Nel's New Day

March 5, 2017

Trump: ‘Deflector in Chief’

“The time for trivial fights is past.” – Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) during his first address to Congress last Tuesday evening.

donald-trumpDDT’s semi-presidential appearance didn’t last long. Left without his keepers at Mar-a-Lago this weekend, DDT worked to deflect all his bad press resulting from this week’s scandals about Russia about that country’s participation in the presidential election with angry, libelous tweets. Between his rants about firing Arnold Schwarzenegger were accusations about President Obama tapping his phones at the Trump Tower. The adolescent sending the tweets couldn’t even spell “tapp” correctly: he gave the word an extra p. The excuse his handlers gave DDT was a vague statement in fake Breitbart news about Barack Obama’s “police state” tactics. With no evidence, could be sued for libel, disseminating damaging false information.

Rep. Ted Lieu’s (D-CA) summary of DDT’s problems:

“Either @realDonaldTrump is paranoid like Nixon, or judge found probable cause of crime for #wiretap. Either way our President is in trouble.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said:

“It’s beneath the dignity of the presidency. It is something that really hurts people’s view of government.”

Growing concern has developed because DDT will be hosting Angela Merkel next week after accusing her of “ruining Germany.” Schumer echoed Lieu’s conclusion about the allegations either being false or providing probable cause to search for broken laws.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) described DDT as “deflector in chief.” She said about DDT’s accusations:

“It’s called a wrap-up smear. You make up something. Then you have the press write about it. And then you say, everybody is writing about this charge. It’s a tool of an authoritarian.”

Two issues about Russia that DDT wants to conceal are the way that his new AG, Jeff Sessions, committed perjury in saying that he had no communication with the Russians and the question of whether a special prosecutor should be assigned to address DDT’s campaign involvement with Russia instead of letting the partisan Congress investigate the matter.

Concerns about Russian involvement in the campaign has been released in dribbles and drabs for almost a year as DDT continued to express his unadulterated admiration for Vladimir Putin as a leader. The most recent activity before DDT’s tweet was when Sessions tried to jump out of the frying pan by finally recusing himself from any investigations into the FBI and hoping to save himself from resignation. He’s in a risky situation because Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) wants Sessions to go back to the Senate to explain his statements made earlier under oath.

sessions-putinSessions’ problems began when he answered a question that no one asked him. Franken asked Sessions what he would do as AG if the connections between DDT and Russia were true. Sessions didn’t answer that question, but he said that he had “been called a surrogate” in the campaign and that “I did not have communications with the Russians.” By now the media has made clear that his answer was not true (aka a lie) because he met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice while the White House was working on sanctions against Russia. When these meetings were publicly revealed, Sessions said he couldn’t remember if he talked politics with the ambassador. Russia is now in control of Sessions’ future because the ambassador can blackmail him. Saturday Night Live opened with a spoof about Sessions, played by Kate McKinnon.

Franken sent a letter to Sessions telling him that his not mentioning Russian involvement in the election “strains credulity.” The letter asked why Sessions had failed to mention the communication and what all his and his staff members’ communications with “Russian officials and their associates during the presidential campaign of 2016” are. As Franken wrote:

“If it is determined that you lied to the [Judiciary] Committee and the American people under oath during your confirmation hearing, it is incumbent upon you to resign from your position as attorney general.”

DDT’s response to Sessions’ recusal was a “ballistic” rant in which he used “a lot of expletives” and “nobody has seen him that upset.” That may be the reason that Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus didn’t go to Florida with DDT—thus the tweets. And DDT’s demand for a special prosecutor into the non-existent wiretaps. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who has consistently maintained that there’s no need for an investigation into Russia’s involvement in DDT’s campaign, said that the Intelligence Committee “will make inquiries” as per DDT’s demand. On the other hand, FBI Director James Comey asked the Justice Department to publicly reject DDT’s claims about the former president’s wiretaps of Trump Tower.

Democrats—including seven of the nine on the Senate Judicial Committee—are calling for a special prosecutor into Russian interference while Republicans continue to squirm about its possibility. Doing so would allow a nonpartisan person instead of an acting deputy attorney general to leads an investigation. DDT’s nominee for that position, Rod Rosenstein, could be asked about a commitment to naming a special prosecutor before his final vote. The historical precedent for an appointment is during the Watergate scandal in 1973 when the Judiciary Committee demanded that Nixon’s nominee name the prosecutor before the vote as well as asking questions about the prosecutor’s level of independence. Other special prosecutors occurred for investigation into Bill Clinton’s Whitewater affair and George W. Bush’s Valerie Plame affair.

Almost two decades ago, then-Sen. Jeff Sessions defined the standard for assigning a special prosecutor. The issue was whether Gore lied during an investigation into the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign’s fundraising. Sessions said that an independent investigator should be appointed any time that an AG is asked to investigate the president because of the president’s power over the AG. Now Sessions may face criminal charges for perjury and leads the same agency, the Department of Justice, that would ordinarily investigate alleged violations of federal law. For all the time before he finally recused himself, he was in the same power that the AG faced in the case where he set up the standard.

In its continued support for DDT, the FBI may be concealing information from Congressional committees attempting to investigate communication between DDT’s people and the Russian officials. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) said that the intelligence community has not been forthcoming, and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said, ‘‘We know less than a fraction of what the FBI knows.” Asked about transcripts that the FBI refused to share with Democrats, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) tried to “deflect” the issue by refusing to discuss them, indicating that they do exist. The issue of transcripts is interesting because U.S. citizens, including Michael Flynn, can be taped without FISA warrants. Transcripts of Flynn–or anyone else–would  indicate evidence of wrongdoing.

After DDT’s accusations about President Obama’s wiretapping one of his homes, he moved on to tweets stating that the former president had Russian ties and that Democrats didn’t want to help the FBI investigate the Russian cyberattacks.

DDT’s “relationship” with Russia seems to be cooling in the light of continued criticism from people in the U.S.—something that DDT cannot handle. One indication is that his pick for top Russia adviser is Fiona Hill whose book Mr. Putin, Operative in the Kremlin alludes to Vladimir Putin’s history as a KGB operative. There are also rumors that Putin didn’t want DDT to win; he just wanted to create chaos in the United States. On MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, New Yorker editor David Remnick said:

“Everybody expected Hillary Clinton to win. You expected her to win. The polls expected her to win. So they succeeded, in some sense, beyond their wildest dreams, and now they’re freaked,” Remnick added ominously. “If you talk to people in Moscow now, there’s a lot of buyer’s remorse. There was an order sent down to Russian television, ‘enough with the celebrating about Trump!’”

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that the Kremlin is waiting for “some kind of actions” to understand what the future holds because “we have heard different statements from President Trump.” Even Russia understands that DDT’s volatility is untrustworthy.

The weekend is almost over, and DDT will get his keepers back when he returns to the White House. His handlers there may temper his tweets.

Should we be obsessed with the Russia story? Of course! This is bigger than Watergate, and it sets the direction for the United States for decades to come. An additional issue surrounding the White House is that eight Russian operatives connected to DDT have already been found dead. We need to overcome the “deflector in chief.”

November 19, 2012

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2012

Every year, supporters of the transgender community hold vigils on November 20 for those people murdered the year before because of hatred and prejudice toward their gender identities. Begun in 1998 after the murder of Rita Hester in Massachusetts, this day is now called the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The transgender community has gained more acceptance during the last 14 years but is far in gains that gays and lesbians have experienced in the same time.

There is a theory that familiarity is the primary reason that people become less prejudiced toward others. For example, as more people realize that their friends and family members are gay and lesbian, the more they think gays and lesbians deserve equal rights. The same has not happened for trans persons because fewer people know members in this community.

I remember the first person I met who I knew was transgender. After my partner and I retired to the Oregon Coast, we opened a bed and breakfast. We had an amazing diverse clientele from people who visited from other countries and couldn’t speak English to conservatives from around the United States. Because the B&B was listed in several LGBT resources, we also enjoyed meeting the gays and lesbians who stayed with us. When one woman returned to stay with us, she told us, with what must have been great fear and trepidation, that she had once been a man who owned a large business in the Northwest.

Since then I have been privileged to know other trans persons, but I still look back at that time as one of personal growth. There is a huge difference between accepting gender identity in theory and being friends with a trans person.

Currently, I am a member of a project called Over the Rainbow. Sponsored by the American Library Association, OTR annually recommends current books with significant LGBTQ content. The reading that I do for this project also extends my knowledge and understanding. I would like to recommend the following books nominated for this year’s list that have brought me greater perception. The first one is from the perspective of mothers attempting to understand their trans children; in three other books, trans women tell of their experiences; a photographer has created a stunningly elegant book; and the last one is an anthology of true stories about transgender sex and sexuality.

Transitions of the Heart: Stories of Love, Struggle and Acceptance by Mothers of Transgender and Gender Variant Children. Ed. by Rachel Pepper. Cleis Press, $16.95. 203p. Thirty-two mothers—diverse in age, ethnic background, class, sexual orientation/gender identity, and national origin—write about their feelings and trials after they discovered that their children, varying in ages from six to sixty, are transgender. Each of these narrators makes clear that that children as young as two or three can identify with a gender that their bodies do not display, and they, like their children, experience “coming out” as they transition from denial through protecting themselves and their children to open acceptance.

Ryka Aoki. Seasonal Velocities: Poems, Stories, and Essays. Trans-Genre Press, $14.95. (138p). Beginning with the pain of “Winter,” the writer works toward a feeling of hope in the last division, “Spring.” As Elliott DeLine wrote, “It is unpretentious, beautiful, and intimate. The experience was like getting to know a wonderful new friend. Ryka Aoki is doing great things for the trans community, and she is doing it with grace and style. Seasonal Velocities is smart, compelling, honest, sometimes zany, and always full of spirit.”

Joy Ladin. Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey between Genders. University of Wisconsin Press, $26.95. 255p.  The first openly transgender employee of an Orthodox Jewish institution shares her journey from being a traditional male, married with three children, to her new life as a woman. Ladin uses her past experience of writing poetry to create a beautiful memoir about her losses and pain as she transitions after 40 years of gender dysphoria.

Bornstein, Kate. A Queer and Pleasant Danger. Beacon, $25.95. 258p. Subtitled “The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She Is Today,” the book uses Bornstein’s typical witty, acerbic style in her experiences from Al to Kate Bornstein to “do whatever it takes to make your life more worth living.”


Marcus, Jana. Transfigurations. 7 Angels Press, $35.00. 132p. “To be transgendered is to transcend gender boundaries in our society,” Marcus writes in the introduction. These gorgeous black and white photographs feature trans persons, both masculine and feminine, as they change gender identities across cultures and ethnicities to display their pride and diversity. According to the artist, “Transfigurations aims to illuminate who transgender people are, a subject which the mainstream culture has often shadowed in mystery and misunderstood.”


Trans/Love: Radical Sex, Love & Relationships beyond the Gender Binary. Ed. by Morty Diamond. Manic D Press, $14.95. 160p. “Twenty-nine transgender, transsexual, two spirit, genderqueer, and intersex writers [discuss] sex, love, and romantic relationships, and how our gender identity shapes and interacts with these parts of our lives,” wrote the book’s editor in his description of this compilation of true narratives. “This book is a love letter to the trans community and beyond, hoping to add truth to the complex trans experience.”

These books give all of us the chance to meet more trans persons.  For those interested in additional information about transgender, check out Matt Kailey’s blog. Jillian T. Weiss also has suggestions for other blogs on the subject.

I ask you to stop for a few minutes tomorrow to think about the people who died because of hatred and rejection for their identities while hoping that we can change the world into a better place.


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