The Cult of Trump


This is a tweet posted yesterday by Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel: 

It’s likely I don’t have to tell you this, but this ridiculousness is straight-up anti-democratic dictatorship cult worship stuff. They’re not even trying to hide it anymore. 

Sort of like the mural at this former Wal-Mart that’s been repurposed into a jail for refugee children whom the government has separated from their parents. 

That’s pretty astonishing. It goes without saying that the Trump-cult right wing would be flipping out if even a fraction of what’s going on was happening under President Obama. As Tom Nichols, a conservative professor at the Naval War College explains, Trump is everything conservatives accused Obama of being

Going all the way back to the 2008 presidential race, Republicans were certain that Obama would be more attuned to the needs of America’s worst enemies than willing to discuss the shared interests of America’s best friends; this captures the destructive arc of Trump’s actions from last week’s Group of Seven meeting in Quebec to the spectacle in Singapore.

Republicans were scathing about Obama’s immense (and obvious) self-regard. But Trump has shown himself to be beyond any of the GOP’s worst nightmares about Obama. A political narcissist transfixed by his own image and utterly addicted to television coverage, Trump is unwilling to be briefed, incapable of being educated and has now blundered into a summit with a monster in exactly the way Republicans were once certain Obama would do if a camera was pointed at him.

That’s all well and good, but don’t forget: your President has identified the real enemy. Our free press. 

Dovetailing nicely with this whole cult / authoritarian theme, and as evidenced by the tweet showing the Trump mural, our government is busy separating families and throwing kids into jails. These aren’t criminals – they are refugees, mostly from Central American countries fleeing violence and crime. The American government will rip breastfeeding infants from their mother’s nipples because they crossed the border illegally. 

The American government refuses to process asylum claims at the Mexican border for people crossing legally, giving asylum-seekers no choice. It is inhumane and unconscionable for our government to rip apart asylum-seeking families who have endured so much struggle just to get here, and to specifically and carefully set up the conditions to do so. To bar the pathway to legal asylum processing and then punishing them for illegal entry is tantamount to framing someone for a crime. It’s clear that the real aim is simply to bar brown people from entry and criminalizing refugees. 


“Every day we hear that parents are being separated from their children and are given different reasons for the separation. Some are told the truth,” Mr Nogueres told The Independent. “Others are told that they’re children are being taken for a break to play, or bathe, or sleep, … little white lies to ameliorate an exploding situation.  The parents will realize they were lied to when they meet us before court.”

On top of this manufactured and artificial Catch-22, Jeff Sessions’ DOJ says it will no longer approve asylum applications from people fleeing gang violence or domestic abuse; in essence, sending them back to injury and death and fear. On the one hand, Trump will accuse MS-13 of being the worst scourge of “animals” America has ever endured, while throwing parents and children who flee that violent gang right back into the worst of it. And let’s not tiptoe around any of this: the separation of children from their parents is not mandatory. It is discretionary, and right now it is an intended result of Trump administration / Jeff Session-implemented policy. Separating asylum-seeking children from asylum-seeking parents is morally repugnant, totally antithetical to everything for which the US purports to stand, and is not legally necessary. It is cruelty for cruelty’s sake. It is a set of conditions manufactured specifically to exclude and harass one set of refugees. If they could do this at airports, they’d do it to implement their Muslim ban, too. 

Trump says some law the Democrats are somehow to blame for is forcing him to separate refugee kids from their parents.  

Before the Trump administration, immigrants entering illegally as families were rarely prosecuted, said Sarah Pierce, an associate policy analyst of the U.S. Immigration Program at the Migration Policy Institute. Instead, immigrants were held in family detention centers until they were sent to appear before an immigration court or deported.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on April 6 the Homeland Security Department would now be referring all illegal border crossings to the Justice Department for prosecution. Facing criminal charges, parents would go to detention centers, leaving their children unaccompanied.

It’s the decision to prosecute parents that is causing the separations.

It’s a lie, and as always happens in cults, the followers just swallow it whole. This is happening because Trump and Sessions want it to happen. They don’t want it to happen to deter anything, they want it to happen because it harasses brown people and triggers the libs, which seemingly are the last two vestiges of conservative dogma. 

And, as the GOP Chairwoman reminds you, get the fuck in line behind Donald Trump’s every action or you, too, will suffer the consequences. Pastor Niemöller warned us – this happens incrementally, in steps. First they come for the asylum-seekers, then they’ll come for the green card holders, then they’ll come for the naturalized citizens, then they’ll come for the kids born here as citizens. 

I wrote about it in August 2015; you can’t say Trump didn’t warn you. Elections have consequences. 

Kim 1: Trump 0


At an historic summit meeting, North Korean hereditary communist dictator Kim Jong Un won a massive concession, and in return, America got nothing. Not even a promise of future denuclearization; just some pablum while Trump called the military exercises we conduct with our South Korean allies “provocative”. 

The Singapore summit gave Donald Trump the pomp and circumstance he seemingly craves – far more so than what he experienced with America’s historic allies last weekend in Charlevoix, Quebec – but all of the show was a win for North Korea, which got everything, and in exchange gave up nothing. Trump claimed that the cost savings from halting the war games was some sort of “win”. 

Kim gets to go home to his brainwashed and subjugated population and show them pictures of KIm and Trump together on the world stage – an elected president and a hereditary dictator treated as equally legitimate. Equals. When Nixon met Mao in 1972, they put the flags away. There’s no doubt that North Korea insisted on the bank of American and North Korean flags, and the Trump team acquiesced, apparently without realizing what a propaganda coup it was to put these symbols on equal footing. Equals

I’m all for peace and diplomacy, but I’m not in favor of blind obsequience to regimes like Kim’s – not without some major concessions, anyway. For Kim, the meeting itself was the win – his father agitated for years to get a summit with an American President, and the closest he got was Bill Clinton in return for halting his nuclear ambitions. The meeting didn’t happen, and North Korea kept building nukes. Kim won by securing the meeting; Kim won through the symbolic framing of the imagery of the leaders from the summit; Kim won by getting a massive concession from the US in exchange for nothing. 

I’ll withhold judgment until this whole process is played out, but I don’t get how this advances much at all, but certainly it doesn’t seem to be in line with “America First”. What it does is weaken an historic military and political alliance for free. I haven’t seen Trump’s “Art of the Deal” yet. 

Collinscare in #NY27




According to an article WGRZ published on Wednesday, some New York health insurers are asking for massive premium increases for 2019.

This isn’t the health insurance solution President Trump promised us, is it? 

No one will lose coverage. There will be insurance for everybody. Healthcare will be a “lot less expensive” for everyone — the government, consumers, providers.

That was the promise of Donald Trump and his most obedient Congressional lapdog, Chris Collins (NY-27). Even before the Republicans’ failed efforts to “repeal and replace” Obamacare saw a vote, it was estimated that tens of millions of Americans would lose their coverage. These people had literally a decade to come up with an alternative plan that was better – in any way – than Obamacare, and when the time come they had nothing. 

So, in December, Trump got his tax cut, and in it was a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate. 

The goal of Obamacare was to expand access to affordable, quality health insurance. It forbade the sorts of scammy plans that took your money but offered no meaningful coverage. It wasn’t perfect, and it was flawed in its planning and implementation, but it was something.

And that something resulted in a lot of Americans getting health coverage who otherwise wouldn’t be able to – people working jobs with no benefits, people who were self-employed, people who earned too much to get on Medicaid and couldn’t afford astronomical individual plans. Obamacare was a national implementation of a conservative think-tank’s idea for universal health care – something Republican Governor Mitt Romney had introduced to Massachusetts in 2006. It wasn’t a federal takeover of health care, but a regulated system of private marketplaces offering insurance. The way to get closer to universal coverage was to obtain buy-in from the insurance industry. To do that, you needed the individual mandate because without it, only sick and older people would sign up while younger people would opt out. By opting out, you’d have too many payouts and too few premiums to cover it. The only other way to achieve universal coverage was to just have some sort of public plan – the “public option” on the exchanges, or Medicare for all Americans. 

Republicans wanted no part of it. They agitated against it from the get-go, and held countless meaningless votes to repeal it. But when they controlled Washington, they had no alternative and everything they came up with guaranteed that people would lose coverage en masse

So, let’s take a trip down memory lane and juxtapose that against the facts in WGRZ’s article. 


“The state’s 14 private health insurers are requesting on average a 24 percent increase in rates next year, citing growing costs and a major looming change to federal health care.” – WGRZ June 4, 2018


“The insurers on Monday released their proposed rate increases for individuals and small group plans for 2019.

“They said they need the substantial increases in part because the individual mandate under the federal Affordable Care Act is being repealed.” – WGRZ June 4, 2018


“For individual plans, the largest increase being sought is 39 percent by Fidelis, which serves 1.7 million members.” – WGRZ June 4, 2018


“The proposed premium rate requests are reasonable, reflecting the cost of care and taking into account a number of factors contributing to rising health care costs,” said Eric Linzer, president of the state Health Plan Association, which represents insurers.” – WGRZ June 4, 2018


“EmblemHealth, which largely serves the New York City area, asked for a 32 percent increase.” – WGRZ June 4, 2018


“The individual mandate was a key piece of Obamacare in 2010 because it required people — particularly healthy, young people — to buy insurance.

“The goal was to limit the risk pool and lower rates, but President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress said the measure was ineffective and repealed it last December.

“Still, Vullo said insurers cited the loss of the individual mandate as the main reason for large increases sought by insurers.

“The individual mandate, a key component of the Affordable Care Act, helped mitigate against dramatic price increases by ensuring healthier insurance pools,” Vullo said.” – WGRZ June 4, 2018


“Any increase approved by the state could affect the rates paid by people on private insurance, as well as the 4 million New Yorkers enrolled in its health exchange.

“The state put the rate increases squarely on the repeal of the individual mandate, saying without the change, insurers would be seeking increases of about half as much.” – WGRZ June 4, 2018

(Incidentally, as of 6/7/18, only three people clicked “like” on Collins’ 2013 tweet).


“Insurers cited other cost factors, too, such as the increase in prescription-drug prices.” – WGRZ June 4, 2018


“[Bill Hammond, director of health policy at the Empire Center, a fiscally conservative think tank in Albany], said it is the fifth year in a row that insurers have sought double-digit increases.

“Even after DFS knocks the requested rates down a little bit, the final increase is on track to be in the double digits for the third straight year,” Hammond said.” – WGRZ June 4, 2018

In response to all of this, Collins is silent while his opponent, Democrat Nate McMurray has renewed his invitation to debate Collins at any time, in any place. 

Let’s see if this “Representative” will bother to debate his opponent on issues affecting his constituency. 

The Difference is Guns


Despite the best efforts of the federal government, America is still a first-world country. Just barely.

America is unique among her peers in the modern industrialized world in that access to firearms is practically unfettered. It doesn’t take much effort for any American to amass a veritable arsenal. The gun manufacturers’ lobby – the NRA – advocates for this very thing based on a fundamental and intentional misrepresentation of the 2nd Amendment. Instead of looking at the ease with which people can arm themselves, gun activists point to issues surrounding mental health. That’s a fair point until one realizes that many of these same people spent a decade agitating universal health care for every American, including mental health services. 

Regard NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch’s argument here: 

Oh, yes, by all means let’s engage Ms. Loesch in her fantastical charade. Right now, the NRA is literally on the record supporting the sale of, e.g., AR-15s to 16-year-olds who beat their girlfriends. The NRA opposes restrictions on the sale of firearms to people on terrorist no-fly list. Does she really think we believe that her organization would go along with the government preventing the Parkland shooter from obtaining a firearm because of some pesky criminal record? 

When Britain had a mass school shooting, its society and government took decisive action, and that is not an event that has recurred

America tolerates a new Dunblane every few months. 

When Australia had a mass school shooting, its society and government took decisive action, and that is not an event that has recurred

America tolerates a new Port Arthur every few months. 

Some point to knife attacks and other isolated acts of violence in Australia or Britain. Sure, restrictions on gun ownership don’t get rid of every crime, nor is that a promised result. But the difference is quantitative in terms of potential harm done. An AR-15 does more damage more efficiently than a knife or a Ford Transit on a sidewalk. 

Every other first-world country has troubled kids. Every other first-world country has suicidal kids. Every other first-world country has Nazi kids and “incel” kids. Every other first-world country has kids who are homicidal lunatics and bullies and victims of bullies and kids seeking some sort of revenge. Every other first-world country has social media and video games – even violent ones. Yet no other first-world country has mass school shootings.

I’ll give you two reasons why that might be: 1. No other first-world country offers its citizens what amounts to unfettered access to firearms; and, 2. every other first-world country offers all of its citizens some form of universal health care, including mental health care. It’s as simple as that. This is a uniquely American problem facing a uniquely American refusal to deal with it. (Not inability – refusal). 

Instead, we keep on watching innocent kids die in school. Politicians keep offering empty thoughts and trite prayers. People tiptoe around the one issue that separates the American experience from that of other free, rich nations: guns. The people who refuse to consider that guns make the difference want to arm teachers – as if gunfights in school are a good idea. Some want to turn schools into prisons – I don’t think the pods in Oz‘s Em City would have made for a good learning environment. They will literally exercise door control before gun control. 

And when kids speak up about it, the gun lobby and its useful protectors brand these kids as traitors; as un-American; as bought & paid for by some sort of liberal group. It rises to the level of attempted murder by SWATting

I don’t really think our kids or yours did anything to deserve living in a country that tolerates this song, sung to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle” or the Alphabet song: 

But so long as this new reality goes unaddressed by our government and our society, we might as well give the NRA a publishing credit. 

There’s an element of exhaustion and hopelessness in all of this, isn’t there? Columbine, Sandy Hook – ancient history. But if the mass murder of twenty 1st graders didn’t provoke this country into doing something meaningful about average citizens’ access to military arsenals, literally nothing will. The body count will grow. Your kids, whose grandparents had to “duck and cover” from Communist H-bombs now have to undergo lockdown drills lest a disgruntled and well-armed alum bursts through the door with an AR-15 and twenty-two 30-round magazines. For what? Not all speech is protected, so how can the Constitution guarantee a person’s right to amass this sort of military arsenal? So modern-day minutemen can arm themselves against the tyranny of a group of 1st graders? The Constitution isn’t so permissive.

All of this is a broken issue in a broken, bloodthirsty country. The gun lobby and the politicians it has on the payroll will never allow our country to confront this sickness. The only thing we can do is vote those politicians out. 

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please contact the Erie County Suicide Prevention Hotline at 716-834-3131. If outside Erie County, call 1-800-273-TALK.