Category Archives: 2016 election

POTUS launches re-election bid with … a return to old gripes

That was some re-election relaunch by the president of the United States.

Donald Trump ventured to Orlando, Fla., to launch his bid officially for a second term in the White House. Did he unveil any grand new proposals? Did he provide a vision for the future? Did he tell us where he wants to lead the country?

Umm. That would no on all three counts.

Indeed, he managed to spend about 90 seconds crowing about an economy he has called the best in the nation’s history.

Then he returned to plenty of familiar turf. He brought up Hillary Clinton’s name dozens of times; yes, that Hillary Clinton, the Democrat he defeated in the 2016 presidential election.

He ripped into the “Democrat Party,” saying it wants to destroy the nation “as we know it.”

Let’s not forget the “fake news” media, the journalists he calls the “enemy of the people.” They received presidential broadsides as well from the lecturn in Orlando.

There you go. The president is seemingly set to rely on the same themes that got him elected in the first place in his quest for a second term in the White House.

There will be more name-calling, more insults, more invective, more gloom and doom, more baseless boasting, more lies, more self-aggrandizement.

Who is the president’s audience? It’s his base, the 41 or so percent of Americans who hang on his every misstatement, every lie. They don’t care that he doesn’t know how to behave in public. They give him a pass on the insults he has hurled at a reporter with a serious physical disability, or his admitted groping of women, or the hush money he paid to a porn star with whom he had a fling some years ago.

He is “making America great again.” How is he doing that? I guess the insults he hurls at allies is one way.

Good grief! This is the man who wants another four years in the nation’s highest and most venerated public office?

Give me strength.

I’ll leave it to Jeff Greenfield, the veteran broadcast journalist and commentator who’s seen a few of these re-election speeches over the years. Take it away, sir.

Read Greenfield’s take here.

Greenfield concludes with this: And if you were looking for a single grace note, a single appeal to the better angels of our nature, a single note of humility, a single note of simple ordinary decency … well, just go to YouTube and spend a few minutes with Ronald Reagan.

I believe I will do that.

Mueller: Russian attack a clear threat to the U.S.

Robert S. Mueller III made his point this morning with crystal clarity the moment he took his place behind the Justice Department podium.

The Russian attack on our electoral system in 2016 presented a clear and present threat to our government, indeed our way of life.

That is how the former special counsel set up his remarks today in which he declared that his investigation into the Russian attack on our system is officially over.

Mueller didn’t say much more that many of us didn’t already know.

However, he did declare in no uncertain terms that the Russians did what many millions of us have known. They launched a “concerted attack” on our electoral system. They intended to “damage a presidential candidate.” That candidate was not the guy who won the election.

Yet the winning 2016 candidate keeps resisting the notion that Russian interference occurred.

I am going to side with Mueller on this one. He is the former FBI director chosen to lead the investigation into the Russian attack. Mueller is known to be a man of high integrity. His team conducted itself with integrity as well as it sought the truth behind the 2016 election.

Where do we go from here? It all depends on Congress. Mueller made that point, too. While saying he won’t talk to Congress, he did say that Congress has the authority — and the responsibility — to seek remedies to what Mueller said occurred.

Mueller has concluded that Trump has obstructed justice. He reminded us yet again that he could not indict the president, saying that DOJ policy prohibited what he said would be an “unconstitutional act.”

I accept that.

I also endorse wholeheartedly the notion that Russian government goons launched an attack on our electoral system. They sought to help Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election.

The attack ought to be a major concern for “every American,” as Mueller said today.

Every American. That means you, too, Mr. President.

Nothing ‘illegal’ about 25th Amendment

Former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe has gotten the nation’s attention.

“60 Minutes” interviewed McCabe; the program aired Sunday night. McCabe revealed that immediately after Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey, a senior Justice Department official — Rod Rosenstein — tossed out the notion of invoking the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This is the one that allows for the removal of a president if a majority of the Cabinet deems him unable to perform the duties of his office.

What was Donald Trump’s response to McCabe’s allegation? He called it “illegal”; he said McCabe was “treasonous’; he called McCabe a “disgrace” to the FBI and to the country.

Sheesh, already!

Let’s back up for just a moment.

Trump fired Comey over “the Russia thing”; Trump said so himself in a 2017 interview on NBC. The “Russia thing” is the investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russians who interfered in our 2016 election.

He later said Comey’s firing was greeted with praise from within the FBI ranks. McCabe said Sunday that is false. He said Comey was highly respected by his staff, by field agents and everyone who knew him at the FBI.

As for the “illegality” of what McCabe said was discussed, there is nothing illegal about invoking an amendment to the nation’s governing document. A majority of Congress sent the amendment to the states; it was ratified in February 1967. It’s all legal!

There is some dispute over whether deputy AG Rosenstein actually proposed such a move.

However, the president is popping off with utter ignorance once again about the legality of an actual constitutional amendment.

Central Command not consulted? Well, what’s new?

I guess none of us should be surprised to hear this bit of news from near the very top of the U.S. military chain of command.

Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commanding officer of the nation’s Central Command — which has authority over deployment of personnel in the Middle East — told Congress that Donald Trump didn’t consult with him before announcing his decision to withdraw our forces from Syria.

The president, though, did declare the Islamic State to be “defeated badly,” which was his seat-of-the-pants justification for leaving Syria and turning the fight over to . . . Syrian resistance forces.

The non-surprise comes in the form of those idiotic 2016 presidential campaign boasts that Trump made. He told us he was the smartest man in human history, that he knew the “best words,” had the “best mind,” would surround himself with the “best people” and, here’s my favorite, how he knows “more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.”

Trump knows all

The tragedy of it is that the Republican presidential candidate persuaded just enough voters living in just the right states to score an Electoral College victory to be elected the 45th president of the United States.

So he now gets to govern without consulting the “best people” who ought to include Gen. Votel, a combat Army veteran with vast knowledge of the Islamic State and the threat it still poses in the region and around the world.

According to Time.com: When Trump announced his decision to pullout on Dec. 19, it sent shock waves through Washington and the rest of the world. “Our boys, our young women, our men, they’re all coming back and they’re coming back now. We won.” 

But did we? ISIS has claimed responsibility for terror attacks after the announcement, suggesting to many of us that the Sunni Muslim terror outfit isn’t “defeated.”

However, Donald Trump is wired to be all-knowing all the time, or so he would have us believe.

Except that I don’t believe a single word that flies out of his mouth.

Signs point one way, but do not take a thing for granted

I am getting ready to call it a day.

I’ll wake up Tuesday, eat some breakfast and then my wife and I will head to our polling place in Collin County, Texas, to cast our votes in this vital midterm election.

The polls say Democrats are going to capture the U.S. House of Representatives; they rate the Senate as a tossup, but Republicans holding a possible slight edge.

The president of the United States is campaigning on behalf of GOP candidates as if he, Donald Trump, is on the ballot. He’s tossing out insults, innuendo, he is slashing and burning as only he can, he is hurling epithets. His campaign has taken a racist turn, causing networks — Fox and NBC — to pull ads off the air.

Early vote totals are skyrocketing beyond the atmosphere. They reportedly bode well for Democrats.

Is this a Democratic election year? Maybe.

Then again, let us remember something. It’s important to keep this in mind: 2016 was supposed to be the year Democrats kept the White House; they nominated a superior candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton; Republicans nominated a reality TV personality and hotel developer, Trump.

Trump won the election. He managed to toss damn near every single bit of political conventional wisdom into the crapper.

I don’t want him to score another upset Tuesday. I want Democrats to hand the man’s, um, personal parts to him. I just am not yet willing to accept the polls’ summary on the eve of this election.

I will cheer if they are correct. If not, well, I won’t be cheering.

Let’s check in Tuesday night.

Hypocrisy rules the day in Kavanaugh fight

Hypocrisy is king in Washington, D.C.

Not the truth. Not nobility. Not high ideals or soaring rhetoric.

It’s hypocrisy that rules. It has cemented its vise-grip on U.S. politics and government. The Brett Kavanaugh battle is over and the judge is now Justice Kavanaugh, the ninth member of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Who is the Hypocrite in Chief? I’ll hand that dubious honor to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

You’ve read on this blog already my distaste for the hypocrisy exhibited by Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal — who once lied about serving in the Vietnam War — and his lecturing of Kavanaugh about whether lying about one thing means he lies about all things.

The Hypocrite in Chief (dis)honor goes to McConnell because of the ramrod job he pulled in shoving Kavanaugh’s nomination through. And then he blames Senate Democrats for “obstructing” the process and for “playing politics” with this nomination.

McConnell wrote the book on obstruction in early 2016 upon the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The justice died in Texas and McConnell immediately declared that President Barack Obama would not fill the vacancy created by Scalia’s death. Obama went ahead with his nominating process, selecting U.S. District Judge Merrick Garland to succeed Scalia.

Garland didn’t get a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He didn’t get the courtesy of meeting with Republican senators privately. McConnell said that the president was not entitled to replace Scalia during an election year. He gambled that a Republican would win the 2016 election and then would be able to nominate someone of his choosing.

McConnell’s cynical gamble paid off. Donald Trump won. He nominated Neil Gorsuch to the high court. The Senate confirmed him.

And all the while McConnell tossed out “obstruction” epithets at Senate Democrats who were rightfully steamed that a Democratic president had been denied the right to fulfill his own constitutional duties in seeking to fill a Supreme Court seat.

Then came the Kavanaugh nomination. McConnell greased it to allow Kavanaugh to be confirmed after a perfunctory secondary FBI investigation that — big surprise! — turned up no corroboration to the allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a young woman in the early 1980s.

The obstructionist named McConnell then had the temerity to hammer at Senate Democrats for their own resistance to Kavanaugh’s nomination.

So … take a bow, Hypocrite in Chief Mitch McConnell.

Manafort holds one of the keys to Trump survival

Let’s concede Norm Eisen’s partisan leaning: He served as ethics chief for President Barack H. Obama.

So, when he predicts that Donald J. Trump “won’t survive” whatever his former campaign chairman tells special counsel Robert Mueller, it is good to take it with a bit of a grain of salt.

However … the man might know something the rest of us don’t know.

Will the president survive?

Manafort has agreed to cooperate with Mueller after pleading guilty to two felony counts; he’s already been convicted of eight felony charges and faces a lengthy prison term.

Manafort is near the top of the Trump campaign’s chain of command. There ain’t much room between him and the very top 00 which would be Donald Trump.

Manafort is reportedly planning to talk — if he hasn’t already — to Mueller’s legal eagles who are trying to determine whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Mueller’s probe is a wide-ranging — but totally legal and appropriate — examination of this troublesome issue.

He’s already reeled in some big fish. He’s gotten guilty pleas and has persuaded some big campaign hitters to cooperate with his probe.

Manafort clearly is the biggest fish to date.

Sure, the White House says it has “nothing to fear” from a Manafort guilty plea. You expect that kind of thing from the White House and from those associated with the president. They, too, are partisans.

Given my own bias, though, I’m going to go with Norm Eisen’s view that Trump might not “survive” whatever Manafort spills to Robert Mueller.

More voters means better government … always!

Barack H. Obama gave a speech today that touched on a subject I have tried to make over many years while I worked as a print journalist in Amarillo and Beaumont, Texas and back in my home state of Oregon.

I won’t presume to believe the 44th president of the United States got the idea directly from me. Nevertheless, I’ll take a bit of ownership of the idea he put forward.

He implored young people in his audience to “vote,” to take part in the political process if only just be ensuring that they cast their ballots. “Don’t think your vote doesn’t matter,” Obama said, noting that he he was able to win two presidential elections by narrowly carrying many voting precincts or congressional districts across the land.

I’m going to steer away from the partisan nature of what the former president said, concentrating instead on the bigger picture.

For decades I sought to boost voter turnout by imploring voters to follow this simple creed: Don’t let your neighbor — who might or not agree with your political leanings — decide who should represent you in government. I ran out of ways to say the same thing. Yes, I repeated myself. I’m likely doing so here … right now!

Texas remains one of the nation’s most miserable examples of representative democracy. Our voter turnout at every level — from the presidential level on down — habitually ranks at or near the bottom of all 50 states. Think of that: Texans protect the right to vote on many issues and for many candidates; yet when given the chance to vote, too many of us stay home.

The former president spoke a tremendous truth today to those students in Illinois. They need to take part. They need to become the solution to what they believe is wrong with our political system today. The simplest way to do so, in the former president’s words, is to exercise their right to vote. Cast a ballot, man!

So, thank you, Mr. President, for elevating my message to the national stage.

Get ready for a serious ‘witch hunt’

Donald John Trump has been calling a detailed investigation into possible collusion with Russian operatives seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election a “rigged witch hunt.”

Of course … special counsel Robert Mueller’s exhaustive and meticulous investigation is no such thing.

However, we might be getting ready to watch the real thing unfold. A serious witch hunt emanating from within the White House as an enraged president seeks to find the identity of the “senior White House official” who wrote an op-ed column published today in The New York Times.

Of course, I have no way of knowing this, but I strongly suspect that Trump has released the proverbial hounds to find the source of the essay. He or White House chief of staff John Kelly will confront everyone they can imagine who might have written such a thing; my money is on Kelly doing the heavy lift, given the president’s inability/unwillingness to confront someone directly.

However, I am quite sure we’re going to witness a serious “witch hunt” that seeks to reveal who has spoken a truth about the Trump administration that many of us have suspected all along.

Speaking of endorsements …

Here it comes. Donald Trump has announced his total support for Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. He’s planning a major campaign rally for the Cruz Missile, who is fighting for re-election against Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.

Then we have Twitter posts such as the one that appeared in February 2016, when Trump and Cruz were rivals for the GOP presidential nomination.

Cruz is “another all talk, no action pol,” Trump said at the time.

Now he is giving Cruz his blessing?

This is the kind of flip-flopping that gives politics a bad name. In my humble view.

Oh sure, Democrats do it, too. But you are welcome to spare me the “both-siderism” argument that emerges in these partisan political discussions.

We’re talking in this instance about a particular contest that now includes the president of the United States of America, the head of state, head of government, commander in chief, leader of the Free World … blah, blah, blah.

The public domain is full of this kind of thing that will require some explaining. I do not expect the president to come clean on whether he was speaking the truth then, or whether he has re-defined the truth to fit the moment.