Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Declaration of war? Not even close, Mr. Foreign Minister

A statement by North Korea’s foreign minister might have gotten muddled in the translation, but I feel the need to set the record straight for this fellow.

Ri Yong Ho has accused Donald J. Trump of “declaring war” on North Korea with his threats of using military force if the North Koreans continue to threaten the United States and our allies.

According to Reuters: “The whole world should clearly remember it was the U.S. who first declared war on our country,” Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters in New York.

Let’s step back here.

I believe Ri needs a quickie lesson on U.S. government civics.

The president of the United States cannot “declare war” on anyone. A declaration of war in this country is a multi-step process, Mr. Foreign Minister — which is something that is alien to you and your dictator/despot Kim Jong Un.

The president prepares a declaration document, which he then presents to our Congress. He then requests the legislative branch of government to issue a declaration. The last time we did that was on Dec. 8, 1941, the day after Japan attacked our naval and Army air forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Congress voted virtually unanimously to declare war; by the way, U.S. Rep. Jeannette Rankin of Montana voted “no,” just as she had done when Congress declared war against Germany during World War I. Foreign Minister Ri also should know that Rep. Rankin wasn’t jailed — either time — for her principled votes.

Do I agree with Donald Trump’s bluster and bellicosity with regard to North Korea? No. He’s risking — with his taunts and childish name-calling — the potential for provoking Kim into doing something stupid in the extreme.

But he didn’t “declare war.” That’s not how we do it in this country. Our founders established a system that limited the president’s power to issue such a declaration. He’s got to ask for it from the legislative branch of government.

There. Lesson over.

That’s how you ‘unify’ a nation, Mr. President?

My goodness, Donald Trump. When are you going to get it?

You’ve been handed yet another opportunity to say the right thing. To offer a soothing word of assurance. To tell those who are protesting U.S. government policies toward an important segment of our population that you hear them, that you will work to assuage their concerns.

So, what do you do?

You suggest that National Football League owners and football execs should fire the “sons of b******” who refuse to stand during the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the start of games. Then the NBA champion Golden State Warriors said they oppose your view on the kneeling issue. Your response to them was Classic Trump when you disinvited them to the White House for a ceremony honoring their accomplishment.

You, Mr. President — the Leader of the Free World and head of state of the greatest country on Earth — have used your high, exalted office to score points with your political base. You have inflamed emotions on both sides of this issue.

Have you forgotten, sir, how you pledged to “unify” the nation once you took office? Or how you intended to be president for all Americans? Or how you would spend your waking moments working to “make America great again”?

I know the answer to that. You haven’t forgotten any of that. In my view, they were empty platitudes. You didn’t mean a word of it when you made those pledges.

I am left to wonder out loud, Mr. President: Do you have any idea what you are doing? Do you have a clue about what this high office to which you were elected entails?

You have managed yet again to make an absolute hash of a situation that has spiraled out of control partly because of your divisive, fiery rhetoric that is precisely the wrong thing to provide at a time when we need words of calm assurance.

One of the unwritten rules of your high office means you are obligated to be the voice of reason during difficult circumstances. As you have demonstrated time and time again since taking office, sir, you are failing this test.

I am left, then, to ask yet again: When are you going to get it? Ever?

NASCAR owners weigh in on anthem controversy

This might be the least surprising development imaginable in the festering controversy over athletes refusing to stand when they hear “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Some key NASCAR heavyweight owners have issued fair warning to their crew members — including drivers — who don’t stand when they play the National Anthem at the start of each automobile race.

You stand or you will get fired! Got it? Good!

This issue has become a serious talking point ever since former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick started a protest this past season by kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem. Kaepernick said he was protesting treatment of African-Americans.

It’s gotten a lot bigger this season. The president of the United States has weighed in, suggesting NFL owners should fire the “sons of b******” who refuse to stand during the Anthem. The NBA champion Golden State Warriors were disinvited to the White House because some of their star players have expressed support for the sideline demonstrations.

The protests are being led by mostly African-American athletes. NASCAR, of course, comes from a different environment altogether. It’s rooted in the Southern culture. Its fan base is overwhelmingly white. As are its drivers, owners and associated crew members.

The different approach to this National Anthem protest business is on stark display. As The Sporting News reported: Hall of Fame driver Richard Petty and current team owner of the No. 43 Cup Series team of Aric Almirola agrees with Trump.

“Anybody that don’t stand up for the anthem oughta be out of the country. Period. What got ’em where they’re at? The United States,” Petty said, adding that any protester within his organization would be fired. 

We live in a tremendously diverse country. Its diversity is being played out right before our eyes as we prepare to watch sporting events — and see how athletes of all stripes react to the sound of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

‘Big, beautiful wall’ now becomes ‘see-through’?

For as long as Donald J. Trump has been in politics, he has spoken forcefully — if not always eloquently — about his desire to build a “big, beautiful wall” across our nation’s border with Mexico.

Now he’s saying something, um, quite different — and strange!

The president ventured to Alabama and declared that the wall is going to be a “see-through” structure.

Which begs the question: What in the name of erecting roadblocks is he talking about?

I keep thinking that Trump is considering some sort of Plexiglas structure. Clear plastic. We can look at the other side and see who’s trying to sneak in. Is that what he means?

Trump comments on wall outlined

What does this argument do to the president’s assertion that he’d build a wall as high and as deep as possible into the ground to prevent illegal immigrants from coming across the border?

Then we have this ridiculous assertion that Mexico is going to pay for the wall. Uh, Mr. President? You cannot force a sovereign government to do your bidding unless you have some rather drastic and hideous option in mind — such as invading that country and overthrowing its government. You know and I know that won’t happen. So, what’s the deal with this insistence that Mexico is going to foot the bill?

The wall is, to quote the president, a “loser.” It won’t protect us. It won’t keep drugs from coming into this country. It won’t stop truly bad guys from sneaking in.

For the life of me I cannot understand why we simply cannot beef up existing security procedures to curb what the president describes as a crisis along our southern border. I’m all in favor of cracking down on illegal immigration. But … build a wall — even a see-through structure?

The president is operating in Fantasyland.

Hey, Mr. POTUS, McCain just doesn’t get scared

I have this hunch that John McCain isn’t one bit intimidated by the commander in chief, the head of state of the greatest nation on Earth.

The Arizona Republican senator has just announced his opposition to the latest Senate GOP effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He has enraged Donald Trump. The president has responded with his usual rant about McCain being disloyal to the Republican Party and to the president.

I’m going to give Sen. McCain all the respect in the world.

He said he cannot “in good conscience” support the ACA repeal effort. His stated opposition is steeped mostly in the bum’s rush process that has pushed this legislation forward. The GOP did it once again with no help from Democrats. McCain has called for a return to “regular order.” Senate Republicans ignored one of their own.

But you see, McCain is the midst of quite an important battle that has not a damn thing to do with politics. He is fighting for his life. McCain has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. He is undergoing some therapy to battle the disease. But he’s back at work. He is standing up for himself, for his constituents in Arizona and against the president.

You know, of course, about McCain’s other big struggle that has nothing to do with politics. He was a Navy pilot in 1967 when he got shot down over Hanoi, North Vietnam. He was taken prisoner. He was beaten incessantly and suffered many other forms of physical and emotional torture for more than five years.

Does anyone in this country really believe that this war hero is going to be intimidated by a politician? Moreover, does anyone further believe that this man — who’s currently engaged in the fight of his life — is going to be cowed by threats over a decision he has made regarding a mere public policy initiative?

I have not always been a fan of Sen. McCain. I did not vote for him in 2008 when he ran for president against Barack H. Obama. I haven’t always liked the tone he has taken in criticizing his former presidential campaign foe.

However, I’ve never lost respect for the life he has lived and the service he has given to this country. Nor have I ever stopped respecting the extreme hardship he has endured while serving the country he loves so much.

He has stood up to the head of his political party, the president of the United States. Sen. McCain is setting an example of leadership.

Count me now as one of this man’s biggest fans.

Meet one of POTUS’s ‘worst nightmares’

The list of Donald J. Trump’s “worst nightmares” seems to keep growing.

You have Robert Mueller, Stephen Bannon, James Comey, Sean Spicer, Michael Flynn and perhaps Don Trump Jr. standing by to give the Big Man a serious case of heartburn.

Walter Shaub is no slouch in the “worst nightmare” department, though. The former head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, took part in a Texas Tribune discussion to talk about government ethics, which in Shaub’s mind is no oxymoron.

He quit his job at OGE out of frustration dealing with the Trump administration.

As the Tribune reports: The last straw for Shaub, who is now with an organization called the Campaign Legal Center, was having to fight for a month to get basic ethics records that did not even turn out to be useful.

In general, Shaub said, Trump’s actions represent a “significant departure” from “ethical norms.” He added that it will be on the next president to repair the damage that’s been done.

“I put up as good of a fight as I could,” said Schaub, who resigned in July.

I continue to believe that the president’s lack of understanding of government has contributed to the ethical morass he has helped create. Trump’s business background simply is not well-suited to adapt to the complexities associated with service in the massive federal government.

Another panelist at the Tribune event, Richard Painter, former ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, also has been a harsh critic of Trump. According to the Tribune: “People voted for Donald Trump to be a president … not to be a king,” he said. “He’s gotta respect the Constitution or he’s not gonna keep his job.”

There might lie the greatest problem facing Trump as he seeks to shake loose from the crises that are gripping his administration. He doesn’t know — or seemingly want to know — how the Constitution works, how it limits his power and how it sets forth “checks and balances” on presidential overreach.

One such overreach might involve Mueller, the special counsel assigned to investigate the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to the Russian government. As the Tribune reports: “The biggest threat we’re facing is any threat to Bob Mueller being fired,” Shaub said. Should that happen, Shaub said he would take to the streets and that others should too.

Ethics, Mr. President, really do matter. They matter a great deal. Just listen — for once, sir — to these fellows. They know of which they speak.

HHS boss grounds those spendy private jets

There’s some of this going around the Trump administration.

The “this” is a penchant for spending lots of money needlessly. Taxpayer money, at that!

The latest perp happens to be Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Tom Price, who until just this weekend had been using private jets to travel to hither and yon to do the public’s business. What’s more, the public has been picking up the tab.

Secretary Price has grounded the private jets pending a government review of the practice. “We’ve heard the criticism. We’ve heard the concerns. We take that very seriously and have taken it to heart,” Price said.

Fair enough. This is a bad habit that has emerged during Donald J. Trump’s time in the White House.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin wanted the federal government to fly him and his new bride to a honeymoon location. I took note of that request in an earlier post and pointed out that Mnuchin is worth an estimated cool $500 million. I believe he could afford to pay for his own air transportation, although the secretary did mention “security concerns” as his reason for seeking government travel.

Back to Price for a moment.

Price’s travel habits came under scrutiny from Politico, which reportedly identified about $400,000 in private jet travel by Price since he took office earlier this year. Price hasn’t defended his use of private jets; indeed, he acknowledges the “optics don’t look good.”

While he was a Republican member of Congress, Price criticized then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s use of luxury jets to fly around the country. Pelosi in fact had access to government air travel, given that at the tsheecond in line of succession to the presidency. She was criticized correctly for her use of the luxury aircraft.

As Politico  has reported, Price’s use of these private jets breaks with recent custom: Price’s use ivate jets breaks with the practices of Obama administration HHS secretaries Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Kathleen Sebelius, who flew commercially while in the continental United States and deliberately avoided taking charter jets. HHS staff last year scrapped a proposal for Burwell to take a multi-city tour linked to the kickoff of annual Obamacare enrollment because the trip would have required charter aircraft and cost about $60,000. 

I just want to offer a word of caution here.

Everyone, it seems, is mindful these days of profligate spending at all levels of government. Secretary Price needs to re-calibrate his public-relations radar to ensure he can avoid getting caught in this PR trap. Don’t blow the public’s cash for the sake of convenience.

Trump pulls WH invitation for NBA champs? Huh?

I’ve been wracking my brain trying to remember the last time this has happened.

A president of the United States withdraws an invitation to the White House to greet a professional sports team that has won a national championship.

Trump pulls invitation

That happened this week when Donald Trump told the NBA’s Golden State Warriors they aren’t welcome at the White House, where they were supposed to be feted by the president for winning the NBA title earlier this summer.

Trump posted this tweet: “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!” 

What? Huh?

At least two of the Warriors’ top stars — Steph Curry and Kevin Durant — had said they wouldn’t attend the ceremony apparently because they oppose the president’s policies. The president reacted by yanking the invitation.

So, there won’t be the obligatory photo op with the president and the NBA champs, something that has occurred since, oh, I cannot remember how long.

What in the world is going on here?

Didn’t some of the NFL’s New England Patriots say they opposed President Obama’s policies and, thus, wouldn’t attend a similar ceremony for the Super Bowl champs? And, hey, wasn’t all-universe quarterback Tom Brady one of them? Did the president cancel the event? No. He welcomed those team members who came, had some laughs, took a few pictures and that was that.

My head is still spinning over this latest kerfuffle.

I am trying to figure out the root of all this.

Donald Trump is finding out under the most curious of circumstances that he is as polarizing a public figure as anyone who’s ever occupied the White House.

He announced earlier this year he and the first lady wouldn’t attend the annual Kennedy Center Honors ceremony. Why? Because some of the entertainment honorees said they cannot support the president.

Now this.

Is this the national unity that the president promised he’d deliver?

Mr. President, there’s that First Amendment thing

Donald Trump has weighed in on professional football players’ conduct while listening to the National Anthem being played before the start of NFL games.

Fire ’em if they sit or kneel while “The Star Spangled Banner” is being played, he said at a Huntsville, Ala., political rally this week.

According to CNN: Trump said NFL owners should respond to the players by saying, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired. He’s fired!” 

Well …

This whole discussion began a year ago when former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to kneel during the Anthem to protest the country’s treatment of African-American citizens.

Count me as one American who was appalled at Kaepernick’s disrespectful display. I thought he acted stupidly at the time. He is free to express his political views, but I just didn’t like the manner in which he chose to do it.

However, what he did was legal. Not only that, it’s guaranteed under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees citizens the right to protest in any peaceful manner they wish. If they want to burn Old Glory in the town square as a form of political speech, that’s allowed, too. Just don’t do it in my presence.

The president’s urging of NFL owners to fire players who sit during the Anthem ignores the First Amendment guarantee of a cherished civil right.

I could argue that the president simply should keep his trap shut when it concerns such matters, except that the First Amendment damn sure gives him the right to speak his piece, too.

Then again, Donald Trump isn’t just your average Joe. He is the president of the United States of America, which gives his words a lot more weight than those that come from some shmuck blogger out here in Flyover Country.

Oh, the price of living in a free society.

Trump employs an endless array of weird political tactics

How many ways can Donald John Trump Sr. defy political convention? They seem to come from an endless array of opportunities.

The president ventured to Alabama today. He did something highly unusual. He has endorsed a Republican Party primary candidate who’s running against another Republican. Oh, let me mention that Trump, too, is a Republican. He’s taking sides in an intraparty primary fight for the U.S. Senate.

Right there is a weird example.

U.S. Sen. Luther Strange was appointed to the Senate seat when Jeff Sessions became attorney general. He’s running for election in a GOP runoff against Roy Moore, the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice who was removed twice from the bench because of misconduct.

But guess what: Moore is favored to win over Strange, who won the endorsement of the president of the United States. The runoff is set for next Tuesday.

Moore favored to win.

Moore is a seriously strange piece of … um, work. He was scolded by Alabama judicial conduct officials for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from public property. Then he told county clerks it was all right to refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that legalized gay marriage in all 50 states.

Moore also is a “birther,” who continues to promote the defamatory allegation that Barack Obama was born abroad and was not constitutionally qualified to serve as president.

But … this guy is likely to be elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama!

Will it hurt Trump? Will the president suffer serious political wounds? Oh … probably not. You see, the guy is bullet-proof in the eyes of his political base. He says things that infuriate many others. Not the base! They continue to admire the guy. Trump, um, tells it like it is.

I am shaking my head. Not so much these days in disgust. Instead, it is in utter amazement.