Category Archives: national news

Halfway through Trump term; just think, two more years of this!

Good ever-lovin’ grief, it seems like a lifetime or three.

Exactly two years ago, Donald John Trump Sr. took the oath of office to become the 45th president of the United States.

He swore to protect and defend the Constitution, then launched into a dark, foreboding and grim inaugural speech that contained only one memorable line: “This American carnage stops right here and right now.”

He had pledged to unify the country. He pledged to “make America great again.” How has he done at the halfway point? By my account, not well . . . at all!

You see, part of the federal government is shut down. Why? Because Donald Trump wants to build a wall along our southern border. Democrats don’t want to do that. They insist on bolstering border security through other means.

In short, the two sides are miles apart! Unity, anyone? It ain’t happening! Not by a long shot.

One of Trump’s Republican primary opponents in 2016, Jeb Bush, called it correctly: Trump would bring “chaos” to the White House. Yep, the president has delivered on that prediction.

Of course, the legions of Trump’s base of supporters say he’s doing better than just fine. They say he’s restored American primacy on the world stage. How they justify that is utterly beyond me, but they stand by that absurd notion.

He has pulled the United States out of a North American trade agreement, the deal to block Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, the Paris climate accord, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He has blustered and bullied our NATO allies, kowtowed in front of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, professed a goofy “love affair” with North Korean despot Kim Jong Un, and then denigrated our country’s intelligence network that has determined that Russia interfered with our 2016 presidential election.

Yep, but he’s winning, bigly. He says. I would laugh if I wasn’t so damn scared of what occurred when this guy took office two years ago. We’re halfway through this individual’s term.

I do hope it’ll be four years and out. Better yet would be for the president to leave beforehand. That eventuality, of course, has yet to be determined.

POTUS moving ball slowly toward compromise

I’ve been rolling Donald J. Trump’s latest gambit on this government shutdown nonsense around in my noggin.

Here is what I’ve come up with: The president seems to be inching ever so slowly toward compromise with congressional Democrats who do not want to build The Wall along our southern border.

I don’t want The Wall built either. Or whatever form it takes: slats, chain-link fence, steel wall, concrete. None of it sounds appealing to me as an American who hates The Wall but who supports the notion of enhancing border security.

Trump, though, has pitched an enticing notion: He is willing to grant illegal immigrants who came here as children a three-year “amnesty” that enables them to start walking down a “path to citizenship.” We call ’em Dreamers. They came here when their parents entered the nation illegally. They formerly were protected under a program called Deferred Action for Children Arrivals, or DACA. Trump rescinded that Barack Obama-issued executive order.

Now he’s budging a good bit on giving DACA recipients a break.

That is progress. It’s not enough to suit Democrats. Interestingly, the president also has pi**** off hardliners on his far right who don’t want DACA recipients to get a break, even though they did nothing wrong on their own to get here; many thousands of them have grown into adulthood knowing only life as de facto Americans. They have become productive residents of the United States. Many of them have excelled scholastically and have contributed greatly to life in the Land of Opportunity.

So . . . what now?

I would hope those on the left and the right would seek a way to understand that Trump has begun moving the ball just a little bit.

It’s an effort to end this shutdown, which has thrust 800,000 Americans into the ranks of the unpaid and unemployed. They need relief. They need to get back to work.

This shutdown, precipitated by Donald Trump’s silly boast that he would be willing to take the heat for the consequences, needs to end. If a three-year reprieve for DACA recipients can end this stalemate, then I am all in.

Impeachment due? Maybe, but not just yet

The talk around D.C. is heating up, that Donald J. Trump’s impeachment is becoming more of a fait accompli with each revelation.

Allow me this plea just one more time: The U.S. House of Representatives must wait for Robert Mueller’s report to be finished, for it to be released, and for Congress and the public to have enough time to digest its contents.

The special counsel reportedly is in the final stages of his exhaustive investigation into whether the president’s campaign “colluded” with Russians who attacked our electoral system.

But now comes this, from Buzzfeed News. It is that Trump’s former lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen has said that the president instructed him to lie to Congress about a meeting involving the development of a Trump Tower complex in Moscow. If the president issued such an order, critics suggest, that right there constitutes an obstruction of justice — which happened to be one of the charges leveled against President Clinton when the House impeached him in 1999.

Mueller’s office has issued a denial of part of what Buzzfeed reported, which is that Mueller had compiled corroborating evidence to back up what Buzzfeed reported.

The word now is that House Democrats might be feeling pressure to launch impeachment proceedings now instead of waiting for the special counsel to finish his work.

They would be mistaken . . . bigly!

Mueller’s report is going to tell Americans far more than they know about the probe and about what Donald Trump might or might not have done while being elected president of the United States in 2016.

I happen to be willing to wait for Mueller to let us know what he has before urging anyone to impeach the president.

Americans have invested a lot in this investigation already. It has cost many millions of dollars in public money. Accordingly, I want it released as fully as possible to the public. If it is released, we’ll get to know the truth.

If the truth suggests an impeachment is inevitable, then fire up the machinery. Not before we know the truth.

Chris Christie tells is like it is?

I suppose you could surmise that former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is still angry at getting canned as Donald Trump’s presidential transition boss.

Christie once campaigned against Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, saying some mighty unkind things about the eventual GOP nominee along the way. Then once Trump vanquished him, he lined up behind the nominee. He worked hard for his election. Then the president-elect asked him to lead the transition into the Oval Office.

Oops! Then the newly elected president replaced him with Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

Christie now has written a book titled “Let Me Finish” in which he says that Trump has surrounded himself with “amateurs” and “grifters” and “weaklings” and “convicted and unconvicted felons.”

Wow, man!

But wait! Didn’t Trump tell us he would hire only the “best people” who, as he does, know the “best words”? Gov. Christie doesn’t think that’s the case.

He writes that the people Trump has hired have “set loose toxic forces that may have made Trump’s presidency far less effective than it otherwise would have been. If this tragedy is ever going to be reversed, it is vital that everyone know exactly how it occurred.”

Well, so much for political alliances.

Trump lobs a grenade back at Pelosi

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted to lead a congressional delegation to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan. It was supposed to be secret, in keeping with standard policy regarding official trips into a war zone.

Then the president of the United States, Donald Trump, pulled the plug on the trip. As commander in chief, he has the power to ground military aircraft for these congressional trips. So he did.

Then he released a letter to the public disclosing that Pelosi was going to Afghanistan, which flies directly in the face of normal protocol. The Pentagon, Congress and the White House don’t reveal in advance about trips into these combat zones.

As former Secretary of State John Kerry said via Twitter: The President of the United States just compared visiting our troops in a war zone to a “public relations event.” Another sad day for our nation when that’s how the Commander in Chief sees such a visit.

Kerry is correct to suggest that such trips aren’t just a “public relations event.” The speaker of the House, as the No.2-ranking official in line of presidential succession, reportedly was going to Afghanistan to speak to those troops, to tell them their country stands with them. It’s not just PR. It’s part of what members of Congress — as well as the president and Cabinet officials — do as part of their jobs.

Trump is trying to get Pelosi and other congressional leaders to negotiate an end to the partial government shutdown.

This back and forth is driving me batty. I want the shutdown ended, too. The men and women who have been furloughed and denied their income are suffering needlessly.

Pelosi wants Trump to delay his scheduled State of the Union speech. So what does Trump do in response? He blows the speaker’s cover by grounding a military jet that would have taken her potentially into harm’s way.

I’ve heard a term to describe this rhetorical exchange.

Sophomoric.

Is pressure mounting for POTUS to cave on shutdown?

Sitting as I am out here in the middle of Trump Country, I am in no position to state with absolute knowledge about what happens in Washington, D.C.

Still, I cannot stop thinking that pressure may be building to some sort of spontaneous combustion concerning this partial government shutdown.

Eight hundred thousand federal employees are without paychecks. They are starting to rumble. They are demonstrating. They are demanding action by the president and Congress. The speaker of the House has pulled back her invitation to the president to deliver his State of the Union speech in the House of Representatives, citing security concerns created by the government shutdown.

The president has ordered some federal employees back to work, but without pay! That order well might be unlawful, which could prompt yet another lawsuit against the president.

Donald Trump wants to build The Wall along our southern border. He wants to spend about $5.7 billion for The Wall. Congressional Democrats are resisting him. Trump said he would take responsibility for shutting down the government; then it happened, but now Trump is blaming Democrats for the shutdown.

It’s not going well for Donald Trump. There might be some weakening of his position, even though he’s still talking tough.

The government needs to reopen. Those hundreds of thousands of employees need their income restored. Yes, we need to negotiate some form of enhanced border security.

Is there a semblance of humanity and common sense to be found anywhere in Washington? If so, then it needs to present itself, the government needs to return to full functionality and both sides need to actually talk to each other about how they can find some common ground.

That is how you govern.

The Woman of the House shows her mettle

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has laid it on the line to the president of the United States.

Donald Trump is no longer invited to speak before the U.S. House of Representatives to deliver his State of the Union speech.

She wrote the president a note telling him of her concerns over “security,” given the government shutdown and how the furloughing of critical security personnel makes it impossible for Congress to protect the president, the vice president, the full congressional membership, the Supreme Court, the Cabinet, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the diplomatic corps.

So, her message to the president? Deliver the SOTU speech in writing, as other presidents have done. That’s if he is wedded to the Jan. 29 date scheduled for his in-person, live TV speech.

Pelosi wants the government reopened fully before the president speaks to a joint congressional session.

Thus, she is demonstrating — as if the president needed any proof of it — that she is the Woman of the House and that Donald Trump has met his match.

William Barr: Trump’s newest ‘grownup’

William Pelham Barr has emerged — in my mind, at least — as Donald Trump’s latest “only grownup” in his administration.

Now that former Defense Secretary James Mattis has exited the Trump administration, it now falls on the attorney general-designate to assume the role of grownup.

Based on what I have heard during two days of testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr might be ready to step into that key role.

Barr would take over a Justice Department that supervises the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is examining whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign “colluded” with Russians who interfered in our 2016 election.

Barr has hit several pitches out of the park. He vows to let Mueller complete his probe without interference; he pledges that he would not follow an unlawful order from the president; he stands by Mueller — with whom he has been friends for 30 years — as man of impeccable integrity; he says Mueller is not engaged in a “witch hunt”; he says he won’t be “bullied” by the president of the United States.

OK, with all that said, Barr did whiff on at least one pitch from the Senate Judiciary Committee. He won’t mess with laws governing whether a president can be indicted. Nor did he promise to make the Mueller report public, which I believe is imperative, given the public expense of the investigation.

In the grand scheme, I believe Barr should be recommended for confirmation by the Judiciary panel and the full Senate should confirm him. He won’t get the unanimous confirmation he got when he served as AG during the George H.W. Bush administration from 1991 to 1993. It’s a different era now. A different type of president has taken office and he has upset almost every single element of what we used to call “normal” in American politics.

Trump fired Jeff Sessions as AG only because Sessions recused himself from the Russia matter. Sessions did what he had to do under DOJ rules of ethics. There could no way for him to lead an investigation into a presidential campaign in which he played a key role as a national security adviser. So he backed out, enraging Trump.

Barr promises he won’t be bullied by the president. I hope he stands firm on that. He no doubt knows what he is getting into by accepting this job as attorney general.

Which to my mind makes him a serious grownup in an administration that is sorely lacking in them.

Let’s await Mueller report — and accept whatever it reveals

I have spent a lot of time, energy and emotional capital expounding on the virtues of special counsel Robert Mueller.

He’s a man of impeccable integrity. He is a meticulous prosecutor. Mueller once led the FBI. He has served under Republican and Democratic administrations. He is a former Marine and Vietnam War combat veteran.

Those of you who read this blog understand my feelings about Mueller.

That all said, I want to gird us all for the possibility — even though it might seem remote — that when Mueller finishes his investigation into alleged “collusion” between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and Russian operatives — he might come up empty. Mueller’s report might prove to be a serious anti-climax.

I fully intend to accept whatever conclusion Mueller reaches.

Do I want him to come up empty? No. I do not. I believe he has pored through a mountain of evidence of wrong-doing. There might be an absence of criminal activity. There even might be a lack of evidence that the president has committed an impeachable offense.

The way I look at it, if we’re going to stand by the special counsel’s integrity and his character, then we should stand by him even if he doesn’t deliver what many of us think he might — let alone should — deliver to curious Americans.

To be sure, Donald Trump’s supporters already have slung epithets at Mueller. Led by the president himself, they contend he is on a “witch hunt.” That he has surrounded himself with “Hillary-loving Democrats.” That he has found “no evidence of collusion.” Therefore, it appears that if Mueller does produce a damning report that they will shout “rigged!” and “phony hoax!” from the highest rooftops they can find.

I am hoping that those of us on the other side will refrain from that kind of sour-grape bitching if Mueller produces nothing at the end of this investigation.

To that end, I hereby declare my intention to accept whatever Mueller concludes, even if it fails to satisfy what I had hoped would be a different ending. If we believe that Robert Mueller is a stand-up man, then we need to stand by that belief.

SOTU delay might serve Trump’s best interests

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made a perfectly reasonable offer to Donald J. Trump: The president should delay his State of the Union speech until after the federal government reopens fully.

No word yet on whether the president will accept Pelosi’s request.

Why is it in Trump’s best interest?

Consider the following:

Democrats and Republicans are locked in a death match over The Wall. Trump wants it built. Democrats oppose it. The deadlock has produced the partial government shutdown that Trump once said he would be “proud” to own. The State of the Union speech is designed to give the president to declare whether the Union’s strength is strong, weak or somewhere in between.

Trump surely is inclined to declare that the SOTU is “strong.” Were he to do so, he would become the butt of jokes throughout the nation, if not the world.

Accordingly, perhaps the speaker has Trump’s best interests at heart by requesting a delay. I don’t know, obviously, what fueled the request. If you think about it, though, I find it a way out of the president exposing himself to national or international ridicule.

The speaker’s letter to the president talks about security concerns related to the shutdown. That’s legit, too.

The back story might lie more as a PR move. There’s no requirement that Trump deliver his SOTU speech on Jan. 29 as planned. He could do so in writing, as Pelosi has suggested.

He might do well to take Pelosi’s offer. Put the speech off until he can report that the State of the Union is in better shape than it is at the moment.

Check out Pelosi’s letterĀ here.