Jared Kushner, Jeff Sessions, Healthcare Bills and that other thing….North Korea

I usually watch Morning Joe on MSNBC, but I watch less of it all the time.  Thank God for recording devices with fast forward.  Today a half hour was more than enough. Turns out Jared Kushner appeared helpful at the Senate hearing and the latest steps on repeal/replace of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) are keeping the possibility of change afloat, but leaky.   In short, not much news.

Republicans are so divided it is possible that they will have to swallow their insistence on repeal and work with Democrats to improve healthcare in ways that garners votes from both sides of the aisle.  What a novel approach.

Oh, and Jeff Sessions remains Donnie Trump’s piñata, as our boy who would be king is obsessed in his resentment that Sessions failed to quash this irksome Russia/Trump investigation.   His sin was recusing himself thus opening the door to Trump’s (I surmise) haunted house.  Sessions committed the crime of being more loyal to the constitution than to his sire, something a number of conservatives have noted as a good thing despite their general backing for the Donald.

The strength of Sessions’ support among conservatives is reflected by Russ Limbaugh calling Trump’s treatment of Sessions “unseemly”.   That’s like the pope accusing one of his parishioners of being uncatholic, reason enough for Trump to stop verbally battering the AG, if he can be that reasonable.

So, Donnie is in a bit of a pickle here.  Maybe that’s why he has come out with a new item to be aghast about, the banishing of “transgender” people in the military.  Now that is a big bright object to distract the media from weightier things………….

Such as North Korea.   At the end of the program co-host Mika Brzezinski brought up the issue of that rogue nation apparently about to test another intercontinental missile and a recent report that they might have one capable of hitting our mainland in a year or so, sooner than had been expected.

Then she mused that perhaps they should have spent more time on that and less on  the Trump soap opera on display in Washington.

Good idea Mika.  How about expanding upon that in your next show.

Oh, I still haven’t found a current article on General Mattis.  I assume that is because the Secretary of Defense is working his tail off figuring out what the hell we should do about North Korea and has no time for interviews.

Searching for General Mattis on Jared Kushner Day

Today Jared Kushner is scheduled to testify at a closed door session of the Senate intelligence committee and the cable stations are giving it the attention of the second coming.   If it were an open session I can see some interest, but being closed……we will depend upon leaks and arguments over the legitimacy of the leaks and that will become the story rather than anything Jared says.  That will probably mirror what he wrote in a carefully prepared I’m-not-guilty statement.

End of story.   In a real world, but not the one we have devolved into.

Watching CNN this morning I saw a scene-in-waiting, a camera placed to catch Jared when he stepped foot out of his limousine at the Capitol.  Whoop-de-do!  It struck me as a great example of our TV press often focusing on nothingness.  This mixed in with panels speculating on what Jared might say, should say or shouldn’t say.   Really, where is the substance here?  It’s harder to find than Waldo.

This reminds me of my favorite definition of celebrity:  “Someone who is famous for being famous.”  I’d add a corollary:   The longer one remains famous the famouser one gets.   This is a news story simply because it has something to do with the “famous” Trump/Russia connection.  Jared is one of the players, reason enough for the media to hype the importance of this unimportant event.

Waiting for Jared reminded me of the play Waiting for Godot, except Godot never arrived.  I assume Jared will, but I don’t need to see it.   In fact I don’t want to see it.  Call me old fashioned, but I’d like to see something newsworthy instead.  I don’t accuse the media of “fake news”, but I do of “make news.”  They take a kernel, or acorn of news, and pump it up with endless attention and speculation to become an oak.

And people sit in front of TV’s waiting for Jared to arrive…..

The Trump camp calls the media obsession with the Trump/Russia issue “hysterical”.  I wouldn’t go that far but it is not quite sane journalism, either.  It is a hot story whether or not it should be.  Of course, as usual, the Trumpeteers forget just how much they owe that same media for lavishing attention on the Donald’s early bid for presidency making him a hot story.   The media cashed in on good ratings and it seemed harmless at the time.  If the TV media in particular would have pressed Trump on the birther issue, their job, instead of playing patty cake with him, we might not be in the mess we are.

We may have been spared a president who, give the man some credit, has become the Tyrannosaurus Rex of celebrity-dom.


P. S. – I mentioned Mattis in the title because whatever he is doing seems likely more important than any news I see on TV.  When it comes to foreign policy he is our Command-in-Chief, as I see it.  Trump is the Twit-in-Chief.  I couldn’t find any recent news, so I’ll keep looking and get back to you.

I needed to get my disgust for aspects of our press off my chest anyway.

“When the World is Led by a Child”

I think of Donald Trump as the boy who would be king rather than the man who is president.  Certainly he acts like he thinks he’s king, ignoring traditional protocols and government norms and treating his children, and one particular spouse, as princes and a princess, his closest advisors.  Also, he acts like a difficult child who won’t pay attention, wants what he wants right now and has temper tantrums.

That is the gist of the abnormal, even surreal, political environment our Republic has fallen prey to and it makes a difference in how to deal with this so-called president.   It is his impulsivity, his inability to pay attention and desperation for approval which prompt him to careen all over the place, like a small child behind the wheel of a car.

You just can’t hand him the keys and wish him well.

I believe many people in positions of authority both at home and abroad see Trump in this way and their reaction is to work around him not with him.  The key is to appease him or ignore him, whatever it takes to go about one’s own work.   The recent meeting of the G20 nations is illustrative of this tendency, as the gathering now can be seen as the G19 who conducted business around our boy king, such as affirming the Paris climate accord.

I will elaborate more on that in a future post.  Right now I want to provide support for what I’ve just said by directing you to an essay by David Brooks, a moderate conservative columnist, a fine writer and deep thinker.  I stole the title of his piece because it captures my contention so well and Brooks’ analysis goes deeper and is better than I could write myself.

He illuminates Trump’s immaturity and then sums up why we can’t count on him to be our leader:  Trump is “sloppy, because he lacks all impulse control, and above all because he is a 7-year-old boy desperate for the approval of those he admires.”

Here is a link to the essay.    It is worth reading a couple of times.  Let it sink in.

I’ll make you a deal.  You read that twice and I won’t darken your email door until at least Wednesday.

Gagging from the Smoke of the Trump/Russian Connection

As I have indicated often in posts, I have low regard for our “president”, so low I turn E. B. Browning’s verse on its head:  “How do I loathe thee, let me count the ways.”

So, of course I have enjoyed watching D. Trump, Jr. and the White House Trumpeteers squirm while trying to figure out the right lies to tell about a meeting Jr. had months ago with a Russian lawyer regarding dirt on Hillary Clinton.   However, like many Americans I really have had enough of the constant clatter about the Trump teams collusion with the Russians.  I love steak, too, but I don’t want to eat it every day, let alone every minute.

I would feel differently if there wasn’t the Mueller investigation under way.  I have confidence that he and his crack team of investigators will find a number of fires from which all of today’s smoke stems, and the Trump team will be scorched in the process.  That will be great, but much of that won’t takes place for months to come and by then we may all be sick to death of the subject and need a marathon viewing of our favorite sit coms just to perk up a bit.

MSNBC and CNN are so obsessed with any shred of evidence that casts more doubts on the Trump administration and their Russian connections that I have been driven to watch FOX more than usual.  Sure it feels like traveling to Trump world as the network takes every opportunity to build him up, but since the other two cable stations are constantly tearing down his administration I actually don’t mind it so much.  At least Fox is not focused entirely on one single subject.  You know what they say about variety being the spice of life.

I envy bears their ability to hibernate.  I’d like to hibernate through this winter of our discontent and wake up to find Trump either impeached or at least more commonly seen as the laughing stock he deserves to be.

The G19 Plus One

If you guessed our boy king was the one, you guessed right.  There was the G19 meeting and also the Donald Trump show.   The G19 affirming the Paris climate accord and showing a general desire for free trade and the Donald paying no attention to either and conducting a bunch of photo ops with the heads of some of these states.  Sure he had meetings with them, but who knows what came out of each, if anything.

Of course the meeting that drew the most attention came with Vladimir Putin which many in the media deemed as “momentous”.   Momentous showmentous.  How momentous can it be when two of the world’s foremost liars get together?  Smile and shake hands without wrestling?   Show harmonious body language?  Post meeting statements show they even have different stories when it comes to Russian meddling in our elections.  The interpretation of our Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was that the Donald “pressed” the Russians on the point, while the Russian interpretation was he “accepted” Putin’s denials.

Tillerson tried to clean up the difference by suggesting it was wise not to stick with the issue, but to move on to possible areas of cooperation.  Apparently they came to some agreement on a cease fire in the southwest corner of Syria, which is pretty measly all things considered….and that is hoping against hope it will hold, unlike all previous cease fires there.  At best it is one baby step, with a good chance of the baby falling on his head.

As to whom to believe about Trump’s pressing Putin on election tampering, I believe the Russian account simply because it makes more sense.   Trump has continuously called assertions of Russian election tampering a “hoax” and demeaned our intelligence agencies in the process.  They say they know.   He keeps saying nobody actually knows.  Something he did again the day before in a speech in Poland.

Does this sound like a guy who would get on Putin’s case on election tampering that surely helped him?  When has he ever really gotten on Putin’s case for anything?  He saves that for our withering allies.

Things have become so wacky in the kingdom of Trump that usually smart people have begun to imagine things.   Veteran political insider and regular CNN guest David Gergen praised Trump for acting “presidential” in his meeting with Putin because they reportedly dealt with issues of hacking and cyber attacks and working together in Syria.  He also liked the fact the meeting lasted much longer than projected suggesting it showed they delved deeper into the issues.

No David, it shows nothing.  First, the idea that they would meet for a half an hour or so was ridiculous, given that interpreters were involved cutting actual discussion time to more like 15 minutes.  So, a two hour plus meeting was really about an hour plus.  Given the complexity of these matters, do you really think, David, they dug deeply into anything?

And reportedly no notes were taken, so how will we ever know what was actually said?  There were only six guys in the room.   Two presidents, two foreign secretaries and two interpreters.

David apparently was only half blind as later in the day he said on CNN that this was the first time he had seen an American president come to a G20 meeting “no longer regarded as the world leader.”  Now that’s the real news.

In a few short months Donald Trump has knocked America’s long held world stature off its pedestal.   The attention our boy king gets by seeming to act presidential is laughable in comparison.  It reminds me of that commercial………   “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV….”

Playing the president on TV doesn’t make you the president, either.  Even if you have garnered all the trappings.

Believing in America on the 4th of July

July 4 is normally a joyous weekend celebrating the birth of our nation.  I realize thoughts of barbecues and the beach usually grab more of our attention than thoughts of our political origins, but we have a president who shows no respect for American political institutions, or even what I believe to be the best of our American character, so July 4 takes on a more serious demeanor this year.

Donald Trump distains the press and tends to appeal to our worse instincts, such as the tendency to blame others for our problems, especially others who look different than ourselves or practice a different religion or are of certain nationalities.

The way Trump drums up hysteria is somewhat akin to what happened to the Japanese Americans, over 100,000 of whom were interned as threats after Pearl Harbor despite virtually no evidence.   Showing a better side of the American character was the small town of Gallup, N. M, where the town’s sheriff said, “They are citizens here, and we are not going to round them up.”

This linked story in the LA Times is about Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura, who was a Japanese American teenager in Gallup at the time and would later earn a Medal of Honor in the Korean war.

While much of America was falling prey to hysteria, this little town did us proud.   There is little that Donald Trump advocates in tweets or through his mouth pieces that make me proud to be an American.  He keeps touting “America First” and I hear a little boy crying “me, me, me.”

Trump keeps pretending he is making America great again, while what he is actually doing is placing a pall over our institutions and what’s left of our common sense of reality.  When I think of Trump world I envision Gotham City.

The story is fairly long, but you can skim much of it.  I like best the early part about Miyamura’s childhood in Gallup.

HAPPY FOURTH!