Category Archives: national news

Founders didn’t get it perfectly right … but they came close

I feel this need to come to the defense of our Founding Fathers over the work they did to create a “more perfect Union.”

The very words of the document they crafted to form the framework of our government — “more perfect Union” — recognize that the founders knew they hadn’t reached perfection.

I’ll tell you this: They came pretty close to it.

Accordingly, I also believe the founders would be horrified at how the political winds are blowing these days and, for that matter, have blown for some time. They would disapprove mightily of a president who seeks to usurp legislative authority by blocking Congress’s oversight responsibilities. They would bristle at the influence being exerted on our national election by foreign powers and the president’s seeming acceptance of it.

The founders would not like one bit the introduction of religion into our political debate, the notion being argued by many that this is a “Christian nation,” and who are horrified at officeholders who swear an oath to defend the Constitution by placing their hand on a holy book other than the Bible.

Our founders knew of the circumstances that brought their ancestors to this land in the 17th and 18th centuries. They were fleeing religious persecution. They did not want their government telling them how to worship. So, the founders ensured that the Constitution they would write would state specifically that Congress shall make no law that establishes a state religion and that citizens were free to worship — or not worship — as they saw fit.

They wrote language into one of the articles that declared no office seeker should be held to a “religious test.”

Yes, the founders argued mightily as they crafted the Constitution over whether it should contain any reference to religion. The document refers to the “Creator” and officeholders swear to “God” to defend and protect the Constitution.

It is the secular nature of the Constitution, though, that protects us against the imposition of radical religious doctrine in our government — be it radical Christian, radical Muslim or radical anything.

The Constitution as it was ratified initially did have some serious flaws. It didn’t allow women to vote. It failed to outlaw the enslavement of human beings. It didn’t allow for the direct election of senators by citizens.

In the years since then, though, the descendants of those great men saw fit to improve the Constitution by fixing those egregious errors.

But the Constitution has held up over the course of 230 years. The separation of powers lined out in the document have kept the president in check. The Constitution has enabled Congress to rise up against abuses of power by the executive branch through impeachment. Indeed, we just might be on the verge of seeing yet another congressional uprising.

We have survived constitutional crises. We have done so because, as Gerald Rudolph Ford said upon ascending to the presidency in a time of monumental crisis that forced the resignation of his immediate predecessor, “Our Constitution works.”

Here comes the judge one more time … ugh!

Roy Moore isn’t your run-of-the-mill goofy politician.

He once served on the Alabama Supreme Court. The state judicial ethics commission removed from his chief justice chair because he violated the constitutional prohibition against promoting religion.

Then he got caught up in a series of accusations by women who alleged that he had sex with them when they were, um, underage girls. 

After being kicked off the bench, Moore sought a seat in the U.S. Senate. Donald Trump endorsed Moore’s GOP primary foe, the incumbent senator who had been appointed to the seat vacated when Jeff Sessions was named attorney general, but Moore won anyway. Trump then decided to back Moore, who then lost to Democratic U.S. Sen. Doug Jones.

Now the former judge is back in the hunt for the seat he lost. Here’s the rub: National Republicans want no part of Roy Moore. They are going to work overtime to defeat him in next year’s Alabama Republican primary.

My favorite comment on Moore’s candidacy, which he announced today, comes from GOP Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona, who said: “Give me a break. This place has enough creepy old men.”

Bingo, Sen. McSally.

Republicans reportedly after actively lobbying Sessions — whose seat Moore sought and then lost to Sen. Jones — to run again.

And that brings up a whole other bit of political comic relief. Donald Trump hired Sessions to be attorney general, then became enraged at the AG when he recused himself from investigating the “Russia thing” because of Sessions’ role in the 2016 presidential campaign and the transition after Trump got elected.

Who, then, does the president endorse if the GOP primary becomes a contest between a disgraced former judge and an accused sexual predator and the former senator who then got fired as AG by the very same president of the United States?

This ought to be fun to watch.

Sharia law? It is not possible in the U.S. of A.

This meme showed up on my Facebook timeline today and it compels me to write a brief rejoinder to what I consider to be the mother of red herrings.

Many Americans — too many of them, actually — seem to have this unnecessary fear of Sharia law. The picture attached to this blog post shows Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota taking her oath of office with a hand on the Quran, the Muslim holy book. The meme accuses Omar of committing an act of “treason” because the Quran recognizes “Sharia law.”

Let me be crystal clear: The U.S. Constitution is a secular document that prohibits the federal government from enacting laws that have their basis on religious faith. The Constitution doesn’t mention Christianity by name; it makes no mention of Jesus Christ; it doesn’t mention Islam; nor does it invoke the name of Mohammad.

It is a secular document!

Therefore, any attempt to invoke Sharia law — the ultraconservative doctrine to which a segment of Muslims adhere — is laughable on its face. Sharia law cannot possibly become part of any federal law enacted by Congress.

Furthermore, let’s get real on this point: Does anyone believe the current U.S. Supreme Court, with its current conservative majority, is going to reject any Sharia law-based complaint that finds its way to the highest court in the land?

The hatred of Muslims and of officeholders who adhere to Islam is far more troubling to me than any unfounded fear of Sharia law.

I also need to point out that Article VI in the Constitution states categorically that there shall be “no religious test” applied to anyone who seeks public office in the United States of America.

I know this post won’t stem the tide of mistrust and outright hatred of Muslims. I just needed to get off my chest this goofy notion that we need to cower in fear of the imposition of Sharia law into the lives of Americans.

The U.S. Constitution itself serves as an impenetrable shield against any such intrusion into the way this country governs itself.

Biden gets beaten up for … knowing how to legislate?

I am trying to come to grips with what Joe Biden said and how his comments are being received by some elements within the Democratic Party.

Let’s see … the former vice president said he was able during his Senate days and during his time as VP to work in a “civil” manner with people with whom he disagreed. He said that included segregationists within the Senate ranks, including Democrats such as James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia and Republican Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.

Why, that is just terrible, according to some progressives. They cannot understand how Biden — one of the huge number of Democrats running for president — can work with anyone who holds such despicable views.

They are demanding an apology from the former VP. Biden is having none of it. Nor should he.

The former vice president spent 30-plus years in the Senate. He learned the ropes of the body. He learned how to legislate, which required him — if he was to be an effective legislator — to work with all elements within the Senate. That included individuals who hold some nasty views.

As for whether it reveals a side of Biden that disqualifies him to be president, that he is a closet racist — which some of the critics have implied — I guess I feel the need to provide a two-word rejoinder.

Barack Obama.

Biden served as vice president for two terms alongside the nation’s first African-American president. It has been reported that the two men formed a friendship that is so tight and firm that the former president has referred to himself and his family as becoming “honorary Bidens.”

So, let’s stop with the nonsensical criticism of a career politician who merely was making a point about the need to work with all politicians of all factions — even those with despicable views.

It’s called legislating.

Could we have a 2016 election result repeat itself in 2020?

I was chatting with a friend this afternoon about the 2020 presidential election when a horrifying thought occurred to me.

It is that we well might see a repeat of the 2016 election in which the winner of the contest receives fewer votes than his foe but manages to win just enough Electoral College votes to be declared the winner.

Yep, I refer to Donald John Trump possibly being re-elected in that manner. Here’s what my friend and I didn’t discuss today: Trump and whoever he faces might have an even larger ballot differential than Trump had against Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Clinton garnered nearly 3 million more votes than Trump, but lost the election when the carnival barker corralled 304 electoral votes; he needed 270 to win.

Suppose for a minute that Trump is able to squeak out another Electoral College win in 2020. He could lose, say, Pennsylvania or Michigan or Wisconsin — maybe all three — and still eke out just enough electoral votes to win another four years in the White House. Trump won those Rust Belt states against Clinton, which was critical to his winning the presidency.

Such a result — the second consecutive such result and the third outcome in the past six presidential elections — could doom the Electoral College. That would produce the other poor consequence of an election result that might occur in November 2020.

However, a rising tide against the Electoral College would be a distant second to the notion of Donald Trump being re-elected.

I shudder at the thought.

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.

Where is the vetting, Mr. President?

Patrick Shanahan’s withdrawal from consideration to be defense secretary brings to the fore the issue of whether he was vetted properly before Donald Trump appointed him to be acting secretary of defense.

The president had said he wanted Shanahan to be confirmed for the permanent job … except that he had some serious, egregious baggage.

It turns out Shanahan was accused of beating the daylights out of his then-wife in 2010.

The media have reported in just recent hours about Shanahan’s history. It makes a lot of us wonder: Is there any vetting going on in the West Wing of the White House?

I have to wonder how in the world the president puts forth an individual who has something so grievous in his background. Does anyone within the White House personnel operation understand that these kinds of things cannot be kept secret? Not ever?

This isn’t the first incidence of senior officials being “outed” over instances of domestic abuse.

Anybody but Trump? How ’bout that?

Call this a serious kick in the gut.

Donald Trump is venturing to Orlando, Fla., tonight to inaugurate his 2020 re-election campaign. So, what does that community’s newspaper do? It published an editorial today that declared it would endorse “any Democrat” who runs against the Republican president next year.

Read the editorial here.

It’s good reading if you’re interested in understanding how a major media organization reaches its editorial conclusion.

The Orlando Sentinel remains a significant media presence in central Florida. “After 2 1/2 years, we’ve seen enough” of Trump to determine that he isn’t worthy of the newspaper’s endorsement for re-election.

The chaos, the lying, the “school yard insults,” the self-aggrandizement, the corruption are too much for the newspaper’s editorial board. “There’s no pretending” that there is a mystery whom the paper would recommend for its readers, it said. That’s why the Sentinel has declared its intention to recommend any Democrat who emerges from the crowded field of contenders.

It’s the lying that is consummate deal-breaker for the Sentinel, which writes: Trump’s successful assault on truth is the great casualty of this presidency, followed closely by his war on decency.

What’s more, according to the Sentinel: Trump has diminished our standing in the world. He reneges on deals, attacks allies and embraces enemies.

I know what’s going to happen tonight. Trump is likely to hold up the Sentinel’s rebuke as some sort of triumph over the “enemy of the people.” He will contend he doesn’t care what the newspaper’s editorial board believes about the disgraceful manner in which he has conducted himself. He will fill his own mind with the delusion that all is well with him, the country, the presidency and the world all because he arrived on the scene in 2016 to save us from ourselves.

I am one American who embraces the Orlando Sentinel’s decision to avoid pussyfooting around the conclusion it has reached: Donald Trump needs to go … away

Trump launches re-election bid? Wait … what’s he been doing?

So much about Donald Trump’s time as president has confounded and confused me.

The fascination of the hard right wing of the Republican Party to this clown; the policy pronouncements via Twitter; the revolving door in the West Wing of the White House; the insults, innuendo and invective he hurls at our international allies.

Now he says he’s going to “launch” his 2020 effort to be re-elected tonight.

Wait just a doggone minute! What has this guy been doing since the moment he took the oath of office in January 2017? To my way of thinking, he’s been running full bore for re-election during his entire term.

Now he is launching the “official” start of his effort? Someone needs to explain to me how that works.

He’s heading for Orlando, Fla., to speak to his admirers. They swoon and fawn over his idiotic pronouncements. They will guffaw and holler when he hurls insults at the large field of Democrats competing for the chance to run against him next year. We might even hear some “Lock her up!” chants if the president dredges up the email matter involving his 2016 presidential opponents, Hillary Rodham Clinton; and, without doubt, he is likely to lead the chant.

Well, I guess Trump’s official re-election effort will commence with more of what we’ve been hearing since the beginning of this clown’s tenure in office.

We have “only” 503 days until the next election. My dear mother used to counsel me to avoid wishing my life away. Still, I hope the time speeds by.

POTUS interview proved to be a ratings bust? Who knew?

I guess I was one of the few and the proud who decided to watch Donald Trump make an utter a** of himself on national TV. I’m glad I tuned in to the special ABC News “20/20” special with George Stephanopoulos.

Stephanopoulos obtained a 30-hour visit with Trump. He interviewed him at length over a wide range of topics. And, to no one’s surprise, the president managed to make a good bit of news.

  • He revealed he would “look at” intelligence that would come to him from a foreign source that might have “information” about a political opponent.
  •  Trump said he’s leading “everywhere” and disputed the polling data that indicates he is in serious trouble against about six of the Democrats running for president.
  •  The president revealed design plans he has drawn up for a newly reconstituted Air Force One jet.
  •  Trump said something about releasing his “financial records,” but said that decision rests solely with “the lawyers.” He said he wants the country to see the documents, calling them “fantastic.”

Trump keeps demonstrating that he doesn’t have a clue as to what he is doing in the nation’s highest office. I’m certain he lied dozens of times during the hour-long program.

He chastised Stephanopoulos, suggesting he is a purveyor of “fake news,” to which the ABC News anchor didn’t flinch, didn’t blink, didn’t take the bait.

I think my favorite part was when Trump talked down to Stephanopoulos, seeming to lecture him about “oppo research,” which is the material he would “look at” were it to come from a foreign source.

As if Stephanopoulos, a former Bill Clinton campaign and White House aide wouldn’t know what he’s talking about. Good grief!

I was a bit disheartened to hear that the ratings tanked on the “20/20” special. I found it edifying, although I doubt it changed any minds.

The Trumpsters no doubt cheered the president. The rest of us simply jeered him.