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Trump fights back, with lies and threats

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“You know what else they say about my people? The polls, they say I have the most loyal people. Did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s like incredible.”

That was a bragging Trump, campaigning in Iowa back on Jan. 23, 2016. He said, in essence, that he could commit a violent felony—first-degree murder—in full public view, with witnesses all around him, and his supporters wouldn’t give a damn. They’d let him off the hook.

Well, what we’ve been seeing with UkraineGate is the Constitutional equivalent of a serial murderer. Trump has committed numerous acts of illegality and blatant unConstitutionality, in full public view, in the presence of multiple witnesses, of whom not a single one of his supporters has been willing to step forward and say, “He did it.”

Not one Republican in the House of Representatives. Not one Republican in the Senate. Not one Republican in the executive branch of government. Not one member of Trump’s Republican Cabinet. Trump committed his diplomatic felonies, assassinating, not people, but norms and Constitutional laws, and he hasn’t lost a single Republican voter.

Yes, “it’s like incredible.”

Then Trump had the nerve to come out right after yesterday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing to lambaste Democrats for investigating his behavior. “No healthcare, no gun control, no infrastructure,” he screamed. “Democrats don’t want any of that. All they want is to harass me.”

Such a lie! Everybody in the universe knows that Democrats stand for healthcare, for gun control, for infrastructure. The Democratic House has passed bill after bill about all those things, and more—but Moscow Mitch refuses to even take them up in his Senate. No floor debate. No committee hearings. “I won’t take up any Democrat legislation in the Senate,” he fulminates, “unless I know what the president will sign.”

Well, of course, Moscow Mitch doesn’t know what Trump will sign because Trump isn’t interested in signing any legislation. He just wants his stooge, McConnell, to stall, stall, stall, so that he can blame Democrats for Congressional inaction. That’s the way things work in Trump Land: do nothing, oppose everything, and blame Democrats for not getting anything done—and continue to break the law and cover up your crimes. This is the case Democrats should, and will, make to the American people. Don’t blame us for this do-nothing Senate. Blame Moscow Mitch and his boss, Trump—who now is outrightly threatening to execute the whistleblower, when and if he or she is identified.

I think the American people get it: the danger and psychosis of this president and his co-conspirators: Giuliani, Pompeo, Pence, McConnell and the others. Once upon a time we indicted, convicted and jailed the co-conspirators of a criminal president: Watergate. We can do it again.

Have a great weekend. Stay safe.


Trump is in California–and Republicans are embarrassed

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As you know, Trump is in the Bay Area today, on a fundraiser, and his people are keeping the itinerary strictly mum. They know that he’s loathed in Northern California, and they don’t want thousands of protesters blocking his motorcade and flying Baby Trump balloons.

The local news outlets, however, are going crazy with speculation, and yesterday, one of them was down in Palo Alto, in the heart of Silicon Valley, interviewing people on the streets, asking them what they thought. Most were happy to show their faces on camera; all of them were Democrats expressing various attitudes along the lines of “He’s really not welcome here.” Two people, however, did say they welcomed Trump, and that they were Republicans. Both declined to show their faces; they were “afraid,” the T.V. reporter said, of being harassed by their friends and neighbors.

Nobody wants to be harassed. But think about it: those Trump lovers were so embarrassed about standing by their man—a pathological liar, a serial sexual predator, a mentally ill sociopath, an egomaniacal bully, a science denier, a wannabe autocrat, an ignorant lout who pals around with dictators—that they refused to let the world see who they are.

I can’t imagine being so ashamed of my political beliefs that I’d have to keep them secret. I can hear you asking, “But if you lived in a super-red district, wouldn’t you do the same thing, and hide your Democratic beliefs?” The answer is an emphatic NO! I would not. If people had a problem with my politics, they can shun me or argue with me; either way is fine with me. If they got violent, I’d do my best to defend myself, and, if I could, I’d sic the law on them. But never would I be ashamed of being a Democrat and an ardent anti-Trumper.

I think the embarrassment of Republicans is due to a very simple thing: it’s not of being ostracized by their friends and neighbors, it’s because they know, in their heart of hearts, what an evil schmuck Trump is. They know about his chronic violation of the emoluments clause; they know he and his klepto family are enriching themselves by misusing their power; they know Trump is corrupt to his bones, and tried to obstruct the Mueller probe; and they know he’s hiding his tax returns because they contain many damaging secrets of illegal tax fraud. Yes, they know these things, and they also know they can’t defend the indefensible. Hence, they ask that their faces not be shown on T.V.

Why, then, do these people stubbornly defend their man? One can only surmise, but I believe it comes down to a few reasons. One, they’re racists, or at the very least, “mild” white supremacists; they really do think that White is the master race, and they don’t want Colored People running around their Silicon Valley gated communities (unless they’re there to clean the toilets and do the yardwork). Two, they’re rich, and they love the fact that Trump cut their taxes, and if re-elected will cut them even more. And that’s about it: there is no other possible reason to support Donald J. Trump. They know that, too, but of course they can’t come out and admit to the world that the only reason they’re Republicans is because they’re racist greedheads.

But some of their friends and family surely know their political leanings. I hope that these friends and neighbors are applying pressure to them, holding their feet to the fire, constantly reminding them that in defending Trump they defend evil. The only way we’re going to win in 2020 is by reaching the hearts and minds of enough Trump supporters. Left to themselves, these Republicans will never admit the light into their souls, which they sold long ago. But when their loved ones put it all on the line and make it personal, maybe enough of them can be shamed into doing the right thing.


New Reviews: Quady

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Back in the day I used to taste a lot of Quady. It’s been a few years now, and it’s good to see they’re right on course. Quady got their start in the late 1970s when they began specializing in the fairly arcane area of sweet dessert wines. They’re still at it. I’ve always had a soft spot for underdog wineries, of which Quady is certainly one: Americans aren’t drinking many dessert wines these days, for a variety of reasons. Nevertheless, Quady persists, and more power to them. These are wonderful wines; the whites in particular are very low in alcohol and delicious.

NOTE ON THE 3 ELECTRA MOSCATOS: I enjoyed these on their own, but I also tried adding some sliced ripe strawberries, and some good sparkling water, along with a couple ice cubes. Very refreshing!

Quady 2018 Red Electra Moscato (California); $15. This is the red version of Quady’s Electra Moscato, which includes the white and rosé bottlings. It’s just as sweet as the others, with residual sugar of 17.6%. The color is ruby-garnet, and translucent. Like its siblings, it’s utterly delicious, with cherry, raspberry, fig, vanilla cream and white pepper, accompanied by a bit of fizziness. Very high acidity provides a cleansing finish. A great success at this price. I have to say how much I enjoy all three of these Moscatos; they’re super-drinkable, at low alcohol (5.5%). Score: 92 points.

Quady 2018 Electra Moscato (California); $15. This white wine pours clear and straw yellow. It looks dry—but it isn’t! One sniff tells you it’s a sweetie. Honey, orange blossom, apricot preserve and a subtle clover-leaf aroma make you want to taste it immediately. It is sweet enough to drink as a dessert wine with, say, vanilla butter cookies, or even on its own. The sweetness is balanced with refreshing acidity (the total acidity is a high 9.2). All in all, a bright, clean, satisfying wine whose low alcohol—a mere 4.5%–may inspire you to drink a lot of it. It’s also just a little fizzy. Food-wise, I like the winery’s recommendations, which range from fruit salad to Indian food to spicy Asian. I’ll give this wine 91 points for its sheer likeability.

Quady 2018 Electra Moscato Rose (California); $15. Same  price as the white Electra Moscato, a percent higher in alcohol, but still, at a mere 5.5%, pretty low. The blush color is a pretty salmon-pink. It’s a bit sweeter, but the main difference is the range of flavors: deeper, fruitier, more flowery, more honeyed. With lower acidity than its white sister, it’s also more mellow. Both wines are just fine. Tremendously versatile at the table, and a perfect warm-weather sipper. Tasting this rosé on a warm summer day, I think of beaches, pools, gardens. I think of watermelon, ham, fried chicken, pot stickers, Chinese roast pork, sushi, prosciutto-wrapped melon, cheesecake, vanilla ice cream, butter cookies. Score: 91.

Quady 2017 Essentia Orange Muscat (California): $23. In this sweet wine, you’ll find delicate flavors of Mandarin orange, apricot and honey. The residual sugar, for you factoid freaks, is 17.4%, which is high, but the acidity (8.6%) also is very high, which balances the wine, so it’s not insipid. There’s a wonderful creaminess, which I suppose comes from brief oak barrel aging, and also from the nature of the Orange Muscat grapes from which the wine was made. Alcohol is high—15%, due to some fortification with a brandy-like spirit, which stops the fermentation so that some residual sugar remains. I would certainly enjoy this wine with cheesecake. Score: 90 points.

Quady NV Palomino Fino (California); $32.  Most Americans are unfamiliar with sherry-style wines, which of course originate from Spain but have been reproduced successfully here in California. This bottling was made from the Palomino grape variety—the real sherry grape in Spain–grown in the Central Valley city of Fresno, a hot area where Palomino thrives. It’s made in the authentic sherry style, using flor yeast and a solera system. The alcohol is fairly high, 17.5%, but it has to be with sherry, which is fortified with a little brandy. The wine, darker than a regular fino, is absolutely dry, with a yeasty, nutty flavor and elusive notes of macaroons, orange marmalade and spices. The oxidative taste is delicate; the freshness won’t last long after the bottle is opened. This is an acquired taste, but once you understand it, it’s addictive. I would drink this with classic Spanish aperitifs, such as garlickly potato salad, roasted almonds, grilled shrimp and sausage, olives, scrambled eggs, croquettes, calamari. Score: 90.

Quady NV Starboard Batch 88 (California); $25.  Proprietor Andrew Quady turns to sweet red wine for inspiration. This is made from traditional Port varieties. It’s deeply colored, but an orange rim at the edge is a good sign, suggesting immediate gratification. Your first impression of the taste is intense sweetness, the result not only of the residual sugar (13.6%) but of soft acids and mellow tannins. There’s a lot of deliciousness here: blackberry jam, sugared espresso, plum sauce and chocolate-raspberry truffle. There’s also a pleasing heat from high alcohol (20%). It’s basically a California tawny port: no need to age, just drink up now. I could see sipping this on a cold winter evening with chocolate brownies. Score: 91.


trump disgraces America abroad–again

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Well, he’s done it again: embarrassed America abroad. His performance at the G7 was, in a word, horrible. It’s obvious the European leaders loathe him and all he stands for. The reports have suggested that the leaders didn’t want to directly bash him (even though personally they want to), so they put discretion before valor and were basically nice to him.

This is bullshit. Why can’t they come right out and say what they believe, and what we all know? “This man is a complete fool. How long will it take for America to return to her senses and give us another Obama, or at least another George W. Bush?”

Not long, Europe, not long.

I suppose the reason they’re so reticent ro voice their contempt is that trump does wield great power over Europe (and Japan, too). We have, ever since we won World War I for Europe. We helped win World War II for them (Russia did more than we did, if you measure these things by the number of Russians who died and the number of Germans they killed), but America’s post-war Marshall Plan really restored Europe to its feet. We’re still the world’s biggest economy, so the Europeans and Japan are understandably leery of insulting a man who has the power of the Tariff.

But wouldn’t it be nice if these leaders could speak freely. I’d love to hear them come out and tell the world how horrified they are by what’s happened in the U.S. since January, 2017. The New York Times had a great story about the G7; their headline tells it all: Don’t Get You-Know-Who Mad.

Well, of course Merkel, Macron et al. don’t want to be on the receiving end of trump’s tariffs, or his taunts, or whatever thuggish things he might do to them if they dared to come out and publicly criticize him. But they might review Europe’s history vis-à-vis Hitler to learn why their cowardice is so dangerous. Too many European leaders in the 1930s failed to stand up to the Nazi menace. Hitler’s Germany had the money and the troops to hurt them if they showed any spine. Hence, most of them didn’t, Great Britain’s Churchill being the sole exception. All the others—the leaders of France, Italy, Hungary, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia, Norway, Sweden, Bulgaria, Greece—fell in line. Their silence doomed Europe to the death and destruction Hitler wrought.

Why do Macron, Merkel and the rest think that History will turn out differently this time? By their silence they enable a psychopath capable of unleashing untold horrors upon the world.

We’ve all been watching/reading coverage of the G7 but not all of us reach the same conclusions. I daresay trump’s shrinking base thinks he did just fine: “He really stuck it to those European communists.” Of course, they’re getting their information from fake “news” sources, like Fox, Limbaugh and Info Wars. They don’t like foreigners, except when they’re fascist/capitalist authoritarians like Duterte or Bolsonaro. These red state trailer park dwellers love Hitler; they probably love Mussolini although they’re be hard-pressed to tell you anything about him. They would have loved Franco, too, but they’ve probably never heard of him.

Isn’t it sad that the “base” that got trump elected, and continues to support him, is so deplorable? Yes, I use Hillary’s term deliberately. These people are uneducated, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, religious fanatics, bitter at their failure in life, resentful of the success of others. They hate with unreasoned ferocity, and are the kind of people who have spread instability and war across the world for all of human history. They are the worst electorate in America since the South prior to the Civil War. These are not people we want interfering in the governance of our country. Unfortunately, we’re stuck with them for the foreseeable future. We can and will defeat them in 2020, in a Blue Wave, but they’re not going anywhere. They can’t be educated; their minds are closed. They can only be controlled.


Why it would have been easy for Trump to order Epstein’s death

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The dumbest remark I’ve heard all week—and I’ve heard a lot of dumb stuff from Republicans—was on Breitbart or, as I like to call it, BiteFart. It was from a woman (obviously not well-educated), who wrote, concerning the Epstein death, “Trump is no murder.” She meant “murderer,” of course, but many if not most of these Republican Trump supporters are sadly lacking in basic writing skills, as a read-through of comments on BiteFart shows every day. (The possibility also exists that the woman is some kind of Russian bot or troll.)

How does this woman know that “Trump is no murder”? He sanctions murder, that’s for sure. A couple of years ago, in an interview in which he was criticized for supporting murderous dictators, he said (I paraphrase), “What, you think America doesn’t kill people?” Coming from the President of the United States, that is a pretty clear indication that Trump has ordered deaths. Given what we know of his personality—sociopathic, narcissistic, megalomaniacal, paranoid—there’s no reason not to believe that he’s comfortable with taking out his enemies. I would not kill—you would not kill—most decent people would not kill—but Donald Trump would, if he could; and he can. He’s the most powerful person in the world.

Look, if he wanted to “arrange” the death of Epstein in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, he could do it with a wink and a nod. Arrange for someone to be off-duty at a crucial moment. Pay someone to “not see” something. Have an important document mysteriously disappear. Epstein supposedly hanged himself (with what, we don’t know). Do you not think someone could have entered his cell, overpowered him, and strangled him, then made the scene look as though Epstein had done the deed himself?

Over at the afore-mentioned BiteFart the running meme is that Bill Clinton (or, in some cases, Hillary) arranged for Epstein’s murder. Just how either of the Clintons retains enough power to pull off a stunt like that is not explained by BiteFarters, who never need evidence for their ridiculous conspiracy theories. Former Presidents have absolutely no extrajudicial power, beyond the power of the pulpit. Sitting Presidents do. I doubt if there’s a person in the entire world whom Trump could not have killed, if he wanted. And surely Trump had ample motive to kill Epstein.

Let’s not forget this telling quote from Trump, given during a New York magazine interview back in 2002: Epstein “likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.” That’s what he said: I didn’t make it up, Democrats didn’t invent it, it’s what the serial pussy-grabber said. His remarkable understatement that both he and his good friend Epstein like their women “on the younger side” can have only one meaning: both predators enjoyed girls under the legal age of consent. In this age of #MeToo this is a shocking admission. There may or may not exist objective proof that Epstein supplied Trump with girls “on the younger side,” but clearly, had Epstein lived, he would have been in a position to so testify.

But Epstein did not live. His life ended abruptly. Cui bono, the law asks in Latin: Who benefits from Epstein’s death? Obviously his co-conspirators do. We don’t know whom they are, yet. But there’s plenty of smoke emerging from the crime scene, and anyone who doesn’t, at the very least, entertain the possibility that Trump had illegal sex with girls “on the younger side” supplied to him by Epstein, and then ordered Epstein eliminated, is living in a fool’s paradise.


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