Obama calls Trump’s Response to the coronavirus “an absolute, chaotic disaster.”

I could not have described it any better Mr. President.   Glad you’re getting warmed up for the big fight to dethrone the boy who would be king.  We need a lot of you now as your buddy Joe is sort of trapped in his basement at the moment, a bad look but he’s in a tough spot.  He’s just not in the center of the action right now.

As always, Trump is in the center of the news because his main goal is to be there.  He’s great at doing or saying something controversial which gets top news billing because he is the president.  In contrast to him is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who has basically been the banner carrier of the Democratic party of late as he has shown the nation in his daily press conferences what a real leader looks like as opposed to president putz.

Cuomo has been the text book leader in turning the virus around in New York city and state.  A real leader takes charge, tells the truth (sure often with some positive spin) and takes responsibility for his actions, as President Harry Truman summed up with a sign he kept on his desk:  “The buck stops here.”   With Trump the buck never stops with him.  If it’s a problem it’s someone else’s fault.

Trump’s response to Obama’s criticism is predictable: he trashes him.  Deflecting from his own incompetence, Trump hangs that label on Obama.  And he ups the ante by asserting some crime Obama committed, while refusing to state what it is.  “You know, ” he tells reporters.  “You know.”

I’d love to see a chorus from reporters ring out:  “No, we don’t.” (and we suspect neither do you.)

Trump’s phony act is so obvious, but he keeps the press at bay with his ability to churn up enough outrageous news bits as to keep reporters buzzing about and failing to land on something, some one thing to demand an explanation of.

How about this topic?  Trump continually brags about what a great job he’s done vs. the virus.   But, according to the News Tribune:  “The United States and South Korea each reported their first confirmed case of the coronavirus to the World Health Organization on Jan. 20.”

Since then around 300 South Korean’s have died of the virus, compared to around 90,000 Americans.  We have about eight times their population, so to make the comparison fair and square, let’s make the situation per capita and say if South Korea had our population, they would have lost about 2,400 people.

90,000 to 2,400………………..  Still, a huge disparity.  REALLY HUGE!  Please, reporters unite.  Demand Trump explain that statistic in the face of his bragging about what a great job he’s done.  Bring this up over and over a gain, like a dog with a bone.  Keep biting and don’t let him deflect the questioning elsewhere.

Trump deflects by blaming Obama for leaving him “a bare cupboard” of pandemic supplies” and nothing else.  At least the Obama team left him with a basic primer of suggestions of what needed to be attended to and an office within the National Security Council whose job was to track potential pandemics world wide.

Trump ignored the suggestions and closed the office.   Also, he has had over three years to develop his own plan to battle pandemics.  What’s Trump’s plan?  Open up the economy willy nilly and see what happens while gambling on a vaccine developed soon enough to save us?

Again I would like reporters to demand an explanation for why 90,000 carona deaths here, while South Korea has had about 300 (or an adjusted 2400 if we add the population differential).

Please reporters, bring this up the next time Trump claims he has done a great job battling the virus.


P. S. – My link above to the News Tribune is worth following as that news source gives a brief description of what South Korea did and we did not.

Add Mitt Romney to JFK’s “Profiles in Courage”

In the 1950’s John F. Kennedy wrote a book called Profiles in Courage telling the stories of politicians who had hurt themselves politically to make a statement or take an action that they believed to be right.  It was a small book.

I think when asked about the size, Kennedy quipped there was a shortage of material.  I just watched Mitt Romney exemplify the courage Kennedy described.  And I was, frankly, amazed.

Romney has often voiced elements of what used to be the Republican party, including a sense of integrity, but he has never really confronted the president like he did today.   So, I wasn’t expecting this.  Apparently Trump’s sins have finally become too much for Romney to tolerate.  Like the boy in the tale The Emperor’s New Clothes, he looks at Trump and finally sees “the emperor is not wearing clothes.”

He announced he would vote to convict Trump this afternoon of at least one of the two charges of his impeachment.  When all other Republican Senators have done a great job of playing hide-go-seek, with a few semi-exceptions like Lamar Alexander, Romney has just come forth to assert that, after much consideration, he believes Trump has committed an “appalling abuse of public trust” an abuse so grave that it merits being ousted from the presidency.

Senator Lamar Alexander did assert that Trump did something “inappropriate” but not sufficiently proven to deserve conviction.  He and other Republicans who fell in behind him said that they thought Trump would learn from this and not do it again.

WHO ARE THEY KIDDING, BESIDES THEMSELVES?  Trump the guy who never admits to making a mistake or doing wrong, including this whole Ukraine affair?   Why on earth would he change now, since he just got away with abusing his power without even a censure vote from the lap dog Trumpublicans in the Senate.

Romney will get endless crap from fellow Republicans for announcing the obvious truth.  Of course, Trump will still be acquitted this afternoon.  Romney knows that.  That’s why he merits a chapter in any revisions of the Kennedy book.

The Pseudo Senate Impeachment “Trial” of Trump

Always so many political events coming so fast in Trumptopia and this week the whirlwind is swirling even faster than usual.   The Democrat’s first primary in Iowa today, tomorrow Trump’s state of the union speech and then the rest of the week finishing up the details of Trump’s impeachment acquittal.

What to take away from the impeachment proceedings.   Well, first of all Trump’s acquittal in the Senate was preordained as it requires two-thirds of the Senators to convict him, something that was never going to happen given that 53 of the Senators are Republicans.

Of course “everybody” knew this, but the Dem’s were pretty much forced to impeach Trump because there was so much evidence showing his abuse of power (and obstruction of Congress) that they had to take a shot at it in the hope their charges would sway that slice of American undecided voters along with firing up their base.

Frankly, I don’t know who was swayed where, though I give praise to the House Democratic efforts as being far more persuasive than those of the Republicans.   The Democrats relied on convincing witnesses and records while the Republicans relied on procedural arguments, distortions and distractions.  Because they had little in the way of evidence to back them up.   Really, Trump did something wrong and it was obvious if you paid close attention to the proceedings.

Republican Lamar Alexander admitted as much late in the Senate “trial”.  He dismissed the arguments of the Trump team saying he was convinced that Trump abused his power regarding pressuring Ukraine to provide dirt on the Biden’s.   He called Trump’s actions “inappropriate,” but he asserted they did not rise to the level of impeachment.  He thought it best to leave that issue to Americans at the ballot box.

A clever position to be sure, but his conclusion that the charges did not reach the level of impeachment is debatable.  However, that debate has been squelched by the Republican majority.  New evidence keeps coming forth, much of it as snippets from a book by former Trump top security adviser John Bolton that contradict many of the claims of the Trump team.  Bolton has offered to testify, but the Republicans have closed down the option for any more records or testimony, so this will have to move to the court of public opinion.

More information is likely to come out (and eventually Bolton’s book), a continuing thread from the impeachment hearings that I will return to in my next post.

A Quick Look at Iran Before Trump’s Senate Trial Begins

We seemed close to a major military confrontation with Iran less that two weeks ago.  With the Senate impeachment trial about to start, that Iran news seems like a distant memory.  Whatever is the latest Trump act or outrageous comment takes up most of the media mind space, leaving everything else almost forgotten.

Let’s not forget how close we came to war.   When Trump ordered the killing of Iran’s chief General Suleimani  – to show his supporters and Iran his toughness –  he left our fate in the hands of Iran or just plain luck to decide.   Suleimani’s death – which incited millions of mourners in Iran – was definitely going to prompt a reaction from Iran’s government.  That such an act was likely to produce grave unintended consequences is what restrained previous presidents from killing the general.

The question was how provocative would Iran’s response be.  It had to be like the three bears – not too hot, not to cold, but just right.  Just right being for Iran to protect its honor without provoking Trump to escalate, something neither side seemed to want.  A tricky matter, though.

Iran fired missiles at Iraq near a U. S. army base which in retrospect seemed intended to make a show of strength rather than kill anyone, as Iran sent warnings ahead of time to Iraq.  No one died, so Trump lucked out, but certainly some could have died.  American troops were close enough to suffer concussions, as later reports revealed in 12 cases.

If even one American had died from Iran’s missile attack, what would Trump have done?  What would Trump’s tough guy self-image have demanded he do?  And what kind of escalation might have evolved?

When an American military contractor was killed several weeks ago, Trump ordered an attack on Iranian militia which killed about 25 Iranians.  What show of force would Trump feel compelled to reciprocate for more American deaths from the missile attack?  How many Americans would have had to die to produce a major escalation?  What if 20 had been killed?  That would seem to get us within a hair’s breath of war.  There is no telling.

In short, Trump was lucky and we were lucky, but it does not deny the fact his decision to take out Suleimani was reckless.   His ordering a bad man to be executed while lucking out that Iran managed just the right response so as not to prompt escalation (at least not immediately) undoubtedly pleased his followers.

But how long will we be lucky enough to survive Trump’s impetuous, ad hoc, foreign policy?  While Trump will be charged in the Senate trial with other crimes against the nation, his herky-jerky foreign policy may produce the biggest threat to us all.

Something not to be forgotten.

The Ukraine Hearings: A Big Battle Over Truth Begins Soon

I ended my previous post by saying I planned on delving into the clash in narratives between Trump’s largely made up story of his glorious presidency and a historical analysis based more on facts and respect for the ideal of truth.

What was I thinking?   I soon realized that I was stuck in the view of Eli Stokols of the Los Angeles Times“I don’t know if America has the bandwidth to process everything that is going on.  I certainly don’t.”  

Me neither.

I can at least start out by saying Wednesday will kick off the public impeachment process, a major battle of the two narratives with open hearings before the Democratically controlled House Intelligence Committee.  To work through my writer’s block, I’m stealing a brief summary of what’s going on and all the TV coverage from Benjamin Kail of masslive.com.

In brief this is what is going on:

“Democrats and Republicans in the House have questioned current and former Trump administration officials and diplomats behind closed doors over the last several weeks. An anonymous whistle blower claimed earlier this year that multiple White House officials grew concerned that the president in July illegally leaned on the president of Ukraine, using military aid as leverage, to secure help in the 2020 election.

Deputy Secretary of State George Kent and Bill Taylor, a former ambassador and top diplomat in Ukraine, will testify together Wednesday, while Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, will testify Friday, CNN reported.”

You can reach the site which has more information and  TV networks and times here.

Trump Impeachment Finds New Life

Those who have been reading my posts for a few months know that I have disdained the frequent calls by the liberal left for the impeachment of Trump and have been thankful that Speaker Nancy Pelozi has resisted the idea.   When less than half the nation seemed to want impeachment, it was crazy to push the idea especially when we knew how the story would end.  The Republican controlled Senate would have given a thumbs down to the House’s decision and Trump would have used it as further proof of his innocence.

To all those who have argued that this is above politics and our national duty to “hold Trump accountable”, I say a Democratic controlled House voting to impeach is not above politics.  It is a fat part of it.  Here is what is most important:  Trump not being reelected. Anything that jeopardizes that goal is a misstep.  Talk about historians looking back?  If Trump wins there may be a cadre of his propagandists writing that history.

Those who have made it seem a duty to impeach despite the fact the nation is tired of complex investigations with little taste for more of the same, have been silly.  The duty of every citizen is to work at removing Trump from office, not going through the show of impeachment.

I was in favor of Pelozi’s approach of House committees continuing to investigate and seeing where they lead.   If the calls to impeach faded as the election loomed larger and larger, that was all right with me.  Again, winning the election is the goal.

Those months of investigations of the president and the liberal press’ never ending scrutiny,  while thrilling many liberals, has worn out most of the rest of us.  Like those oft repeated latest developments of that meeting in Trump Tower, with Donald Jr. and some Russians.  All things considered, it deserved only a fraction of the attention it got.  It really was kind of a “nothing burgher.”  But the liberal press kept gnawing on it like a dog in hopes of making that old bone more tasty.

Enter the whistle blower, a real game changer.  Suddenly this isn’t tired old stuff, but something new and shocking if the initial picture becomes substantiated.   And unlike the clutter of other investigations, this seems understandable by the normal brain.  If the seeming information pans out, Trump clearly put his own interests above those of the nation regarding the Ukraine.  And has been caught red handed, not just in the eyes of some of us but of a majority.

I believe Trump will not wriggle out of this and a large part of my optimism is that Speaker Pelosi is at the helm of this investigation.  Just as she skillfully kept the hot heads at bay when they were not in a good position to impeach, she will flip the switch and go full speed in the opposite direction.

Dear Lord, that is my prayer.

Trump’s Washington Bedlam Boogie

Hard to believe, but the rate of neurotic noise produced by Trump seems to have actually increased several more decibels this past week to the point my brain waves are almost completely jammed.  For starters Trump’s Inviting the Taliban to come to Camp David for peace talks around 9/11, to such a hallowed meeting place for world leaders and at such a remarkably bad time, unknown to the general public (meaning us) until he changed his mind.  Don’t ask why?  He gives a reason, but probably it can’t be believed.

Perhaps the oddest thing about this supposed meeting is we might have not heard of it, and its cancellation, had not Trump tweeted about it, as if he wanted credit for at least trying something new even though he backed out.  It is the appearance of doing something well that counts to him, not actually achieving it.

Or take his refusing to admit he was just plain wrong (or at best several days out of date, a danger in itself) about the hurricane threat to Alabama and then played innocent like a boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar when a reporter asked about what looked like an expansion of the hurricane zone made with a Sharpie like, ah, the one that sits on his desk…………..

I could go on, but I don’t want to. I tried yesterday and just got immensely frustrated grappling with it all.  I just want to repeat over and over the man is nuts.

Of course my walking around repeating Trump is nuts makes me look pretty nutty, too.  So, instead I have looked around in search of someone else to give some depth to this past week and found a piece by Tim O’Brien of Bloomberg Opinion which covers the ground much better than I could.

If you want my mutterings to be fleshed out Google:  Tim O’Brien, Trump,  Taliban, and you’ll see links to the article.  The site seems to be blocking my attempt to link you to it.


BREAKING BEDLAM!   Trump fired John Bolton his latest Director of National Security this morning.  Bolton is a hawk who hasn’t found a war he doesn’t like, to paraphrase someone I can’t recall.  Normally I would be happy to see him go, but at least Bolton has some sense of the difference between reality and a TV reality show.

……………..and Trump does not, or just does not care.   As long as he can make himself look good in the process.  Bolton at least challenged some of Trump’s delusions.  Now I can’t think of anyone in the administration who will.

That’s scary.

Will McGahn and Mueller Testify Before the House?

Trump loves walls, so now he is trying to build another one sealing off his office from Congress.   He has told his people to ignore subpoenas from the committees in the House that are trying to fulfill their constitutional role of oversight, a role the previous Republican controlled House thought was optional.

Of course the Trumpeters are arguing that this is old news made ancient by the completion of the Mueller report, but there is a problem there:  The Mueller report does not come up with the clear cut conclusions the Trumpsters assert.   It is more complicated than that, requiring Mueller to clarify a number of things to Congress.

My first question would be:  Did you believe that you could not actually indict Trump because of a Justice Department policy against indicting a sitting president?  If Mueller did feel constrained it sheds much light on why no obstruction of justice charges were filed.  Not because Trump was innocent, but because Mueller believed department policy prohibited indictments of the president.

I do not know if Mueller is willing, but I certainly hope he is.  Otherwise the summation of the report made by Trump’s disappointing pick for AG, Robert Barr, may be allowed to stand in many a voter’s mind.  “No Collusion.”  “No Obstruction.”

The report is much more nuanced than that, but those nuances must be fought for in order to survive in a Trumptopia where nuances are ignored or blurred or lied about and in the process critical thinking deformed.  Despite all that he lacks, Trump has proved himself a genius at sloganeering and other tricks to fabricate a false world of “alternative facts.”  He has already gotten the jump on the latest Dem presidential candidate, Joe Biden, labeling him “sleepy Joe,” a guy who lacks the smarts to be president.

The Dems should hold a contest for just the right  label to nail Trumpty Dumpty with.   “Deranged Donald” isn’t bad, borrowed from tweets of conservative George Conway, once a backer of Trump and now one of his harshest critics and, YES!, also the husband of Trump’s Queen of Spin, Kelly Anne.  The perfect couple for a Loony Tune Land (see bottom).

Anyway, I’ve Googled around looking for an indication that 1) Mueller and/or former White House counsel Don McGahn are willing to testify before the House and 2) whether Trump can prevent them from doing so.  I can’t find anything clear cut about that.  However, since neither work for the president anymore and he has already allowed McGahn to testify fully to Mueller (without claiming executive privilege),  I’m thinking both will eventually testify to Congress.

Or should I say I hope to high heavens that is the case.   Ah, but yesterday I heard that Trump helped make McGahn’s testimony more likely, as the Trumpster has accused McGahn of lying to Mueller………..which would be a crime, so I would think McGahn would want to testify again under oath refuting Trump’s claims to the public at large.

Thanks for your help on this Mr. president.


P. S. – By now I would think most if not all of you are aware of how the Trump presidency has placed a lot of stress on the family life of George and Kellyanne Conway.   Both were Trump supporters at the beginning of his presidency, but while Kellyanne defends Trump’s actions daily, George has turned completely against the president, skewering him often on Twitter, even calling for his impeachment.  Want to know more?  Check out this piece from the BBC.

Theatre of the Absurd: The Trumped Up Border Crisis

It’s a new year but the only thing new about the president is his willingness to place even more weight on the phony facts he and his rabid right wing cohorts, like Anne Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, have made up.

Some of these “alternative facts” support the idea that we now need a southern border wall so much that Trump has been willing to shut down much of the federal government for weeks, displacing hundreds of thousands of workers and weakening key services in hopes the Democrats will submit to his demands for wall funding.

That’s Trump’s idea of deal making:  You succumb to his demands or get blamed for an unwillingness to negotiate.

Trump hasn’t acted like the wall was an emergency through his first two years in office.  It’s an emergency now because the likes of Limbaugh and Coulter are calling him a phony for failing to act.  Since he can’t get his way with Congress,  calling the building of a wall an emergency may be his only way to escape the box he has placed himself in.

The matter would likely head straight to the courts, the government could be reopened and Trump can tell Rush and Anne and his base in general he really tried.

We don’t need a southern wall.  Trump needs one to quiet his critical supporters.  The Democrats are right to refuse to succumb, for the wall makes no sense.

Here are a few of facts from government sources that undermine his arguments for a wall:

1)  The overwhelming quantity of drugs come across the border at points of entry not through the wilderness that Trump wants to fence off.  Better search methods are needed, not a fence.

2)   Despite Trump’s claim of thousands of terrorist suspects coming across the southern border, federal government reports suggest it was more like six in the first half of 2018.  Yes, six.  Forty-some came across the northern border that nobody talks about.   Should we build a wall there, too?  And first?

3)  Most foreign terrorist suspects come into the country legally and then just overstay their visas.

4)  Since 9/11, the large majority of terrorists attacks in the U. S. have come from home grown types who have become radicalized not from foreigners infiltrating our borders.

Certainly we could use better border security, not to mention a more humane way of treating  the large increase of those simply seeking political asylum, but Trump’s wall seems to address none of these issues.  It is a fake answer to our real border problems, not only a wasted effort but one that distracts from real needs to be addressed.

The five billion or so dollars he is demanding to start the wall is really, just a start.  Estimates from 40 to 80 billion or more have been made for the total cost.  So, this fake answer to a phony problem is also going to cost us a fortune.

By the way, I watched a clip of Trump at the border being given a briefing by border security.  The officer was showing slides of a tunnel they recently discovered under a section of the wall already built.  Trump just sat there nodding as if unaware the border agent had just provided one more tunnel undermining his argument for a wall.

No matter to him.  It is all a Trump fabrication to shore up his base with a false solution to a mischaracterized problem.

 

 

We Must Hammer Away at Trump’s Alternate Reality

Trump and his minions shoot blobs of B. S. (distortions of truth in various ways) up in the air like a string of clay ducks in never ending rapid fashion.  The main stream press does a good job of shooting many down, but does not handle well the problem of how they keep popping up like zombies.

Trump’s plan is based on continually lying until voters get totally bamboozled and don’t bother to listen to anyone, except for those fanatics who think of Trump as the lone purveyor of the truth.

How ironic, one of history’s great snake oil salesmen as the one guy to be trusted.

The press can’t keep shooting the same ducks down as more and more keep popping up and there is only so much time for them to report.   In short we are facing a unique problem:   A strategy  based on an overwhelming effusion of B. S. repeated until reified as an alternative reality can overpower the truth when a society ceases to believe there is such a thing in the realm of politics.

This is scary.

What I think is needed is a concentration on which of Trump’s multitude of falsehoods need to be smashed again and again, because they form the key pillars of Trump’s false reality. To allow them to stand is to allow him to keep building upon them.   A good example is the notion that despite his obsequiousness before Putin in that press conference at Helsinki, Trump’s policies have actually been tough on Putin’s Russia.

Few Republicans defend that mealy mouthed performance in Helsinki, but they often are quick to point out that his policies have been tough even if his words have not.

Most often cited are the sanctions on Russia…… as if they prove Trump’s toughness in terms of policies.   This is a great example of how something can seem on the surface to be true, but is not.  Many of these sanctions have been applied, not because of Trump but despite him.   He deserves no credit for them.

Here is a thumbnail sketch that links sources that can give you a more complete picture if you want one.

Back in June of 2017  the Chicago Tribune reported the Senate ” voted overwhelmingly on sanctions  including restricting Trump administrations from altering them”, in other words weaken them.  Obviously, almost the entire Senate did not trust Trump to be tough on Russia.  Then that August the entire Congress passed a bill mandating sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea.

The Trump administration dragged their heels at enacting these sanctions until January of this year.  They finally enacted some of the sanctions, but not others as reported in Politico.

Finally in May the Washington Post reported:   “The top Senate Democrats on the Foreign Relations, Intelligence and Banking committees asked the inspectors general of three federal agencies Friday to launch formal probes into why President Trump has not fully implemented congressionally mandated sanctions against Russia.”  Yes, still the ones passed last August in Congress and some since then.

And Trump supporters want to give him credit for these sanctions?   Yes, these sanctions were enacted while he was president, but he deserves no credit for them.  Just the reverse.  They are more evidence of Trump’s tendency to go soft on Russia.  One Trump supporter, obviously grasping at straws in a TV interview, gave Trump credit because he did not veto the sanctions.

The interviewer should have pointed out to that nebbish that vetoing the measure would make Trump look silly as Congress was almost totally united on the issue.  It took Trump to unite them for once…. against him.

My hope here is to make the case that the political media must refuse to allow fabrications like Trump’s toughness with Russia to remain standing while they move on to other topics in their interviews.   And we can help by pointing out such things to the media we attend to.

Some key untruths must not be allowed to stand as we approach the fall elections and this is one of them.