For Dad

Dad on Bike.jpgToday is Father’s Day, and I’m thinking about my dad, who passed away more than a decade ago. That seems to happen a lot of late. I’m not much of a mystic, but Dad and I seem to communicate more now than we did when he was alive. To put it bluntly, Dad was not easy to get along with, and our conversations too often ended up in an argument.

I used to say Dad was right just often enough to think he was right all the time. I’ve come to realize that I am like him in that respect – and in many others.

What I’ve also come to realize – too late, of course, is that Dad was trying pass on to me what he had learned about love and life. And I’ve come to realize I wasn’t a very good listener.

Obviously, there’s no way to undo any of that, and so I try to pay it forward by passing on my life lessons to my son, who is a better listener than I ever was. Perhaps that is in part due to a lesson I taught him: Nobody ever learned anything with their mouth open.

Years ago, I wrote this song for my dad, and I hope it helps someone else find a way to connect with their Dad on this Father’s Day.

Daddy, I’m Sure Missin’ You Tonight

Oh, Daddy, I’m sure missin’ you tonight
As I pick my pencil up and start to write
I know we’d prob’ly argue and end up in a fight
But, Daddy, I’m sure missin’ you tonight

And, Daddy, do you miss your lonesome son?
And all the things I wish we would have done
I guess all our battles never left much time for fun
But, Daddy, do you miss your lonesome son?

Well, I know you always missed your Daddy, too
Just the way your boy is missin’ you
You sang that sad old song and said it all
“My Daddy’s just a picture on the wall”

Oh, Daddy, guess it’s time to say good-night
And I’m not sure what it is I’m tryin’ to write
But you leave your door open, and I’ll leave on a light
‘Cause, Daddy, I’m sure missin’ you tonight

©2017 Tom Cordle

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Apocalypse Now

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I’ve mentioned previously that a friend of mine voted for Trump because he thought the bastard might be the Anti-Christ. When he told me that, I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach – or maybe even a little lower on my anatomy.

I looked at him and said, “You probably can’t see my head spinning ’round and ’round because it’s spinning so fast.” I felt a little like that poor little girl in the Exorcist, a movie that shows just how much trouble you can get in by taking religion too seriously

That’s the case with my friend, who I’ll call Fenton, since that’s his name – and since I’m not going to say anything I haven’t already said to his face. Fenton is a highly intelligent man and an avowed Christian fundamentalist. I have a hard time understanding how anyone can be both highly intelligent and a fundamentalist; but when it comes to religion, there are many things that passeth understanding.

Then again, I could wrong, and Fenton could be right. Given Trump’s performance so far, he may well be the Anti-Christ. One thing’s sure – he’s leading this country straight to hell.

For those into reading entrails or enraptured by other signs, there’s this: Jared Kushner and his sister Nicole Meyer have been trying to solicit funds – or should I say bribes – from Chinese and Russian kleptocrats in order to save one of their failing real estate holdings located at 666 Fifth Avenue.

As has been said time and again during the reign of Il Douché, you can’t make this shit up.

©2017 Tom Cordle

Posted in Politics, religion | 4 Comments

Goin’ to A-Go-Go

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This post was inspired by my friend Roger Wright. I say friend, though we’ve never met. We made acquaintance through the now defunct blogsite Open Salon, which we both contributed to for several years. Roger is one of many interesting people and talented writers I met there, and I regret its demise. But as they say, all things must pass – and they seem to pass all the more quickly on the Net.

Roger resides in Chicago, so I suppose it was only natural that in a recent post, he linked a YouTube video of a song called “Dialogue” by the group Chicago. I confess, I had forgotten that particular song, but I certainly had not forgotten that group, since I had a close encounter with the band half-a-century ago – hard to believe it’s been that long!

My recollection is that it happened in 1966, but I can’t be certain, since I’ve now arrived at what I call the “Three-Minute Jeopardy” stage in life. Once I knew answers to questions on that quiz program almost instantly, but now answers arrive – if at all – only after three minutes of intense concentration. But I digress – which is another sign of getting old.

A cursory search of the Internet hasn’t helped pin down the date – with one source citing April of 1966 and another August of 1968. Be that as it may, I am certain of a few details. It was on a Monday night at the Whisky A-Go-Go in Hollywood. The marquee boasted that Otis Redding was headlining later in the week, and it also noted that the featured attraction on this Monday night was a band called CTA.

I’d never heard of CTA, and neither had much of anyone else outside of the LA music scene. In any case, I wasn’t especially interested in hearing a band; I was there to have a few drinks – and maybe get lucky. To that end, I bought several drinks for a sweet young thing sitting alone at a table. But again, I digress …

The opening act was a decent blues trio, but nothing to write home – or a review – about. Next came a big band, at least by Sixties standards, complete with a three-piece horn section, a real rarity back then. They started playing, and I immediately stopped paying attention to the sweet young thing and sat there entranced, as this band absolutely blew my mind. Who the hell are these guys, I thought, and why the hell have I never heard of them?

As it turned out, the band had already signed with Columbia Records, and they were playing songs like ”Does Anybody Know What Time It Is”, “Beginnings”, and “South California Purples”, all cuts from their forthcoming double album – unprecedented for a debut album.

I was particularly blown away by their guitar player, the late Terry Kath. Legend has it that when Jimi Hendrix was asked how it felt to be the world’s greatest rock guitarist, he said, “I don’t know; you’ll have to ask Terry Kath.”

Later on, I learned CTA was Chicago Transit Authority. Eventually, they had to change their name when the real Chicago Transit Authority objected. So they simply called themselves Chicago. The rest, as they say, is history.

As for me, I never made history, and I never made it with that sweet young thing at the Whisky-A-Go-Go. Much later that night, she left with a bartender, and I was left with a big bar bill I could ill-afford. But looking back, it was worth every penny to have been there that night and had the great good pleasure of watching and listening to history being made and played.

Happy 50th Birthday, Chicago Transit Authority!

©2017 Tom Cordle

Posted in history, Music | 11 Comments

Abnormalcy

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Donald Trump has compared himself to Andrew Jackson. Fat chance. War-hero Jackson would despise this draft-dodging, womanizing, bullying frat-boy. He likely would say something equivalent to “keep my name outa your mouth” and demand an apology. And if none were forthcoming (a distinct possibility with Trump), Jackson would insist on a duel to satisfy such a grievous insult.

That’s not to say Jackson was an angel; he was a complicated man whose first biographer called him an atrocious saint. No one would call Trump a saint, but many would agree he is atrocious.

Others have compared Trump to Richard Nixon; but Nixon, for all his faults, was at least prepared for the job. Trump was not, and that’s glaringly obvious.

A better comparison may be with Warren G. Harding, though that comparison is probably not fair to Harding, since Trump is so far beyond the pale in so many ways. That said, the two men have much in common. Both were avid golfers. Both had reputations as ladies’ men, lecherous philanderers, or dirty old men, depending on your point of view.

Harding’s campaign rhetoric was described as “a rambling, high-sounding mixture of platitudes, patriotism, and pure nonsense”. Curmudgeon H. L. Mencken was even more harsh: “It reminds me of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights.” Those are also apt descriptions of Trump’s speaking style.

Both men were surprising choices as nominee of the Republican Party. Both won election in part because of deep divisions within the Democratic Party. Both were intellectual lightweights who had the misfortune to follow intellectual giants. Both were unfit to be President, a fact Harding admitted, but Trump never will.

As President, both advocated massive tax cuts for the rich … both pushed hard for deregulation … both appointed highly suspect men as Attorney-General. Both their presidencies were marked by scandals, including Teapot Dome under Harding and the yet to be resolved Putingate under Trump. Given Trump’s massive conflicts of interest, his scandals are likely to exceed Harding’s.

Many regard Harding as the worst President in American history; but that dubious distinction may well pass to Trump, based on his past and present performance. He is clearly ignorant about most issues at hand and most matters of state; and what’s worse, he shows no interest in learning what he doesn’t know. As hard as it was to imagine his election, it’s even harder to imagine his presidency being successful.

Harding’s chief accomplishment was to bring the word “normalcy” back into common use. That’s not a word one would ascribe to Trump’s presidency. The present sorry state of affairs might best be described as abnormalcy.

To a large extent, that is due to the fact that Trump himself is abnormal, both as a man and a politician. That is to say, he behaves outside the norms that constrain decent people. Or as former FBI Director James Comey put it, Trump is “outside the realm of normal”.

Trump is a man without morals, manners, or principles … he has no sense of decency and no sense of proportion. He’s also a bully, who punches down with impunity and regularity. He is an unrepentant and inveterate liar; he may be in fact a pathological liar. A strong case can be made that he is in fact mentally ill. He certainly fits the profile of a sociopath; he engages in antisocial behavior, lacks remorse or shame, and demonstrates a clear lack of empathy.

One day, hopefully sooner rather than later, this heartless, graceless, thoughtless man will be gone from office. But sad to say, the racist voters … the gullible voters … the ignorant voters … the desperate voters … who voted for this degenerate despite his deplorable behavior – and the ninety-odd million people who didn’t bother to vote – will remain. The electoral system that declared him the winner despite losing by nearly three million votes will remain. The normalization of Trump’s boorish, bullying behavior will remain.

That being the case, the question remains – has abnormalcy become the new normal?

©2017 Tom Cordle

Posted in history, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Digital Dude

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When I was a kid, some people still listened to music on 78 rpm records. But a host of innovations in the Fifties brought music out of the lo-fi dark ages. Stereo high-fidelity recordings became the gold-standard; and for a particular segment of music lovers, they still are. Analog purists aside, most listeners prefer the convenience of CD’s.

I purchased my first CD player in 1986 – a Panasonic unit I still have – and it still works. I realized the big cost wasn’t the equipment, but the media, and I refused to buy any more LP’s or cassettes that degraded the sound with every play.

At the time, I was working on the construction of PARC recording studio in Altamonte Springs, Florida. The owner, Pat Armstrong, was a big-time record producer and manager of bands like Molly Hatchet, among others.

One day, I was sitting in his living room in his Rosemont condo trying to avoid stepping on a half-million dollar recording console that was awaiting installation in the studio once construction was completed. I mentioned that I thought the CD would revolutionize the music business. Armstrong disagreed, dismissing the CD as a novelty that at best might reach 50% of sales.

I thought Armstrong was crazy, and basically said so. I pointed out that vinyl sounded great the first time played, but that like cassettes (which were truly an awful medium other than convenience), every play reduced the quality of the product. That was true even if an LP was played on really expensive gear and treated with kid gloves.

I said the average listener, like me, was wiling to settle for a little less quality in exchange for a lot more convenience, and cassettes were proof of that. And I added that CD’s had vastly better quality than cassettes, and they were even more convenient.

I admit CD’s are a long way from a perfect medium – they are easily scratched, housed in a flimsy case, and of somewhat lower fidelity than the best of vinyl. But despite those shortcomings, CD’s have proven to be the dominant retail medium for pre-recorded music.

And I have proven to be a much better prognosticator than Pat Armstrong.

©2017 Tom Cordle

Posted in Music | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reflection on Resurrection

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You might say cultural Christians are resurrected on Easter. They suddenly appear in church as if they’ve risen from the dead. But their sudden appearance is no miracle; they show up mostly out of habit and a mild sense of guilt.

These folks usually show up at Christmas, too. That holiday is clearly a cause for celebration, but Easter comes with mixed feelings. The sadistic portrayal of an innocent man being betrayed, tortured and crucified is hardly a cause for celebration. But for true-believers, all that barbarity magnifies the sacrifice and glorifies the redemptive denouement that brings this otherwise awful story to a close – the resurrection of that innocent man.

The idea of resurrection – of the triumph of life over death, of an eternal life spent with those we love, in a place beyond worry and woe – is an idea so wonderful it defies reflection. Reflection can lead to places the heart would rather not go. But the thoughtful mind must go there anyway.

The idea of resurrection has been around far longer than Christianity. It’s roots are in the worship of the sun. Even primitive people understood the power of the sun over life and death. They observed the greening of the earth as the sun rose higher in the sky and the days grew longer and warmer, and they observed the dying of greenery as the sun sank lower in the sky and the days grew shorter and colder

Eventually, the sun reached the lowest point in its annual journey, and it appeared to remain there for three days, as if it had reached its journey’s end. Primitive people might well have feared the sun had died, and they might well have prayed and offered sacrifices to the sun, or whatever god they imagined could raise the sun from the dead. And when it began to rise again after three days, surely they would have thought their prayers had been answered.

Unlike primitive man, modern man understands this as a natural cycle, and he knows the sun will rise again on the third day without prayers or sacrifices. He also knows – or ought to know – that ancient myths, beliefs and rituals permeate modern religions, including Christianity.

Despite that knowledge, the true-believer continues to deny in his heart what he knows – or ought to know – in his mind. He clings to his vestigial beliefs because they bring comfort in a world gone mad, a world where people clinging to their vestigial beliefs are brutalized and slaughtered by people clinging to their vestigial beliefs.

All these ages and ages hence, we haven’t progressed much beyond our primitive ancestors, save that we’ve become more proficient when it comes to brutality and slaughter. That doesn’t say much for our beliefs or our species. And that leads me to believe that if the Son of God were to appear here and now, we’d surely kill him.

©2017 Tom Cordle
 

 

Posted in religion | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Justice Denied

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I have watched with considerable dismay the degeneration of the advise and consent process in the Senate. That degeneration is especially troubling when it comes to nominations to the courts. Both parties share the blame for this, but the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back was the ill-advised decision to deny a well-qualified and decent man like Merrick Garland even the common courtesy of a hearing and a vote.

That led to a predictable tit for tat filibuster against nominee Neil Gorsuch, and that appears to be leading to the nuclear option and the obliteration of the last barrier to total partisan tyranny. Republicans have the power to stop this before it’s too late. Sometimes the best way forward is to step back from the brink.

In this case, that would require acting with common sense and courage, both of which seem to be tragically lacking in Congress these days. Instead, our representatives act like barbarians dividing the spoils after a battle. But politics is not, or at least ought not be, the art of war; it ought to be the art of compromise. And there is a perfectly sensible and ultimately profitable compromise at hand.

The Senate ought to put the nomination of Gorsuch on hold and request that the president nominate Merrick Garland to the Court; and once nominated, the Senate ought to confirm him without delay.

That would not only be the honorable thing to do, it would be good politics in the long run. It would paint Republicans as wise statesmen, and it would put intense pressure on Democrats to approve Gorsuch to fill the next vacancy. That vacancy will happen soon enough, given that three current judges are of an advanced age. Indeed, some of them might be more inclined to retire sooner, if they thought the nomination and confirmation process had not descended into just one more partisan political hell.

Such a magnanimous gesture would do a great deal to restore order to the confirmation process. Once order was restored, the Senate could insure stability and restore faith in the courts by requiring an even larger super majority, say 75 votes, for any and all future lifetime appointments. Such a requirement would dramatically increase pressure on a president to nominate candidates close to the political and judicial center. And that is where all justices should come from.

And speaking of where judges come from, it might also be helpful if candidates were chosen from other than a handful of law schools. Consideration should be given to candidates whose real-world experience isn’t limited to the law. Surely, there are accomplished people in other fields of endeavor who have the common sense and wisdom to sit in judgment.

©2017 Tom Cordle

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

The “I” Word

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Illegitimate

Illegitimate claims to the throne rarely turn out well for the usurper. From Claudius to Richard III, history is replete with examples of usurpers who discovered too late that political power depends greatly on perception, that is to say, on the perceived legitimacy of the person wielding that power.

Closer to home, the disputed 2000 election forever tainted the presidency of George W. Bush. Ironically, the perception of him improved after the tragedy of 9-11; but even then, he barely won re-election. Despite his narrow victory in 2004, he foolishly claimed a mandate to privatize Social Security – public opinion said otherwise.

Many Americans, if not most, regard Donald Trump’s presidency as even more Illegitimate, in part because he actually lost by nearly three-million votes. There’s also the still unresolved matter of possible collusion between his campaign and Russian operatives. It’s still early, but the signs point clearly toward this being a short and unsuccessful reign.

Ideologue

An ideologue is defined as “an adherent of an ideology, especially one who is uncompromising and dogmatic”. The term is often used as a pejorative, but ideologues consider it a badge of honor. Indeed, they consider someone who compromises as unprincipled. That’s certainly the case with most members of the so-called Freedom Caucus, whose idea of governing seems to be “my way or the highway”.

This White House offers a glaring example of a “my way or the highway” ideologue – Steven Bannon. His fascistic ideology leads him to openly call for the “deconstruction of the administrative state”. It’s difficult to discern exactly what he means by that bloated and loaded phrase, but we’ve seen something like that put in practice before – in Germany in the Thirties.

This White House also offers a glaring example of an unprincipled opportunist – short-fingered vulgarian Donald Trump. He has no discernible principles, and his only discernible motivation seems to be the profit motive.

Investigation

An investigation used to be something of a rarity in Washington, but Darrel Issa, Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, once threatened to hold “seven hearings a week, times 40 weeks.” Fellow Republican Trey Gowdy outdid even Issa with his pointless and interminable Benghazi probe.

But the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives may prove to be the biggest of them all. Only the Watergate investigation can compare for scrutiny and intensity, as well as for possible consequences. Indeed, the ultimate consequence in this case may be prison time for the president. There’s no harm in hoping for the best.

Immunity

Even at this preliminary stage in the Trumputingate investigation, immunity has already come up. Mike Flynn, crackpot conspiracy theorist and former National Security Adviser to Trump, says he’ll tell all to escape being convicted of perjury, bribery (and the usually attendant charge of income tax evasion), failure to register as a foreign agent, conspiracy to kidnap a political refugee, and possibly treason. Those are very serious crimes, and he likely won’t be granted immunity unless he has the goods on someone above him – and that could only be one person – Donald Trump.

Flynn may be the first, but he won’t be the last Trump crony looking for immunity. That list includes former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Carter Page, Rudy Giuliani and possibly even Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Stay tuned.

Impeachment

If Flynn or any of the others do have the goods on Trump and decide to use what they know to save their own skins, the biggest “I” word of them all will come into play – impeachment. And if that begins to appear likely, we may witness a historical first – the first president to ever grant himself a presidential pardon. Welcome to Wonderland.

©2017 Tom Cordle

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

High Nunes

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In the classic movie “High Noon”, actor Gary Cooper played Will Kane, the quiet sheriff of a small town, who fearlessly stands up to the bad guys, even after cowardly town-folk abandon him. Congressman Devin Nunes is no Will Kane; he’s more like the cowardly town-folk who refuse to stand up to the bad guys.

Nunes, a farmer from California’s San Joaquin Valley, was elected to Congress in 2002. In 2015, House Speaker Paul Ryan appointed him to head the House Intelligence Committee, despite his lack of real-world intelligence experience. As chairman of that committee, he is in charge of the House investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

During the committee’s first hearing on Monday,  FBI Director James Comey confirmed his agency was conducting an investigation into Russian interference; but to the surprise of almost everyone, he added that the FBI was also investigating possible co-ordination between the Russians and the Trump campaign.  That announcement gave added weight to the already strong suspicion that Trump and his cronies were – and possibly still are – in bed with Russian operatives.

Clearly, that was very bad news for Trump and his cronies. They went into full panic mode and employed what’s become standard operating procedure in this White House – deny, distract and delay. The denial was immediate, and the distraction was a bizarre plot twist straight out of a bad B movie.

Nunes went rogue on what wags took to calling his’ “midnight run”. He ditched his staff, switched cars on the fly, and sped off to a clandestine meeting somewhere on White House grounds. During that meeting, someone allegedly showed him some supposedly secret information that purportedly proved Trump was spied on – just as he claimed in his asinine “wire tapp” tweet.

At that point, Nunes should have met with his staff to figure out the best way to proceed. Long-standing precedent also required him to share that information with at least the ranking Democrat on his committee. Instead, he went to Paul Ryan for guidance. Ryan may have given him some very bad advice, judging by what happened next. Nunes inexplicably – and perhaps illegally, shared that information with the president.

Nunes claimed the information had nothing to do with Russia; but even if that’s true, it’s beside the point. Sharing classified information about any ongoing investigation involving Trump or his cronies exposed Nunes to possible criminal prosecution.

The White House denied having anything to do with Nunes’ bizarre “midnight run” and the events that followed. But that claim was so patently absurd, it made the White House look even more guilty of trying to cover-up something. When the denial failed to sway, and the distraction failed to distract, the White House decided it was time to delay.

Former Acting Attorney-General Sally Yates was scheduled to testify at the next hearing, and she had already informed the White House her testimony would contradict previous statements made by other administration officials. In an attempt to prevent her testimony, the White House threatened to exert executive privilege. When that proved to be an empty threat, Nunes postponed the hearings indefinitely.

Nunes is acting less like an investigator and more like a co-conspirator, and his bizarre behavior raises many questions:  Why did he risk his position and his reputation on such a fool’s errand? Why did he expose himself to public humiliation and a charge that could put him in prison? Was he acting on orders from a White House desperate to scuttle an investigation into possible collusion with Russian operatives?

So many questions, so few answers. But one thing is clear – Nunes isn’t up to the cover-up or the investigation. His bizarre behavior led to demands he recuse himself from the investigation, calls for him to resign from the committee. and even calls for him to resign from Congress.

Nunes chalked that up to partisan politics; he claimed Democrats want him to quit because he is “effective at getting to the bottom of things”. Apparently, the irony of that self-serving assessment is lost on him – the only bottom he’s getting to is the bottom of the barrel.

©2017 Tom Cordle

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

The Real Fraud

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Those who want to maintain the illusion the recent presidential election was completely legitimate claim there’s no proof the Russians hacked our voting machines. But it is far too soon to state that as fact; and in a sense, it’s beside the point. It wasn’t necessary to hack the machines, when it was so much easier and cheaper to hack the machine operators.

Clearly, the machine operators – the voters – were hacked by leaked emails, countless fake news stories, and social media posts and comments harmful to only one of the major party candidates . And just as clearly, the hacking was done by Russian operatives. Sadly, it’s becoming more and more likely the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians.

The machine operators – the voters – were also hacked by the Trump campaign’s promulgation and promotion of vicious lies. Some will say this was just politics as usual, but this was one of the dirtiest campaigns in American history.

The machine operators – the voters – were also hacked by FBI Director James Comey, who twice publicly commented on an ongoing investigation involving Hillary Clinton’s emails.  That broke with a longstanding FBI precedent, whereby ongoing investigations were not confirmed or denied.

To make matters worse, Comey did not reveal that the Trump campaign was also being investigated as to possible collusion between the campaign and Russian operatives.  That was potentially a much worse charge, and Comey’s double standard cast considerable doubt on his own fitness for office.

The machine operators – the voters – were also hacked by gerrymandering and voter suppression, including in North Carolina, where a court ruled the excision of minority voters was done with almost surgical precision.  If you’re prevented from voting, then surely your vote was hacked.

Even now, some in positions of power – not to mention a large percentage of the public – are in denial about all this. But to deny all this is to deny the obvious. It is to say countless leaks and fake news articles did not effect the choice of voters. It is to say advertising and propaganda have no effect. In short, it is to deny the power of suggestion. Only a practiced liar would make such fraudulent denials.

Speaking of practiced liars and fraud, the putative president fraudulently claims he actually won the popular vote because millions voted illegally. There’s only two possible conclusions to draw from that: Either he’s lying through his teeth or he’s non compis mentis, which is a high-toned way of saying he’s nuts.

Time will tell whether this president is truly crazy, but there’s little doubt he’s a pathological liar.  And history will judge his presidency the greatest fraud ever perpetrated on the American people.

©Tom Cordle 2017

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , | 3 Comments