Trump keeps up drumbeat of insults … arrgggh!

I am running out of ways to express my outrage at the conduct of the president of the United States of America.

It’s not enough that Donald John Trump decided to attack a broadcast journalist with a vulgar attack via Twitter. Or that he refuses to acknowledge that his conduct is unpresidential, unprofessional, undisciplined, indecent and maybe even immoral.

His fellow Republicans implore him to stop. They say it’s beneath the office he occupies. He denigrates the presidency, demeans the country he was elected to lead and lends credence to those — such as yours truly — who question his fitness to govern.

He keeps it up. Today was no different for Donald Trump. He fired off another of those idiotic, moronic and despicable tweets in which he blasts the MSNBC talk show host and her broadcast partner.

I’m out … for the time being.

Happy Trails, Part 28

Even in retirement, I’ve learned that life is full of challenges.

Whereas my career presented opportunities, roadblocks and open doors all along the way, I have discovered that retirement’s challenges are no less daunting.

The next big step is going to occur in just a few days. My wife and I are planning to have our Final Garage Sale before we start making serious plans to vacate the structure we’ve called home for more than 21 years.

Our move is not yet imminent, but I’ll declare right here that once we get past this next week, that moment will be much more clearly in our sights.

One of the challenges I’ve met head on is deciding what to toss, what to keep and what to sell. We said so long today to a piece of furniture we had intended to sell, but when we started to move it toward the garage, we discovered it had some, um, structural flaws that made it not worthy of anyone’s attention. Out it went! Gone.

We’ve collected a lot of things over the course of nearly 46 years together. Some of it has a bit of sentimental value. Some it, well, are just items we’ve been lugging around. We’ve decided we’re done lugging things around just because we can’t say goodbye to it.

This garage sale is going to include some fairly big-ticket items. We hope to sell all of it. Reality, though, tells me it’s entirely possible we’ll have to find other ways to dispose of it.

I will do so with glee.

I’m too old to pack up big items. Both of us have committed emotionally to tackling this next big — and likely final — major challenge in life. It involves relocating down yonder.

We both understand the daunting challenges that await us as we prepare for this major leap of faith. What the heck. We faced many such challenges when we were working.

We met them then. We damn sure can meet these new ones.

POTUS and Putin: time for ‘frank’ talk

In short order, the president of the United States is going to shake hands with the president of Russia. They’ll sit down in a room and start talking about, oh, this and/or that.

Here will be the perfect opportunity for Donald J. Trump to look straight into Vladimir Putin’s steely eyes and give him holy hell for what numerous U.S. intelligence agencies have said: that Russian computer hackers sought to meddle in the U.S. presidential election this past year — and that they did so on orders from Putin himself.

Is this going to occur? Will the U.S. president have the moxie, the savvy, the guts to face down this other head of state?

And to think that such a discussion would just be a starting point in these two men’s relationship.

Of course, I am not privy to what the president will say to Putin. I am entitled, though, to offer an opinion or two on what he should say. My gut — along with my proverbial trick knee — tell me he needs to get directly to that point immediately.

History tells us that U.S.-Russian summit meetings are fraught with peril. In 1961, another rookie U.S. president traveled to Vienna to meet with the head of what then was known as the Soviet Union. Nikita Khrushchev thought he had taken the full measure of John F. Kennedy; he pushed the young president around, bullied him, threatened him.

It was reported at the time that President Kennedy made too many rookie mistakes in his first face-to-face meeting with the cantankerous Soviet leader. It turned out that the world’s leading communist made the rookie error.

Khrushchev miscalculated badly Kennedy’s resolve. The Soviets started building those missile bases the following year in Cuba. The president got word of it, huddled with his national security team, made a decision and then told the world of our reaction and what the cost would be to the Soviets if they were to launch an attack against any nation in the Western Hemisphere.

The cost? Annihilation. 

Check out JFK’s speech here:

Donald Trump isn’t prone to study history, so it’s not likely he’ll be interested in understanding that dangerous chapter.

The Russian meddling in our election, though, is on the minds of a lot of smart folks. It’s in all the papers, you know?

My hope would be for the president to talk directly and — in diplomatic parlance — “frankly” to his Russian colleague directly about what has consumed this nation since the election.

My fear is that Donald Trump will choke.

Prove me wrong, Mr. President.

‘Equal protection’ or not, from the high court?

I totally understand that court rulings can be complicated and that there often is more than meets the eye.

Thus, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that Houston city employees aren’t guaranteed all spousal rights if they’re married to someone of the same sex.

The state’s highest civil appellate court said in its ruling that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized gay marriage didn’t cover all the benefit rights that one thought might accrue for the same-sex spouses. As the Texas Tribune reported: “As part of a case challenging Houston’s benefits policy, the Supreme Court suggested a landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage does not fully address the right to marriage benefits. Justice Jeffrey Boyd, writing on behalf of the court in a 24-page opinion, said there’s still room for state courts to explore the ‘reach and ramifications’ of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.”

Court ruling deals blow

I admit readily that I’m a bit slow on the uptake at times. However, as I read the U.S. Supreme Court decision on this matter, I am certain I read something about the court deciding that the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection” extended to gay couples just as it does to all American citizens. The U.S. Constitution is clear in its guarantee of equal protection under the law to every American; it doesn’t take Americans’ sexual orientation into account.

Why, then, aren’t same-sex spouses entitled to the same rights as those involved in heterosexual marriages?

My hope would be that the U.S. Supreme Court could clear up, somehow, this apparent discrepancy.

Sen. Cassidy faces his critics

Bill Cassidy deserves a pat on the back.

The Republican U.S. senator went home to Louisiana this week and showed up at a town hall meeting in Baton Rouge. He got a rough welcome from his constituents.

Why the hurrah for Sen. Cassidy? Because he’s willing to talk to his constituents about something that’s on their minds: health care and the Senate’s plan to overhaul it.

Cassidy is on the fence regarding the Senate GOP’s plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. He famously said the Senate needed to approve a bill that passed the “Jimmy Kimmel test,” referring to the late-night comedian’s well-known tale of his newborn son’s birth and the health concerns he faced; Kimmel asked on national TV whether it’s right to deny people health care if they cannot afford insurance.

A lot of Sen. Cassidy’s Republican colleagues — both in the Senate and the House of Representatives — are not bothering to listen to voters’ concerns about the future of the ACA and whatever might replace it. I’m deeply disappointed to know that my own congressman, Mac Thornberry, also a Republican, has chosen to forgo any town hall meetings to discuss this issue with his constituents.

Bill Cassidy, though, has chosen to hear from his “bosses,” the people who pay his salary, who fund the government and who are most directly affected by the laws Congress enacts.

Good for him. Indeed, good for all our elected representatives who choose to listen to what their bosses expect from them.

Voter fraud probe runs into trouble … good deal!

States across the nation aren’t playing ball with a task force created to find a problem that likely doesn’t exist.

To which I say, “Good for them.”

Donald J. Trump alleged — without foundation — that voter fraud was rampant across the land during the 2016 presidential election. You’ll recall that he said “millions of illegal immigrants” voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton, thus giving her a substantial popular vote margin over the president. This has been one of the countless lies that the president has told since he launched his political career in the summer of 2015.

So, he sought the formation of a task force to get to the root of the problem. States, though, aren’t giving in to this — if you’ll allow me to use this term — witch hunt in search of problem.

The White House commission led by Vice President Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach have asked all the states and the District of Columbia to turn over records of voters, including birth dates, the last four Social Security digits and party affiliation. Roughly half the states have said “no.” Even Texas, as friendly toward Trump as any state, has agreed only to turn over certain publicly held information; Social Security information and dates of birth won’t be turned over.

A good number of states refusing to comply, incidentally, happen to states that Trump won. So this isn’t a strictly partisan boycott of this ridiculous notion. As The Hill reported: “In the event I were to receive correspondence from the Commission … My reply would be: They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from,” Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, said in a Friday statement.

The voter fraud commission is trying to reel in a red herring. Indeed, Kris Kobach is known to be something of a conspiracy theorist who believes voter fraud has reached epidemic proportions in his state and across the land.

Independent studies have revealed only minuscule numbers of people voting illegally, certainly not in numbers sufficient to decide electoral outcomes nationally.

I’m sensing a showdown is on the horizon. I’m going to pull for the states to stand their ground. As Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Grimes, a Democrat, has noted, the commission was formulated on a “sham premise.”