Category Archives: national news

NFL tells players to stand … or else

Freedom of speech and political expression has just been dealt an improper blow to the gut by the National Football League.

To be candid, this story makes my gut churn. The NFL, though, has made the wrong decision to restrict the manner in which its players can express themselves politically.

It began a couple of seasons ago when a player decided to kneel during the national anthem prior to the start of a game. Former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick wanted to protest the treatment of African-Americans by police.

At one level, I wish the young man had decided to stand during the anthem. His decision to “take a knee,” though, didn’t bother me greatly. I understand why he decided to do that.

But a presidential candidate, Donald Trump, decided to make a major issue out of it. Then the candidate was elected president in 2016 and he kept up the drumbeat. He called protesting NFL players “sons of bit****” who should be “fired.”

This week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said players henceforth will stand when they play the anthem. They are free to stay in the locker room, but while they are on the field, they will stand.

Trump won one, yes? I guess so.

I want to stipulate something here. The nation’s founding was based on its honoring of peaceful dissent. Its very governing document, the Constitution, guarantees citizens the right to protest.

NFL players who “take a knee” are exercising their right to protest. I have heard the argument that as employees of professional football team owners, they are obligated to behave the way their bosses dictate.

Yes, but they are performing on a public stage, subsidized by the public that pays top dollar to watch them play a game. As a social media acquaintance of mine noted recently, these men aren’t “indentured servants.” They are highly paid professional athletes, some of whom choose to make a political statement.

They do so peacefully. And to my way of thinking, their kneeling doesn’t disrespect the nation in the least. It honors the basis for the nation’s very founding.

‘Probably’ shouldn’t say Spygate? C’mon, Sen. Graham

Lindsey Graham can do better than this.

The South Carolina Republican U.S. senator says that Donald Trump “probably shouldn’t” use the term “Spygate” to level an accusation that the FBI planted someone inside his presidential campaign for political purposes.

Actually, Trump is defaming the FBI yet again by making an assertion without the hint of evidence that what he is saying is true.

Trump most clearly shouldn’t use such language to describe what the FBI might have done, which is to probe questions that arose during the 2016 campaign that Russians were meddling in our election and trying to turn the tables in Trump’s favor.

Rather than welcome an FBI investigation into that allegation, Trump has decided to declare political war against the law enforcement agency and leaders at the top of the Department of Justice.

He is seeking to discredit the special counsel’s probe. He has launched a scorched-Earth campaign against the FBI. He has introduced the term “spy” to describe the FBI’s effort to get to the bottom of the Russia meddling caper.

Graham offered radio host Hugh Hewitt a milquetoast response to the question about the Trump’s reckless language: “I don’t know. Probably not, but I don’t know,” he said. “I didn’t go to the meeting. I don’t think it’s — I don’t think he’s a spy. And I don’t know who this person was.”

Trump’s continuing campaign against the FBI is a disgrace.

Was there spying going on? Maybe, but not for politics

Donald J. Trump has accused someone in the FBI of “spying” on his 2016 presidential campaign for “political purposes.”

Now we hear from the former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, who all but confirms a portion of what Trump has alleged.

Except that Clapper says that if the FBI got wind of Russian meddling in our presidential election, then it was duty bound to find out if the reports had any veracity.

The FBI was doing its job, if that’s what occurred.

Trump has offered no evidence of politicking. No surprise there. The president has become the master of innuendo, diversion and destruction. He wants to subvert and dismantle special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian meddling issue.

He calls it a “witch hunt” and says he didn’t do anything wrong. So, his strategy is to discredit the work of a highly respected career prosecutor who once led the FBI under two administrations, one Republican and one Democratic.

This is getting weird, man.

It’s the intent that matters

James Clapper is the expert on national security and matters relating to deep-cover operations.

I am not.

Still, I want to take issue with an assertion that the former director of national intelligence has said about the Russian meddling in our 2016 presidential election. Clapper has said the Russians actually tilted the election in Donald John Trump’s favor; he said their attack on our electoral process was decisive that Trump essentially is an illegitimate president.

I have trouble buying into that assumption.

Clapper says the Russians targeted three states that Trump won over Hillary Clinton: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Trump won those states by a grand total of 77,000 votes; their electoral vote count put him over the top and, thus, he was elected president.

My own view — albeit from afar — is that Clinton’s last-minute strategy backfired. She didn’t visit Wisconsin after being nominated by the Democrats. She paid only cursory attention to Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Having said that, I want to make an assertion of my own, which is that the Russians’ intention to swing the election toward Trump is grievous enough on its own.

Clapper is far from alone in his belief that the Russians actually meddled, that they attacked our electoral system. Every national security chieftain on board now or who was aboard during the 2016 election have said the same thing. Even the president’s own team has acknowledged as much; and I include the current secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, who was CIA director when he told a congressional committee that he had no doubt the Russians meddled.

Trump’s response has been shameful in its negligence. He continues to spread the blame around to others who “might” have interfered. He fails to acknowledge publicly that Russian strongman/president Vladimir Putin was involved, which is another assertion that the intelligence committee has made.

James Clapper, a retired Air Force general, is an intelligence professional. He brings strong credibility to any argument about the integrity of the 2016 election. I am just unwilling to buy totally into the idea that Russian meddling actually turned the tide in Trump’s favor.

What matters as much — if not more — is that they intended to sow discord and mistrust in our electoral process.

The Russians have succeeded.

If only the president would acknowledge it, too.

Spygate? Clever, Mr. POTUS

Good grief, Mr. President.

You now have done what every cheap-seat pundit does when a controversy begins to rise to the level of a serious constitutional crisis, one that actually happened and toppled a sitting president of the United States.

You’ve attached the “gate” suffix to something that has yet to be determined to have any legs at all.

“Spygate” might go nowhere, Mr. President. In fact, it looks to me as though you have concocted something out of nothing.

Mr. President, you accuse the FBI of planting a “spy” in your 2016 presidential campaign. You imply that the FBI acted on the direction of someone within the Barack Obama administration. You offer the usual “I hope it’s not the case,” but then you say that if it’s true, we have the biggest scandal in this country since Watergate.

Holy crap, Mr. President! Why don’t you leave the “gate” reference out of it? Watergate stands on its own as the worst of the worst scandals. You might not recall these events, sir, but President Nixon’s coverup of the original crime — a so-called “third rate burglary” — was what did him in. I’ll accept that you weren’t all that interested in politics and public policy at that time; you were just coming out of college and preparing to parlay your father’s stake into a billion-dollar enterprise.

Do I need to remind you, Mr. President, that you haven’t yet produced a shred of evidence that someone “spied” on your campaign for “political purposes.”

And for crying out loud, if you’re so damn concerned about the integrity of the 2016 presidential election, why don’t you give at least a nod to the nation’s network of actual spies and intelligence experts that the Russians attacked our electoral process?

Now you’re calling it “spygate.” Give me a break.

Trump wages war on wrong foe

While the Russians are attacking our nation’s electoral process and the media report on it, who does the president of the United States declare to be the “enemy of the American people”?

The media. The folks who are doing their job. The individuals and their organizations that take their mission seriously.

A cable news network today ran a compilation of the various times Donald J. Trump disparaged the media. He calls reporters “dishonest,” he assails them for fomenting “fake news,” he said journalists don’t love their country.

The president’s scorched-Earth policy against the media has continued at a breakneck pace ever since he took office. You’ll recall how former White House press secretary Sean Spicer conducted his first press briefing by excoriating the media for way they reported on the size of the inaugural crowd that heard Donald J. Trump paint a grim picture of the nation he was elected to lead.

It’s been going downhill ever since.

For the ever-lovin’ life of me I cannot understand the president’s fixation with demonizing the media. All forms of media gave this clown a pass time and time again during the initial stages of his presidential campaign. Much of the media was complicit in allowing Trump to continue to lie through his teeth. They didn’t call him out.

Now that the media have awakened to the kind of man he always has been — a self-aggrandizing narcissist — they have done their job.

Trump’s response? He has launched a full-scale frontal assault on the organizations that almost all of his predecessors have recognized as being vital to the good health of a representative democracy.

The media aren’t the “enemy of the American people.” The real enemy — apart from the Russians who meddled in our election — is the president who seeks to discredit them.

How will history judge this presidency?

Is it too early to begin thinking about how history is going to judge Donald J. Trump’s term as president?

I think not.

We’re well into the second year of Trump’s time in office. I am beginning to ponder how history might end up categorizing this most unconventional, chaotic, tumult-filled presidency.

Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace during the Watergate scandal; Gerald Ford restored a sense of decency in government; Jimmy Carter was bedeviled by the Iran hostage crisis; Ronald Reagan is remembered for restoring the nation’s sense of confidence; the Cold War ended on George H.W. Bush’s watch; Bill Clinton got impeached and he oversaw tremendous economic growth and the balancing of the federal budget; George W. Bush took us to war against terror after 9/11 and endured a financial collapse that rivaled the Great Depression; Barack Obama helped rescue the economy and ordered the death of the 9/11 mastermind, Osama bin Laden.

Trump’s time in office?

I have begun looking back on it and I keep coming up with a course that hasn’t yet been charted.

He took office in January 2017, delivering a grim and foreboding inaugural speech and then ratcheted up his war against the media. He has described reporters as the “enemy of the American people.”

He uses “fake news” to disparage anyone who reports anything negative about him. He has burned through several Cabinet secretaries and key White House advisers.

Trump awakens  every day and fires off tweets attacking anyone who sits in his crosshairs.

The president is facing a serious shellacking in the midterm election coming up later this year. Democrats might retake the U.S. House; the Senate is within reach, too. Then it might really, really rocky for the president as he sets up a re-election campaign for 2020.

He signed a tax cut into law. He has tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He pulled us out of a deal that seeks to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Trump yanked the United States out of a climate accord signed by virtually every other nation on Earth.

Through all of this, the president refuses to acknowledge what intelligence officials have said already, that the Russians meddled in our 2016 election and has declared war against the FBI and the Department of Justice.

What a legacy — so far. I am quite certain we’ll have a whole lot more drama in store as this presidency heads toward the next election.

Stay tuned.

Where’s the outrage from the right?

Let’s flash back for just a moment.

In 2016, former President Bill Clinton encountered Attorney General Loretta Lynch on an airport tarmac. Clinton boarded Lynch’s airplane and supposedly talked about this and that, grandkids and assorted family matters. Clinton said they didn’t discuss anything pertaining to the e-mail matter; Lynch confirmed Clinton’s account of the encounter.

The Justice Department at the time was investigating the ex-president’s wife and her use of a personal e-mail server while she was secretary of state. Oh, yes! Hillary Rodham Clinton also was running for president.

The right wing became unglued. Clinton sought to influence an on-going investigation, Republican operatives howled.

Should the ex-president have boarded the AG’s plane? No. The optics of it looked bad and President Clinton should have known better.

But then …

Just this week, a Republican politician, Donald J. Trump, “demanded” that DOJ investigate and investigation into Russian meddling in our 2016 election. He has leveled an accusation that the FBI spied on his campaign for “political purposes.”

So, the question is this: Where is the outrage over a sitting president interfering in an active Department of Justice investigation?

Trump’s demand seeks to undermine the DOJ, the FBI and the probe being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in our electoral process.

No outrage? No calls for yet another probe?

Weird.

‘Lying machine’? Really, Mr. POTUS?

A friend and former boss of mine used to be fond of ridiculing statements that come out of the mouths of public officials.

Thus, the comment that Donald John Trump tossed at former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper  brings my good friend to mind.

Trump calls Clapper a “lying machine.”

To quote my friend: To hear Donald Trump call anyone a “lying machine” is like hearing Xaviera “The Happy Hooker” Hollander accuse someone of being a whore.

This individual is totally, utterly and categorically without shame.

Why the lengthy delay on leveling this charge?

Maybe it’s just me, but a question has popped into my noggin that I want to ask out loud.

If Donald J. Trump suspected in real time that the Barack Obama administration was spying on his 2016 presidential campaign, why didn’t he blow the whistle while he was campaigning for the presidency?

He didn’t. He waited until just the other day to allege that the FBI launched a surveillance on his campaign for “political purposes.”

Do I believe what the president has alleged? Umm. No. I don’t.

He has done this before. He has leveled accusations with zero evidence to back up what he has alleged.

He has said: President Obama ordered wiretaps on the Trump offices in New York; millions of illegal immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016; he had proof that Barack Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii, as he has said.

Fake news, anyone? Anyone?

Trump had better be able to produce the goods on this surveillance accusation. If not, well, then we have yet another serious problem pertaining to the president’s credibility that, to my estimation, is mortally wounded as it is.