An Immodest Proposal: What If We Treated Gun Rights Like Abortion Rights?

constitution_gunThis is a thought experiment. The mass shooting in Las Vegas two days ago killed and wounded more Americans in 30 minutes than the battle of Fallujah. Attempts to legislate gun regulations to make it harder for criminals to obtain weapons of war have failed because of powerful gun lobbyists with deep pockets and spineless congressional representatives who value campaign contributions more than the safety of their constituents.

I see many parallels between the gun rights arguments and abortion rights arguments. For example, abortion opponents will argue that the right to an abortion isn’t specifically spelled out in the Constitution and any claim to that right is the result of judicial activism. When the Supreme Court determined in Roe v. Wade (1974) in a 7-2 decision that the right to privacy in the 14th Amendment extended to health care, decisions regarding abortion became no one’s business but the woman and her doctor.

And while the 2nd Amendment does offer some specific gun rights, until District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) the right to bear arms was considered a collective right, that is a right given to the states, not individuals. In a 5-4 decision, SCOTUS overturned more than a century of precedent to say the 2nd Amendment applied to individuals. For some reason, conservatives didn’t see that as judicial activism.

So, given that both individual abortion rights and individual gun rights are the result of split decisions by SCOTUS, we can look to how legislatures’ attempts to regulate these rights can inform each other. Perhaps, through creative thinking, we can find some common ground. Or at least lay bare the hypocrisy.

I mean, conservatives bent on curtailing abortion rights are nothing if not creative. They have come up with dozens of “TRAP laws” (Targeted Regulations at Abortion Providers). They have legislated waiting periods, scripts for doctors to read, regulations for clinic facilities, hospital affiliations, invasive ultrasounds, and affirmed the rights of protesters to line the sidewalks outside clinics to offer street-level “counseling.”

What if we applied some of that creativity to the problem of gun violence? Below are some suggestions for how this might work.

All Gun Stores Should Be Required To Build and Maintain A Below-ground Shooting Range

Think about it. It offers gun buyers access to better information about the gun they are considering. If something terrible happens, like a misfire or a stray bullet, the range is surrounded by earth and no outsider would be injured. The range can be limited to one person at a time to ensure no “lone wolf” decides to use their weapon on anyone but themselves. 

“But wait,” you say. “My local gun shop is located in a place where an underground shooting range can’t be built.” That’s unfortunate, but your safety is our main concern. This legislation undoubtedly will lead to closings of sub-standard gun shops around the state. But in the name of safety, and providing potential gun owners with necessary information with respect to their options and their rights, this is a good thing for gun owners.

“But wait,” you say. “My local gun shop can’t afford to take on such expensive renovations.” You’re not alone. Some estimate that these new regulations will close upwards of 90 percent of gun shops in your state. But those remaining 10 percent are going to be reeaaaallly successful and busy. In fact, you may have to start making appointments to purchase weapons because of the demand. 

All Gun Purchases Should Require a three-day waiting period.

Potential customers may use these three days to fire the gun in the underground firing range, read various pamphlets offered by the state, and a law enforcement officer will offer counseling about the dangers and responsibilities of gun ownership.

“But wait,” you say. “I don’t need three days to make my decision. I’ve got to drive a four and a half hours to get to a gun store. Why should I have to wait three days after I get there?” We like to think of this part of the legislation as “reflection enhancement time.” If you make a rash decision, you will regret it for the rest of your life and there are psychological implications to that of which you need to be aware.

All Gun Purchasers Should Be Required to View Images of Gunshot Victims

You may never fire your weapon at another human and we really hope you don’t. But if you decide to take that momentous step, you need to do so with your eyes open to the results of your decision. Studies show that people who use their guns to kill, even in defense of their own lives, often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. It is important that you understand the deadly nature of your decision and how it may affect you for the rest of your life. Firing your gun at someone could result in you being unable to fire your gun at anyone else. Then where will you be?

All Gun Dealers Should Be Required to Properly Dispose of Waste

This includes spent shells, casings, used targets, etc… Reusing these materials creates an environment where ammunition isn’t strictly regulated. An unsuspecting gun owner could inadvertently use substandard ammunition which can cause injury to him or herself or others. Therefore, reloading and reusing ammunition components is prohibited. Proper disposal of spent rounds, casings, targets, and shells will require proper labeling, packaging, and disposal using a commercially licensed handler of hazardous waste material, all of which must be buried or incinerated in the presence of a licensed disposal agent. 

All gun dealers should be required to have an off-duty law enforcement officer on the premises 24 hours a day.

This will facilitate the required counseling as well as create jobs and give law enforcement a better access to information about gun ownership in the state. Also, if an emergency occurs, having law enforcement on hand will better protect the gun owner and gun dealer from danger. 

“But wait,” you say. “However many guns I own or want to own or plan to own isn’t anyone’s business but mine.”  Sure, sure. You’re fine. You’ve got nothing to worry about. It’s the shady, back-alley gun shops that we’re going after. “But I can’t afford to pay an armed guard/counselor to be on site 24 hours a day.” Again, this may cause the closure of some substandard gun shops, but that’s the price you pay for safety and access to good information about your decision to buy and own a gun.

All gun purchases must be done in person with a licensed gun dealer and law enforcement officer present.

If something does go wrong during the purchase, to protect the health and safety of everyone involved, we’d feel better about having some professionals present. This isn’t the sort of decision one should make via computer or through the mail. There may be questions to be answered. Plus, this way, we can ensure that you’re in compliance with the other regulations we’re creating. So, no gun purchases online or over-the-counter. You need to see a licensed professional and have someone present with jail-admitting privileges should an emergency happen.

All Gun Store owners and employees should be screened for lead poisoning every six months.

The health and safety of everyone involved in the totally legal and constitutionally guaranteed right to own a firearm dictate that steps be taken to head off any potential risks to the wellbeing of gun shop owners and employees. So regular inspections of the facilities including sweeps for carcinogens, the presence of lead, and other environmental contaminants will help ensure the safety of all involved.

Gun Purchase Counsellors Shall Remain Outside the Fixed Buffer Zone of the Gun Store and Outside the Floating Buffer Zone of Individual Gun Purchasers.

In the interest of ensuring you have all the information you need to make your gun purchasing decision, some gun stores may attract the attention of street-level counselors who may shout helpful information at you while you walk toward the store. They may also show you giant images of gun-shot wounds or dead people who suffered from gunshot wounds. They may use bullhorns or PA systems to yell their advice at you. They may take your photo or write down your license plate number. This is all for your benefit and depending on the state, they may be required to stay back a few feet from the door and a few feet from you. Your gun store may provide an escort to help you navigate these well-wishers.

All Gun Purchases Will Be Recorded and Filed with the  State Government Health Departments.

We need to study the effects of gun ownership on a variety of public health issues. To do this, we need the best information available. So the Department of Health will keep a file on every person who buys a gun and every gun bought. This way, we can know and others can find out.

Do these regulations sound unreasonable? Do they sound like attempts to stop you from exercising your rights to purchase and own guns? Do they sound like excuses and pretenses? They are. But so are TRAP laws.

Now imagine the government enacting some or all of these regulations, resulting in the closure of all but one or two gun shops in your state. Now, to purchase a gun, you have to take off from work, drive several hours, get a hotel room, navigate a gamut of protesters screaming at you, begin the process (which includes your gun dealer and law enforcement officer reading a state-mandated script about the evils of gun ownership), wait two or three (or five) days (and in some states weekends and holidays don’t count toward this waiting period); and then have an unnecessary and invasive medical procedure (such as a prostate exam) before you’re allowed to make your purchase, which the Constitution and the courts say is legal. Oh, and the government may spend your tax dollars funding stores that look like gun shops but don’t actually sell guns, just advice on why you don’t really want to own a gun anyway. The government might also pass legislation saying your liability insurance doesn’t cover shooting anyone, so you’ll have to get a special mass shooting rider which they will make illegal to sell to you.

Every one of these regulations, which seem silly and unnecessary are based on actual legislation proposed or enacted by states to limit a woman’s right to abortions. All the justifications which seem egregious are based on the justifications for various TRAP laws. If you can recognize it when applied to gun rights, then you should be able to see it with respect to abortion and understand why so many fight against them.

The truth is that we need gun control regulation. Not to prevent law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves. But to prevent someone accumulating an arsenal and murdering 50 people and injuring 500 in a matter of 30 minutes. Currently, Congress wants to make it easier to purchase suppressors for weapons under the guise of “hearing protection” and armor-piercing bullets under the guise of . . . well, I’m not sure why civilians need armor-piercing rounds. But it seems like we’re moving in the wrong direction here.

Contact your members of Congress. Tell them to return the blood money the NRA has given them. Tell them to take action to protect your right to be safe in public. Because the answer to the shooting in Las Vegas isn’t hotel security screenings or limits on outdoor events. It’s regulations on ammunition and weapons. We can do better than what we’re doing.

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DACA Policy Is a Mirror Image of Republican Gun Culture

sessions

If you were to ask unreconstructed old racist Attorney General Jeff Sessions, racist Republican Representative Steve King (R-Iowa), or any of the other Republican members of Congress who are proud of their state’s gun “culture” their opinions on a proposal for a national gun registry, you would find unanimous condemnation.

And while the arguments for a gun registry are solid — it can help track weapons used in crimes, prosecute people who provide guns to criminals and terrorists, and recover weapons stolen from legal gun owners — their argument would be that the danger to 2nd Amendment rights far outweighs any good that can come from having a list of guns or gun owners.

You see, a corrupt government will make the decision to take away your rights and use that list as a means of rounding up guns and removing them by force. Such a thing cannot be countenanced under our Constitutional Democracy and so it is best we do not go down that road. We simply cannot trust the government with that information.

Why is it, do you suppose, that these people are so certain that the government will act in bad faith? Why do they suspect that the government is fundamentally corrupt and it will misuse the registry for anything other than its intended purpose?

I believe it’s because they themselves are willing to act in bad faith. The Republicans are in power and they are demonstrating that they are willing to use that power in odious ways that are not just unAmerican, but corrupt in nature.

Yesterday, President Trump shoved Jeff Sessions in front of the cameras to announce that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) would be rescinded. DACA was a program began in 2012 by President Obama to allow people who are American in every aspect but immigration status to be educated, get a job, join the military, and live their lives without the constant fear of deportation.

To be eligible to participate in DACA:

Illegal immigrants must have entered the United States before their 16th birthday and prior to June 2007, be currently in school, a high school graduate or be honorably discharged from the military, be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, and not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor or three other misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to national security. The program does not provide lawful status or a path to citizenship, nor does it provide eligibility for federal welfare or student aid.

The program is for people who were brought to the United States as children. Under DACA, they were allowed to register with the government, pay a $500 fee, and they were given semi-legal status (legal “presence” rather than legal “status”). DACA participants have to renew their status every two years and must have no criminal record. Today there are about 800,000 DACA recipients (which means the fees alone bring $200 million a year into the treasury). The average age is 26 and most were brought to this country before their 6th birthday. This is the only country they know. Many of them speak no language other than English. So in many ways, these are model immigrants. They have assimilated into our culture because it’s their culture.

But requiring these people to register with the government in good faith created a list of people whose immigration status is on hold, essentially. Now, racists like Jeff Sessions and Steve King want to use that registry to kick these people out of the country. Sound familiar? The same people who are absolutely certain that the government is so corrupt that we can’t have a national gun registry without abusing it to take away the rights of gun owners are now announcing they want to use a different government registry to take away the rights of brown people. They are champing at the bit to deport this low-hanging fruit of self-identified “illegal” immigrants. These are people who pose no threat. They’re not committing crimes. Kicking them out won’t raise anyone’s wages or lower anyone’s taxes. They’re not on welfare. They’re not getting Pell Grants. They’re living and working in the only country they know. But many of them are brown. So bigots like Sessions and King are gleeful at the opportunity to deport them.

“Hold up,” you’re saying. “The right to bear arms is in the Constitution. These people don’t have the right to stay here illegally.” Which is a fair point to bring up in a debate about these issues. But it isn’t the end of the argument. For one thing, DACA participants are innocent of any crime. They were brought here as children. In this country, we don’t hold children accountable for the crimes of their parents. We just don’t. These people are your neighbors, your friends, and your colleagues. They have by definition kept a clean criminal record. They pay taxes. They contribute to our society. To argue that they are illegal is to argue that their existence is illegal. How can it be illegal just to exist? If you throw out the deal we made with them in good faith, then they have a legitimate grievance.

“Hold up,” you’re saying now. “DACA is unconstitutional. President Obama enacted the DACA program illegally.” Again, that’s a point you can bring up (and man does it get brought up a lot in the right-wing media) but that’s an opinion, not fact. The fact is the courts have yet to rule on the Constitutionality of the DACA program. The fact is that the president has prosecutorial discretion with respect to immigration. He can (and did) choose to focus his immigration enforcement efforts elsewhere. In fact, when Arizona passed a law banning DACA participants from receiving state benefits, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction, saying the ban itself was a violation of the law. Both Michigan and North Carolina briefly tried to stop DACA participants from getting drivers licenses but were stopped by the courts.

DACA will work its way through the court system and we’ll eventually get an answer as to the Constitutionality of it. But anyone who makes a claim one way or the other is issuing an opinion, not fact. This includes unreconstructed old racist Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

We do know some facts about DACA participants thanks to studies by various groups using the information in the registry.

So why act now? I mean President Trump campaigned on being tough on illegal immigration, but he campaigned on a lot of things that he hasn’t acted on yet. Why DACA and why now? After all, just last week Trump said he loves these people.

A handful of states attorneys general led by Texas threatened to sue Trump if he didn’t end DACA and start deporting this low-hanging fruit. They gave him an arbitrary deadline of Sept. 5. So Trump trotted out Jeff Sessions who was positively giddy about it.

But the president has been sending enough mixed signals to keep Alan Turing busy for the next decade. For starters, he didn’t actually rescind DACA. He announced he was going to rescind it in six months. Then this:

So Trump wants to end DACA, but he wants Congress to enact DACA?

So if Congress doesn’t manage to get a DACA bill done in six months, the president won’t end DACA? What else can “I will revisit the issue!” mean? He’s already announced an end to the program in six months. Now he’s saying in six months he’ll look at it again. So does he want the program to end or not? How does this mealy mouthed half-measure actually fulfill his campaign pledge to end DACA?

The simple answer is that it doesn’t. This announcement is a cynical attempt by the president to ensure that the backlash for any bad outcome is on Congress and the praise for any good outcome goes to Trump. While in the business world, that might make you canny, in government, it makes you a coward. That’s not leadership.

There is no reason other than racism to end DACA. The act of rescinding this program is itself a corrupt act because the participants acted in good faith with the government of the only country they know. Using their own willingness to play ball against them is a cowardly act. Perhaps that’s why White House staff were secretly afraid that Trump might find out what DACA really was because he might have changed his mind.

 

Trump Puts the “BS” in BSA

trump scoutsI’ve made no secret about my feelings regarding the current president. In my opinion, he is a disaster for this country — unmoored, unhinged, and unreliable. He is incapable of controlling himself, showing proper decorum, and acting like someone who is supposed to be our leader. The president is not an honorable man. He is vulgar, short-tempered, and unwilling to learn what it takes to do the job properly.

Yesterday, President Trump gave a speech to nearly 40,000 Boy Scouts at the National Jamboree. This is traditional. So one can forgive the BSA for extending this invitation to the president. It isn’t a hard gig — you get up there, you say some words about the Scout Law or the Scout Oath, you encourage these young leaders to go into public service and government work, and you inspire them to be loyal to their country.

What you don’t do is tell stories about cocktail parties you attended where you rubbed elbows with billionaires infamous for their sexual exploits. You don’t curse. You don’t encourage these young people to “boo” your political adversaries. You don’t rehash an election. You don’t undermine national institutions. You don’t bring up old grievances. You try to embody the 12 points of the Scout Law and you end with “God bless the United States of America.”

It should be a break from the scandals and headaches of the office. No one expects you to talk about your struggles in passing legislation or your fights with other members of your party. These are kids. Try to inspire something in them besides pettiness and avarice.

I was a Cub Scout, a Webelo, and a Boy Scout. I spent the summer before my freshman year of high school hiking the Rocky Mountains at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico (one of the BSA’s High Adventure camps). I spent the two summers after that as a camp counselor at Boxwell Scout Reservation teaching young people first aid, cooking, signaling, and wilderness survival. I was a patrol leader, a senior patrol leader, a den chief, and a Scoutmaster. The accomplishments I achieved during my years in Scouting remain some of my proudest. And while the BSA has struggled at times with 21st-century realities, those early stumbles are being addressed. The organization is more inclusive now than when I was a young man in olive drab.

So Scouting holds a special place in my life. That’s why President Trump’s speech makes me so angry.

The president embarrassed himself out there and probably doesn’t even know it. He also embarrassed the BSA. This will be a real test of BSA leadership. Those of us who follow this stuff are looking to see how the organization will react to this speech. How will they address the angry parents, troop leaders, and former Scouts who were appalled by this display of vulgarity and ignominy?

It is hard to describe how much the president betrayed the traditions of Scouting with that speech. Boy Scouts are taught from the beginning to be of service to others. To not make it about them. They are discouraged from appearing in uniform at political events. The National Jamboree is there to celebrate Scouting and Trump made it about himself — his electoral college victory, his perceived lack of respect in Washington, and his petty feud with the media. It was shocking because it was so out of place. Presidents have spoken at the National Jamboree since its inception in 1937. This is the first time the president’s speech has been controversial because this president is incapable of propriety. He cannot control himself. You may say “Mike, how can you say that about a grown man you don’t know?” Because if he could control himself, this would have been the speech to show it. These are kids. They don’t need to hear about your beef with Hillary Clinton. They don’t need to be encouraged to boo anyone, much less the former president who was a Boy Scout. This president does not embody the Scout Law. I’ll show you.

A Scout is Trustworthy:

President Donald Trump has told so many lies while in office that major news organizations are keeping a running list. He lies about big things. He lies about little things. He lies when the truth will suffice. He lies about things that don’t matter. He lies about things no one cares about. He lies to make himself look better. He has a plaque at his Trump National Golf Course commemorating a Civil War battle that never happened. It also features a Trump family crest that he stole, replacing the word “integrity” with “Trump.” Trump is not trustworthy.

A Scout is Loyal:

Much has been made about the president’s demands for personal loyalty. When he began to quote the Scout Law in his speech, he paused at “loyal” to make some snarky comments about the lack of loyalty in Washington. But loyalty goes both ways and the president doesn’t demonstrate loyalty to the people around him. For example, he has been openly criticizing Attorney General Jeff Sessions (an Eagle Scout who was not invited to the National Jamboree with the president). Sessions was one of the earliest politicians to support Trump. He’s now holding onto his job by a thread, while Trump floats replacing him because he is under the mistaken impression that the attorney general works for him and not the people. Trump is not loyal.

A Scout is Helpful:

Trump helps himself and his family by giving them access to government largess and allowing them to grift from the seat of power. But that’s not what the Scout Law is about. Trump helps ISIS by criticizing Islam and changing sides in the Syrian civil war. But he doesn’t help the American people by undermining our national institutions, attempting to take away their health insurance, and breaking his campaign promises with regard to the social safety nets of Medicaid and Social Security. Trump is not helpful.

A Scout is Friendly:

Trump claims to have lots of friends. Sometimes he makes them up, like his friend “Jim” who doesn’t go to Paris anymore. Sometimes he lies about his friendships like with Pavarotti. Sometimes he pretends to be his own friend so he can brag to reporters about how great he is. Trump is not friendly.

A Scout is Courteous:

giphy

The president doesn’t hold his wife’s hand while she negotiates stairs in heels. He doesn’t open the car door for her or even allow her to get into the car first, using the door closest to the entrance. People who know Trump use a lot of adjectives to describe him. “Courteous” isn’t on the list. You have to have respect for others to be courteous to them. Trump demands respect from others, he doesn’t offer it in return. Trump is not courteous.

A Scout is Kind: 

Eric Trump’s charity, which raises money for childhood cancer research, was recently embroiled in a scandal when researchers discovered that Donald Trump insists on gouging his son’s charity for the use of his golf course, which is the venue for Eric Trump’s big annual fundraiser. All told, Trump skimmed $1.2 million in charitable donations from kids with cancer to the Trump Organization. Trump is not kind.

A Scout is Obedient:

The president was having trouble hiring a personal lawyer to help him with his Russia problems. Four of the top D.C. law firms turned him down citing two specific issues with having Trump as a client: 1) he doesn’t pay his bills and 2) he doesn’t do what he’s told. When you sit in the big chair, it is easy to believe that no one tells you what to do and even if they did, you’re in charge, so you don’t have to listen. But the president works for the people. He’s not a ruler. He doesn’t reign over us. He’s our leader. He is answerable to us. Trump is not obedient.

A Scout is Cheerful:

To be cheerful is to be noticeably happy and optimistic. The president is neither of those things. His entire campaign was based on the idea that America is no longer great. His convention speech highlighted his perceived problems in the country and how only he could fix them. Since taking office, he’s complained and grumbled about how things are done in Washington. His Twitter feed, his main form of communication with the American people,  is a litany of petty grievances, deflection, and lies. Trump is not cheerful.

A Scout is Thrifty:

trump towerBefore becoming president, Trump lived in a golden tower surrounded by golden furniture, golden fixtures, golden wallpaper, etc… Before this speech, the president’s previous interaction with the BSA was in 1989 when his son, Don, Jr. joined a local Scout Troop. The fee to join was $7. Trump didn’t pay it out of his pocket. He had his “charity” pay it — the smallest “gift” the Donald Trump Foundation has on record. A man who will spend millions on golden thrones to rest his ample backside, but requires his “charity” to pay the $7 for his son to join the Boy Scouts is not thrifty. Trump is miserly.

A Scout is Brave: 

In 1968, Donald Trump was 22 years old. He was playing football, tennis, squash, and was taking up golf. He was an athlete in high school and college — the picture of health. But when the government enacted the draft for the Vietnam war, he suddenly developed bone spurs in his feet which wouldn’t allow him to serve. Years later, when he ran for president, he often referenced his time in the New York Military Academy as a place where he got “more training” than people in the military. In an interview with Howard Stern, Trump claimed avoiding the STDs from all the women he slept with was his own personal Vietnam. Trump is not brave.

A Scout is Clean:

It is a well-established fact that the president is a germaphobe. He said as much when rumors about urinating Russian prostitutes were in the news. This point of the Scout Law doesn’t just refer to literal cleanliness. Scouts spend a lot of time in dirty situations. It is more about “clean living” than compulsively washing your hands or eating fried chicken with a knife and fork. The president has been ensnared by his celebrity and has used that celebrity to live a life that borders on debauchery. He makes comments about being attracted to his daughter. He was caught on tape bragging about grabbing women, pursuing married women, and using his status to influence them. Trump is not clean.

A Scout is Reverent: 

One would be hard pressed to find an instance of Trump being reverent. He shows no respect for others. He’s not one to defer to tradition or decorum. He acts as if the rules do not apply to him. He carries grudges. He spreads lies. He’s greedy and ignorant. He hasn’t got a solemn bone in his body. He may have the support of a slice of Evangelical Christians, but he has no respect for them. If he did, he wouldn’t get up on a stage in front of 40,000 young people and tell a meandering story about one of his billionaire friends known for hosting orgies on his yacht. Trump is not reverent.

The president owes the Boy Scouts an apology. The BSA owes the Scouts who attended this event some guidance as to how to process what they heard and how, despite much of it going against everything they’re being taught as Scouts, they should continue to better themselves and not model the President of the United States, because that man is no Scout.

Operation Sketchbook: (The Trump/Nixon Tapes Part 7)

trump courtroom sketch

[What follows is a transcript of President Donald Trump speaking into the Oval Office recording device originally used by President Richard Nixon. This series of recordings encompass the president’s communication to his inner circle.]

To: The Trump Circle of Trust (TCT)

cc: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Majority Leader Mitch McConell

As all of you should know by now, I don’t watch CNN anymore. I think I made that clear to the AP when they were here this week. Where is it? Here: (sound of second tape recorder button clicking)

TRUMP: OK. The one thing I’ve learned to do that I never thought I had the ability to do. I don’t watch CNN anymore.

AP: You just said you did.

TRUMP: No. No, I, if I’m passing it, what did I just say (inaudible)?

AP: You just said —

TRUMP: Where? Where?

AP: Two minutes ago.

TRUMP: No, they treat me so badly. No, I just said that. No, I, what’d I say, I stopped watching them. But I don’t watch CNN anymore. I don’t watch MSNBC. I don’t watch it.

(recording ends)

So I was passing by CNN and noticed Sean was looking less fat. I was thinking that maybe we could put him back on camera, but then Steve pointed out that it was just a drawing by a CNN sketch artist. It was such a beautiful drawing I couldn’t get over it. So I got my own courtroom sketch artist. I like how honest he is about my hairline and number of chins. I’m thinking we just use this guy from now on: Operation Sketchbook. We can get him to draw me standing behind the podium and we’ll blow it up and stand it up there. The dishonest media can shout questions at it then go write their fake news.

Speaking of “fake news,” what about my big reveal on the Comey tapes? Pretty fantastic, right? Sean Hannity loved it. Wait. I’ve got that (button press)

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): I’m sorry, this was one of the most brilliant, strategic, doubt-inducing, mind-messing tweets in the history of mankind, because he basically said to Comey, “Well, if there’s tapes, you’re in trouble with the deep state,” it was also a nice shot at them. 

Ha ha ha. Oh and Fox and Friends thought it was pretty brilliant, too. I mean everybody is saying what a great Tweet it was. (click)

AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): Big news today. You said you didn’t tape [former FBI Director] James Comey. Do you want to explain that? Why did you want him to believe you possibly did that? 

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well I didn’t tape him. You never know what’s happening when you see that the Obama administration, and perhaps longer than that, was doing all of this unmasking and surveillance. And you read all about it and I’ve been reading about it for the last couple of months about the seriousness and horrible situation with surveillance all over the place. And you’ve been hearing the word “unmasking,” a word you probably never heard before. So you never know what’s out there, but I didn’t tape and I don’t have any tape and I didn’t tape. But, when he found out that there may be tapes out there, whether it’s governmental tapes or anything else, and who knows, I think his story may have changed. I mean, you’ll have to take a look at that because then he has to tell what actually took place at the events. And my story didn’t change. My story was always a straight story. My story was always the truth. But you’ll have to determine for yourself whether or not his story changed. But, I did not tape. 

EARHARDT: That was a smart way to make sure he stayed honest in those hearings. 

TRUMP: Well, it wasn’t very stupid, I can tell you that. He did admit that what I said was right. And if you look further back, before he heard about that, I think maybe he wasn’t admitting that, so, you’ll have to do a little investigative reporting to determine that. But, I don’t think it’ll be that hard.

See? The honesty is really striking, right? Why can’t they get that over at CNN? It’s a disaster over there. What did I ever do to Jake Tapper? I mean who cares, right? I never said I had tapes. I just waited for 41 days to say I didn’t have tapes. I’m busy. I got a lot of things on my plate. Sheila? What’s for lunch? No. I want one of those shark steak sandwiches like Jeff Bridges got in that movie where he was president. Oh, who am I kidding? I’m not going to eat that. Get me a QPC from McDonald’s. Extra ketchup.

Okay. So what was I talking about? Sheila? Sheila? She’s gone already? Man, she moves fast. She’s a go-getter, Sheila. I mean she’s really going and getting, right? That’s the way it works.

You know, the more I look at that sketch of me, the more I like it this Operation Sketchbook. We should all just not appear on camera anymore. Jared gets the idea. He’s off solving the Middle East thing and nobody even knows what he sounds like because he can keep his mouth shut. Jared, you’ll have to tell me how you managed to talk a journalist from the AP into deleting photos of you from his camera. That must have been some talk.

Whoever is covering Jared’s muffin basket duty while he’s bringing an end to a centuries-old conflict this weekend should send Jared a muffin basket. Wait. Never mind. He’s done.

Will somebody bring me something else to sign? What is taking so long with that health care bill? Are the Democrats being obstructionists again? Just pass something so I can sign it and tell everybody how great your “mean son of a bitch” bill is.  Mitch, you fixed all that right? You told me to leave it to you and I said “Happy to do it” because one less thing for me to do, right? But you fixed it, right? I’m sure it’s okay. Here’s an idea! Must credit Trump!

Send it over, I’ll sign it before you vote on it. What about that, huh? Is that a great idea or what? I sign the bill before you bring it to a vote and you can say, “Look, it’s a done deal. The president has already signed it, so you need to get on the right side of this thing or you’re going to be left behind.” I think that would be beautiful. Can you imagine the look on Chuck Schumer’s face? [laughter]

But seriously, send me some legislation to sign. It is the best part of this job, showing off for the cameras and . . . hmmm. That’s . . . that’s tough . . . Guys, I’m not sure Operation Sketchbook is going to work out. Let me think about it. I’ll let you know something in two weeks.

I’ve been hitting the Russia thing pretty hard on Twitter. You know, I had no idea when I took this job that so many people would turn on you so quickly. I was just saying to Nixon’s ghost the other night. Nixon’s ghost is a good friend of mine, let me tell you. He’s the one who told me to tweet about the Comey tapes. “Keeps everybody honest,” he said. Ole Honest Nixon, they used to call him. Good times.

Anyway, I was telling Nixon’s ghost, “Look, it is nobody’s business who I call or when I call them or what we talk about when I call. Don’t give me “Presidential Records Act” this or “You can’t block people on Twitter” that.” The president deserves a little privacy to yell at his lawyers. Nixon’s ghost agreed with me, except for the Twitter part. He died in 1994. He doesn’t know what Twitter is. But I believe 90 percent of the ghost presidents living in the White House would agree with me. If not 95 percent.

So I don’t want to read in the paper about me making my morning calls to my lawyers to get all my Russia yelling out early in the day. That’s my “me time.” The dishonest media shouldn’t be writing about that, I don’t care if it is true.

So I’ve pivoted on the Russia thing, now that I’ve figured out how to blame it on Obama. I don’t know if you noticed because it was such a subtle shift in tone:

Now:

Amazing, right? It was such a subtle pivot that no one is going to notice my tacit admission that Putin stuck his thumb on the scale. Well, Sheila noticed, but she’s a real go-getter. I wonder when she’s going to be a come-bringer-er soon? I’m starving here.

So I’m thinking about firing Mueller. I know firing Comey didn’t work out exactly as Jared said it would. But this time I don’t have to be the one firing him. I can order Rosenstein to do it. Or whoever’s next in line if Rosenstein isn’t loyal. Have we fixed that yet? Find me a Bork and let’s get this Saturday Night Massacre on the road!

Mueller can’t investigate me if he’s best friends with Comey! He can’t use lawyers who have donated to Democrats! He can’t keep expanding his investigation to include money laundering and racketeering. I didn’t sign off on that and you guys know me, I’ll sign anything. He’s going after my general, my campaign manager, my consigliere, my Jared and now me? Putin told me I don’t have to put up with it. He said if it were him, he’d be making a pot of polonium tea for Mueller. That’s not really my style. Maybe some polonium Diet Coke? I’ll ask ghost Nixon. He knows how to handle these special prosecutors.

 

Trump’s Speech: A Noun, A Verb, and A Lie.

 

1448345588275-cachedI’m that annoying friend on Facebook who posts a lot of political content. Everyone has one. Most of them get blocked or hidden and that’s fine. I also jump on political threads that my friends post, ready to argue the nuances of the political discussion of the day. I don’t post photos of my dinner. Rarely post about my cats. The only sports team I follow has a two-month season in early Summer. No prayer requests. No vaguebooking about issues at work. No complaining about my family or friends. If that’s your bag, then more power to you. I’m a different breed of cat.

A couple of weeks ago, I got the idea to challenge my friends to get me to shut up about President Trump. I offered to refrain from posting about the president for an entire month if someone could point me to a speech he gave in which every fact he asserts is verifiably true. All they had to do was point to Trump telling the truth and I would let it go for a month.

So far, no takers. And that’s not surprising. Trump lies like most people breathe. It comes so easy to him, he doesn’t even realize he’s doing it.

Last night, he held a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I call it a campaign rally because it was a rally, organized by his campaign team, and offered an opportunity for the crowd to contribute to Trump’s re-election fund. But Trump couldn’t even be honest about that. He said, “We’re not even campaigning and look at this crowd!”

Well, what are you doing up there? Your campaign staff seems to think this is a campaign event. You’re making a stump speech, making promises, and attacking Democrats just like you did during the campaign. What am I missing?

Speaking of attacking Democrats, Trump couldn’t even keep it straight in his head whether or not he wants to work with Democrats to achieve his agenda goals. When talking about the health care bill in the Senate, he said:

“If we had even a little Democrat support, just a little, like a couple of votes, you’d have everything. And you could give us a lot of votes and we’d even be willing to change it and move it around and try and make it even better. But again, They just want to stop, they just want to obstruct. A few votes from the Democrats, seriously, a few votes from the Democrats, it could be so easy, so beautiful, and you’d have cooperation.”|

First of all, you don’t vote on legislation and then change it. That’s not how legislation works, even when Republicans have a stranglehold on the process. Secondly, Sen. Mitch McConnell has cut out nearly everyone from the process on the health care bill, even members of the 13-member working group supposedly tasked with writing it. Zero Democrats have seen the bill, so how could they be obstructing it? But lastly, shortly after complaining that Democrats won’t work with him, he continued his criticism to the point where even he recognized the irony.

“I am making it a little bit hard to get their support, but who cares?”

So does he want the support of Democrats or doesn’t he? The answer is that he doesn’t care. What he wants is to give rally speeches where he can rag on Democrats. And if you point out the contradiction, you’re a snowflake who needs a safe space. I’m not a snowflake. I don’t need a safe space. I need some logical consistency in my president. I need for a grown up to be in charge.

As for promises, he made an interesting one about immigrants and welfare.

“I believe the time has come for new immigration rules which say those seeking admission into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years. And we’ll be putting in legislation to that effect very shortly.”

Put aside the fact that whenever Trump promises something will happen “very shortly,” over a “very short period of time” or even “two weeks,” that he has a pattern of simply dropping it and we never see what he promises. In this particular case, he might as well drop it because the law has been on the books since 1996.

Now, that’s not a “lie” per se. Trump may very well propose new legislation that does the exact same thing a previous law already does. But it demonstrates an ignorance of a subject where Trump is supposed to be informed. Immigration reform is one of his big issues. Another is trade policy. But he doesn’t seem to understand that one either.

Look, I get it. He’s a showman! He’s Mr. Media! He’s the second coming of Reagan, the “Greater Communicator!” That’s why he likes to tease things out. He’s always going to tell you about it on the next episode. “Are there tapes of your conversations with FBI Director Comey?” “We’ll be releasing information about that very shortly.” “Do you have evidence President Obama ordered your phones tapped at Trump Tower?” “We’ll be releasing information about that in two weeks.” “Do you have evidence that five million illegal immigrants voted against you in the election?” “We’ll be releasing that information in a short period of time.” What a showman! What an impresario!

Again, pointing out the many mixed signals, contradictory statements, and outright lies this president tells, is futile because what’s important to his ever-shrinking base is that people like me are mad about it. They’d much rather see me cry my liberal tears than hungry children fed or poor people get health care. And I know. I know. I heard the same thing from them during the election: “Hillary voters don’t care that she lies or that she’s a criminal.” They may even believe that’s true. But the difference is that Hillary isn’t president and her FBI investigation ended without charges. PRESIDENT Trump is still under investigation and his voters don’t care.

Last night, he suggested again that he was going to build a wall along the southern border. He hasn’t been able to convince his own party to fund it. In fact, the latest continuing resolution on the budget specifically said no money for the wall. But last night he said he wanted to make it a solar wall so that it will generate funds to save Mexico some money. There is never going to be a border wall. It is too impractical to exist. For example, there is a section of Texas that borders Mexico where the divide is the Rio Grande River. The border between our countries goes right down the middle of the river. Do we build the wall in Texas and yield the river to Mexico? Or do we build the wall in Mexico and yield that section of the wall to a country that doesn’t want it? Or do we leave a big old hole in our beautiful solar wall? It’s just a dumb idea and the grown-ups know this. The grown-ups understand that to achieve three percent annual growth in the economy, we have to hire more Mexicans.

Here’s a fun lie he told last night:

“When I’m signing for the XL Pipeline and the Dakota I said, ‘By the way, who made the pipe? But I put a little clause, handwritten. It said, ‘Anybody builds a pipeline in the United States will use American steel and fabricate in America.’ No more taking it over on boats!”

Mr. President, we have tape of you signing that Executive Order. You never asked “By the way, who made the pipe?” and you held it up for everyone to see your signature. There was no “little clause, handwritten” that said anything. It’s just a lie. But listen to that crowd roar! What a showman! What a raconteur!

He talked about pulling out of the Paris Agreement:

“They all say it’s ‘nonbinding. Like Hell it’s nonbinding. When we get sued by everybody because we thought it was nonbinding, then you can tell me it was nonbinding,”

But when the president held a Rose Garden speech to announce he wanted to leave the Paris Agreement, he said:

“Thus, as of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the nonbinding Paris accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.”

He is a liar. He lies about little things. He lies about big things. He lies when he doesn’t have to. He lies about the lies he tells. So I feel pretty confident that none of my friends on social media will accept my challenge. Which, I admit, is a little unfair. But I don’t believe the bar is set too high. Just don’t lie to us. Make one speech where you tell the truth. The bar can’t get much lower. But you’d think I was asking him to build his border wall on the moon.

So, to sum up: our president is a liar, his slobbering masses don’t care, and there is no reason for me to ever worry about anyone proving me wrong because, while he may be capable of telling the truth, he feels no need to even try.

Tapes? Who said anything about tapes? (The Trump/Nixon Tapes Part 6)

Trump - Nixon Ghost2[What follows is a transcript of President Donald Trump speaking into the Oval Office recording device originally used by President Richard Nixon. This series of recordings encompasses the president’s communication to his inner circle.]

To: The Trump Circle of Trust (TCT)

cc: Sen. Chuck Grassley

Okay, everyone let’s be clear. Officially, I am not taping myself talking to you. That’s not happening, okay? Also, I’m not taping each and every conversation I have with each of you. That’s also not happening. Are we clear? I don’t know what you’ve been reading in the fake news or my Twitter feed, but I’m not saying that I have tapes.

I mean okay, sure, there’s a console by my bed at Mar-a-Lago that allows me to listen in on phone conversations anywhere at the resort. But let’s be honest here. Who among us wouldn’t want to listen in on some of these guests? Have you seen the parade of trophy wives? Va va va voom, am I right? But I didn’t record them. I don’t think we even have the technology to tape phone calls, have we? Someone over at the CIA should get on that. Just be sure and tell them it was my idea. People don’t give me enough credit for the things I make up.

Now, about the Comey firing. I don’t get it. Why is that such a big deal? I mean do I have the power to fire him or don’t I? I do, right? And Democrats have been wanting me to fire him, right? Since day freaking one. They say he took the election away from Hillary with that letter. So why are they so mad that I took action? And who cares what the reason was? Hey, I’m an active president with a lot of plates spinning. You can’t expect normal people to keep up with me, much less the people dumb enough to want to work in my communications office. I could replace you all with Sheila from the Steno pool. At least she records what I’m saying accurately and can repeat it back to me. There’s an idea:

Sheila? How’s your transcribing arm? Good? Cause you might be getting called up to the majors.

So I fired a guy that I am legally allowed to fire and I don’t even have to have a reason. So why is everyone trying to make a federal case out of it? I mean, not that I’m projecting here, but he was a grandstander and a showboat. Normally, I like showboats. There’s a great one down in Nashville that makes a well-done steak like you wouldn’t believe.

Anyhoo, firing Comey should have been no big deal. It’s not like he was all that popular with the FBI. For one thing, he’s too tall. I don’t trust really tall people. It’s like they’re lording it over me. I’m the lord around here. I mean, have you seen the size of my television? That’s a presidential TV.

I mean how many times did we change our story yesterday? Sheila? You got a rundown? Uh-huh. So, first, it was on the recommendations from Sessions and Rosenstein. Then I told Lester Holt it was my idea to do it before I even met with them. That’s not bad. That can be chalked up to miscommunica . . . what? Oh. Then Mike Pence said it had nothing to do with the Russia investigation and I told Lester Holt that I was thinking about the Russia investigation. Again, no bigly deal. Pence was out of the loop. What? Then Kelly Ann went on CNN and said it had “zero” to do with the Russia investigation. Okay, first of all, who let Kelly Ann out of her office? Then what, Sheila? Spicey said it was all based on Rosenstein? Nobody believes what Sean Spicer has to say. Did he yell that out from behind the bushes? What about that other girl? The six that Huckabee sent over? She said I’d already made the decision after watching Comey testify, right? That’s close enough. The dishonest media doesn’t believe anything my people say anyway. They’re obsessed with catching them in lies. You’d think my communications staff was making a game of lying to the press.

Look, you and I and whoever is taping this all know that the Trump Russia story is a hoax right? Didn’t Comey tell me three times that I’m not under investigation? Didn’t Chuck Grassley say the Trump Russia story was a hoax? So, me firing Comey doesn’t change that. It just moves it along so we can stop talking about fake news Russia and go back to talking about the real scandal — Obama taping my conversations. Why is nobody talking about that story?

You know who should be mad about recorded conversations? Me. Who had their private locker-room talk recorded and then broadcast all over the world? Me. That was between me, Billy Bush, and the sound crew who wired us for mics shortly before we had that private conversation.

It’s not like I even like Russians anyway. Oooh, While I’m thinking about it, Jared? Send Eric a muffin basket with Vodka and rat poison. Write “Snitches get stitches on the card.” He’ll know what I’m talking about. What was I talking about? Sheila? The Russians! Right. Talk about a bunch of liars. I agreed to meet with the Russian foreign minister and that ambassador who everyone who worked on my campaign met with and forgot about. I didn’t want any press there, of course, because they’re all obsessed with Russians for some reason.  They bring a photographer and tell me it’s just for Putin’s scrapbook. I meet the guy, his name was Tass or something like that. So the ambassador gives me a fancy Russian pen and some extra batteries for it and tells me to keep it with me as a sign of friendship.

“Okay,” I say. “If you’re sure nobody is going to see me playing grabass with the Russians in the Oval Office, then fine. Take your pictures.” Next thing I know, they’ve posted them on the wire services! I was all like “Tass! I thought we were comrades!” It turns out the Russian media is just as dishonest as the American media. You know what? I’ll say it. The Russian media is the enemy of the American people.

Oh, and what about Tom Arnold! He says he has a tape of my private racist and sexist comments I made while on the set of “The Apprentice.” How is that fair? Just because I’m on a TV set and wearing a microphone doesn’t mean you should record the terrible things I say and do! When the director says “cut,” that’s me time.  Steve Harvey knows what I’m talking about.

It’s like everything you do in the White House is on tape somewhere. People seriously need to stop taping me. That’s my job. I tape you. I think there’s a Yakov Smirnov joke in there somewhere. Sheila? Call Yakov Smirnov and tell him I have an exclusive joke for him. Must credit Trump!

This whole week has me goddamned steamed.

Okay, I’m about out of tape and these reel-to-reel jobs are a disaster to change. Speaking of which, my Tivo is about 98 percent full. Someone get on there and change the tapes so I don’t miss “Morning Joe.”

They’re Coming To Take Me Away Ha Ha Ho Ho Hee Hee (The Trump/Nixon Tapes Part 5)

Trump Jackson Screwball[What follows is a transcript of President Donald Trump speaking into the Oval Office recording device originally used by President Richard Nixon. This series of recordings encompasses the president’s communication to his inner circle.]

To: The Trump Circle of Trust (TCT)

cc: Speaker Paul Ryan

I swear. You people are going to put me in the looney bin. Why is everyone talking like I’m crazy? Morning Joe? George Will? The Washington Post? CNBC? NPR? They’re all talking about how I’m losing it. Like I got a screw loose! Can you believe it? I mean, I expect that sort of thing from Keith Olberman, but Terry Gross? What did I ever do to her?

This is completely unfair. So I occasionally have trouble getting the words out. Or I confuse names. Or I repeat simple phrases over and over again. Or I talk about dead people as if they’re still alive. Or I forget how government works. Or I’m afraid of stairs. Or I compliment dictators and strongmen around the world.

Speaking of which, I heard Kim Jong-un’s dad has a hell of a golf swing. Maybe I should invite him out to Mar-a-Lago for 18 holes and we can work this whole nuclear thing out. Sheila? Get me Kim Jong-il on the phone. What? Dead? When? Does Kim-Jong-un know? He’s a smart cookie. I bet he does know. Any word on how his golf game is? If he’s anything like his old man, it’s tremendous.

Someone might have mentioned that Andrew Jackson died 16 years before the Civil War started. Or that the Civil War is one of the most researched questions historians have written about. Am I the only 70-year-old white man who hasn’t watched a thousand documentaries about the Civil War? To see my Twitter mentions, you’d think so. Don’t worry, though. I fixed it.

I genuinely believe Andrew Jackson saw the Civil War coming and was really mad about it. Look at a $20 bill. Doesn’t he seem angry? Someone ask Steve Mnuchin if we can put me on some money. I’m thinking we bring back the $20 gold coin and put my face on one side and me standing at the 14th hole at Trump National on the other. Just make sure it shows the plaque memorializing that “River of Blood” Civil War battle that the fake news people at the failing Golf Digest say never happened.

How about that health care bill, huh? Great job everybody. We twisted arms and prodded those squishy moderates then all of a sudden we got us an Obamacare replacement that does everything I promised it would do. It covers everybody. What was that, Shiela? 27 million? Really? Well, it protects people with pre-existing conditions. What? No? Are you sure? I’m pretty sure I saw Paul say it would protect pre-existing conditions. It will jack up their premiums? But I promised it would lower premiums. I said it would cost a tiny fraction of what Obamacare costs. I remember it clearly because that was a huge applause line. Ugh, am I going to have to read this bill? Shiela? Get someone in here to read this bill for me.

[tape pauses for 8 minutes]

Enough! Enough! Get out! Who knew health care could be so boring? Am I right? Shiela? Tell Paul, I’ll take his word for it. Man, I thought I was going to die listening to that. Good thing I’ve got great health insurance. Whew. I’ll tell ya, that was brutal. I did catch something about Medicaid in there. I assume we’re keeping my promise to not cut Medicaid, right? I really gave ole’ Huckabee the business on Twitter that time he copied me.

Wait, what was that, Shiela? You were mumbling something. Block grants to the states? What’s that? Oh. Well, that doesn’t sound too bad. I mean what’s $880 billion? It’s not like that’s serious money. It’s probably mostly fraud and waste, right? What? What’s a “special-needs kid?” Oh, come on. Really? What about vets? Them too? So who gets the $880 billion? Tax cuts for billionaires? And they voted for that? Wow. Unbelievable. I’m sure everyone else is okay with it, though. What? Well, yeah, I’ll sign it. I promised, didn’t I?

Man, I’m bushed. I hope I don’t say something to undercut our entire argument when I meet with the Australian prime minister tonight. You know how I get when I haven’t had my well-done steak with ketchup.

Okay. Now that we’re finished with repeal and replace can we move on to something else? I am so tired of pretending I care about health care. I need to get out of Washington for a few days. Maybe I’ll go visit Melania in New York. That’s the one place in the country where I know they love me. New York is my town. What’s that, Shiela? Mike Pence has another executive order for me to sign? I sure do sign a lot of these things for someone who used to really hate the idea of presidents signing executive orders.

What’s this one about? Religious Freedom? Is it the one where we let Christians discriminate against gay people or the one where we let churches fundraise for politicians? Both? Ask Mike if he can combine them into one, I don’t want to sign two of them. I’ve only got so much left in in the old tank today and I’m trying to make a tee time at Trump National. Oh, has Ivanka signed off on this? Well, at least no one can get mad about this one, right?

Shiela? Tell Steve Mnuchin that when he’s done with his weekly meeting with Ivanka that I need to see her. I want to give her a hug and tell her it’s going to be okay. Everybody puts fake quotes in their book nowadays. Nobody cares except a bunch of nerds that are going to find something to complain about no matter what you write. Shiela? Get the State Department on the phone. They’re not doing anything important. Maybe they can help goose her book sales a bit.

You know, I’m getting a little sick of the attitudes around here. Maybe some of you need a little refresher course in who is in charge. Shiela? What can I do to punish a bunch of federal employees that requires virtually no effort on my part?

Okay, I’m off the New York. Good job on the . . . uh . . . health care thing . . . and stuff. Just terrific. Really. I’m sure that’s going to be a huge, huge, part of my legacy.