Category Archives: national news

Trump’s belittling of brass simply stinks beyond belief

The history of Donald Trump’s pre-business history is well-known.

He sought to avoid service in the military during the height of the Vietnam War. He received dubious medical deferments citing bone spurs or some such ailment that kept him out of being eligible for military service.

He went into business. Made a lot of money. Lost a lot of money. Had mixed success as a business mogul. Then he went into politics. He ran for president of the United States. He won!

So for this current president to dress down men who have served their country honorably, in combat, thrust themselves into harm’s way is insulting, degrading and astonishingly unpatriotic.

Two reporters for the Washington Post, Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, have written a book that tells just how disgraceful Trump’s conduct has gotten with regard to the military high command. An excerpt from that book tells of a meeting in a Pentagon room called The Tank. The brass sought to explain the nuts and bolts of military matters to the commander in chief. He was having none of it.

He called the generals “babies and dopes.” He has told them they are “losers” and said he wouldn’t “go into battle” with them.

I am trying imagine, were I one of those decorated combat veterans, hearing such denigration coming from the commander in chief. The entire world knows this man’s history. We all know that, when he had the opportunity to serve his country, he chose another path.

Don’t misunderstand me on this score. I do not begrudge a president who’s never worn the nation’s military uniform. Two recent presidents did not serve: Barack Obama or Bill Clinton. Neither did Franklin Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson, both of whom led this country through two world wars.

What is so objectionable is the snarky attitude this president demonstrates to individuals who have done what he sought to avoid doing. That he would speak to these patriots in such a manner is disgraceful on its face.

POTUS turns salute to football champs into a campaign event

Donald John Trump, the current president of the United States, just cannot help himself.

The Louisiana State University Tigers showed up at the White House ostensibly to receive a salute from Trump for the Tigers winning the college football championship. Hey, LSU whipped Clemson by a score of 42-25.

So, Trump invited them to the White House, per the customary reception given to sports champs.

What does the president do? He turns the event into a campaign event. He yapped and yammered about the impeachment, saying that despite the great economy they want to “impeach the son of a bi***.”

Yep, that’s the language that flew out of the mouth — at the White House — of the evangelical Christian movement’s favorite politician. He makes me so (not) proud of the president.

He blathered some more about how he has supposedly rebuilt the military, brought justice to terrorist leaders.

This is what we get when we have an impeached president who also is running for re-election. Indeed, this also is what we get when we have a president who cannot separate his own political fortunes from events — such as a ceremony to salute a college football team — that have nothing to do with those political fortunes.

Donald Trump clearly is obsessed with this impeachment trial. He also is obsessed — to the nth degree — with his political standing. Trump takes every opportunity he can find to further buttress his status.

Even when such politicking has no place in an unrelated event.

Weird.

Trump ignorance begets more … ignorance

(Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

They sought to educate the president of the United States on matters they deemed essential to him being able to do his job, which is to protect the citizens of the country he was elected to lead.

They included then-Defense Secretary James Mattis, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and then National Economic Council director Gary Cohn.

The Washington Post has reported a stunning story about how these men ran into a verbal firestorm generated by Donald Trump, who appeared alternately disinterested, bored and downright put off by what they were telling him.

The story is lengthy. It is worth your time to read. Take a look at it here.

The Post has performed a remarkable service to those who have an interest in the way this president conducts policy. He relies on no one with any gravitas. Indeed, James Mattis — a retired Marine Corps general who is revered by the men and women who served under his command — was arguably the lone superstar in Trump’s initial Cabinet. He then resigned over basic and fundamental differences with the president’s handling of military matters.

Trump was having none of what Mattis, Tillerson and Cohn sought to tell him. Remember, too, that Tillerson once referred to Trump as a “fu**ing moron,” and never once denied saying it when the media pressed him on reports of his outburst against the president.

This story spells out how Trump has dismissed our allies, cozied up to dictators, ignored the advice he has received from those with actual experience in important policy matters.

I guess little of what the Post is reporting should be a surprise. Trump did tell us during the 2016 campaign that he knows “more about ISIS than the generals. Believe me.” Well, actually, he doesn’t. He knows nothing about anything regarding government.

If only the upcoming Senate trial could remove him. It likely won’t. We are left, therefore, to rely on the wisdom of the voters later this year who’ll get the chance to cast their ballots for a president who doesn’t call the military’s top brass “a bunch of dopes and babies.”

ERA is dead? ‘Not hardly’

I have been thinking about a recurring line in the western film “Big Jake,” starring the late John Wayne.

Whenever Jake would encounter someone from his past, the other guy would say, “I thought you were dead,” to which Jake would reply, “not hardly.”

So it is with the Equal Rights Amendment. I thought the ERA was dead. Well, as Big Jake would say, “not hardly.”

Virginia’s legislature this week became the 38th — and ostensibly final — state to ratify the ERA, which found its way out of Congress in 1971. It was thought to be a cinch for ratification. Except that opposition rose against it from conservative activists, led by the late Phyllis Schlafly. The ERA was written to provide “equal rights” to everyone regardless of their gender. I happen to endorse the ERA, which I did when I first heard of it way back when.

The Texas Legislature voted to ratify the ERA in 1972, which makes me happy. Five states have voted to rescind their ratification votes. The amendment needs 38 states to ratify it for it to become a part of the Constitution.

Now, does this mean the ERA becomes the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? Well, no.

Some groups suggest that time ran out, even though the Constitution does not specify any time limits for amendments that go to the states for ratification. They suggest that the ERA has not survived a sort of statute of limitations.

My own hope is that the current political climate, punctuated by the #MeToo movement and the growing intolerance of the way powerful men treat women, will breathe new life into the ERA.

The Equal Rights Amendment should have become part of the Constitution long ago. It’s not too late to do the right thing for more than half of our nation’s population.

Ex-WH ethics guru calls McConnell a ‘perjurer’

Well now, that didn’t take long.

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts told all 100 U.S. senators Thursday to raise their right hands and swear under oath to conduct “impartial justice” in the trial of Donald John Trump, president of the United States.

One of senators to swear to follow that oath is Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Except, wait! He’s said many times already that he has no intention of being impartial. McConnell said he will take his cue from Trump’s legal team.

Just hours after taking the oath, former White House ethics lawyer, Richard Painter, who served President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, accused McConnell of committing an act of perjury.

Painter went on Twitter to say McConnell has contradicted himself. “This man just swore an oath saying the exact opposite,” Painter said in a tweet. “This man is a perjurer.”

Well now. Isn’t that a crime punishable with a jail sentence?

To be fair, there are a number of senators on both sides of the aisle whose statements need careful examination. However, I believe I have seen statements only by two prominent Republicans — McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham — that have declared that the senators have made up their minds. Other senators are trying to cover their rear ends by saying they intend to listen to all arguments before making up their minds.

McConnell needs to recuse himself from this proceeding. If he cannot abide by the oath he just took, then he has no business presiding over a Senate that is going to put the president of the United States on trial.

Waiting for a POTUS who can act — and look — like one

(AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

I don’t have too much to say with this brief blog post, other than to call your attention to this picture of the current president of the United States.

Donald John Trump was speaking earlier this week to a political rally crowd in Milwaukee. I don’t know what in the world he was talking about when the photographer snapped this picture of him. I’ll take a guess and suggest he might have been in the midst of one of those idiotic riffs into which he launches. He might have been seeking at this moment to put words into a critic’s mouth. You know how that goes, right?

I am longing for a return to a time when we could expect our president to comport himself — or herself — with dignity. Donald Trump purports to be in his element when he stands before a friendly crowd and behaves in the manner that he does.

That behavior so very often — too often, in fact — produces images such as this. They are flashed around the world. They draw laughter from those who, like me, expect much better from the leader of the world’s most indispensable nation.

Oh … my. This guy has got to go.

SCOTUS chief to get his feet wet at the highest level imaginable

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts is a serious man who takes his responsibility as seriously as is humanly possible. Of that I have not a single, solitary doubt.

However, I heard something tonight that made my jaw drop. It was that Chief Justice Roberts, who today took an oath to preside over a U.S. Senate trial of the Donald John Trump, has never tried a case in court.

Yep, this will be the first trial over which he will preside.

President Bush appointed Roberts to the D.C. Court of Appeals in 2003. An appellate court doesn’t hear witness testimony; it doesn’t rule on court objections. It hears lawyers argue their cases. Then the court decides which side wins the argument.

After that, Roberts got the nod in 2005 to become chief justice of the nation’s highest court. He does more of the same thing he did at the lower-court level.

Prior to the D.C. court appointment, Roberts worked in private practice, then went to work for the attorney general’s office during the time William French Smith was AG during the Reagan administration.

Trial court experience? None, man. Now he’s been dragged into the role of presiding judge in the U.S. Senate, where he will be charged with keeping order. He’ll get to rule on whether witnesses will be called, although the Senate can overturn whatever ruling he issues.

Still, it is mind-boggling to think that the chief justice’s first actual trial involves a case involving whether the president of the United States keeps his job.

I am certain the chief justice is up to the challenge that awaits him.

Wow!

GAO and Parnas add to Trump saga? Not likely

Under normal circumstances that involve a “normal” president of the United States, one would think that the emergence of a key witness and a government report suggesting law-breaking would be a deal breaker, that they would ring the death knell on an embattled presidency.

This isn’t normal. None of it is normal.

Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-born associate of Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, has come forth with information that says Trump was in the whole matter involving the issues that resulted in Trump’s impeachment. Oh, and now we hear from the General Accounting Office that Trump broke the law while withholding military aid from Ukraine while shaking down that government for a personal political favor.

The Senate trial officially commenced today amid pomp and circumstance.  Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts took his oath and sat in the Senate’s presiding officer chair and then administered the oath to the 100 senators who will conduct a trial of Donald Trump.

The GAO watchdog report says categorically that the Office of Management and Budget violated federal policy by withholding military aid that Congress had appropriated. OMB was acting on orders from Donald Trump. Therefore, Trump broke the law!

That, as has been said, is a “big fu****g deal.”

Oh, and Parnas? He has revealed that, yep, he and Trump know each other. He contradicts Trump’s assertion that he doesn’t know Parnas. And who is this guy? He is a friend of Giuliani and has been part of the inner circle involved in the effort to get Ukraine to announce plans to investigate Joe Biden’s involvement in his son Hunter’s work with an Ukrainian energy company.

Parnas also has contended that Trump’s concern about “corruption” only centered on Joe and Hunter Biden and that the president had no interest in corruption, per se, as an issue worth tackling.

My head is swirling. Will any of this matter to Republicans who comprise most of the senators who will decide whether Trump stays in office? Probably not.

Therein lies the extreme frustration that is likely to consume many of us watching this trial unfold from afar.

McConnell exhibits stunning lack of self-awareness

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Of all the statements, assertions, pronouncements and declarations I keep hearing while we watch this impeachment drama unfold, I keep circling back to what keeps coming out of the mouth of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The Kentucky Republican keeps hurling “partisan political” accusations at his Democratic colleagues in the Senate and in the House of Representatives. When I hear him accuse House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of acting as a purely partisan politician, I find myself thinking: Dude, do you not remember your own political history? 

Of course he does!

I harken back to the Mother of All Partisan Acts when in early 2016 he declared that President Obama would not be able to select someone to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly that year; Obama sought to nominate Merrick Garland to succeed him; McConnell put the brakes on it, declaring that the president’s nominee would not get a Senate hearing in an election year.

Democrats were rightfully outraged. It was an act of supreme partisanship, just as he has continued to exhibit his partisan bona fides during the run-up to the Senate impeachment trial that has commenced.

Speaking of that … for the Senate majority leader to accuse anyone else of partisan game-playing is akin to getting a lecture on marital fidelity from, oh, you know who.

Managers set, let the trial commence

Here we go. The Donald Trump impeachment trial managers have been named. The House of Representatives has sent the articles of impeachment to the Senate. The managers at this moment are likely scurrying in an effort to come up with a prosecution strategy.

And the White House legal team no doubt is scurrying, too, to concoct a defense strategy to counter what I believe is a mountain of evidence to suggest that the president deserves to be removed from office.

But I am not among the 100 senators who’ll make that decision. Trump is likely to survive the trial, which is supposed to begin next Tuesday.

Man, it is going to be some kind of spectacle.

This is serious stuff, folks. It’s only the third time a president has been put on trial. Donald Trump now gets to join Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton among the roster of presidents who are forever identified as “impeached.” Presidents Johnson and Clinton both survived their trials. So will Trump, or so it appears at this moment.

If I could have had a hand in selecting the managers, my preference would have been to include the lone now-former Republican member of the House to vote to impeach Trump. Rep. Justin Amash, the libertarian-leaning conservative who represents the same Michigan congressional district that once sent Gerald R. Ford to Congress, should have been included on that team of managers.

But, he’s not among the managers.

You may count me as one American who is anxious for this trial to conclude. The Senate’s Republican majority is dug in. They won’t convict Trump unless something so compelling comes forward in the next few weeks that they cannot stand by their man.

The way I see it, though, Trump already has done enough to merit his removal. He solicited a foreign government for political help and he has blocked Congress from doing its oversight duties. Abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Got it?

The trial will be done in fairly short order. Then we can get on with the task of removing this guy from the White House the old-fashioned way: at the ballot box in November.