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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Conservatives politicize the rape of a 14-year-old girl

A 14-year-old girl was raped last Thursday morning at Rockville High School in Maryland. From CBS News:

Montgomery County Police said Friday that it happened Thursday morning at Rockville High School. Police say the girl was walking in a hallway when she met the teens. Police say 17-year-old Jose Montano asked the girl to walk with them and to have sex, but she refused. Police say he asked her again, then forced her into a boy’s bathroom and into a stall, where he and 18-year-old Henry Sanchez raped her.

One of the suspects, Henry Sanchez, may be in the U.S. illegally, and that's where conservatives come in. Sheriff David Clarke called the two alleged rapists "subhuman," and Fox's article covering Clarke's appearance on Sean Hannity's program claims both rapists are undocumented, which is false. Sean Spicer told reporters during a press briefing:

I think part of the reason the president has made illegal immigration and crackdown such a big deal is because of tragedies like this. Immigration pays its toll on our people if it’s done — if it’s not done legally. And this is another example, and it’s why the president is so passionate about this.

What is truly fascinating about this is how conservatives suddenly care about a rape victim. In the past, between electing a man who bragged about sexually assaulting women, to the numerous male conservatives who have said some of the most offensive things possible about rape, conservatives have made it pretty clear they don't respect rape victims.

Here are some quotes, from conservatives, on rape:

Rape is kinda like the weather. If it’s inevitable, relax and enjoy it. (Texas oilman Clayton Williams)

If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that thing down. (Todd Akin)

Rape victims should make the best of a bad situation. (Rick Santorum)

Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen. (Richard Mourdock)

In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits, where a woman can get cleaned out. (Jodi Laubenberg)

If a woman has (the right to an abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death. (Lawrence Lockman)

Perhaps you recall George Will's column a few years ago, where he wrote:

Colleges and universities are being educated by Washington and are finding the experience excruciating. They are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous (“micro-aggressions,” often not discernible to the untutored eye, are everywhere), and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate.

A coveted status. Oh, and he uses scare quotes:

Now the Obama administration is riding to the rescue of “sexual assault” victims. It vows to excavate equities from the ambiguities of the hookup culture, this cocktail of hormones, alcohol and the faux sophistication of today’s prolonged adolescence of especially privileged young adults.

Rape is like the weather, it's God's will, it might not be legitimate rape, rape kits cause abortions, men should have the right to rape women, and rape victims attain a coveted status. That's what we're accustomed to from the right wing. This sudden concern for a rape victim's well being is confusing, unless, of course, conservatives are politicizing the rape of a 14-year-old girl.

When two young men who have Hispanic names, one of whom might be undocumented, rape a 14-year-old girl, conservatives care. But not about the girl. They care about using her trauma, the violence perpetrated upon her body, to further an agenda, and as red meat to their racist, xenophobic base.

Here's a news flash: Rapists rape. It doesn't matter what color their skin is, or where they were born, or how they vote. Rapists rape. And if conservatives really cared about rape, they would promise on a stack of bibles to keep funding the Violence Against Women Act. They would make sure every town, city, and neighborhood in the United States has at least one rape crisis center. They would spend money to test the hundreds of thousands of rape kits that sit on shelves. They would make sure that women can access safe, legal abortion. They would publicly state that men can be raped, and they would work with prisons to combat prison rape.

And I'm sure they will get to all that, right after they finish politicizing the rape of a 14-year-old girl.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Trump's new Medicaid chief wants recipients to pay premiums and get jobs

Tuesday evening, the new Medicaid chief, Seema Verma, sent a letter to the nation's governors. Verma's letter urges states require Medicaid recipients pay insurance premiums, pay portions of emergency room bills, and get jobs. From the Star Tribune:

Hours after she was sworn in, the Trump administration’s top official for Medicaid and her boss dispatched a letter to the nation’s governors, urging states to alter the insurance program for poor and disabled people by charging them insurance premiums, requiring them to pay part of emergency room bills and prodding them to get jobs.

The letter, sent Tuesday night by Seema Verma, the new administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, also derides the Medicaid expansion that 31 states and the District of Columbia adopted under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The expansion, which has extended Medicaid to 11 million people with incomes of up to about $16,000 for a single person or nearly $34,000 for a family of four, “was a clear departure from the core, historical mission of the program,” the letter said.

By giving states greater help with these new beneficiaries, it contends the ACA has “provided states with an incentive to deprioritize the most vulnerable populations.” The three-page letter does not mention that, for the first three years, the federal government paid the entire cost of covering the expansion group and still pays nearly all of that.

The message from Verma and Price signals an initial step toward redesigning the program along lines that conservatives have long favored and that the new Medicaid administrator brought to Indiana as a consultant and the chief architect of broad changes that state first adopted nearly a decade ago. Overall, their letter encourages states to innovate and attain more freedom from federal standards by seeking “waivers” from government rules on the program, which covers 68 million low-income people, including children, pregnant women, and those who are elderly or disabled, as well as adults who merely are poor.

In other words, the right wing seems hell-bent on destroying our nations' poor. Including the elderly, the disabled, children, and pregnant women. People who are already vulnerable, people who are already struggling to pay bills, eat, and simply survive from one day to the next. People who, in vast swatches, voted for Donald Trump.

Coal miners in Kentucky are already aware the man they voted for is going to hurt them. Last December, CNN went to Kentucky and spoke with Trump supporters about Trump's plan to decimate the ACA. They were scared, because the ACA covers black lung disease. CNN spoke with Neil Yonts, a Democrat who voted for Trump because Yonts heard Trump promise to bring coal jobs back. Yonts has black lung disease, and is now faced with the prospect of losing his access to health care, thanks to Donald Trump.

Vox also visited Kentucky in December, and spoke to Debbie Mills, whose husband has non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver. Prior to the ACA, Debbie and her husband did not have health insurance, but signed up for Obamacare two years ago. "We had the," Debbie tells the interviewers, "It's made it affordable."

Debbie voted for Donald Trump, even though one of the centerpieces of his campaign was the repeal of the ACA. Her reasoning? She told Vox:

I don't know. I guess I thought that, you know, he would not do this. That they would not do this, would not take the insurance away. Knowing that it's affecting so many people's lives. I mean, what are you to do then if you cannot...purchase, cannot pay for the insurance?

You know, what are we to do?

So I don't know. Maybe he's thinking about, you know, the little people that are not making the big money, like what they make in New York and Washington and all the places that, you know, this is not, you know, something-this is people's lives that's being affected.

People who rely on the government voted for Trump because they never thought in a million years he would do the awful things he promised to do. Since almost every speech was laden with exaggeration and hyperbole ("I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters."), it was impossible to know fact from ego. Especially if all your news comes from Fox and Breitbart, Drudge and Newsmax.

For eight years, right wing media called President Obama a socialist, branded the ACA as evil, mocked the poor, and spewed so much anti-American propaganda, by the time Trump came around, conservatives were ready to once again vote against their own best interests. And with gusto. They bought the hats, went to the rallies, punched a few black people, screamed at protesters, lauded neo-Nazis, embraced the racism, sexism, xenophobia, and hatred of everyone not a white straight Protestant, and they voted for Donald Trump.

And now, the poorest of Trump's supporters, the men and women and families who need Medicaid, are waking up to the facts. Trump hates them, and his administration hates them. Disabled, elderly, working poor, children, pregnant women-the Trump administration is an equal opportunity destroyer of lives.

Donald Trump's supporters fell for the con; they believed him when he said he would bring back jobs, that he would make American great again. And in that ideal America, black people can't vote, women stay home, we have lead in our gas and fins on our cars, and white people have all the power. Poor white people have been convinced their poverty is different than non-white folks' poverty. Trump played all his supporters for fools, using the oldest trick in the book: scapegoating. Immigrants are stealing your jobs, minorities are committing Medicaid fraud, Muslims are terrorists, blame everyone else for your problems, and vote Trump.

President Lyndon Johnson famously said "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you." Trump gave his supporters someone to look down on, and they emptied their pockets. They cast their votes, and now, Trump's new Medicaid chief wants disabled senior citizens to get a job, pay an insurance premium, and pay for their own emergency room visits.

But as long as they can look down on brown-skinned people, maybe nothing else matters.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Could Trump's net worth cause problems for national security?

Image from CNN

Forbes came out with their annual list of obscenely rich people, just to remind the rest of us we're slackers and sort of pathetic. At number one, to no one's shock, is Bill "Nerds Rule, Suckers!" Gates. Our fearful leader, Donald Trump, isn't even in the top ten. Or the top twenty. Or top fifty. Or top one hundred. To find Trump's name, you have to scroll all the way down to number 544. Out of all the seriously wealthy people on the planet, Donald Trump is number 544.

Given how much of Trump's self-worth is tied up in his actual worth, this has to hit hard. According to Forbes, SCROTUS has lost over $200 million since the election. This might explain why the initiation fee for Mar-A-Lago doubled almost immediately after Trump was elected, and why he has not divested from any of his businesses: he "needs" the money.

He doesn't need the money-Trump is still worth a comfortable $3.5 billion-but this is Donald Trump. A man who thinks he's the best, the smartest, the winningest, the toughest, the blah blah blah. In his mind, he does need more money, which brings up a rather uncomfortable question: Could Trump's new lower net worth cause problems for our national security?

Let's look at this hypothetically. Donald Trump loves money. He lost a ton of money since the election. Donald Trump has an interesting relationship with Russia. Now, what if Trump is approached by a Russian government official, who tells Trump if he plays along, Russia will grant him trademarks, or patents, or in some way, make Trump money? And what if to receive that windfall, Donald Trump has to remove sanctions, or pull out of NATO, two things he's already indicated he would be amenable to?

We have a president who is addicted to money, to status, and to power. Not to this country, or our citizens. We have a president who lies on a regular basis. We have a president who stated during the campaign that he would not accept a paycheck if he was elected, and he's accepted two so far. We have a president who promised not to cut Medicare or Medicaid, and that is precisely what he's doing. We have a president who bragged about how little vacation time he would take, and he's been golfing almost every weekend since he was elected. We have a president who called his predecessor a "bad man," for wiretapping that never happened.

Donald Trump, sadly, is president. But first and foremost, he's a rich guy consumed with staying a rich guy, no matter what. To what ends would Trump go in order to keep, or increase, his personal wealth? Is it possible that he might be vulnerable to some sort of, to put it mildly, political manipulation by a non-allied foreign government?

Again, this is all hypothetical. Given the kind of man Donald Trump is, however, and how much he values his fortune, there's a chance, slim though it might be, he could be persuaded to do some very bad things in order to pad his wallet.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The far left sounds just like Donald Trump

Early this morning, Donald Trump began tweeting. Obviously in a delightful mood, SCROTUS complained about "fake news CNN" and their polls, the DNC, demanded Congress find the "leaker" (not going to touch that with a ten-foot golden shower pole), and of course, the arch-nemesis of both the far right and the far left, Hillary Clinton.

Yes, "the Democrats made up" the Russian hackers. Guccifer 2.0 isn't real, even though Trump ally Roger Stone managed to chat with someone named Guccifer 2.0 on Twitter. One of the two Russians charged by the U.S with hacking into a half-billion Yahoo email accounts certainly never worked for a Russian billionaire's bank. And of course, the intelligence community is just wasting time and money investigating how Russia may have influenced the presidential election last year, because it's all fake news, and the FBI and CIA often spend months looking at things that don't exist. Well, maybe the CIA, but not the FBI.

And the far left agrees with Trump, so much so, they sound just like him. Feast thine eyes upon this:

This charming meme comes to us courtesy of Jon. Now I don't know Jon, but he, along with a woman we'll get to know in a bit, were brought to my attention over the weekend. Jon is really far left. Lee Camp fan club kind of far left; in fact, Jon has Lee Camp videos on his social media feed. Jon also loves hashtags, specifically #FeelTheBern and #BernieSanders. One of Jon's statuses simply reads "Fuck Israel." According to another meme Jon posted, Chelsea Clinton said marijuana kills people, when the truth is just a wee bit more nuanced (she didn't say marijuana kills people).

And this brings us to N., the other far leftie to whom I was introduced. N. really likes the website Newslogue, and an author named Caitlin Johnstone. N.'s social media feed is littered with Johnstone's articles from Newslogue. Newslogue, by the way, is an Australian website:

Newslogue is Australia’s first online publishing platform that matches audiences to writing they love. Our digital environment provides you with stories from your favourite writers direct to your front page, because a newspaper isn’t a platform, and social media isn’t news.   

Caitlin hates Democrats, and so does her #1 fan, N. N. posts all of Caitlin's articles, along with anti-Hillary memes, Ring of Fire videos, articles from The Intercept, and the hashtag #BernieWouldveWon. N. also believes the Russian hackers don't exist, and it's all a big lie to distract us from how the Democratic party is evil. Or Hillary is evil. Someone's evil, and maybe it's Trump, but it's definitely Hillary.

These are the Sarandonites. Predominantly white folks who won't really be affected by anything Trump is doing. Oh they might be struggling financially, but just like poor people who voted for Trump, their struggle would have been worse under "Shillary," except no it wouldn't, but for the far right and the far left, facts have left the building. Yes, isn't it awful that SCROTUS might cut the EPA, but let it burn!, and isn't it awful about that healthcare bill, but Obama was black, and isn't it awful that I voted for Trump and he might take away my Meals on Wheels, and isn't it awful that I wrote in Jill Stein/Bernie Sanders and my Muslim/black/gay/Mexican/Sikh neighbor's moving because Nazis vandalized his house and threatened his kids.

It's very nice that so many on both the far left and far right have finally come together to support Trump. Now, Jon and N. do post anti-Trump memes, but what are the odds that last November, either of them actually voted against Trump? It stands to reason their seething hatred of Hillary Clinton might have contributed to what Jon and N. decided to do on November 8, 2016. And it probably wasn't voting for Hillary. My guess is it involved the words "Bernie Sanders" or "Jill Stein."

The far left sounds like Trump, especially when it comes to Russia. Ed Schultz now works for Russia Today. People like Jon and N. believe the same thing Trump believes: The Democratic party invented the entire Russian hacking story to distract from Hillary's emails. Or Donna Brazille. Or how CNN is fake news, but TruthFeed and Alternative Media Syndicate and Counter Current News are not.

Just like Trump, the far right and the far left need bias confirmation, and if that means living in a bubble, so be it. If it means any source of information that challenges your fragile belief system is bad or a lie, hey, that's how it goes. And if the far right, the far left, and Trump agree on one thing it's how evil, destructive, and awful Democrats are, even liberal Democrats.

Heck, if we had President Hillary right now, you can bet we'd build that wall, keep that Muslim ban, cut funding for the EPA, the NEA, VAWA, and Meals on Wheels, increase our defense spending so we can nuke the Middle East, and President Hillary would most definitely be up at 5 AM, tweeting about how North Korea is "behaving very badly."

Except that wouldn't be happening. At all. "But Shillary was all Goldman Sachs!" Trump has hired a ton of men from Goldman Sachs. "But her emails!" Trump held an emergency security briefing on North Korea over the salad course at his country club. "But Benghazi!" Yemen.

Congratulations to the far right and the far left. You may want it for different reasons, but last November, you got precisely what you craved: a revolution. And while poor people lose their health insurance, and Muslims are booted out of the country, and women lose health care, and the transgender community is made more vulnerable, and Mexicans and Hispanics are deported, and a retired police chief is detained in an airport for no reason other than his name, you can sit back and smile, because you voted your "conscience."

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Second Muslim ban blocked, Trump considers eliminating Meals on Wheels

Thanks in part to CNN and Fox Spews News, Donald Trump's second Muslim ban-second verse same as the first-was blocked by a federal judge in Hawaii. Which, for the birthers in the audience, is not Kenya. According to US District Court Judge Derrick Watson, two of the events that influenced his decision to block Muslim Ban the Sequel were interviews given by none other than Donald Trump on CNN, and Stephen Miller on Fox. Oops?

From CNN:

In the ruling, Watson brought up specific statements made by the President and Stephen Miller, one of his top policy advisors and a reported architect of the original order, in cable news interviews.

Trump made plain his opposition to Islam in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper last year, asserting "I think Islam hates us."

Cooper asked then-candidate Trump in the interview to clarify if he meant Islam as a whole or just "radical Islam," to which Trump replied "It's very hard to separate. Because you don't know who's who."

The judge cited this interview as an example of the "religious animus" behind the executive order and quoted Trump telling Cooper "We can't allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States."

Wait, there's more!

Likewise, the decision cited an interview Miller had on Fox News following the legal struggles of the first executive order last month, which the legal opponents of the ban have emphasized repeatedly.

In a February interview, Miller downplayed any major differences the new executive order would have from the first and said it would be "responsive to the judicial ruling" holding it up and have "mostly minor technical differences."

"Fundamentally, you're still going to have the same basic policy outcome for the country," Miller added.

Judge Watson wrote those two statements "betray the Executive Order's stated secular purpose."

In what can only be called retaliation for Muslims being able to come to the United States, Trump is mulling over some budget cuts, specifically programs that help poor people. Proposed cuts include drastic reductions to the State Department Food for Peace Program, which sends food to poor countries who have suffered a major disaster, and a program that subsidizes flights to rural airports.

Oh, and Meals on Wheels. A program that helps over 2 million seniors in this country who live at or below the poverty line. Seniors who may spend most of their time alone, feeling isolated, and look forward to their Meals on Wheels volunteers stopping by with a hot meal and some conversation. Meals on Wheels volunteers also perform safety checks during their visits. But Donald Trump doesn't care about seniors, or rural America; he wants to cut or eliminate social programs in order to increase our defense spending. Which is exactly what Jesus would do.

Because in Trump World, the only thing we have to fear is everyone who looks different, or prays to a different deity, or speaks a different language. Starving senior citizens, or folks who live in small towns and need access to air travel, or use Amtrak, or need HUD, don't matter to Trump one bit. He got their vote, now they're invisible.

That's really the worst part of all this. Trump's most ardent fans-poor Americans who believed all his lies-are going to suffer the most for their own ignorance and fear. Their jobs aren't coming back, because it's not immigrants who are taking them, it's automation. Trump is going to cut or eliminate programs poor people depend on to survive, including the ACA.

It's hard to find empathy for people who voted in favor of their own demise. Find it anyway. Go to the Meals on Wheels link above, and see about volunteering, or even donating a little (or a lot of) money. When Donald Trump begins clearcutting his way through our country's poor, politics will need to take a back seat to survival.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Hypocrisy, thy name is conservative: the First Lady Edition

Oh, conservatives. There are so many things completely cuckoo about your "party" right now. Your desperate need to take health care away from the poor, including yourselves, your sudden love of Russia, and oddly, your glaring, blaring, in-our-face, you don't even see you're doing it, hypocrisy.

Yes, you've been hypocrites for a really long time, that's obvious. Small government except when it comes to gay marriage and vaginas. Made In America, except for practically everything you buy. You love politicians who went to Harvard, except the black guy. But your hypocrisy at the moment is pretty startling, even for an old cynic like me.

A few days ago, Dan Savage, he of Google Santorum fame, said something negative about Melania Trump: she's as ugly on the inside as she is pretty on the outside. Savage defends his statement by correctly pointing out Mrs. Trump championed her husband's lies about President Obama's birth certificate. No, really, she did. On television:

On April 20, 2011, Melania appeared on the Joy Behar Show and backed up her husband's allegations that Obama wasn't born in the state of Hawaii like live birth records suggest.

"It’s not only Donald who wants to see [Obama's birth certificate], it’s American people who voted for him and who didn’t vote for him. They want to see that," she argued. Behar then made the point that the birth certificate had already been on display and all over the internet. "We feel it’s different than birth certificate."

Well now, that's sort of icky, isn't it? But does it deserve such a harsh commentary from Savage? Maybe, maybe not. The First Amendment assures Dan Savage he can say it, and the government can't arrest him, as much as Donald Trump may want to. The First Amendment also doesn't keep  conservatives from defending Melania Trump against negative comments. You know, just like they did with First Lady Michelle Obama. Except no, never happened, and here's some proof.

Remember Carl Paladino? The racist emails guy from New York? Who became Trump's NY co-chair during the campaign? Paladino said this about First Lady Michelle Obama in an interview:

 “Michelle Obama. I’d like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortable in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.”

During the same interview, Paladino wish death on President Obama.

When Mrs. Obama teamed up with Subway in order to promote healthier eating, conservatives lost their minds. And as they are wont to do, they posted their breakdowns online. Here are a few:

omg!! do you ppl not know putting an anti American heifer like mooooooshell on your bizz like that is going to destroy your bizz..wooohhooo thats great you can let her destroy your company like her P>O>S freak husband is destroying our beloved country….i feel bad for all your employess who will be out of a job when you have to shut down for your shi### choice!!!

No more Subway food for me. I lose my appetite when I see Mooshell’s face.

I cannot believe what I’m reading! On another post I see Mooshells likeness looking over the counter! I’m very sorry but I’ve just lost my appetite! I’d rather eat pink meat at McDonalds! You have crossed the line!

Apparently, you weren’t paying attention to JC Penney when they decided to make a fruitcake their spokesman…I guess you will learn the hardway that Mooochelle is not that popular among people that work and pay for their own meals…Goodbye…I guess you wanted to take the lead in the food stamps business…

There is no way I will support a business that supports the leach in our white house.
Subway is going to need a lot of workers, prolly illegals, to clean up after their customers start puking from seeing Moochell’s picture.

She has four butts and is anti-God, anti-America and a socialist. Good bye.

Uber-wealthy conservative congressman Jim Sensenbrenner said Mrs. Obama had a "big butt" during appearances at his church. He apologized for those comments, because he got caught.

And of course, we can't forget Rush Limbaugh. Captain Corpulence frequently attacked the former First Lady for her appearance, including saying Mrs. Obama did not look like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. Do you recall any conservatives defending First Lady Michelle Obama against Paladino, or Sensenbrenner, or Limbaugh?

Of course now, it's different. Now we have a white First Lady. Now we all have to be super respectful, and give her a chance, and not care about the millions of taxpayer dollars being spent to keep her in New York. Now Dan Savage can't say Melania Trump is ugly on the inside because she spread her husband's racist propaganda, or because she told a bunch of terminally ill children to get more sunshine even as her husband cuts healthcare for kids just like them. Maybe she told them about the sunshine because this time next year, those kids won't be able to afford medical care.

Hypocrisy, thy name is conservative, and it has been for a very long time. It's clear to anyone who's been paying attention over the past eight years. You hated Michelle Obama because she was an African American woman with fabulous biceps, and you love Melania Trump because she's Caucasian and looks like a swimsuit model. But you won't admit it, you will never own up to your racism and sexism. You will never just tell the truth: you like your women subservient, sexualized, married to a guy who might be abusive, and marginalized.

And white.

Friday, March 10, 2017

We should all stop Russian to judgment

Image from the BBC

Alright, settle down snowflakes, we're going to have a chat about Donald Trump and Russia, Jeff Sessions and Russia, Michael Flynn and Russia and Turkey, Carter Page and Russia, Paul Manafort and Russia, and then I'm taking a little nap. Just like Sean Spicer.

The Cold War is over. Russia has an "elected" president, former KGB agent Vladimir Putin. Putin is deeply religious, fond of doing things while shirtless, jailing journalists and dissidents, and possibly having people killed. But he's BETTER THAN LENIN! Plus, do you live in Russia? No, you live in Ohio or Michigan or Oregon or Azerbaijan. So you don't know anything about Russia, except what you read in every single newspaper, on every single website. And what numerous intelligence agencies are stating. And watching videos of protesters getting beaten and arrested by state police. BUT HE'S BETTER THAN LENIN.

Yes, a lot of people Donald Trump knows seem to have relationships with Russians. Especially Trump. There's the house in Palm Beach Trump bought, then sold to a Russian oligarch for $40 million over purchase price, a house said oligarch never stepped foot in, and is now tearing down. Russian oligarch dude wanted a way to hide money from his then-estranged wife, and buying a house from Donald Trump seemed like the way to go.

Then there are the business interests Trump has in Russia that he swears he doesn't have. According to the New York Times, Donald Trump has been trying to make money in Russia since 1987:

Mr. Trump repeatedly sought business in Russia as far back as 1987, when he traveled there to explore building a hotel. He applied for his trademark in the country as early as 1996. And his children and associates have appeared in Moscow over and over in search of joint ventures, meeting with developers and government officials.

During a trip in 2006, Mr. Sater and two of Mr. Trump’s children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, stayed at the historic Hotel National Moscow opposite the Kremlin, connecting with potential partners over the course of several days.

As recently as 2013, Mr. Trump himself was in Moscow. He had sold Russian real estate developers the right to host his Miss Universe pageant that year, and he used the visit as a chance to discuss development deals, writing on Twitter at the time: “TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next.”

It does seem that Trump has a giant man crush on Vladimir Putin, but who doesn't? Heck, I knew a woman on Facebook who was madly in love with Putin, so much so, if you insulted him on anything, she'd call you names, and unfriend you. Lots of people are crazy about Putin. Not the people he's had jailed just for disagreeing with him, or writing something critical about his leadership, or the LGBTQ Russians he hates, or artists, or Pussy Riot, but Ed Schultz absolutely adores Putin. You remember Ed Schultz, don't you? Liberal darling, spokesperson for the middle class, pro-union, pro-living wage, pro-First Amendment? Well, now he works for RT, and attended CPAC this year. As a speaker.

Yes, Jeff Sessions met with the Russian ambassador, and then lied about it under oath. But he wasn't asked a question about his own interactions with the Russians; he volunteered that lie. Which led to Sen. Al Franken pretty much just calling Sessions a liar, which enraged Sen. Chuck Grassley, which made Sen. Franken double down.

Yes, Carter Page traveled to Russia, and it was just revealed that, contrary to Page's statements, he did get formal permission from the Trump campaign for that travel. Why does anyone care about Carter Page? According to Politico:

And while Page has repeatedly denied wrongdoing in connection with his Moscow visit, it is now drawing increased scrutiny as a result of new disclosures about his contact two weeks later with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Just days after Kislyak talked to Page, Gordon and a third campaign official, WikiLeaks disseminated thousands of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee’s servers — a hack that U.S. intelligence later attributed to the Russian government.

Yes, Paul Manafort had regular contact with a "Kiev-based operative" with suspected ties to Russian intelligence while Manafort was running Trump's campaign. The key word there is "suspected."

Yes, Michael Flynn is a hot mess of spy craft, except he's not very good at it. He just registered as a foreign agent this Tuesday, but he'd actually been one while he was an adviser on Donald Trump's campaign. In Turkey. Flynn also chatted with Russia about sanctions prior to the election. Both Flynn and Trump denied those conversations happened, until it became crystal clear those conversations had happened, then Mike Pence became sad because Flynn lied to him, and Trump fired Flynn for lying to Pence. Not for having chats with Russia that may have been, at the very least, potentially illegal, but for lying to the VP.

But it's not like Russia has an entire hacking group at their disposal, so when Trump tweets out something crazy like "Obama wire tapped me," or the intelligence community releases more information on Trump's love affair with Vladimir Putin, that group can suddenly dump thousands of documents pertaining to spying onto the internet, thus completely deflecting our attention. That's a ridiculous idea.

It's not as if any of this can be proven by our own intelligence agencies, and even when they do prove it, well, who believes those guys? Donald Trump has to be telling the truth, because if he's not, that would mean millions and millions of angry white people fell for the con of the millennium. It would mean he lied about all of it-jobs, American-made anything, the economy, the wall. It would mean this whole thing was about power, and making money. It would mean Donald Trump is not the blue collar hero his fans believe him to be.

Which might explain why Trump supporters are always so angry when you bump into them on the internet. They're slowly realizing the truth: Russia, the corruption, the money, the hotel in Baku (money laundering for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard OOPS), the Chinese trademarks, the whole thing was a con.

At least once a week, mainstream media will have an interview with some poor (literally) white Trump supporter who seems shocked that their candidate is doing what he said he would. Well, they mumble, I didn't think he was really gonna <insert awful thing that will bankrupt them here>, politicians say all sorts of stuff. Except the majority of Trumpers voted for him because they said he wasn't a politician. So now he is, and it's okay, but then he wasn't, and that was okay, too?

Denial, it would seem, is not just a river in Egypt, nor is it reserved for Trump's fervent fans. Denial is meandering through the White House like a toxic stream, and it's taking a lot of folks along for the ride. Denial about Russia, about jobs, about everything.

I wouldn't fret; if we get too close to the truth, Trump will tweet something insane at 4 AM, and WikiLeaks will dump a ton of crap online to make certain we don't pay attention to the important stuff. Because it's only through denial, misinformation, perjury, and treason, that we can truly Make America Great Again!