The Quid Pro Quo Problem


Donald Trump and his good buddies seem to be having a really hard time figuring out how to address the question of whether or not there was a quid pro quo in the Ukraine situation. I mean, its kind of amusing to watch them bouncing around trying to figure how to talk about it.

There was no quid pro quo!

Trump has said it, Giuliani has said it, Mulvaney, Sondland, Pence. They’re all saying it.

Until they get confused and say something entirely different. Something along the lines of “Sure we refused to give Ukraine any money until they did what we wanted. We do that all the time!”

But “There was no quid pro quo!”

The problem, of course, is that the phrase ‘quid pro quo’ means “The giving of one valuable thing for another.”

Why are the Trumpsters having such trouble with this phrase?

I have a thought about that.

I think it goes something like this:

Bring me my quid pro quo!

There’s Donald, seated behind the “resolute desk”, seething and stewing about Hillary’s emails and Pelosi’s walkout. He grinds his teeth, glances up at the TV, then hits the call button on his desk.

“Bring me my quid pro quo!”, he snarls.

“Sir?” the befuddled secretary asks.

“My quid pro quo! Bring it to me! I’m pretty sure it’s in my sock drawer.”

“But…..”

“Just do it!”

A hasty conversation ensues between the frantic secretary and the Acting Chief of Staff. Mulvaney enters the Oval.

“Mr. President,” he begins.

“I want my quid pro quo. I heard that many past Presidents have refused to use theirs. I heard that some people say you can’t use it. But I’m gonna use mine!! I want my quid pro quo. I’m gonna use that thing so much, like the world has never seen! It’s made gold, right?”

“Ah….well, see, it isn’t actually an object, sir. A quid pro quo is a Latin phrase. I think it means something about withholding food from foreign guests.”

“That’s it! We’ll quid pro quo the shit out of them!!! We invite Shifty Schiff and Screamin’ Nancy over for dinner, and then……bam!!! We refuse to give them cake!!!”

“Sir, I don’t…….”

“We’ll see who wins the quid pro quo then, won’t we?”

He gleefully rubs his hands together.

Mulvaney walks out, scratching his head and muttering, “no, it means foreign guests……”

An hour later, Rudy Giuliani appears on CNN, his beady little eyes darting left and right as he waits for Chris Cuomo to introduce him.

When Cuomo asks about the quid pro quo, Giuliani starts to spit out words as fast as he can think of them.

“Here’s the thing, here’s the thing, why aren’t we looking into the DNC and what they did and Joe Biden and Hunter, here’s the thing, there was no quid pro quo! There was golf and there was talking about it, great talking, talking and it was on the phone, and yes, why aren’t we investigating Crooked Hillary because she probably asked the Ukrainians to hide her own quid pro quo, who by the way, was here illegally while golfing with Bill Clinton and anyway, everyone had cake!”

Cuomo looks immediately outraged and begins to shout over Giuliani which makes the little lawyer twitch and spit.

It made the rest of us turn off the set and pour a drink.

I wish this story seemed a little more farfetched.

Lunch With Donald Trump


I’ve been trying to dabble a bit in fiction writing.  I’m not real good at creating the old “story arc”, but I do OK with dialogue.

I was just watching the President on TV.  And I got to thinking.

What if I had been Donnie Trump’s fifth grade teacher? I wonder what the conversation would have sounded like at his lunch table. I think it would be something like this:

Jack: That essay was really hard.

Donnie: Not for me. I wrote the best essay ever written. It was incredible, believe me.

Jack: Dude, you finished it in five minutes.

Donnie: Because I’m fast. I’m the fastest. That’s why the teacher loves me so much.

Dylan: (snickering) She hates you.

Donnie: She loves me, believe me. Many kids are saying it. She says nice things about me. The nicest.

Suzie: Actually, I heard her talking to the Principal, and they were both saying you’re a pain. They said you’re “challenging” and we all know what that means.

Donnie: The Principal is very low IQ, very low. He’s not smart like me. Many kids are saying, and I’ve been saying it for a while. 

Suzie: Then why did you tell us yesterday that you’re going to win the Principal’s award this year, because he’s such a good judge of intelligence?

Donnie: I’ve never trusted him. Never. He’s a disaster. I’ve been saying it. People have been saying it. 

Jack: Well, the teacher hates you, too.

Donnie: She’s a real lowlife, that one. Nobody likes her.

Jack: We do!

Donnie: Believe me, nobody does. Nobody. She’s slime. Scum. The worst. 

Jack: You’re an idiot.

Donnie: This is a witch hunt!

The kids all get up and move to another table, leaving Donnie alone with his soggy fries.

Donnie: (muttering to himself): They’ll see. They’ll all see. I’m a genius and they’re all gonna pay. They’re all my enemies.

The lunch bell rings and the kids crowd toward the door. Donnie drops his trash on the floor and shoves a first grader out of his way so he can be at the front of the line. She cries, but he ignores her. Head held high, he swaggers out the door and onto the recess field.

Walking over to a group of giggling girls, he yanks the hair of one and pokes his finger into the ribs of another. As they yell at him to stop, he grins.

Donnie: (to no one in particular) The babes love me.

I can’t help it. Every time the President of the United States of America opens his mouth, I feel like I am right back in an elementary school classroom, trying to figure out the best way to deal with a “challenging kid.”

And, for the record, I have never, EVER met a kid anywhere near as “challenging” as this one.

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Don’t be fooled by the innocent look.

Too Shocked To React


I wonder how many of you find yourselves filled with a sense of impending doom. Or with a profound but diffuse anxiety, like a balloon filling up ever more tightly in your chest. I wonder how many of you walk around waiting for that balloon to burst.

I feel these things every single day.

I blame Donald Trump.

Why? What’s going on? I have some thoughts.

Maybe our reaction is simply one of stunned disbelief. Maybe its the reaction of the sane and reasonable in the face of insane and unreasonable actions.

I remember once when my kids were very young, I took them to our local mall to pick up some new shoes. There was another Mom there, with her two kids. They were acting up, and the Mom was clearly frazzled. I remember that at first I was sympathetic, but then she suddenly turned on the two little boys. She started to scream and swear at them. As the kids began to yell back, she suddenly flicked out a hand and slapped one boy across the face.

Everyone around went into immediate shock. We all made quiet protest sounds, “Jeez,” and “Oh, no!”  But nobody yelled at the woman, nobody grabbed those crying children. No one called the cops. No one spoke or took a breath. We avoided each others’ eyes.

After a few more seconds, the angry woman grabbed her boys by the arms and marched out of the mall, still cursing, but no longer violent.

I remember that I stood there in complete disbelief. This is simply NOT how people in my world behave. This is not how we respond to cranky children.

I was stunned.

My family finished our shopping, and drove home. I don’t remember what I said to my children.

But I remember the feeling of failure that stayed with me for weeks. I remember feeling enraged, helpless, frustrated with myself for my inaction. I remember the feeling of having swallowed a balloon filled with rage, and being unable to push it away or empty it.

Why had I done NOTHING?

After talking with my husband, I realized that the woman’s horrific actions had just completely stumped me.  I think that when someone behaves in a completely shocking and unexpected way, we revert to our most polite, appropriate selves. Maybe we’re trying to show the culprit that THIS is the correct behavior. Maybe we fear that we’ll sink down to the same low level, and we can’t let ourselves go there.

Or maybe the whole situation is so completely surreal that we have no idea of how to respond. We witness something so unbelievable that we can’t force our brains to accept it.

Is that what’s happening with the Trump administration?

Are we all just getting too shocked to react?

What we are hearing and seeing is so completely abnormal that we simply stand there.

First the President tells a straight out lie. It’s an obvious lie, easily disproven. He lies about crowd size, about immigration numbers, even about his own previous statements.

Lots of his lies are only aimed at making him look better to the world at large.

“A reporter for Time magazine — and I have been on their cover 14 or 15 times. I think we have the all-time record in the history of Time magazine.”

No he wasn’t. And that was easy to prove, since Time keeps records.

People call him out, point out the lie.

Trump and Fox and that whole group immediately repeats the lie a hundred times. It starts to sound like it might possibly be true. I mean, come on, would an entire White House Staff and a whole news station keep telling the same lie? We start to doubt ourselves.

But people in public and the media call it out again. “That’s a lie!”

Trump and Co. respond by screaming about bias, liberal dishonesty. They stay on the attack.

We are stumped. Stupified.

The next day it happens again.

And again.

Today we heard the President of the US wistfully stating that he wishes “my people” would sit up for him like they do for President Kim of North Korea.

“Hey, he is the head of a country and I mean he is the strong head,” Mr. Trump told Fox News’ Steve Doocy on the White House lawn Friday. “Don’t let anyone think anything different. He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”

Because we have studied history, we know how awful a thought this is. We are astonished. We don’t know if the man is delusional, dictatorial, stupid or all three. We hardly know how to react.

The media points out how completely wrong, undemocratic and dangerous the comment is. The Trumpers immediately yell about media bias, call the critics “haters” and fall back on “It was a joke.”

Trump is winning, just like that horrible woman won when she smacked her child with no repercussions. He is winning because every time he says, “witch hunt”, “Crooked Hillary” or “fake news”, we are swept by a feeling of “why bother?”

I wake up in the morning. I check the news, look at the latest Twitter rants. I see Trump blaming the Democrats for his abuse of children at the Southern border. I see him trying to tie FBI mistakes to the Mueller probe. I read the words “witch hunt” and I want to scream about the number of witches who have been indicted or jailed already.

Then I do nothing. I don’t write. I don’t call my representatives. I am helpless. My stomach fills with that same helpless rage and I want to cry.

I hate this situation. This is the country that my grandparents embraced in immigration. It’s the country my father defended in World Word II.

Now it has been reduced to “You’re a liar!” “No, you are!” “Nuh, uh! You lie!” “You do!”

We can’t win an argument like this. There is no sense to it. There is no reason. Logic has no role, nor do facts.

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Sad!


I love politics, as sickening as it is. I generally spend a fair amount of time reading about policy, and about legislation.

I’ve been deeply immersed in the insanity that has unfolded in this country over the past year. I have written about it on LiberalAmerica and here in this blog. I’ve talked, argued, debated, read, shed a lot of tears.

Almost thirty years ago, with my baby girl in my arms, I watched most of the Iran-Contra hearings. I was riveted.

Last week, I watched every single minute of the Comey hearing. It was moving, interesting, powerful.

Now I’m trying, to the best of my ability (cough, cough), to watch the “testimony” of our current Attorney General and for the very first time in my 61 years of life, I must tell you that I am in complete despair for our government and the country.

What I am watching is a room full of people who have been elected to take care of US, to guide the laws of OUR COUNTRY. They are all, Democrat and Republican, sitting in that room because people trusted them to look out for our best interests.

Instead, every one of them is trying to achieve their own agendas.

To watch adults, professionals, highly paid officials, living off of our tax money, engaging in this kind of name calling, finger pointing, griping, sniping and flat out lying is beyond disgusting.

I can’t remember the last time I was this disheartened about the country that my grandparents sacrificed so much to join. I am so sad to see the self-serving arrogance on display from the leaders of this nation that was born out of such high hopes.

I know that the Constitution was written during the age of enlightenment, when educated people believed in the best instincts of man. That Constitution opened with these moving words:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Nobody involved in this mess seems to be working toward any kind of union, much less a more perfect union. None of them seem to want to insure domestic tranquility or promote our general welfare. I sure as hell don’t see anybody in this hearing room who is thinking about the blessings of liberty for our kids and grandkids.

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Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr.

What I see is one giant clusterfuck of a mess. We are watching hours and hours and millions of dollars being spent on people who are still arguing about Hillary Goddamn Clinton, who LOST the election. We are watching grown men and women who are only interested in making themselves and their team look better than the other team.

This hearing was designed to get to the truth about the FACT that the Russian government attacked us.

But that fact hasn’t even been fully acknowledged by the whining little fool of an Attorney General who seems to have a worse memory than my 87 year old mother.

I am so sad for the United States. I am so worried for my children and my grandchildren.

This country is done. Cooked. Stick a fork in us.

If we can’t find a way to form at least three or five new political parties, we’re going to find ourselves mired in more of this knee-deep bullshit.

Meanwhile, in case anyone is interested, our health insurance system is about to be blown up. The world is getting hotter, but we’re not going to do a single thing about it. And our hard earned tax dollars are flowing by the billions to Saudi Arabia so they can continue to drop bombs on Yemeni families who are busy dying of cholera.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be drunk under the back deck.

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