. If Donald Trump were shaped a little differently, he would compete for Miss America. But whatever the depths of self-enchantment, the demagogue has to say something. So what does Trump say? That he is a successful businessman and that that is what America needs in the Oval Office. There is some plausibility in this, though not much. The greatest deeds of American Presidents — midwifing the new republic; freeing the slaves; harnessing the energies and vision needed to win the Cold War — had little to do with a bottom line.-William F. Buckley
Whatever the attraction of Trump to voters, it did not seem to be based on reason:

After Trump's inauguration, some buyers' remorse had set in: blatant cronyism (look who he appointed today to head an agency she knows nothing about) nepotism, totally undiplomatic dealings with foreign countries, broken promises, self-dealing, all took their toll leading to one of the lowest job ratings in presidential history in a matter of months.
Even Ann Coulter denounced his actions as "living in Dr Strangelove".

Congressmen have been given to questioning Trump's mental health.

You would think that only the most unreasoning and addle-brained American would still support Trump. While not exactly true, the "35 percent" are a dangerous conglomerate of the uninformed, the misinformed, the disaffected and, of course, the Evangelical Christian Right. The main agendas for Trump's die hard supporters have encompassed xenophobia, eradication of governmental restrictions on most everything and discrimination against minorities with a nationalistic ideology that defines Trump's campaign opened doors for these mindsets - mindsets so important that anyone touting them would get their vote no how poor their morals and integrity seemed to be.

The Staunchest of the 35% - Meeting Reason With Violent Unreason ... and God

If good vetting of candidates is not a strong point of Republicans (think Sarah Palin), then any vetting is absolutely anathema to the Christian Right. After all, God vets, God chooses and that's that.

Check out the entire outlandish segment HERE on the David Pakman show.

Fringe craziness? The operative word here is "fringe", a part of the American political scene that is disproportionately influential - and dangerous, with people like Robert Jeffress, Jerry Falwell, Jr. and (prosperity preacher) Paula White bending the ear of the President:

Religious Right activist “Coach” Dave Daubenmire declared on his “Pass The Salt Live” webcast this morning that America needs “a more violent Christianity.” He cited President Trump and Greg Gianforte as examples of violent men who are properly “walking in authority.”
Daubenmire and radio show host Alex Jones like Trump's macho, good-ole-boy misogynistic style.

A "fringe" that supports climate change denial, a rollback of LGBTQ rights, and even a budget that makes the poor poorer and the rich richer is eager to take over:

Religion Dispatches

But the support for tax cuts, over assistance for those in need, is not just a gift from Trump to his rich friends, tolerated by evangelicals because they care more about other issues. These budget cuts are in keeping with the religious right’s understanding of a biblical worldview, and are at the very core of its agenda.
Of course, it is Pence who is the Christofascist's dream come true, but the Christian Right is still very satisfied with Trump, the "Chosen One."

The Chosen One

With all the twisting, spinning and denying that make up the Christian Right's support of Trump, it could lose what little respect it has from the outside world. But what care they when they have their Chosen One leading them to moral (and possibly Dominionist) victory?

A man with no veracity, no dignity, no integrity.

A Chosen One indeed.
Note: Comparisons of Trump to Hitler abound, so this piece from Judgement at Nuremberg might resonate. Pay particular attention to Marlene Dietrich's story (at the 1:30 mark) - it epitomizes in a sophisticated way what many of us would like to say to Trump.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Embracing Evil: Christofascism's Love For Trump, Putin and Prince Tips Its Hand In The Game Of Religion and Poltics

First, The Sanctimonious Hypocrisy

Yesterday, President Trump's attendance of Easter services at his local Episcopal Church in Palm Beach was hailed as the sign that Donald Trump was indeed the most religious President ever.

According to the Christian Right.

The fact that his attendance at church was the first since his inauguration matters not. Why? Because, according to self-prophet and Christian Leader, Mary Colbert, Donald Trump is "The Chosen One" and all of his opponents will be cursed (plus their children and their children's children).

Colbert's religious whitewash of Trump is not new - the extreme pretzel-twisting reasoning of the Christian Right `began well before Trump's campaign. It only got more ridiculous as Trump's lies, scandals and ineptitude became increasingly apparent.

Colbert called Trump "not perfect." Forget "pussygate" and Russian prostitutes peeing on each other, as a leader of the free world, he has exhibited many many vices (sins), so we know he's not perfect, but  here's what "not perfect" includes in Donald Trump:

The sin of Pride: BRITAIN: Trump Demands Royal Carriage Procession For October Visit Despite UK Security Concerns

Secrecy is not necessarily a virtue:
White House says it won't make visitor logs public

Donald Trump has a problem keeping promises:
Trump Flips On Four Campaign Positions In One Day: NATO, Janet Yellen, Chinese Currency, The EXIM Bank

The sin of Greed: Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold wins Pulitzer Prize for dogged reporting of Trump’s philanthropy

A Champion of conspiracy: Guardian Report Claims U.S. Has “Concrete Evidence” of Trump-Russia Collusion

Added to the above is the fact that Trump has continued to disappoint (sometimes enrage) his stalwart supporters:

Last night Ann Coulter appeared on the Fox News show of Trump sycophant Lou Dobbs, where she angrily denounced Trump’s strike on Syria, saying, “I feel like I’m watching Dr. Strangelove.” Dobbs then moved the conversation to Trump’s other failing campaign promises including the Mexican border wall, prompting Coulter to sneer, “I didn’t know we elected Jeb Bush.”

So why is Trump still "The Chosen One" among people like Colbert? 

Enter Putin and Prince

In some ways, Vladamir Putin is like Trump (with more intelligence): he is considered a con man who declares himself to be deeply religious and totally family-oriented. He is also secretive ... and greedy (no one knows his net worth)

Figuring out the Russian president’s net worth has long been the holy grail of spooks and hacks around the world. But the personal wealth of Putin—a former KGB agent—is nearly impossible to decipher, and is likely distributed across a secret web of company holdings, real estate, and other people’s accounts. In fact, at a time when his political motivations are under scrutiny across the world, the struggle to pin down Putin’s riches reveals something about the covert ways in which he wields his authority over Russia.

Putin, however, is perhaps THE most Christian of all world leaders because he openly hates gays - or so says Bryan Fischer:

Erik Prince

If Putin's friendship makes Trump look shady, the presence of Erik Prince makes the picture look positively sinister. 

On any list of loathsome Americans, Erik Prince has to be right at the top. He got rich behind Blackwater, the renegade mercenary army that is responsible for a great deal of the hatred directed toward this country in the Middle East. (Privatized hatred was Blackwater's primary gift to the world.) Since his brand cratered (Blackwater was renamed Xe, pronounced, I believe, "Kill." It is now known as Academi. Why? Who knows?), Prince has become an International Man of Sleaze, taking on clients from China to the UAE, which is probably how the meeting in the Seychelles came about, since it was brokered by the UAE government, and since prying Russia and Iran apart is something that the UAE would love to see happen. But what in the hell is Erik Prince doing negotiating on behalf of the United States government, even given the fact that administrations of both parties have done business with him overseas?
Erik Prince's exploits have been chronicled here and here at OpEdNews, and the articles make the point that Christfascism is ripe for conspiracy: Erik Prince is considered Islamophobic in the extreme, wishing to rid the world of Islam by brute force. His ties to both Trump and Putin are the stuff of spy novels. And let's not forget that he's Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's brother. 

An Unholy Trio

So in Putin and Prince, we have men who voice Christofascism's main concerns and the man who can implement their goals. It doesn't matter that the man is destroying American principles left and right. 

After all, he's The Chosen One. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Jesse Would Be Soooo Proud!: Proposed Budget To Cut AIDS/HIV Research and Programs by Whopping 1.23 Billion

Joe. My.God

President Donald Trump’s administration has proposed cutting $1.23 billion this fiscal year from research funded by the National Institutes of Health, according to a White House document sent to congressional appropriators.

The reduction is part of $18 billion in cuts that the administration wants in fiscal 2017, which ends in October. Most of the proposed reductions at NIH would come from research grants, with $50 million specifically taken from a program meant to support biomedical research in states that typically get less agency money.

When I read this, I thought immediately about Jesse Helms.

Huffington Post 7/21/2008 (when Helms died):

Beyond his hateful words, Helms’ bigotry was shown by his political aims. He led the opposition to the federal Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, supported the apartheid regime in South Africa, and consistently opposed civil rights legislation. For nearly two decades, he fought tooth and nail against expanded federal funding for AIDS research, and exploited gays and lesbians as convenient scapegoats in his constant fear-mongering crusade. (Emphasis mine)

One of my San Francisco co-workers said: "Trump's rolling back the clock, isn't he?" 

Yes, but not to a kinder, gentler time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Knee Deep And Starting To Rain: Will Trump Be Able To Weather His Problems? Only His Alternate Reality Knows For Sure.

Caption: 2017 Political Climate Forecast : "And more on the way!"

2017 will only make sense if Trump is impeached.

Russia.   Conflicts of Interest.   Animosity towards the press.   John Lewis. Sexual Harassment Law Suit. Questionable Cabinet appointees.

...and Twitter Addiction. 

Trump's problems are piling up and there may come a time when even the Republican Party will not support him.

In accordance with his way of celebrating Martin Luther King Day, Trump lambasted Civil Rights icon John Lewis via Twitter (of course) after Lewis said that he would not be attending the inauguration and called Trump "illegitimate". Trump called Lewis' 5th District "crime-infested" and "falling apart" and said that Lewis was "all talk and no action".

Lewis' 5th District includes Atlanta, which is considered one of the fastest growing cities in the country job-wise and has a much higher standard of education than the rest of the nation.

In sum, Trump is exaggerating when he says Georgia’s 5th is "falling apart" by some metrics and, by others, he’s flat-out wrong.
The results:
As of Tuesday, 60 House Democrats have announced they intend to boycott President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, following his public rant against civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).

Of course, we expected no less from Mr. Trump, whose petulant temperament takes childishness to a new level. But will the country (and the Republican Party) hope for a more "Presidential" demeanor from this child-President?

"PissGate" Will Take Its Toll

The rancor and suspicions as to Trump's Russia ties caused by the now infamous dossier leaked to Buzzfeed will not be going away soon. Credibility aside, the fact that Trump's temperament aligns with the story of revenge is enough to plant questions in people's minds for a long time and spawn conspiracy theories to counter right-wing groups' denials.

So who will protect Trump when the going gets rough? 
Yahoo News:
MOSCOW (AP) — With eager anticipation, the Kremlin is counting the days to Donald Trump's inauguration and venting its anger at Barack Obama's outgoing administration, no holds barred.
Intelligence Committee finally shows some intelligence
It took 17 intelligence agency reports, an M16 agents report, numerous Russian allies working ON the campaign, photos of actual meetings of said campaign staff with Putin and his cronies and Trump giving Putin verbal bj's on stage for over a year for the government to actually decide to investigate.

Two of the “pro-family” lawmakers behind Russia’s ban on “homosexual propaganda” are now behind a bill that would “downgrade assault inside the traditional family unit from a criminal offense to a misdemeanor,” according to a report by Tom Balmforth of Radio Free Europe.
Earlier this week, one of the members of that board, Richard Land of the Southern Evangelical Seminary, appeared on the “Point of View” radio program, where he told host Kerby Anderson that he has been shocked by how much influence he and other Religious Right activists have had over the make-up of Trump’s administration.
Christianity (Trump's Christianity but certainly not ours) will make America a dominionist country
While rarely mentioning God before or after the campaign, Trump has systematically appointed lackeys to the Christian Right. Very wealthy Betsy DeVos has been a staunch Christian Reform Church member all her life and her policies smack of Dominionism:

For any other incoming president, such a pile of controversies and crises would suggest an early political disaster is imminent for the new White House. But Trump broke the mold in his outsider campaign and has repeatedly shrugged off scandals and controversies that would have downed normal politicians. He appears determined to shake up conventions that have built up around the presidency for two centuries and has little time for those who say he lacks presidential demeanor.

Making Hay Off The Presidency
A multi-million dollar expansion of President-elect Donald Trump’s golf resort in Scotland is reportedly underway — less than a week after Trump’s attorney told reporters that the president-elect had, in an effort to distance himself from conflicts of interests with regards to his businesses, “ordered that all pending deals be terminated.”

One Glaring New Conflict Of Interest:

We've already pointed out that Trump has a branded Tower in Manila, but now he'll have TWO:

One of the most most glaring conflicts is set to open up this quarter: Trump Tower Manila, a 57-floor skyscraper inside Century City, in a gentrifying area of Manila’s business district. It’s a joint project with Century Properties Group, Inc. (CPGI), a Filipino real estate development company owned by Jose E.B. Antonio, who is also a special trade envoy to the United States. If the partnership between Trump and Antonio is structured like many of his other business deals, with Trump licensing his name in exchange for ongoing payments, Trump will essentially be on the payroll of a member of controversial Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte’s government.

These and all other s will dog him for a long long time and be the basis for future objections to Presidential actions. " should pop up soon. 

Again, all f this comes down to one question: will trump's alternate reality prevail? 
Because in his world, Donald Trump has no problems.

No problems whatsoever.

Giving One's All To A Secular Charity In The Age Of Trump

In Trump, the Christian Right has come alive and has a political blood thirst with a Seven Mountains, Christian-only nation on the horizon. People like David Barton, Franklin Graham, Tony Perkins and Jerry Falwell Jr. are buoyed to the point of giddiness about Trump's executive order eradicating the separation of Church and State. Until now, their persona needed at least a thin veneer of charity and tolerance. Now they can cast off the yolk of "Christian Charity". Now they can concentrate on what - to them - really matters: producing a Christian theocracy.

Meanwhile, secular, non-faith-based charities remain as vulnerable as the diverse communities they serve. No doubt that donations to secular charities will trail off.

For over 25 years, I have supported organizations like the AIDS Emergency Fund (I was on the "Working" Board of Directors for years) and last week, I did something few self-respecting  septuagenarians would do: I entered the Bare Chest Calendar contest to help raise money for the AEF and for an organization devoted to helping people claim their Social Security and health benefits, Positive Resource Center. 

I guess, in an odd sort of way, I have Trump to thank for my unusual support for charity: I'm frightened to think that the Christian Right will have cornered the market on Christian Charity, eradicating it in the secular area. I'm frightened to think what will happen to the efforts of diverse communities to stay alive - if we don't hunker down and band together, helping each and everyone to survive. 

Now please keep in mind, that the Bare Chest Calendar contest is not a beauty nor popularity contest: just view the video below and (if so inclined), show your support by clicking "like" under my picture on their Facebook page (

After all, we really have to stick together.

No Fine Print: Unsettling Thoughts On A Sound Byte Presidency

The premise that President Donald J. Trump can barely read is growing by leaps and bounds.

In his OpEdNews piece, Is President Donald Trump Semi-literate?, Scott Baker relates Samantha Bee's take on his literacy, as well as The Forbes article stating that Trump's Wharton Business School tenure is very questionable (see the Funny or Die video below for laughs).
As the Full Frontal host said in a segment that premiered on Facebook Live, Bee 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. “Objection!” Bee said. “How can you expect someone who isn’t a fancy-pants lawyer to read words?”

Also: how can you expect someone with a sketchy education to read extensively? His transcripts, like his tax returns, are not available. He was a shadowy figure at Wharton:

The Daily Kos
One former classmate in an Accounting class remembers, "He rarely showed up to class and “everyone” knew he bought the answers to the final exam. He spent little time on campus preferring to travel back and forth to New York City."
Now we know why whenever he says "I'm really smart" it sounds as if its coming from someone who just passed his GED on the third try. In fact, his campaign speeches had grammar just above the sixth grade - just about the same level as his followers on Facebook.

He said in a series of interviews that he does not need to read extensively because he reaches the right decisions “with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I [already] had, plus the words ‘common sense,’ because I have a lot of common sense and I have a lot of business ability.”

Sound Byte President

It may have been Chuck Todd who discovered that Trump lives on sound bytes:
Todd: Who do you talk to for military advice right now?
Trump: Well, I watch the shows. I mean, I really see a lot of great — you know, when you watch your show and all of the other shows, and you have the generals.
His love of the National Enquirer (which, btw, was his only major newspaper endorsement during the campaign) is noteworthy: the supermarket tabloid deals in the same kind of sound bytes as TV, but only on a more salacious level. And what can he "learn" from the Enquirer other than some celebrity's "brave last days" and the latest Jon Benet Ramsey scandal?

"Nobody reads the bible more than me"

The above evidence of Trump's bibliophobia leads to two very important questions: what has he NOT read and what will he NOT READ?


The Constitution - It's evident that Trump has never bothered to read the constitution and only knows right-wing talking points (First and Second Amendment - think Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and the NRA)

Legal Documents - they're boring and complicated and way too wordy. Trust others to read them and tell you what they are in two tweets - max.

The Bible - the above statement sent tidal waves of laughter throughout social media and the like. James Dobson of Focus on the Family* called Trump a baby Christian - a baby who hasn't learned to read and for whom the Bible is too heavy to pick up.

Trump has said that the Bible is his favorite book, but then again, he said that the last memorable read was All Quiet on the Western Front. So, which one is it?

It's obvious that Trump has never read the Bible - unless, of course, it comes in sound bytes. The sound bytes that come from him as heard by the Christian Right, however, seem to be okay: they've twisted themselves into knots turning this very faulty human being into a demi-god.


Comprehensive Security Intelligence Briefs
[W]hile Mr. Obama liked policy option papers that were three to six single-spaced pages, council staff members are now being told to keep papers to a single page, with lots of graphics and maps.

“The president likes maps,” one official said. Scary.

This getting too elementary, too unsophisticated. When will show and tell be part of the daily WH routine? Seriously, the thought that the National Security Council distrusts the Trump administration not only because secret documents and important intel have wound up at parties, but because perhaps they doubt the President will ever read them.

This article - Thank God!

*Dobson has 17 honorary doctorates hanging in Focus on the Family's lobby. Trump's only honorary degree (in Scotland) was revoked.