The White House Press Corps Owes Sarah Sanders an Apology

Ed Henry of Fox News , a former association president, spoke of Sarah Sanders’ mistreatment at the WHPA dinner:  We “invited her to be the president’s representative. We invited her to dinner, to our event, and we treated her like dirt. It was disgusting; I’m actually getting more angry just thinking about it.”  I don’t feel that angry, but I don’t like the way comedienne Michelle Wolf treated her.

Just because the president often acts like a complete ass, that’s not an excuse to emulate him.

Understand I don’t like Sanders’ dodging or stonewalling every uncomfortable question in White House briefings.  I was happy to hear of one reporter who got so tired of empty answers he stormed out calling her a liar.  But this was a different place and time and this time she was supposed to be a special “guest” of the press core, not a pinata, which is why she was seated on that stage, which made her particularly vulnerable to be batted around mercilessly in Wolf’s performance.

Except for the mean spirited it is not funny to call someone a liar and compare her to a loathsome character in a TV show, while she has to just sit there and take it.  This was a series of insults plain and simple.   Someone once said there is a fine line between the  prick of wit and the sting of insult.  The best roasts tend to be heavy on wit and light on insult.  When it goes the other way, it ruins the show.

Without Trump present, Sanders got to be the special target for vitriol.   Still,  you could tell by the majority of the audience reaction that Michelle had become all sting and little shared wit when it came to treating Sanders.

Watching Sanders squirm in her chair I thought she should get up and go, yelling on the way:   “I don’t need to listen to this crap.”  I could applaud that.

Now that I think of it, though, a number of reporters might have reflexively shouted back:  “Now you know how we feel.”

So, I’m ambivalent.  But bottom line Sarah was treated like dirt and deserves an apology from the White House Press Corps.

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Nuclear Deals and Michael Cohen in Trumptopia

I have become stymied trying to write about the upside down weirdness in Trumptopia.  It feels like trying to wash your car in the midst of a mud slide.  Fearing I could freeze up altogether, I’ll say something about the Iran Nuclear Deal, North Korea’s Nukes, and the investigation of Michael Cohen.

Iran Nuclear Deal:   By May 12 Trump must either renew the Iran Nuclear deal or drop out of it.  If he doesn’t renew everything seems up for grabs as Iran as well as Russia and the European nations who signed the agreement say they have no interest in renegotiating it.   Perhaps the foremost reason Macron of France and Merkel of Germany  visited Washington this week was to push Trump not to pull out of the agreement.

One point made:  Dropping out of a previous agreement would not be a good way to preface a meeting with Kim Jong Un  to talk about a future agreement with him.   A couple of wild cards in this game are the recent appointments of long standing hawks, Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State, and John Bolton as National Security Adviser, both of whom have been been staunch critics of the deal.   Lots of room for speculation.

NO KO’s Nukes:   It feels like we have moved from a nightmare scenario of potentially unimaginable destruction to a dream of peace on the Korean peninsula.  It’s a relief.  I just want to point out that we haven’t won anything yet and North Korea has.   It can be argued that Trump’s constant threats, ramped up sanctions and increased pressure on China played a major role in opening up the possibility of negotiations.

But I would argue even more important Kim Jong Un has gotten what he wanted, a nuclear weapons program that works.  Despite Trump’s huffing and puffing,  Jong Un  kept testing and developing and finds it useful to now be friendly.

Now he can afford to be conciliatory on such things as destroying a missile test site.  He’s happy to just hold the cards he’s drawn.   Other presidents could have met with him or his forbears, but they thought such a meeting would raise the prestige of a tin pot dictator.  Well, it has, hasn’t it?

I see Jong Un being all sorts of nice, smiles and warm handshakes with the president of South Korea and seeming open to Trump’s demands, but later drawing the process out, pushing things down the road, a series of steps, but not giving away the nuclear weapons he has.  Those weapons are what have pushed us to treat him as an equal in these negotiations, and he’s not about to give them up.  It is his ticket to be a major player and a key to his  survival.

Trump acts like he has brought a reluctant Jong-Un to the negotiating table.  Actually, Kim has just been waiting for an invitation.

Investigation of Michael Cohen:    While the Mueller investigation may produce either indictable offenses or reasons for presidential impeachment, the separate investigation of Michael Cohen, Trump’s occasional lawyer and frequent “fixer” may prove a sooner threat.

Just the fact the FBI got a hard-to-get warrant to raid his home, office and hotel room to gather information suggests Cohen is indictable for more than one offense.   So, the question is how might Trump be implicated.  The president made things tougher for himself and Cohen by claiming on Fox and Friends yesterday morning, in what amounted to a half an hour wandering rant, that Cohen has done only a “tiny” amount of work for him as a lawyer per se.

The pile of crap Trump stepped in with those comments is that most dealings he has had with Cohen that are recorded can not be protected by lawyer client privilege because Trump himself has indicated most of the work Cohen has done for him was not lawyerly.

So the prosecution can look at and use most of it.   This seems an impossible situation for Cohen, who could face many years in jail unless he “flips”, i.e. rats on the president.  OR, Trump pardons him.  Cohen has a reputation for loyalty to Trump, but he also has a wife and family he might want to continue living with.   He must be pondering whether he can count on a pardon.

I fantasize sometime this summer president Trump may be in the middle of a chummy meeting with Kim Jong Un talking about denuclearization, while back home there is a lot more talk about impeachment and/or the possibility of an indictment or two.

Hard to believe, but in Trumptopia nothing should be surprising.

Military Theater: Trump’s Surreal “Win” in Syria

The attack on Syria Friday seemed flawless and there doesn’t look like there will be strong repercussions from the Russians or Syria’s President Assad.  But the major reason for a lack of a big response was the strike was limited to chemical weapons production and storage structures, while giving Assad and his friends plenty of notice (beginning with Trump’s tweeted threats a week ago), so the Russians and Assad could move their troops and who knows what else out of the way of the most likely targets.

From what I’ve seen reported, amazingly no one was killed and only a handful injured.  That’s great, but when your destructive skill is so surgical as to leave not much of a scar, it gives me no cause to believe a U. S. government spokesman who expressed hope these actions would somehow draw Putin, Assad and the Iranians to some form of international negotiations.

What would they have to gain?  They have already won.  Other than a sizable Kurdish controlled northeast, Assad controls most of Syria, except for a few pockets.  That’s why I among many can’t figure out why Assad even used chemical weapons as his other weapons already seemed to be bringing the rebels to heel in the city of Douma, south of Damascus.

Why tug on Super Man’s cape, when unnecessary?  Trump was looking for a total exit of Syria only two weeks ago, before some advisers prompted him to think about it.  Why give him more reason to keep our forces in the area?  Was it Assad’s arrogance?  A joy in snubbing his nose at us?  A curious stupidity?

In any case, I’m glad we had a well measured response to those chemical attacks (reportedly the new Secretary of State John Bolton, a long time hawk, pushed to do more damage and trigger more danger, but Mattis prevailed).  However, the chest thumping from Trump and his subordinates, like foremost toady VP Pence, is unwarranted.  They act as if he had just won a war.

Yes, we pushed back on the use of chemical weapons, for many decades banned internationally, and that is good.  But it basically was an instance of military theater. By concentrating only on chemical weapons, we seemed to be saying all other weapons are fair game in Syria.  You stay away from chemical weapons and we’ll stay away from you.

Thousands upon thousands have been killed by the forces of Assad, Russia and Iran, mostly with other types of weapons, such as barrel bombs.  I guess the visuals aren’t as gut wrenching as seeing small children gasping for last breaths.  We’re not committed to preventing deaths in Syria, just the ones that look the most gruesome on TV.  Otherwise Trump can’t wait to get out.

So, when I hear various Trump spokespeople sound tough, talking about us being “locked and loaded” in case the Syrians dare use chemical weapons again, it is surreal like much that emanates from the Trump administration.

Why would they provoke more attacks from us, when Assad and his friends have plenty of other ways to kill and maim and destroy?  And we’ve provided a green light to use them.

The Fruition of Government by Chaos: What Will Happen in Syria?

Our boy-who-would-be-king is known to love governing by chaos.  Well, he should be ecstatic now.

For those who want to take a look at what a mess the white house has become, I recommend an article in the Washington Post titled:  “Trump is operating on a tornado of impulses – and no clear strategy – as he deals with Syria, trade and the Russia probe.”

The Syrian whirlwind seems most crucial to resolve right away as the president impulsively tweeted all sorts of threats when it appeared the Assad government had once again used chemical weapons on some of his people a few days ago. The Bloviator-in-Chief huffed and puffed signaling quick devastating action against Assad, but that has been delayed.

His impulsivity ignored the need to fully confirm the action, not to mention having an actual response plan, since our military seemed as surprised as the rest of us by the little king’s threats.  This especially because a week ago he wanted to pull our two or three thousand troops out of Syria, basically ending our commitment there.  Apparently he did not inform his advisers beforehand, and they pushed him to reconsider.

Now instead of pulling out, we seem on the edge of jumping in more in some way.  As I type I hear on cable TV in the other room, that the chemical use is now confirmed.  And decisions on Syria will come “fairly soon.”

In his carelessness, Mr. Impulsivity has put American prestige on the line and the trick is to make Assad feel he is paying a big price for those chemical attacks, while not igniting a military conflict with Russia in the process.  This feels like someone with fading eyesight trying to thread a very small eye of a needle.  It is hard to imagine a sanguine conclusion.

As to what will happen:  I haven’t a clue.  But it figures to be big news one way or another….soon.

A Day Without You Know Who

It is 6:00 a.m. and normally I would be sitting on my couch channel surfing between MSNBC, CNN, and FOX, watching the latest so-called news, mostly speculation, about you know who (YKW).  I don’t recommend starting your day that way, as I’m usually left with a slight nausea, and feeling in desperate need for a spark of enthusiasm to meet the rest of the day.

While my goal with this blog is to shed a little light to dispel here and there the Gotham-like miasma that YKW cloaks the truth with by the hour, I can’t help but feel I’m just another pawn in his game.  I am one of the many who spend way to much time focused upon him.  And in writing this blog I am pushing others to do the same.  All just what he wants.  It is a conundrum.

This came to mind when I sent a friend/blog-reader a web site which tracks the YKW roller coaster ride daily.  His name is John and his wife Deb.  While he thought the site could be useful, he added:  “Deb and I are trying to persuade each other to spend less time watching cable news because you just get spun around faster and faster into the vortex, and you end up knowing only what you knew before the dizzying spin”. 

In other words, thanks but no thanks for more about YKW.

I can hear you, man.  My excuse is I’m addicted.

But I still haven’t turned on cable news and hope not to, while referring to the oversized boy who would-be king as YKW adds some distance, too.  If his name comes up later in the day it won’t come out of my mouth.  And I’ll keep mum if others talk about him.  Or at least try to.

It is only one day, but you know how it is with us addicts.  We take it one day at a time.

Can the Revival of the Rosanne Show Help Us Talk about Trump?

The original Rosanne Show lasted about 10 years, ending in 1997.  The success came from (A) many found it funny and (B) it felt like a realistic portrayal of working class life.  It had moments of heart and soul other sitcoms lacked.  A reboot of the show  just returned last week to an audience of about 18 million, enough to promptly give the show an extension.

Whether it is more the Trump factor – Rosanne doesn’t just portray a Trump supporter on TV, she is one in real life – and/or a nostalgia wave that has brought other old shows back, the show seems likely to be around for awhile and my hope is that it can open up small possibilities for never-Trumpers like me to actually talk with and listen to Trump lovers or at least likers (like they like how the economy has picked up over the past year, give Trump a lot of credit for it, and can live with him being a jerk as long as he gets things done they like .  I would argue their joy is fraught with danger but let’s forget that for now).

Though I’m tempted to skewer those bubbles of beliefs, that would not get us any closer to actually being able to talk about Trump without yelling or stamping off.   The crux of the tension so far on the show is that Rosanne’s sister Jackie distains Trump as much as Rosanne likes him.  But other touchy social issues are brought up as well and, as others have observed, the show is more about family than politics.  Efforts to maintain family ties push all sides to rethink what they are saying and doing, at least a little.

To me the key is there are lines that can make many of us on both sides of the divide laugh.  If we can share a laugh, maybe we can share a bit more.  Though the humor at times is forced and feels it is rubbing on sores, everyone gets ribbed, so there is not much to resent.

Of course, it is awkward, but that’s the way things are.  Let’s face it, those of us on each side of the divide think those on the other side don’t know what the hell’s going on.  That provides grounds for dislike, but also for humor.

I lived through the Vietnam war which rent our society apart.  I was a protestor while one of my brothers was in the air force in southeast Asia.  We didn’t talk much about the war, but the divisions weren’t as bad as they are now.  I never thought the whole country could be broken up over those schisms, but I do now.  If we can’t talk with those who believe very differently than we do, we will rely more and more on force to get what we want.  And with force, each action prompts an opposite reaction.  And those forces tend to grow.   Isn’t one civil war enough for us?

Soon I am going to go for a walk with a friend, Ken, who still supports Trump despite hours of my wise counselling.  For all other intents and purposes – he appears to possess a brain (and is happy he is getting a little more money in his paychecks, one reason to like Trump better than Obama.  I’d call it a pittance compared with …..oops, there I go again).

On the phone with Ken I recounted a scene in the show where  Jackie surprises Rosanne appearing at her door wearing one of those pink hat’s from that women’s march and a T-shirt with the words “Nasty Woman”.  She greets Rosanne with:  “What’s up deplorable?”  Made me laugh.

As I was about to hang up, I said:  “See you in awhile deplorable.”  My friend laughed and had a comeback that was kind of funny, for a Trump supporter.  If I had one of those pink hats I’d wear it to see him.  Would make him laugh.  Maybe we can agree on something in our walk today.

The next Rosanne episode is Tuesday evening on ABC.  I missed the debut but caught in on my DVR On Demand.   If you plan on watching Tuesday, you might want to look up the first one first…………or not.