Tag Archives: 2016 election

Tax returns, Mr. President?

A Rhode Island state senator has pitched a fascinating idea that I hope becomes law. Indeed, her idea has already passed the state Senate. Where it goes next is anyone’s guess.

I fear that it won’t see the light of day.

Democrat Gayle Goldin authored a bill that would keep Donald J. Trump’s name off the 2020 ballot unless he releases his income tax returns, something he has so far refused to do.

Trump already has launched his re-election effort. He won’t win Rhode Island’s electoral votes in 2020, just as he didn’t win them in 2016. Sen. Goldin wants him to do something that every presidential candidate has done for the past 40 years, which is release his tax returns for public scrutiny.

Trump’s excuse for refusing to do so is as lame as it gets. He says the Internal Revenue Service is auditing his returns. The IRS says an audit doesn’t prevent someone from releasing their returns to the public, although it has not commented specifically on whether it is actually auditing Trump’s returns.

For that matter, the president hasn’t even produced any evidence that the IRS is in fact auditing his returns, which makes many of us question whether any such audit even has taken place.

Democrats control the Rhode Island Senate. Goldin’s bill passed 34-3. It now goes to the state House. I don’t yet have confidence that this gutsy measure will become law.

I hope it does. I also hope it catches on in all 50 states. I know. It’s not likely to happen. One can hope.

The national mood is getting more sour by the day

Am I feeling the burn out there?

The national mood, which wasn’t great prior to the 2016 presidential election, appears to be worsening.

Yep. I’m sure of it, actually.

Donald Trump Sr. pledged to unify the country after being elected president. How has he done? Uh, terribly. Maybe that’s just me, but I don’t think so.

Yes, congressional Democrats are stunned that their candidate, Hillary Clinton, lost to this guy. She should have won in a landslide. She didn’t. Democrats haven’t gotten over it … yet!

Now, that takes us to the guy who won. How has he done in the “gracious winner” department? Let’s see. He keeps harping on his record-breaking victory, which it wasn’t. Trump keeps reminding us how Democrats supposedly favor things like high crime, high taxes, open borders … those kinds of things. He won’t meet with Democrats to discuss legislative priorities.

The president has continued to stick his thumb in the eye of his foes. He yaps, yammers and yelps about how it’s everyone else’s fault that his legislative agenda gets stalled.

He disparages the FBI, the Department of Justice and the special counsel (Robert Mueller) who has been given the task of finding out whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russians who meddled in our electoral process.

And now …

The president has implemented an executive policy of “zero tolerance” on our southern border. The policy allows for the separating of children from their parents. Educators, clergy, human services experts, lawmakers (many from his own Republican Party) are aghast at the policy. They call it institutionalized “child abuse.” Four former first ladies have said the same thing independently about the policy: that it is inhumane.

There is a virtual uprising seemingly about to occur.

Trump’s response? He calls the children and their parents a threat to our nation. Hey, what about those Russian goons who meddled in our election, Mr. President? When are you going to drop the hammer on them? Ever?

Meanwhile, the nation is more divided than ever. Americans are growing angrier by the day.

Hey, it occurs to me yet again that the Russians’ attempt to sow discord and disunion … is working!

‘I, alone, can fix it … ‘

You might recall the bold — and reckless — declaration that Donald J. Trump made after being nominated by the Republican Party to run for president of the United States.

“I, alone, can fix it,” he said, referring to the myriad ills he said were afflicting the nation at the time.

Many of us ridiculed the nominee for that statement. No president can do much of anything “alone” without help and cooperation.

Guess what. None of us saw the crisis that is developing at this moment with a Trump administration policy that allows for children to be taken from their parents at the nation’s border. It’s a hideous policy. It is the creation of an administration that has demonized illegal immigrants, portraying them as criminals intent on murdering, raping Americans, selling them drugs.

Here’s more to ponder: Donald Trump can ease this crisis “alone,” with a signature and a phone call.

The president can halt the “zero tolerance” policy all by himself. It is not a product of a “Democrat bill,” which he has contended falsely.

It turns out the 2016 GOP presidential nominee was more truthful than we imagined at the time when he said “I, alone” can repair this or that.

If only he would act.

He has created a crisis. The president needs to fix it.

Let the special counsel finish his job

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is getting antsy about the probe being done by special counsel Robert Mueller.

McConnell wants Mueller to finish it up. Call it good now. End it. Move on to the next thing.

I believe the majority leader needs to settle down and needs to let Mueller continue his job at his pace, gathering facts and evidence with all deliberate speed.

Mueller is examining whether Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency included some “collusion” with Russians who meddled in the election outcome in 2016. This is a complicated, tedious, meticulous investigation.

McConnell says it has gone on “forever.” Actually, Mr. Leader, it’s only a little more than a year in progress.

Whitewater? Do you remember that one? The probe that looked initially at a real estate deal involving Bill and Hillary Clinton plodded along a lot longer than the Mueller investigation has gone. Did the Kentucky Republican senator call for that investigation to end?

Let’s see. Oh, I don’t believe he did.

Donald Trump’s constant yammering about a “witch hunt” has gotten to McConnell. It has spooked him beyond reason. Yes, the majority leader says he supports the Mueller probe. I appreciate McConnell’s statements of support.

However, the former FBI director (Mueller) needs time to finish a complicated investigation into questions that deal fundamentally with the integrity of our nation’s electoral system.

This stuff needs time to sort out.

This is how you ‘unify’ the country? No way!

Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change! This is why we need more Republicans elected in November. Democrats are good at only three things, High Taxes, High Crime and Obstruction. Sad!

There you have it. One more tweet from the president of the United States of America, the fellow who promised to “unify” the country after his election in 2016.

Donald J. Trump is failing miserably in keeping that particular promise.

Trump’s election came after one of the bitterest and most bizarre political campaigns in U.S. history. He entered the presidential race after ignoring any aspect of public service for his entire working life. He insulted and denigrated a competent and qualified field of GOP candidates en route to capturing the party’s presidential nomination.

Then he insulted and denigrated his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, on his way to the stunning Electoral College victory he scored.

Trump’s inaugural address was nothing short of grim and ghastly. The only line anyone seems to remember is the one about “the American carnage” stopping “right here and right now.”

Democrats now have taken on the role of high tax, high crime obstructionists in Trump’s view of the world.

Presidents assume power presumably understanding that they make decisions on everyone’s behalf, even those who voted against them. Trump has decided instead to talk directly — and exclusively — to the bloc of voters who have hung with him.

To suggest that those of the other party are interested only in promoting high crime, high taxes and obstructionism is a direct slap in the face of tens of millions of Americans, many of whom actually want the president to succeed.

I happen to be one of those Americans. I didn’t vote for Trump. I won’t vote for him in 2020, presuming he’s still in office and gets nominated again by his party. I align myself more with Democrats than with Republicans.

That all said, I do not consider high taxes, high crime and obstructionism to be the prescription for American greatness.

Unity, Mr. President? When are you going to deliver on that pledge?

‘We knew what we were getting’

The person who made the above statement is a friend of mine. I’ve known him for many years. We’ve shared a lot of laughs and even a bit of heartache together.

The knowledge of which he speaks concerns the presidency of Donald John Trump. My friend has said that Trump wasn’t his first choice as president, but given the choice he had in 2016 he felt compelled to vote for him.

Baggage and all.

I think my friend speaks for a lot of Americans who continue to sing the president’s praises. The reasons for those praises likely will escape me for as long as this man is in office, or even perhaps even longer.

My friend is an educated man. He is erudite and sophisticated. I wouldn’t classify him as one of the “deplorables” who — in the infamous words of Hillary Rodham Clinton — back Trump to the hilt come hell or high water.

However, I have trouble understanding whether he actually accepts the idea that a presidential candidate would denigrate a Vietnam War hero by saying he likes “those who aren’t captured” by the enemy, as Sen. John McCain was in 1967. Or that he gives a candidate a pass for mocking the physical disability of a noted journalist. Or that it’s OK for someone to boast to a TV host about grabbing women by their genitals because he’s a “star.”

Then there’s the lying. Yes, I know about politicians’ penchant for exaggeration, or for self-aggrandizement, or how they twist the truth to take on different meanings. Trump lies. Flat out! He says things that are demonstrably false.

What’s more, his lies often border on defamation of others. To wit:

Barack Obama ordered the wiretap of his 2016 campaign office: wrong. Millions of illegal immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016: wrong. Ted Cruz’s father might have been involved in President Kennedy’s murder because he was seen talking to Lee Harvey Oswald prior to the tragic event: false. Trump’s investigators had “evidence” that Barack Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii, but that he was born in Kenya: false.

I won’t get into the serial philandering and the endless array of failed business enterprises and the thousands of Americans who lost everything investing in these deals.

Trump’s supporters knew all this and still they elected him?

Maybe so. It simply blows my mind.

But there’s good news to report. Our friendship will persevere despite our political differences. For that I am eternally grateful.

Trump showing ’em R-E-S-P-E-C-T?

Donald Trump’s feel-good campaign has hit a few walls along the way.

He’s gone to Quebec to take part in the G-7 summit of the world’s leading economic powers and has managed to tick off all of our allies. These are the real friends with whom this country formerly enjoyed a long-standing relationship through thick and thin, good times and bad, war and peace.

Yep, he’s now imposing steep trade tariffs, which might precipitate a trade war with, say, Canada and the European Union. China is there, too. Our relationship with the People’s Republic of China has been up and down since the communists took control in 1949, but at the moment it’s supposed to be in good shape — except that we might launch a trade war with them, too.

And, yes, we once fought a war with Japan and Germany. But since that terrible time, they have stood shoulder to shoulder with us.

He has said he might tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement, even though Mexico — the third nation involved with NAFTA — isn’t represented at the G-7.

In the midst of all this, Trump is trying to make nice with Russia, as if he hasn’t made his preferences known already about Vladimir Putin’s government already around the world.

He wants Russia to come back into the circle of nations that used to be known as the G-8. That was until the organization booted the Russians out because they invaded Crimea and backed pro-Moscow forces rebelling against the government in Ukraine.

And while Trump excoriates Canada for posing a “national security threat” to the United States because of trade practices, he ignores the real threat that Russia has demonstrated by interfering in our 2016 election. Moreover, the Russians likely are going to do it again in 2018.

This is how you earn “respect” around the world, Mr. President?

No. It isn’t. It’s how you make a mockery of the role you assumed when you took the oath of office as president of the United States.

They aren’t respecting us in these world capitals. So help me, they are mocking us.

Bring the Russians back to the table?

Let me try to keep this straight.

Donald Trump wants Russia returned to the economic group comprising the world’s leading economic powers. The Russians were kicked out of what was known as the G-8 because it annexed Crimea and launched military action against Ukraine; they have done not a damn thing to remove themselves from that conflict.

Meanwhile, the president chastises our actual allies and trading partners because they object to the punishing tariffs he has imposed on steel and aluminum they export to the United States.

What am I failing to grasp?

Trump’s pique against Canada is particularly galling. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau objects to Trump’s description of Canada as a “national security risk,” pointing out how Canadians died alongside Americans on the beaches in Normandy during World War II and how the nations have been the closest of allies for many decades.

Trump says Trudeau is being “indignant.”

Good grief!

Now he wants the Russians back in.

According to The Hill: “Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run,” Trump said. “And in the G-7, which used be the G-8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.” 

Oh, and then we have the Russian meddling in our 2016 presidential election. Right there is a legitimate, tangible, identifiable, demonstrable risk to our national security.

So help me, the man elected as president of the United States himself is a frightening risk to our national security and sovereignty.

‘Spygate’ continues to fizzle out

I guess you can add lame-duck U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan to the list of notable Republican politicians who think damn little of Donald Trump’s bogus allegation of “spying” on his 2016 presidential campaign.

Granted, Ryan’s dismissal of the president’s contention is tepid. He must be seeking to deter the wrath that could come at him from the White House if he speaks the unvarnished truth.

Which is this: Trump has made up a scenario in which he accuses the FBI of planting a “spy” in his campaign for “political purposes.”

According to Politico: Ryan’s pushback, delicate as it was, is risky. When House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) first dismissed Trump’s “spygate” theory last week, Trump allies pummeled him for days. Ryan’s comments, and his subsequent defense of Gowdy, is already igniting the ire of the president’s most ardent defenders.

The FBI reportedly used a confidential informant to seek verification of reports that the Russians were meddling in the 2016 election. It’s a standard practice that the FBI has been using for decades. Trump, though, decided to fabricate — imagine my non-surprise! — a phony story that the FBI was trying to undercut his presidential campaign.

Ryan said there is no evidence of “spying.” He also has weighed in on the stupidity of Trump’s supposed constitutional authority to pardon himself. He advises the president against doing so. Imagine that!

Trump is lying through his teeth yet again. I am hopeful — although I am not necessarily expecting it — that the speaker will unleash a “pants on fire!” tirade against the president before he bows out of public office.

Yes, POTUS can ‘obstruct justice’

I am not a lawyer, but you know that already.

However, I know enough about history to understand this basic truth: Presidents of the United States can “obstruct justice.” Indeed, two of them — Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon — were accused of obstructing justice. One of them got impeached partly on that accusation; the other came within a whisker of being impeached before he resigned the presidency.

Thus, I am baffled in the extreme by lawyers serving the current president who says he cannot obstruct justice because, well, he’s the president. They are saying in effect that Donald J. Trump is above the law.

I beg to differ. I offer a strenuous objection to the notion that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, cannot determine that Trump obstructed justice in the hunt for the truth behind “the Russia thing.”

I don’t quite understand the logic being offered by Trump’s legal team that suggests Mueller cannot accuse the president of obstructing justice. Trump himself has acknowledged on network television that he fired FBI Director James Comey because of “the Russia thing”; then he told Russian visitors to the Oval Office that his dismissal of Comey had relieved him of pressure from the Russia probe and whether the Russian government meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

To my way of thinking, that constitutes at the very least circumstantial evidence of obstruction, but I know that Mueller’s team doesn’t operate on circumstance; it needs hard evidence. Whether it comes up with anything actionable remains to be seen.

As the nation watches this investigation lurch toward some conclusion, many of us are conflicted about the argument being offered that the president can do anything he wants — because he is the president.

Richard Nixon famously told David Frost that very thing, that the president cannot break the law simply by virtue of his office. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee eventually saw it quite differently when it approved articles of impeachment against the president.

I am pretty sure the law hasn’t changed since the 1970s. The current president took the same oath to follow the law that all of his predecessors took. The law in my view allows for presidents to be accused of obstructing justice.