The Daily Dog: The Clumsy Dictator

Some parents write fake excuses for their kids when they skip school. Others tweak a book report or science project. The nation learned yesterday that Donald Trump takes the extra step as a parent. He helps his kids write false and misleading statements for the most widespread criminal investigation ever of a White House occupant and his family.

Unfortunately for Trump, his literary endeavors on little Donnie’s behalf will likely earn him more trouble than a plagiarized book report would bring. In the scope of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing criminal investigation of Trump, dad may have just proven the government’s case. In doing so, Trump is less of a literary genius and more the bank robber who slides the teller his demands written on the back of his own personal check.

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The Washington Post dealt Trump another card he couldn’t use to build his next tower.

While authorities pore over the evidence to ascertain the gravity of Trump’s crimes, it is time for the American public to ask themselves serious questions about their leadership. The choices facing the country are not enviable. We have arrived at the point in this electoral farce and administrative debacle where no one is proud to say our leader is either a clownish liar or an inept criminal. In the reality television show broadcasting live to the nation, there is no box to check for “other.”

Trump is not only bad at parenting and writing his kids’ excuses; he is simply bad at, well, everything having to do with politics. Generally, being bad at these kinds of things is not a seriously relevant offense. However, when you occupy the White House and write what may be perjurious notes used as evidence in your own impeachment, you have a problem and so does America.

Beyond his criminal activity, Trump’s hastily scribbled excuse note for Don, Jr. demonstrates that in Trump’s grand scheme of leadership, there is absolutely no plan. It validates the chaotic tweets, White House resignations and appointments, and daily spin as the reality and not the exceptions to the rule of order necessary for strong and focused leadership and stable government.

A year ago, when Hillary Clinton stood at the podium during debates, educated, prepared, and focused, America should have seen the train wreck that is Donald Trump before it crashed in our nation’s capital. As tensions grow in various hot spots around the globe — North Korea and the Russian frontier especially — it is troubling to think that Trump is just making things up as he goes along. Decisions with global implications require the knowledge and studious attention America would have found in Clinton…or anyone else besides Trump.

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“By the way, dad, our fake dog ate my homework.”

Trump’s biggest failure will be his driving ambition to do everything himself. Looking back in history, there is a lesson for Trump from one of America’s richest and most accomplished men — a man, who in his lifetime built an empire worth 100 times more than Trump’s few billion dollars. He was also a man who recognized that, as a corporate magnate and leader, he had no need to accomplish everything on his own.

Andrew Carnegie believed that “No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it.” Widely respected as a business mogul and one of the nation’s most renowned philanthropists, Carnegie also valued something else that Trump seems to have little use for — books and free public libraries.

In contrasting the two businessmen, Carnegie emerges as the true rags-to-riches story of American opportunity and self-motivation. Trump’s inheritance funded and self-gratifying business leadership style is but an apprenticeship to Carnegie’s greatness, and so is his overwhelming desire to be the sole conceiver of ideas and recipient of accolades.

At the close of Trump’s tenure, his own self-oriented needs will bring his house of cards crashing down around him, but he will immediately blame others. It will be interesting to see whether he blames his own children, whom he has surrounded himself with since the inception of his administration. If he does, his demise will also be a lesson in parenting.

A dad who blames his child for the “F” on the book-report the parent authored has more to learn than his student does. It will not be long before Trump is called to the principal’s office, and when he is, let us hope he is expelled. Without the bully on the playground, we can all get back to making America great again.

The Sunday Dog: Showdown in New Haven

Please help the Idea Dogs help Nury Chavarria. Click here to sign the petition to stop her deportation.

The power and patience of the federal government is being tested this weekend in New Haven, Conn. A tense standoff between Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials and a Guatemalan national has extended to include the city of New Haven and a local church along with Connecticut state representatives.

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Nury Chavarria (right) with her children. Photo: Nury Chavarria

On Friday, ICE officials declared Nury Chavarria a fugitive from justice, which is a bit of bureaucratic irony since Chavarria is the party seeking fair and humane treatment. Chavarria has been living in the United States for 24 years since fleeing from Guatemala in 1993 when she was 19-years-old.

ICE officials ordered the 43-year-old mother of four to purchase a one-way ticket to Guatemala and leave on Thursday. She would be barred from reentering the U.S. for ten years. Instead of abandoning her four citizen children — ranging in age from nine to 21 — Chavarria instead took refuge in the Iglesia De Dios Pentecostal church in New Haven. She remains there with her 9-year-old daughter while volunteers, activists, and Connecticut government representatives urge the federal immigration agency to reconsider its position on Chavarria’s removal.

The case highlights the growing tension between states seeking to do the right and humanitarian thing, and federal agencies operating under the Donald Trump’s xenophobic regime. While immigration matters fall within the purview of the federal government, a growing number of states and municipalities are refusing to participate in anti-humanitarian policies advocated by Trump. The discord has given rise to a growing number of sanctuary cities and states, of which New Haven and Connecticut are both.

From the beginning of his rise to power, Trump has been a boisterous and ignorant advocate of his own anti-immigration policies — especially concerning both Hispanics and Muslims. During his 2016 campaign, Trump referred to Latin American immigrants as “bad hombres” and vowed to build a wall between America and her southern neighbors to keep undocumented aliens out of the country.

Nury Chavarria is a good mother and not one of the undocumented bad guys Trump rants about regularly. Her oldest son suffers from cerebral palsy, and she works diligently to care for him and three other children — all legal citizens. She was denied asylum from her civil war-torn home, but has been granted stays of deportation on humanitarian grounds since 2010. She has paid taxes, checked in regularly with ICE, and is not a criminal. None-the-less, she remains a target of Trump’s racist and nationalistic cleansing to “Make America Great Again.”

In June, ICE denied Chavarria’s latest stay of deportation and gave her less than 30 days to purchase her plane ticket to Guatemala. On Wednesday, with the help of Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, Chavarria hoped for another reprieve that did not come. Rather than report to the airport on Thursday, she chose instead to seek refuge in the New Haven church and became a fugitive for a cause — her children and her American dream.

Trump has repeatedly alleged that undocumented immigrants are the source of crime in the United States. However, a recent study of comparative incarceration rates by the Cato Institute suggests that native citizens are imprisoned at a rate almost twice as high as undocumented immigrants. Another study by The Police Foundation calls the perception of undocumented immigrants and high crime “not supported empirically” and “refuted by a preponderance of scientific evidence.”

Like the boy who cried wolf, Trump has been spreading fake news to sway public opinion and support for his personal beliefs and a political crusade of bigoted and inhumane policies. Nury Chavarria and her family are one of the many innocent undocumented Americans caught in the snare.

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The last refuge of a mother…

While Chavarria awaits her fate in a small room in the church, politicians, activists, and the New Haven community have rallied around her cause. Though labelled a fugitive by ICE, there is speculation that ICE will not attempt a forced extraction while Chavarria remains in the church since recent enforcement policies frown on immigration actions in churches, school, and other highly sensitive and visible public places. Several lawmakers have called ICE’s treatment of Chavarria repugnant and inhumane.

Once considered a home for refugees and asylum seekers, the United States is playing an ever-decreasing role in accepting those displaced by violence and humanitarian crises in their home nations. Based on total people of concern versus native populations, European nations — France and Germany especially — and 100 other countries open their doors more often than America.

Many displaced persons seek asylum in the United States claiming violations of the Convention Against Torture in their home countries. The CAT covers a broad range of conditions that may or may not qualify for protection and is open to the interpretation of an immigration court. In Chavarria’s case, Guatemala was in a state of constitutional crisis and political uprising when she left the country. The aftermath created years of instability and immigration judges sided with Chavarria for nearly seven years, granting stays of deportation for humanitarian reasons.

However, during her annual ICE check-in in June, Chavarria received the devastating news that her time in America had finally expired and no further stay was granted. The political pressure of the Trump regime may have finally reached the bench of the local immigration court and ICE office.

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…And the last refuge of a scoundrel.

While the showdown in New Haven continues, Chavarria and her 9-year-old daughter rely on the kindness of strangers and volunteers to ensure a happy future. has begun an online petition, and lawyers are exploring legal avenues to allow Chavarria to remain with her children who rely on her love, care, and income.

The humanitarian crisis facing the Chavarria family is just one example many and of the tenuous nature of life in America under the Trump regime — a call for help and the return to relaxed, informed, and humane policymaking. It is a cause that a certain immigrant who has gained sway and influence in America via her own journey would be wise to represent…someone who married into America for money and fame who could redeem herself with just one reciprocal act. It is too bad that woman’s husband is too much of a misogynist bigot even to listen to her.

The Daily Dog: The New Branch of the U.S. Military

On Saturday night, Minneapolis police shot and killed an Australian woman in an alleyway. The 40-year-old spiritual healer, who had lived in the United States for about three years, was engaged to be married next month. The victim of the police killing had called 911 around 11:30 p.m. to report suspicious activity outside her home.

Family members of the woman’s fiancée said on Sunday that they were frustrated by a lack of official cooperation in obtaining details of the homicide. According a statement released by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and reported by the Star Tribune, the officers responsible for the killing wore body cameras, but they were off. The patrol car cameras also did not capture the homicide — further obfuscating the release of reliable facts of the tragedy.

Equally disturbing as the Minneapolis killing is a similar hyper-response incident from outside of Boston last Saturday night. Police in Hingham, Mass. responded to a family home with SWAT teams and special forces because a 26-year-old man was distraught about a breakup with his girlfriend.

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A local armored police unit responds to a report of alleged jay-walking.

As bulletproof tank-like vehicles and heavily armed troops descended on the quiet neighborhood, Austin Reeves committed suicide in the bedroom of his parents’ home. Without any criminal record or legitimate threat to public safety, his parents are wondering why the police activated a regional response that only escalated a minor personal crisis to a small war zone.

Both incidents demonstrate the changing face of the nation’s streets and law enforcement. Fifteen years ago, in the aftermath of 9/11, it was shocking to see military officers with assault rifles walking the terminal at Penn Station in New York City. At that time, there was a perceived threat, and the increased police presence was comforting to many. Now, however, attitudes are changing when calls for assistance bring a G.I. Joe-style response to communities across America.

Even the country’s smallest cities now boast military caliber weapons and equipment — from the latest surveillance technologies to small tanks and armored transports. Local police departments arrive to minor disturbances in blacked out vehicles, tactical weapons ready, and their warrior attitudes jacked to the max on Red Bull. Bulletproof police vehicles make sensational coverage for the local evening news, but they destroy the tenuous trust between the public and an increasingly militarized police force.

Police militarization is not, contrary to most beliefs, solely a product of post 9/11 era America. The terror attacks in 2001 contributed to expanded militarization because of the direct threat, but the foundation for military like police departments was established 20 years before 9/11. President Ronald Reagan initiated one of the earliest statutes leading to the war-zone minded cops we have today.

In 1981, one of Reagan’s first accomplishments as president was the Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement Act. As a strong element in Reagan’s war on drugs platform, the MCLEA went beyond cooperation. It encouraged the United States military and its vast resources to train police and share military style equipment on the frontline — America’s streets and neighborhoods. Since then, there has been a steady proliferation in the dangerous intermingling of the military and domestic police agencies.

Soldiers have a principally different set of priorities in their training and objectives than police. The traditional role of military personnel is that of the warrior force that opposes and eliminates a defined enemy or threat. Training cops as warriors capable of destroying an enemy places citizens directly in the line of unfriendly fire in their own country.

Domestic law enforcement agencies possess a dissimilar directive than military troops. From local police to the federal agencies responsible for national safety, the primary objective has always been one of a guardian whose job it is  — as everyone who has seen a police cruiser knows — “To protect and serve.” Domestic law enforcement is not tasked with identifying and eliminating a hostile force because American citizens are not the enemies.

Additionally, police and military work under two different precepts of the United States Constitution. Police are empowered by local, state, and federal statutes and agencies to act within the framework of the Constitution and its inherent rights. They must not only prevent or interdict crimes, but police have a mandate to uphold the Constitution. The military receives its powers and orders through a different set of operational parameters, and it is not always bound by the same constitutional constraints or considerations.

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Barney Fife is going to want one now, too.

Therefore, when the government introduces military style tactics and operational procedures in domestic settings, there is a genuine risk of abuse, misinterpretation, and warrior action executed against citizens. When warriors respond to alleys in Minneapolis or Boston suburbs, the guardians who are supposed to be responsible for their safety instead kill innocent men and women.

Police departments will always be a necessary evil of any society. However, when those same departments become the unnecessary evil — invading suburban cul-de-sacs with tanks, killing instead of communicating, and treating the populous like the enemy — it indicates a more serious corruption. It extends beyond simply an attack on America’s people. When a military presence takes over our cities and towns, the police are murdering democracy itself.

The Daily Dog: Bad King Trumps Don

Donald Trump’s sudden rise to power as America’s orange oligarch has left the country floundering in a sea of chaos, but it has also had a ripple effect. It has lowered the bar for all other politicians and made it easier simply to be bad at what they do. With such an inept and vile leader taking the nation’s reins, it is difficult to imagine a more despicable character representing our government.

That representative showed up on Wednesday in the form of Steve King (R-Iowa). King represents the 4th Congressional District in his home state and made waves yesterday by saying he would take money from the needy to build Donald Trump’s border wall.

With Trump toiling to dismantle 240 years of progress, demean women, insult America’s intelligence, community, and make racial attacks, it takes a bit of effort to outdo his villainy. King must have given his statement on Wednesday considerable attention to determine how to out-evil Trump. Suggesting lawmakers take money from food stamp recipients and Planned Parenthood catapulted King to Trump status.

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Steve King needs a shovel…and not for the reason you think. (Photo AP/Charlie Neibergall)

King, whose net worth is estimated at $400,000 has been a politician for over 20 years, despite failing to finish college as so many of his constituents are trying to do in order to find jobs and stay off public assistance. In his comfortable education-not-needed position as a member of congress, King earns a base salary of $174,000, which is nearly four times the median income in the Iowa district he represents. Like Trump and his family, King also characterizes — albeit at much lower levels — the growing attitude of entitlement among entrenched Washington representatives.

On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee introduced a bill to allocate $1.6 billion to building Trump’s border wall. During an interview, King voiced his support of the spending measure with the caveat that he would prefer to add $5 billion more in funding…and he would begin by taking $500 million from Planned Parenthood and the rest from federal welfare programs like food stamps.

King justified his callous budgetary manipulations by suggesting that food stamps foster obesity and that a border wall would create millions of jobs. Maybe King should have stayed in college to study geography and economics. In case he had not noticed, Iowa has no border with Mexico and King himself is only a recent convert to Trump and his wall building since 18 months ago he was endorsing Ted Cruz for president.

In King’s Iowa district, 13.9% of families with children live below the poverty level. That means a family of four is trying to survive on less than $24,000 per year in a state with a $7.25 per hour minimum wage. Two adults working full- and part-time at minimum wage cannot earn enough to feed themselves and two children. The same family probably has no health coverage and relies on Planned Parenthood for at least basic reproductive care and other services.

Under King’s proposed budget reallocations, he would strip a family like that of their food stamps…because he believes they are too fat and too lazy to find jobs. He would deny them access to family planning, which could lead to another mouth to feed with no money. With such astute cognitive reasoning skills, it is no wonder that King never finished college — it seems like the three years he spent as a student were wasted on Alpha Kappa Lambda parties.

Beating the Trump drum is King’s last gasp to remain relevant in the sunset of his 20 years as a less-than mediocre member of congress. To King, and any other politician who believes his own personal entitlement allows him to cast hardship and suffering on America’s struggling families we say, “If you want a wall so badly, here’s a shovel.” That $174,000 America saves on your salary will feed plenty of Iowa’s hungry children.

The Daily Dog: Career Suicide

If there is anyone in the Trump government more offensive than Trump himself, it has to be Sarah Huckabee Sanders. After the dictator attacked MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski in an early morning tweet, and even fellow republicans said he had gone too far, a loyal and blindly unconscionable Sanders defended Trump at Thursday afternoon’s presser. The slab-faced Sanders peddled her daily swamp sludge like a dutiful puppet and complained about the media’s criticism of her master.

Every press briefing is increasingly like amateur hour at the White House Apollo Theater. Is there no one in the current administration who did not think that Donald J. Trump was going to be ridiculed for who he is and is not — a blathering idiot and president?

The free press’s public ridicule of American politicians is a time worn practice dating back to the signing of the United States Constitution. The founding fathers may not have had press and paparazzi hounding them like modern politicians do, but they knew enough to protect that eventuality with the First Amendment.

Fanklin 1754 06302017Ben Franklin published political cartoons in his own paper, The Pennsylvania Gazette. A crudely drawn depiction of disunity among the British colonies appeared in May of 1754 and accompanied Franklin’s own editorial. The cartoon, sometimes recognized as America’s first of its kind, could very well be interpreted to apply to the nation’s present political chaos.

From Puck in the 1800s to “Doonesbury” comics in the 1970s, political satire and media criticism of every living (and some deceased) president has run the gamut of mildly funny to grotesquely spiteful. And every president until now has borne the cross of the First Amendment because it is what presidents and experienced political leaders do. They have never struck back at anyone, especially a vulnerable woman.

Criticizing the government and leaders is a fundamental right in America. It is perhaps the sole consideration that sets our country’s democracy apart from any other form of government. Sanders’ willingness to appear in front of the press and not apologize, or worse, turn on the media, shows a treacherous disregard for the most basic premise upon which the nation was founded.

At what point will some person, who so desperate for a job sold their soul to Trump, realize that there is not going to be a reward? Honestly, at the dark close of the Trump era — whether that is ten months or four years — no media outlet will be rushing to recruit Sanders…or Sean Spicer. The White House press office has alienated every reputable media outlet in the country, and has demonstrated an anti-America attitude to the First Amendment.

Working in the Trump press office is the career suicide equivalent of swallowing a cyanide pill before jumping off a building and shooting yourself in the head on the way down. By defending Trump’s cruel sexist tweets to Brzezinski, Sanders added an extra measure…a rope around her neck.

Trump is a crybaby whose delicate ego cannot handle criticism of any kind, let alone the harsh spotlights of reality that accompany the Oval Office. Politics is mean and dirty and Trump has traded pies with the best of the mudslingers. It is time for him to grow a backbone, or cede the office to a real leader — if there is one among the bottom dwellers who make Washington, D.C. their home.

It is also time for Sanders, and anyone else who steps in front of a camera to represent the White House, to respect the constitution and America’s indispensable right to ask questions of our leadership. We are not looking for a newspeak history lesson or a complaint. We have over two centuries of precedent that says definitively, “When we ask, you answer,” — no matter how badly your feelings are hurt.

During her nauseating drivel on Thursday, Sanders suggested that Trump has a right to “hit back” at his detractors. To this we say, Ms. Sanders, your boss — whose record overflows with misogyny and sexism — is NEVER justified for hitting back at a bleeding woman…at any woman. Whether a hit comes from a tiny fist, a bigly word, or a hateful tweet, it is unacceptable.

Donald Trump is not fit to be president, and for anyone who argues differently, do this. Close your eyes, imagine your mother, bleeding after a visit to the dentist, and then think of Trump punching her in the mouth…still wearing your red hat?

The Daily Dog: Irish Eyes are Smiling

In yet another indication that world relations with the United States are chilling, newly elected Taoiseach Leo Varadkar gave Donald Trump the cold shoulder on Tuesday. Varadkar, the youngest Prime Minister of Ireland — and gay son of an Indian immigrant — ascended to Ireland’s highest post two weeks ago after the retirement of Enda Kenney.

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

When Trump phoned Varadkar on Tuesday afternoon to congratulate the new Prime Minister, the Irish government left Trump on hold for more than 90 seconds. Irish press gathered in the Oval Office for the scheduled event began clicking away while Trump fidgeted with papers and huffed, waiting until his young colleague finally answered the call.

Taoiseach Varadkar is not a fan of The Apprentice President and prior to his election said that he would not invite Trump to Ireland for a state visit. “I’m not sure what purpose it would serve,” Varadkar said during a February interview. Given Trump’s dismal record on LGBTQ rights, and President Barack Obama’s highly successful 2011 visit, Varadkar speculated that Trump would not be as welcomed by the Irish people.

Continue reading “The Daily Dog: Irish Eyes are Smiling”

The Daily Dog: Lost Balls and Missing Marbles

In a surprise bit of tweetless pugilistic pressuring, Donald Trump threw down his child-sized gloves Monday and raised his tiny hands to errant republicans. While still blaming President Obama and “obstructionist” democrats for America’s current comprehensive and affordable healthcare crisis, Trump decided to level additional threats at his own party members.

America’s septuagenarian dictator went on an early offensive for Thursday’s proposed vote on TrumpCare v2.0. The chair of the Freedom Caucus, Representative Mark Meadows (R – N.C.) is expected to be one of the strongest republicans opponents to the proposed legislation. According to sources who attended a meeting between Trump and Meadows on Monday, Trump threatened Meadows, telling him, “I am going to come after you.”

Following the session with Trump, Meadows seemed rather nonchalant in response to Trump’s bloviating. He vowed to maintain his ‘no’ vote to the end. Who can blame him for ignoring a threat from the man with tapes who had no tapes?

This is just another episode in the early stages of the Trump administration that demonstrates Trump’s impotent blowhard leadership and the equally flaccid condition of the United States Congress. Already, this country has witnessed higher ranked representatives than Meadows bend to the will of Blessed Leader’s infantile demands that have most observers wondering if Trump is missing a few marbles.

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Trump clarifying that he is not bigly crazy…only a littly nuts.

Meadows’ may indeed have a strong will and good intentions, but only this week’s vote and the pressure of Herr Trumpler’s continued harassment will show whether he can resist the comical castration of America’s political body. America is praying that he is not a golfer or that he will refuse Trump’s customary bribe-like invitation to Mar-A-Lago, where other republicans — like Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) — typically lose their balls.

What America needs right now, in defense of Trump, is a hero charging up Capitol Hill to lead the country back to democracy and government “of the people by the people for the people.” Trump’s megalomaniacal ideations and bullish fascism too closely parallel those of a dictator on his way to wreaking havoc on the nation. The Trump regime’s threats to Meadows and its hostile campaign against another holdout, Sen. Dean Heller (R – Nev.), or any other republicans trying to exercise their conscience seem like precursory warnings that echo early Nazi-era history.

In Hitler’s rapid rise to power, he too, threatened adversaries and dissolved rival political parties before eventually outlawing and imprisoning the opposition and dissolving the Reichstag — clearing the way for greater humanitarian and civil evils. Trump’s thirst for power, blind adoration, and his desire to obliterate any Obama-influenced act mimic the dysfunctional mental state that consumed Hitler and Germany.

Trump’s quest to “Make America Great Again” began as a dangerous proposition for anyone who is not white, right, and rich. With his threat against Meadows — a former restauranteur with a net worth in the single-digit millions — Trump has made it clear that anyone who opposes him is at risk of retaliation. As the circle of exclusion widens, Trump emulates more and more, a paranoid dictator who will stop at nothing to destroy decades of American progress.

The mystery facing America is what form will our hero assume for this latest battle for the nation’s soul? James Comey is already a distant memory. Mark Meadows seems resolute, but Trump relies on a tremendous amount of special interest money to leverage his threats and already has launched smear ads against Heller. As evidenced by the last televised cabinet meeting, Trump will stoop as low as he needs to in order to create an atmosphere of totalitarian subservience to himself. In Trump’s mind and politics, Trump always comes before country.

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Could Wonder Woman’s golden lasso make Trump tell the truth?

It is time to summon a new hero with our desperate pleas to save the nation. Where greater defenders have gone and come away from a round of golf without a ball to show for it, the country needs a superhero of a different kind. We need our hero to zoom in on an invisible jet with a golden truth-inducing lasso. We need Wonder Woman…and we almost had her. It’s too bad the popular vote wasn’t enough to satisfy democracy.

The Sunday Dog: Follow the Bouncing Bingo Balls

Visit a local V.F.W., church basement, or lodge on a Friday night, and the bingo players line up early for their favorite seats. Noticeable in the quiet wait before the caller plucks the first numbered ball, is the grumbling. The contestant are not just complaining about last week’s losses or one-number misses, they are venting. They are frustrated voters who feel like they have been duped — former Trumplers who, desperate for change in Washington, D.C., are now ruing the choices they made last November.

The small crowd in the bingo hall was, a year ago, the core of Donald Trump’s base. They come from a small town, where blue-collar heritage dates back generations. They are proud of grandchildren who are the first family members to go to college; of owning their homes and paying decades old mortgages; of being able to say they know all their neighbors. They worry about diametric basics: the price of cigarettes, the amount of the jackpot, social security, and health care.

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Trump’s policies for America are a random game of chance with no jackpot.

They are not happy with Donald Trump. They joke about being fools for trusting their guts and the man with a lot of poorly fitting suits and flashy slogans…like “Make America Great Again.”

“America was great,” laments Lydia, sitting with her 87 year-old mother. “Until we believed Trump.” Her mother has COPD and her father died two months ago. Lydia took retirement to move her mom into a spare room because the family cannot scrape up the money for a either a nursing home or visiting care service. “With this health care stuff,” Lydia continues, “I don’t know how we’ll survive. Mom worked in a factory, paid her social security, and helped make America great. Now, who knows what will happen to her.”

Her family’s story is just one of many similar grievances heard around the bingo hall. As soon as one speaks, it is like a line of dominoes. All it takes is one brave former Trump believer to start, and within minutes, fifty others have joined the conversation.

The stress of second-guessing their choices for the Oval Office is taking a toll on the bingo players and the rest of America, too. Since Trump took office, the online therapy startup Talkspace has experienced a boom in growth — 70 percent faster than expected. Regardless of party affiliation, people are anxious about the rampant chaos that accompanies Donald’s White House Circus and his policy making that mimics pulling a random sphere from a bin of bouncing bingo balls.

For those who chose The Apprentice for what they saw on TV and expected great things, they express their disappointment over the first six months — like the infantile leader himself, but more appropriately — in both fear and anger.

Many of the people in the bingo hall come from a generation that believes in patriotism, of respect for country, and of the sacred office of president from a time when J.F.K. and Jackie brought new life to the Rose Garden. A few are uncertain what to do with the “Fuck Trump” that lingers on a trembling uncertain lip. Deep down, they know it is their inherent constitutional right to say it loud, but refrain from condemning Trump outright. Saying it would be like burning a flag.

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“Forget terrorists, dispatch, we got us a real criminal!”

Some of the bingo attendees have disabled family members. On Friday evening, they were still in shock — as should have been the rest of the country — over what occurred outside of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s Capitol Hill office on Thursday afternoon. The images of armed Capitol police dragging handicapped patients from their wheelchairs are disgusting examples of abuses of force, power, and authority. Although there were no casualties, and barring any further confrontations, the incident may become Donald Trump’s Kent State.

It is a tragic irony that McConnell Melee happened in the same week that American politicians raged with ersatz indignity over North Korea’s treatment of Otto Warmbier — and then remained silent as the Capitol gestapo ranks trampled the constitution and rights of the disabled. As a nation, we should all be ashamed of our leaders, of the Capitol police, and of the present condition of our democracy.

It should not matter whether we have family members or friends in wheelchairs, or what side of the aisle we sit on. When the weak, when the innocent, when the people with no voice are being dragged away for protesting the government, we must unite to make them heard. We must protect them, for if we do not, we will cease to be Americans.

As the games got underway on Friday night, one comment elicited a unifying laugh from the entire crowd. One woman leaned over the table and in the silence between numbers, offered a bit of advice to a new player. “Don’t forget to mark your free space,” the veteran said. “Before Trump takes that from us, too.”

The Daily Dog: Crimes of Ignorance

The big news on Thursday was the announcement that Donald Trump had no tapes of conversations between him and former FBI Director James Comey. Six weeks ago, Trump levied a not-so-veiled twitter threat against Comey, suggesting that there were “tapes” of their conversations. Yesterday, Trump’s tapes disappeared quicker than Scotch Tape on holiday gifts.

Two weeks ago, following Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Trump administration was given until today to turn over or verify the existence of the alleged tapes. Trump’s answer arrived a day early via his favorite channel of communication — at the end of an early morning tirade of psychologically unbalanced tweets.

Trump’s tweets followed a night of frenzied fascist-style rally where Trump was in his element, spinning lie after lie to a crowd of brainless zombies. Morning news programs attempting to fact check Trump’s blathering mimicked The Gong Show — sounding buzzers and other sound effects in rapid succession with each of Trump’s many “alternative facts.” At this point, the Trump administration has so many alternatives that physicists around the globe are confirming the existence of a long-sought alternate universe.

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Which Earth does Trump live on?

Between Trump’s Thursday denial that he made or has tapes and the Red Hat crowds at Wednesday’s rally in Iowa, authorities should be investigating at least two crimes today. Both are serious, but one uncodified offense is a bigger threat to America than Trump’s abuse of power.

Title 18 Section 1512 of the United States Code defines the federal crime of tampering with a witness. The law states, in relevant part, that a person commits tampering when he “knowingly uses intimidation, threatens, or corruptly persuades another person, or attempts to do so, or engages in misleading conduct toward another person, with intent to influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding; or causes or induces any person to withhold testimony from an official proceeding.”

In the ongoing investigation of Trump, special prosecutor Robert Mueller must consider if Trump’s twitter innuendo about tapes rises to witness tampering vis-à-vis James Comey. Whether Trump knowingly used intimidation is the crux of the question the special prosecutor must weigh. At first blush, Trump’s threat of tapes appears to satisfy Section 1512, but Comey was simply too smart to fall for the cheap ruse.

A 2007 lawsuit filed by Trump against his biographer, Timothy O’Brien, offers some insight into how Trump operates and whether the instant reference to tapes is a viable threat. Lawyers for O’Brien deposed Trump for the 2007 lawsuit and one line of questioning may come back to haunt Trump. It was when O’Brien’s legal team asked Trump about a threat of tapes of interviews between Trump and their client, and Trump admitted — rather sheepishly — that he may have mentioned tapes, but had not made them.

The existence of other instances of Trump claiming “TAPES!” where no tapes appear, demonstrates that Trump has a pre-existing condition that may not be covered by any Republican plan for America. It undermines his credibility, and gives Comey the upper hand in the head-to-head between Trump and the witness.

While there are statutes for the crimes Trump has committed, there is no codified definition for the actions of Trump supporters in Iowa and elsewhere. If there were, it would be the voting booth equivalent of drunk driving. BWI — balloting while ignorant — seems to be the most rampant unprosecuted crime in America.

When voters are so ignorant and ill advised that they clap like monkeys for a president who says he is going to create a new law that has been on the books for twenty years, they should have their voter ID cards revoked. If they cheer when Trump calls every — save one state-run propaganda peddling sellout — media outlet in America, “fake news,” they should be removed from the voter rolls. And each time they drool over Trump’s hollow promises and “alternative facts” they should be banned forever from placing America in harm’s way.

Secret footage of a Trump supporter at the Iowa Rally on Wednesday.

Therefore, to Middle America — the so-called red states that Trump calls his beloved base — the next time you want to get off your sofa and go vote for your favorite television personality stay home instead. Do America a favor before the rest of us end up watching Vanna White turn the letters to the Oath of Office at her inauguration, or worse, enduring some doe-eyed bachelorette who blissfully expects a rose from every foreign dignitary visiting the White House.