“The Emperor has No Clothes” says Senator Bob Corker. Well, more or less.

I’ve been waiting for months for someone who has supported Trump in the past who finally can’t take it anymore.  Can’t pretend Trump’s administration is doing well.  That person turns out to be one Senator Bob Corker who, to the New York Times, “charged in an interview on Sunday that President Trump was treating his office like “a reality show,” with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”

If you haven’t heard of the tweet hand grenade exchange this weekend between Corker and Trump, it ended with Corker writing:  “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.” 

Can you guess the adult who requires day care?

You could say Corker started it with some criticisms of Trump’s handling of the Charlottesville protest last May, suggesting his comments were not up to the standards of a president.  That he needed to up his game.

Much more recently Corker referred to the trio of Secretary of Defense Mattis, Chief of Staff Kelly and Secretary of State Tillerson as what keeps the White House from falling into chaos, not something the blister thin skin of “our” president could take, so Trump went to tweeting to tear Corker down, which led to Corker’s reply above.

In typical Trump fashion, he is so intent on getting back at Corker that he pays no attention to the importance of having the senator as an ally in congress if he actually wants to get anything done.   I believe Trump doesn’t ultimately care what he accomplishes as long as we all stay riveted to his “show” and he can makes us believe he’s accomplishing a lot.  And where that fails to place blame on someone else, the reverse of Harry Truman’s the “buck stops here”.   With Trump the buck stops anywhere except with him.

I urge you to read the notes of the  interview with Corker in the New York Times.  Because Corker is the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and also on the Senate Budget Committee, this fall out between Trump and him could have numerous ramifications on what gets passed in congress and how our foreign relations develop, especially with North Korea and Iran.

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Did Trump Declare War on North Korea?

I don’t think so, but today the North Korean ambassador to the UN insists he did, referring to Trump’s warning that the regime “wouldn’t be around much longer” if they acted on their threats to the United States.   And another game of chicken.   The ambassador said if U. S. war planes come close to North Korea as they did recently, NOKO reserves the right to shoot them down in their self-defense.   Since after all, we are at war.

I don’t believe Kim Jong Un thinks we’re at war, but I am afraid that with all of this bombastic nuclear missile rattling by both sides, one side will become confused as to what the other side means, which could lead to a horrible miscalculation.

This goading on both sides might prompt one side or another to show “you can’t tell me what to do”.  For example, will the threat of shooting down our planes if they fly near NOKO again prompt Trump to prove he can’t be told what to do by this tin pot dictator?

And send the planes close again…..?

How can we know about a president who likes being unpredictable and prides himself on his instincts, not sources of knowledge, something that has worked surprisingly well for him up until now?

This just in……  Trump’s press secretary has stated that Trump certainly wasn’t declaring war on NOKO with some of his tweets.

Well, that’s good, if not all that surprising, but as someone else described the situation:  “North Korea is the land of lousy options.”  That remains the case and it is this dilemma that I had planned on writing about today, but figured I should verify we were not at war before bothering.

A Drive By Glance at American Foreign Affairs

What with Hurricane Harvey, the Mueller investigation and the three ring circus of the daily Trump show (six ring…. nine ring?), short shrift has been given to events abroad of late.  For example, have you heard anything about Syria recently?   I hadn’t so I did some googling.

An LA Times piece this morning sums up the situation there as “Syria may be in ruins, but it looks like Assad ‘has won the war militarily.”   In short, there is no talk these days among national powers about “Assad must go.” Nations who had been involved with trying to make that happen have become distracted with their own affairs.    After firing a few missiles the U. S. has had little involvement other than in efforts to squash ISIS.

One of those distracted nations is Saudi Arabia, still struggling with a civil war it has abetted in Yemen and now in a diplomatic wrangle with Qatar, severing relations with that nation along with Egypt and a few others in the area, who accuse Qatar of bolstering instability in the region.  Under more normal circumstances that would be a big story, but we have too many of them already.   Interested in learning more?  Go here.

Back to Syria, the corker is that a few weeks ago the  “Damascus International Fair — once a showpiece of economic and technological prowess, attracting investors from across the Arab world and beyond — was held for the first time since being shuttered early in the war.”   I’m waiting for some friend to go there and send me a post card.

Moving on.  What about the Iran Nuclear Treaty?  Well, it is still holding, but Trump continues to want to find a way to scrap it.  Along with other treaties he doesn’t like.  Former  U. N. Ambassador Bolton has a plan to get us out.  Trump may embrace it or find some other way to break the deal.  If you want to dive into Bolton’s idea, check out this piece.

Moving on to Afghanistan.   The new U. S. policy there did make headlines briefly awhile ago, but really it isn’t a policy.  It is an open ended recognition that if we pull out we lose (and that locale becomes a haven for terrorists who might attack us again), so we won’t and hope the Taliban, etc., impressed by our resolve, will finally come to the negotiating table.  Reminds me of Korea, where our troops have remained for over half a century.

What a nice segue.  When it comes to endangering world peace, North Korea continues to appear the largest existential threat to those in the region and ourselves and maybe the entire world.   KIM JONG-UN’ s insistence on developing his nuclear missile program will have to change or a military confrontation seems inevitable.   Despite his ranting about fire and fury, not even Trump can believe that if it comes down to that the outcome will be anything short of horrific for friends and foes alike.

Things seem particularly tense now as is usually the case when we take part in joint military exercises annually with the South Koreans and others.   That always prompts an increase in saber rattling by JONG-UN.

But since we have our own saber rattler in the White House, it is impossible to know how something said or steps taken by either might cross some sort of line that triggers the war machines.

The talk continues to be that China must take a bigger hand in controlling NOKO, but that has been stated over and over for years now.   Can TRUMP pressure China enough economically to make a difference this time?    Well, if not, we are looking at a very sobering situation down the line that I will get back to later.

One thing I do applaud TRUMP for is the attention he has put on the Korean issue even if he leaves me nervous in the process.  Administration after administration has let the issue of a nuclear armed NOKO slide leading us to a point where there isn’t much of the slide left and we better slow things down or we will fall into an abys the likes of which is painful to imagine.

That was the Week that Was

The administration of Donald Trump has been unusual from the beginning, but it has morphed into something surreal.   No, more than that.  What word means more surreal than surreal?   Let me see, how about “nuts”?

I have been working on a post that tries to capture what this past week has been like and what it says about this dysfunctional, loony tunes administration, but it has been more than I can handle.  Like trying to get back into the pants I wore in high school.  Not to mention that the words I’ve tried convey a sense of “the sky is falling the sky is falling”.  Well, maybe it is.   But running around screaming doesn’t help, other than my own need to vent.

Fortunately,  Ruth Marcus outlines the White House chaos in calm, relatively short fashion in a Washington Post column titled “The White House is Imploding.”   It doesn’t include everything weird that has happened recently, most notably the sudden priority our Twit-in-Chief has placed on cleaning out our military of those fussy transgender types,  as if North Korea’s nuclear rattling, Middle East chaos and Putin’s nefarious ways belong on back burners.

But, Marcus gives the gist of the incompetency of Donald Trump when it comes to playing president.   Once again reminding us that we have elected a child president whom we must all work around to get anything done.

Here is the column.


P. S. – The title of the post is stolen from a popular British TV show back in 1963 credited with being the first to satirize the British government.   The people loved it; not surprisingly the government did not.  I imagine our Saturday Night Live owes a debt of gratitude to that show.

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.