Tag Archives: POTUS

Gov. Scott has it right: no guns for mental cases

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has it right.

“Everything’s on the table,” the Republican governor said on CNN in the wake of the latest horrifying school shooting. This one, in Parkland, Fla., left 17 people dead and nearly as many injured.

A 19-year-old former student at the high school is in custody and has been charged with 17 counts of “premeditated murder.”

So, what does the governor mean by “everything”? I’ll take a leap here and presume he means, um, everything. That means potentially tighter regulations, stricter laws regulating the purchase of guns.

Gov. Scott went today where the president of the United States declined to go in discussing gun violence and beginning a discussion about a legislative solution to curbing it.

He said at an impromptu press event immediately after the shooting that people with mental disorders had no business purchasing and owning a firearm, let alone an AR-15 assault rifle like the one used by the gunman in Parkland.

As CNN.com reported: “Everything’s on the table. I’m going to look at every way that we can make sure our kids are safe,” Scott told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Thursday when asked if he was ready to commit to working on tightening gun restrictions in the state.

Well done, governor. I hope someone in the right places will heed your message.

Gen. Kelly: in over his head

It pains me to say this, but here goes.

John Kelly is in over his head as White House chief of staff. However, it’s not entirely his fault. I have concluded that Kelly should resign and try to the best of his ability to salvage his reputation.

Kelly took over as chief of staff after Reince Priebus was shoved out the door. The thought — which I shared at the time — was that the retired Marine Corps general would whip the staff into shape. He would make ’em toe the line. He would bark orders and they would follow.

Here, though, is where that theory broke down: Two issues make it impossible for that to happen. The chief of staff needs political skill; Kelly’s Marine Corps training didn’t provide it. What’s more, the president of the United States also needs political skill; Donald Trump’s history as a self-aggrandizing business mogul and reality TV celebrity damn sure didn’t give him that skill, either.

Kelly has now been caught in a vise. Rob Porter quit as staff secretary in the White House after revelations that he beat up his former wives and a former girlfriend. He didn’t have the proper security clearance because the FBI was examining complaints against him that surfaced months ago. Yet he was hired anyway. Kelly knew all that and let it ride.

Kelly reportedly kept it secret from the president. That’s another no-no.

The conventional wisdom all along has been that the 45th president presents a unique set of circumstances that no one has seen before. He possesses zero political expertise. Yes, he waged a successful presidential campaign, of which he is more than happy to keep reminding us. But campaigning and governing are entirely different disciplines. Trump was a stellar campaigner but there is no one within his inner circle who can tell this individual the hard truth about the political implications of the decisions he makes.

Thus, the president is left to function on his own in an environment with which he has no previous exposure.

Gen. Kelly was supposed to provide him some cover. He hasn’t done it. He won’t be able to do it for as long as he occupies the chief of staff’s office.

The Rob Porter mess is only getting messier. John Kelly appears incapable of cleaning it up. The White House message machine is confused and chaotic.

Moreover, the White House communications director, Hope Hicks, has become a key player in that melodrama. Hicks is dating Porter. Yet she helped draft the statement that declared how her boyfriend is such an honorable man? Who in the world allowed her to put her hands on that statement? None other than John Kelly, who should have recognized immediately the conflict of interest that Hicks presented.

Gen. Kelly has served this country with high honor and distinction — as a decorated Marine! Hardly any of that background transfers to the White House chief of staff job.

The question now becomes, in the event Gen. Kelly calls it quits: Who in the world is Donald John Trump able to find who can perform the duties required of a White House chief of staff?

For that matter, who in the world would want that job, given the idiocy that emanates from the Oval Office?

Waiting for the pundits’ new cliches

I watch a lot of TV news shows. Maybe that’s to my discredit, given that my wife and are holed up at the moment in an RV and the weather outside has been too cold to do much of anything.

What I am hearing is beginning to bore me to sleep.

I keep hearing the TV talking heads — the pundits, if you please — repeating the same “cool” words and phrases they like hearing themselves and each other say.

“At the end of the day” remains at the top of my list of phrases to jettison.

“Walking back” a statement is another one that is gaining ground in the toss-it-on-the-scrap-heap contest.

There also are “cool words” that seem to crop up in pundit-speak. “Kalashnikov” is one of them. It kind of rolls off the tongue and when I hear pundits and/or commentators mention the weapons used on a battlefield, they are bound to mention “Kalashnikov” rifles because they like sound of the name. Admit it: You know what I’m talking about.

Here is one of my latest “favorites.” It’s when Congress and the president keep “kicking the can down the road.” This usually refers to non-decisions they make regarding budget matters.

Congress cannot get a long-term budget approved. The president cannot persuade anyone on Capitol Hill to do anything. What happens? They end up “kicking the can down the road,” which is code for “failing to do their job.”

Come to think of it, why don’t the talking heads just say it loudly and proudly, that our government leaders are, um, you know … ?

The pundits sit around those tables talking to each other and they speak in that strange jargon that they use with each other or when they’re on the air talking to you and me.

Look, I’m not a grammarian. I don’t pretend to be a wordsmith in the mold of a Faulkner, Steinbeck, a George Will or a William F. Buckley. I tend as well to fall back into habit-forming word usage and phraseology.

I suppose if I’m patient enough, new phrases will sprout, kind of like weeds in the garden. We’ll all know them when the pundits keep repeating themselves.

Which is it: shutdown or deal on budget?

On one day, the president of the United States declared there would be a government shutdown if Congress didn’t come to a decision on an immigration package that secured our borders.

That is that. No deal, no government. “I would love a shutdown” if there’s no deal to build a wall. “Without borders, we don’t have a country,” Donald Trump declared.

The next day, U.S. Senate Democratic and Republican leaders cobbled together a budget deal that funds the government for two years. It’s a bipartisan agreement. Oh, and it doesn’t have any money for the wall the president wants to build across our southern border.

No worries, said the president. He’ll sign it if it gets to his desk.

So, which is it? Does the president want the wall or does he want to fund the government and avoid a shutdown that could occur later this week?

Honestly, I prefer the second version of the president’s current view. I believe he should sign the bill if it clears the House of Representatives, which at the moment is going through a revolt among members of its most conservative members. They hate the bill because it spends too much money and, yes, doesn’t include money for the wall or other border security measures.

They call themselves “fiscal hawks.” They say the Republican Party no longer can claim to be the party of “fiscal responsibility.”

Here’s what I hope happens. The House agrees on the Senate bill, they send it to the White House, the president signs it and then all sides — Democrats and Republicans in Congress and the president — get to work immediately on resolving the issue of immigration.

A viable government needs to proceed without the imminent threat of shutting down.

I am one taxpaying American citizen who is damn tired of this Band-Aid policy of running the government.

Can we just agree to keep the entire federal government functioning and serving all Americans while our representatives do what they were elected to do?

It is called “governing.”

POTUS has much for which he must answer

The farther along we stagger forward into the presidency of Donald Trump, the deeper the hole he digs for himself.

I refer to the many statements he has made — as candidate and then as president — that have yet to be substantiated.

A few of them come to mind.

  • He has asserted that climate change is a “hoax,” a fantasy created by China to discredit our fossil fuel industry.
  • Trump has accused “millions of illegal immigrants” of voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016, giving her the nearly 3 million popular vote margin she rolled up over the president.
  • The president has fanned the flames of the phony and slanderous birther movement once again by challenging whether Barack Obama was actually born in the United States of America; he once said that the president is a U.S. citizen, but has all but walked that one back.
  • Candidate Donald Trump said he would release his tax returns once the Internal Revenue Service completed its audit. That was more than two years ago. The tax returns remain a secret. The IRS cannot possibly be conducting that audit to this day.
  • Trump said he wouldn’t have time for golf, that he’d be too busy making America “great again.” He, um, has broken that pledge, too.

I know I’ve missed a few. Maybe many. But I hope you get the point.

The president has made bold pledges. He hasn’t been held to account for them. His base continues to rally behind him. They give him a pass on all of it. They ignore his hideous personal behavior in a way they never would do if the president was a member of the opposing political party.

Others of us out here are seeking to hold this guy accountable for his lengthening list of untrue statements and promises he made.

I don’t expect the president to listen to his critics. He doesn’t care what we think. He cares only about the slobbering support he gets from those who relish the idiotic notion that Donald Trump simply is “telling it like it is.”

State of the Union: a most political event

I am inclined to tell my friends who are fans of Donald J. Trump to settle down. Chill out. Take a breather. Don’t get so upset that congressional Democrats didn’t stand and cheer along with their Republican “friends.”

Trust me on this: Given that I live in the heart of Trump Country, my list of friends and acquaintances is full of Trumpkins. I don’t begrudge them for their political loyalty. I also hope they don’t begrudge me for mine.

One friend — and he’s an actual “friend” — has been ranting on social media about how the Democrats sat on their hands during Trump’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night. He is just insulted that they would disrespect the president in such a disgraceful manner. How dare they do such a thing!

My friend has been around long enough to know how this game is played. Republican presidents usually get the proverbial stiff-arm from Democrats in the House of Representatives hall. Here’s the deal, though: Democratic presidents get the same treatment from Republicans when it’s their opportunity to deliver State of the Union speeches.

It goes with the territory, folks.

I don’t like it, either. I would rather the “loyal opposition” would show respect for the presidency, even if they dislike the individual who is occupying the office in the moment.

I need not remind my friend, moreover, about how Republicans treated President Barack H. Obama when he delivered his speeches to Congress. However, if he is reading this blog post, I’ll remind him of how GOP U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson shouted “You lie!” during one of Obama’s speeches before a joint congressional session.

By my reckoning, that outburst was far more disrespectful than anything we saw this week.

I’m not worried in the least about how Democrats behaved while the Republican president stood before them. They did what members of the “opposing” party always do.

Do I wish they would behave better? Sure. I also wish the same of Republicans the next time we elect a Democratic president.

How might POTUS exit?

Forgive me for getting ahead of myself, but my mind sometimes wanders far a good bit into the future at times.

My mind is teasing me at the moment with this question: How is Donald John Trump going to exit the presidency of the United States?

I keep wondering if he is capable of going out with grace, keeping the tradition long established by a “peaceful” and “seamless” transition of power from one president to the next one.

I won’t predict when that transition will occur. I guess it’s OK to mention five options that await the president:

  • He could get re-elected in 2020 and serve the remainder of his presidency until he must exit, according to the U.S. Constitution.
  • He could be defeated for re-election in 2020.
  • He might decide against seeking a second term.
  • He could be impeached by the House of Representatives and then convicted in the Senate after Democrats re-take control of both congressional chambers in the 2018 mid-term election.
  • He could quit before being impeached.

I won’t predict which of those events will occur. In a strange way, though, it seems quite likely to my own mind that no matter how this man exits the presidency, he isn’t going to go away quietly.

Donald Trump just ain’t wired to behave the way those who occupy this exalted office usually do.

Let’s all prepare for continued turbulence.

Imagine this image with POTUS No. 45

The video I am sharing here occurred not long after the 2008 presidential election.

President George W. Bush welcomed President-elect Barack Obama to the Oval Office for a get-together with three other gentlemen with intimate knowledge of the office of president of the United States.

Former Presidents Bush, Clinton and Carter all joined in wishing the new guy well as he prepared to assume the massive responsibilities of the world’s most difficult public service job.

I watch this video and wonder: Could such an event have occurred when Donald J. Trump succeeded Barack H. Obama?

I will answer my own question: Hell no!

Trump managed all along the way toward his election to trash virtually all of his predecessor. Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush didn’t vote for their fellow Republican; Trump managed also to denigrate President Carter’s service; oh, and let’s not forget the way he defamed President Clinton while running against the 42nd president’s wife in 2016.

George W. Bush looked at his successor and told him, “We want you to succeed.” He added that all the men gathered in the Oval Office had unique knowledge of the challenges that awaited the new man and would be glad to share their advice if asked.

I read only recently that Presidents Obama and Trump haven’t spoken since Trump took office. The 45th president continues to isolate himself and the presidency from two centuries of tradition and custom.

Then again, I have to remind myself of what Donald Trump declared from the podium at the 2016 GOP national convention. You’ll recall he said that “I, alone” can solve the nation’s problems.

No. You cannot, Mr. President.

Mental health exams for presidents? Absolutely!

Set aside for a moment the questions that have arisen about the current president of the United States, about whether he still possesses all his marbles.

The White House doctor says he does. That’s good enough for me.

CNN polled Americans and learned that 80 percent of us favor regular mental acuity examinations for presidents. Count me as strongly in favor of that idea.

The exams could help determine whether a president is showing signs of dementia, loss of mental snap, whether he is less alert. I’m all for it!

When is it too early? I don’t think you should set a minimum age for such exams. Donald J. Trump is 71 years of age. He clearly falls into the category of Americans susceptible to loss of cognitive skill.

I’ll pass along this personal tidbit.

My dear mother died in September 1984 — at age 61 — of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. She had become a mere shell of the woman she once was. She didn’t recognize anyone. She couldn’t speak. She couldn’t feed herself, bathe or dress herself. Eventually, she developed pneumonia after her brain ceased telling her lungs to breathe.

Mom was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in the spring of 1980, when she was not quite 57 years of age. In truth, she had been showing some serious sign of personality disorder and loss of cognition at least three, maybe four years earlier. That meant she might have been showing early onset symptoms at the age of, oh, 53 or 54.

Most of us are still in the prime of life at that age. Not everyone is dealt that kind of good fortune. Mom clearly was dealt an extremely bad hand.

Thus, when the president of the United States is handed the nuclear launch codes and is put in command of the world’s most formidable military machine, I want to know whether he is up to the job.

By all means, we need to look inside their noggins regularly.

Thinking better of ‘W’ these days

You may count me as among those Americans who think better of former President George W. Bush than I did when he left office in January 2009.

A CNN poll shows that more than 60 percent of Americans currently think favorably of President Bush. CNN reports that “W” has turned his unfavorable ratings “upside down.” Bush’s favorable rating is nearly double where it was when he exited the White House.

I want to stipulate a couple of things here.

I didn’t vote for Bush when he ran twice for Texas governor. Nor did I vote for him when he ran for election and re-election as president.

However, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him, interviewing him at length and getting to know the man. Thus, I have a certain personal fondness for President Bush.

I met him the first time in the spring of 1995 not long after he took office as Texas governor; I don’t count an elevator encounter I had with him in New Orleans at the 1988 Republican National Presidential Convention.

I found the future president in 1995 to be fully engaged in Texas politics and government, even though he was new to the political game when he upset incumbent Gov. Ann Richards in 1994. He was well-informed, articulate, friendly and quite engaging.

We met in his office at the Texas Capitol Building. The interview was supposed to last for 30 minutes; we ended up chatting for an hour and a half. We would meet again in 1998 as he ran for re-election.

I look back now at his presidency with a certain wistfulness, given the fact that the nation elected a certifiably unfit individual to the office in 2016.

The juxtaposition of George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump suggests to me that it would be inevitable that “W”s standing would improve as dramatically as it has done in the past year.

President Bush made plenty of mistakes. The Iraq War was unnecessary, although the president’s leadership in the wake of the 9/11 attacks filled me with pride in the moment. I only wish the president would have kept his eye on the enemy he identified clearly and decisively while we sorted though our national grief.

Compared to the style of leadership we’re getting today? The 43rd president stands tall.