Category Archives: national news

And then there’s the 25th Amendment

The United States of America functioned for nearly two centuries before it ratified a constitutional amendment dealing with presidential succession and the appointment of a vice president.

The 25th Amendment was ratified in February 1967. It came in reaction to the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. The new president, Lyndon Johnson, served the remainder of JFK’s term without a vice president. LBJ got elected in 1964 and Hubert Humphrey joined the administration as vice president. President Truman took office in April 1945 after Franklin Roosevelt died just a month into his fourth term; Truman served nearly a full term, therefore, without a vice president.

The amendment has been used exactly once. Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in 1973 and President Nixon appointed House Minority Leader Gerald Ford to become vice president. The new VP then settled into the Oval Office Big Chair when Nixon resigned in August 1974.

I mention this today because the 25th Amendment is getting some attention these days. It allows for a temporary replacement of the president if a majority of the Cabinet determines he is unable to continue doing his presidential duties.

Donald John Trump is in trouble. A special counsel is examining whether his campaign colluded with Russian hackers seeking to meddle in our 2016 election. There might be some issues relating to Trump’s myriad business holdings, too. Oh, and then the president declares that “both sides” were at fault in the Charlottesville riot, causing a serious rift between the White House and members of Congress of both political parties.

There have been some questions about the president state of mind, his ability to actually govern and, yes, his mental competence.

I’m not qualified to offer a psychological diagnosis, let alone from half a continent away. So I won’t go there.

The 25th Amendment is meant to ensure the executive branch continues to function even in these difficult times. Just how difficult will they become? I guess that depends on how the president responds to the mounting pressure.

I keep hearing about how angry he is getting. He’s been cutting people loose all over the place: national security adviser, gone; press secretary, gone; communications director, gone; chief of staff, gone; FBI director, gone; senior strategist, gone.

Trump popped off about neo-Nazis and Klansmen. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have effectively rebuked the commander in chief, although not by name. Congressional leaders are starting to weigh in. There might be some diehard Trumpkins among them, but the vast majority of public response has been highly critical.

Republican leaders are aghast. Never mind what Democrats think; it’s a given that they detest the president already.

In the meantime, the 25th Amendment looms as a serious talking point among the chattering class in Washington, D.C. Don’t for a single moment believe that the president is ignoring the chatter.

‘Six Flags’ now all look alike

How about this?

Six Flags Over Texas, the noted theme park in Arlington, has made a fascinating decision about the flags it flies.

The Charlottesville riot and the blowback over symbols of the Confederate States of America has moved Six Flags to replace the various flags with just one: Old Glory.

Six Flags over Texas has removed the various colors it flew. The flags represented France, Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Stars and Stripes and, yes, the Confederate States of America.

Now all six banners will be the United States national flag, the Old Red, White and Blue.

The outrage over Donald Trump’s comments about the riot, the notion that “both sides” were responsible for the violence that erupted, has prompted this change at the Six Flags theme park. The protest turned into a riot when counter protesters challenged Ku Klux Klansmen, white supremacists and neo-Nazis who had gathered to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public park. A young woman was killed during the riot when she was run over by a motor vehicle allegedly driven by a young man with neo-Nazi sympathies.

Six Flags spokespeople say the park has sought to display flags that illustrate “unity.” Given the harsh response to what transpired in Charlottesville, the park has decided that unity should be displayed in the form of Old Glory.

Which begs another fascinating question: How about the flags that fly during the musical “Texas”? The Texas Panhandle plays host every summer to the acclaimed musical “Texas” at Palo Duro Canyon. The show concludes with horsemen and women riding across the set carrying the “Six Flags” that represented the governments of Texas. One of them is, you guessed it, of the Confederacy.

Will the “Texas” producers follow the lead provided by Six Flags Over Texas? I salute Six Flags for demonstrating remarkable sensitivity to the national mood.

And do I sense a name change at the theme park is in the making?

Trump has riled a grieving mother

My memory at times lets me down, but I am pretty sure that in my lifetime I haven’t heard of anything quite like this.

The mother of a young victim of racial violence has declared her intention to refuse a call from the president of the United States of America when he gets around to making it.

Susan Bro’s daughter, Heather Heyer, was mowed down by someone driving a car into a crowd of counter protesters this past weekend in Charlottesville, Va. Heyer was among those protesting a demonstration by hate groups — Ku Klux Klansmen, neo-Nazis and white supremacists; the haters were protesting the taking down of a Confederate statue.

The young man arrested and charged with killing Heyer is known to have pro-Nazi, white supremacists views. Donald John Trump then took the floor at Trump Tower to say that “both sides” were equally to blame for the violence that erupted in Charlottesville.

That was too much for Bro. “I have not, and now I will not,” Bro said Friday when asked whether she had spoken with Trump. “You can’t wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying I’m sorry. I’m not forgiving for that.”

Amazing, yes?

There was more to Trump’s statement that enraged Bro. The president said there were “many fine people … on both sides” taking part in the demonstration. Fine people? Did he actually mean to suggest that those who march with neo-bleeping-Nazis are “fine people”?

The president has messed with a grieving mother. He once again exhibited his utter cluelessness about the weight of his words.

Bannon is gone; POTUS remains

Before we all cheer ourselves hoarse over the departure of far-right provocateur Stephen Bannon from the White House, I’d like to offer a not-so-subtle reminder.

Donald John Trump Sr. is still the president of the United States.

Make no mistake: I am delighted to see Bannon shown the door. Chief of staff John Kelly stepped up and did his job with authority and a bit of panache.

However, as we’ve all been reminded so painfully for the entire length of the Trump administration, the president calls the shots; everything happens or doesn’t happen because of the Man in the Oval Office.

Gen. Kelly is able to whip the White House staff into shape. He cannot whip the Big Man into similar shape. He cannot persuade Trump to control his Twitter impulse. He cannot get the president to keep his mouth shut when he meets with reporters, which was astonishingly evident this week in that jaw-dropping press encounter at Trump Tower.

Bannon’s “alt-right” point of view is gone from the White House. Does any of this mean that the West Wing’s newfound professionalism is going to find its way to the Oval Office? Does it mean that the president will start cracking the books and start learning about the executive branch of government over which he now presides? Does it mean he’s going to actually read the U.S. Constitution and come to grips with what it says about how governing is a team sport, with Congress and the courts also playing a role?

You know the likely answer to all of that. It ain’t likely to happen. None of it. We’ll still have an out-of-control president who has managed to alienate himself from damn near every key player on Capitol Hill.

Oh, and remember? This is just Day 211 of Donald J. Trump’s term as president.

Bannon shown the White House door

I am being tangled up by competing impulses with the news that Stephen K. Bannon has been kicked out of the White House.

The senior political strategist for Donald John Trump is out. They’re calling it a “mutual agreement” between Bannon and White House chief of staff John Kelly. That’s clearly code for Kelly kicking Bannon squarely in the a**.

Bannon, the former editor of Breitbart News and a far-right provocateur, had no business serving among the president’s closest circle of advisers. He’s a scary dude. He detests what he calls “globalism.” Breitbart has become infamous for publishing commentary that is decidedly racist and anti-Semitic. For a time, Bannon had a seat at the National Security Council table.

To that end, the president did himself no favors — except with his hard-core base of supporters — by having Bannon sitting nearby and offering advice.

Accordingly, I’m glad he’s gone.

Bye, bye Steve.

I’m not proud of the other impulse, which is a desire to continue to watch the president continue to struggle. The new chief of staff has made a tangible impact on the White House operation. I once stated my desire to see Trump “succeed” because abject failure as president doesn’t bode well for a nation that needs stability within the White House machinery.

Trump’s definition of “success,” though, doesn’t comport with what I would like to see for the nation. I oppose the president’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord, his rolling back of U.S. environmental regulations and the decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership; those issues have Bannon’s fingerprints on them.

Where this all goes is now anyone’s guess.

Bannon is now free to speak his mind. Inquiring minds are going to press the former chief strategist to reveal what he knows about what’s really going on inside the West Wing.

The drama continues. So does the chaos.

Nice try, Mitt; don’t wait for an apology

Mitt Romney gave it a shot.

The  Republican Party presidential nominee wants the current president to say he’s sorry for the despicable comments he has made about the Charlottesville riot. It amazes me, to be candid, that anyone would even think Donald John Trump is capable of apologizing.

I’ll give Romney credit for at least putting his request out there on the record.

As a matter of fact, I think I should say that given what the country has endured since the election of the current Republican president, the immediate past GOP presidential nominee is looking better all the time.

CNBC reported: “Regardless of whether he intended it, Trump’s words ’caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn,’ the former Republican presidential nominee and Massachusetts governor wrote in a Facebook post. Romney called on the president to apologize for his remarks.”

Again, from CNBC: “‘He should address the American people, acknowledge that he was wrong, apologize,’ Romney wrote. ‘State forcefully and unequivocally that racists are 100% to blame for the murder and violence in Charlottesville. Testify that there is no conceivable comparison or moral equivalency between the Nazis — who brutally murdered millions of Jews and who hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives to defeat — and the counter-protestors who were outraged to see fools parading the Nazi flag, Nazi armband and Nazi salute.'”

Here is the CNBC story.

There’s one serious drawback to Romney’s plea: It requires the president to feel a sense of shame. To feel shame, one must possess humility. One also must possess a conscience and a certain ability to look inward.

I keep waiting for some evidence of any of that from the president. I cannot find it. It’s nowhere to be seen in public. The man is without shame, conscience, humility or introspection. Didn’t he once say he never had sought forgiveness? For anything? Ever in his life?

An apology is a form of asking to be forgiven. Does anyone — even Mitt Romney — believe now is the time we’re going to hear such a thing from Donald Trump?

Thanks nevertheless for making the demand, Mitt.

President seeks to inflame emotions even more

I am about to embark on a futile and pointless mission, which is to try to talk some sense into the president of the United States of America.

Donald John Trump Sr. is planning a “campaign-style” rally in Phoenix, Ariz., next week. The city’s mayor has implored the president to forgo the visit.

The “why?” is simple. National tensions have hit a fever pitch. We’re still reeling over the Charlottesville riot and the death of young Heather Heyer and two Virginia state troopers. Klansmen, neo-Nazis and white supremacists gathered to launch a protest; counter protesters met them. They clashed and all hell broke loose.

The president then proceeded to absolutely demolish his moral authority on damn near anything by declaring that “both sides” were at fault and in the process virtually equated the racist, bigoted hate mongers with those who opposed them.

So now Trump wants to stage another rally out west? He wants to tell his adoring — but shrinking — cadre of supporters about all the good things that have occurred since he became president?

Memo to POTUS: There stands a very real chance, sir, that your rally is going to provoke more violence. It might go badly for everyone concerned.

Then there’s this: We’re hearing talk about the president possibly pardoning former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has been convicted of violating the civil rights of illegal immigrants he had arrested. “Sheriff Joe” has become a darling of the anti-immigration movement, given his tough talk and actions.

I merely would implore the president to resist the temptation to pour even more fuel onto that already-burning blaze.

OK. I’ve stated my piece. I know it won’t matter one damn bit to the president or to his supporters who read this blog. However, I feel better having gotten it out there.

Now, let’s hope for the best — which would be for the president to skip this rally. Hey, maybe Ivanka can talk some sense into Dad’s thick, orange skull.

Before we start throwing dirt on Trump …

I am about to depress some readers of this blog; other readers might take heart in what I am about to say.

Before we start writing Donald John Trump Sr.’s political obituary, I feel compelled to remind us all — even those of us who oppose this man’s presidency — that this guy is the consummate political survivor.

How many “last straws” has this clown managed to pick up and toss aside? Sen. John McCain is a “war hero only because he was captured”; the mocking of a New York Times reporter’s physical handicap; the disparaging of a Gold Star family; the “Access Hollywood” recording of Trump boasting of grabbing women by their … whatever; the constant lying.

He’s now in trouble — supposedly — because of remarks he has made about white supremacists and neo-Nazis. He’s been applauded by ex-KKK grand lizard David Duke. His statements about the Charlottesville riot have been appalling in the extreme. Republicans are turning their back on the president.

Does any of this produce a death knell for this man’s presidency?

Any one or all of the aforementioned hideous examples should have derailed his ride to the White House. They didn’t. His base hung with him. He got elected.

Trump has made an absolute mess of his high office. And oh yes, he has that “Russia thing” under investigation by a dogged, meticulous special prosecutor.

Do not, though, think he’s a goner. At least not just yet.

There. Now I just depressed myself. Damn!

Ah, yes, more ‘fake news’ from POTUS

Mr. President, you have put forth yet another lie.

Doggone it, sir! I cannot let this one go.

You keep attaching the pejorative term “fake news” to the media and your political foes, but you have turned fake news into an art form.

The terror attack in Spain prompted another careless, reckless response from you, sir. Let me remind you of what you tweeted: Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!

Did you say at that hideous press event the other day that you like to “get the facts straight” before you make a statement? Yeah, you did.

The tweet about Gen. Pershing, Mr. President, is a lie. You defamed the memory of one of our great national heroes all in the name of making some sort of stupid and ridiculous point about the nature of the terror attack that killed at least 13 people in Spain.

That fake story you told during the campaign about Gen. Pershing dipping bullets in pig’s blood and then shooting Islamic prisoners to death is a lie. It didn’t happen. So, you told the lie once again today. You put out fake news. You are a habitual, pathological liar. You, Mr. President, disgrace the office to which you were elected.

You not only defamed Gen. Pershing with that hideous story, you accused him of committing a horrific war crime.

I’ll attach how the National Review reported what you said, in case you haven’t seen it. It’s not often that I agree with the National Review, but we’re on the same page on this one, Mr. President. They can’t stomach you as president; neither can I. Nor can the hefty plurality of Americans who voted for Hillary in the 2016 election.

You keep demonstrating time and time again your total unfitness for high political office.

Fake news? You keep blathering that line at any opportunity.

Well, I got my fill of your so-called “fake news” long ago. The Barack Obama birth issue; the Muslims supposedly cheering the fall of the Twin Towers on 9/11; the “millions” of illegal immigrants voting for Hillary; your insistence on voter fraud throughout the nation.

They’re all lies. They’re all “fake news.”

You should be ashamed of yourself. Except that shame requires a conscience. You are sorely lacking in both.

Sen. Corker: POTUS lacks ‘competence’ to lead

Bob Corker has just delivered a seriously sharp rebuke to Donald John Trump Sr.

Why is it important that such a rebuke comes from Corker?

He’s a Republican U.S. senator; he hails from Tennessee, one of the states that seceded from the Union in 1861; he is ostensibly allied with the president on most public policy issues.

The backdrop for Corker’s rebuke gives his statement plenty of gravitas.

The president weighed in on that terrible Charlottesville tragedy over the weekend. He has, in effect, taken up with the white supremacists who provoked the riot that killed a young woman who was among the counter protesters who battled with hate groups that were protesting the taking down of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

The nation is being swallowed up by the controversy that has ensued. Democrats, understandably, have been outraged by Trump’s remarks. Many Republicans have spoken out against racial or religious intolerance. Few of them in Congress have singled out the president and ascribed specific blame to him for inflaming the nation’s emotions in the wake of the Charlottesville tragedy.

Corker, though, has laid it out there.

“The President has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to be successful,” Corker said in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Welcome aboard, Sen. Corker. Many millions of Americans have been saying those very things — and a lot more — about the president. Many of us even said so while he was campaigning for the presidency. A few folks predicted he would govern like a maniac.

Count me as one who now believes that Trump is worse than I feared he would be. I was hoping he might be able to grow into the job of president.

Corker did use the phrase “not yet been able” when discussing Trump’s performance. The word “yet” suggests Corker believes — or hopes — the president will figure it out. I have little faith of that occurring.

Still, Sen. Corker’s rebuke is strong. It also is important.