Tag Archives: NY Times

Wheeler-dealer has been revealed as a fraud

A big part of what has gotten Donald J. Trump into so much trouble during the past few days has been his own big mouth and penchant for braggadocio.

He boasted many times while winning his campaign for the presidency that he would cut the “best” deals ever. He would renegotiate international trade deals; he would persuade companies to bring jobs back to this country; he would force Mexico to pay for “the wall” across our countries’ shared border … oh, and he would “repeal and replace” Obamacare on “Day One” of his presidency.

What about that last thing, repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with something better?

He didn’t deliver the goods. Not only did he not make good on that grand campaign promise, he revealed himself to be a fraud, a sucker.

None of this would matter nearly as much were it not for the undeniable fact that Trump bragged so openly — repeatedly and loudly — about how he would transfer his legendary business acumen into running a multitrillion-dollar government operation.

No president can force other politicians to do his bidding. No president can perform a single-handed midcourse correction of the federal government.

He told us at the Republican National Convention that “I, alone” can fix the things that need fixing. Mr. President, good governance — something that is foreign to you — inherently is a team sport. It requires a partnership between two of the three branches of government: the executive and legislative branches. That’s how the founders set it up and that’s how it is intended to function. What’s more, if either of those two branches screw it up, we have the third branch of government — the federal court system — to determine whether they violate the U.S. Constitution.

Can the 70-year-old president who prior to taking office had zero direct experience with government change his ways? Can this guy ever learn how to govern?

I refer to a part of Maureen Dowd’s brilliant column in today’s New York Times. She refers to how Trump likens his ascent to power to when Ronald Reagan became president in 1981. There is an essential difference between the 45th president and President Reagan.

It is that Ronald Reagan “knew what he didn’t know.” So he sought to hire the best minds he could find to teach him. Donald Trump has yet to acknowledge that he knows nothing about the job he now occupies.

Deal maker? Big-time negotiator? The president is a fake.

Back and forth, the political fortunes keep changing

First, it was Democrats who were smiling smugly at Republicans for nominating a TV celebrity/carnival barker/real estate mogul as their presidential nominee.

Then the Republicans had the next laugh as Donald J. Trump actually got elected over the Democrats’ presidential heiress apparent, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

One party is up. The other is down. Then the roles flipped.

What in the world then happened? The “up” party — which now controls Congress and the White House — produced a health care overhaul plan that couldn’t get enough support within its own ranks, let alone from the folks on the “other side of the aisle.”

That’s right, Republicans drove their repeal of the Affordable Care Act straight over the cliff.

Who led the suicide mission? Was it the carnival barker/president? Was it the speaker of the House of Representatives, the so-called “policy wonk”? Both of them appear ready to throw the other one under the proverbial bus.

This much appears certain: The party that sought to govern has been revealed to comprise a bunch of folks who cannot hit their backside with both hands.

As Frank Bruni writes in today’s New York Times: “For the entirety of his campaign, Donald Trump crowed about his peerless ability to make deals, one of which, he assured us, was going to be a replacement for Obamacare that would cut costs without leaving any Americans in the lurch. Last week proved that there was no such swap, that he hadn’t done an iota of work to devise one and that he was spectacularly unprepared to shepherd such legislation through Congress.”

Bruni skewers Trump.

These change of fortunes are giving me a case of vertigo. I can barely remain upright while watching the new Big Men On Campus make a mess of what they promised — repeatedly and with maximum boastfulness — to do once they acquired the keys to the White House.

I won’t take much, if any, of this to the bank just yet. The fickle winds of political fate have this way of changing course in an instant.

Still, Republicans across the land drooled at the prospect of a Trump presidency to go along with GOP control of Capitol Hill. I must wonder today if they regret seeing their wish come true.

Tweets diminish Trump’s ‘moral authority’

Thomas Friedman is a journalist of considerable reputation.

He might, in the words of Donald J. Trump, be an “enemy of the people,” but the New York Times columnist has a well-established base of knowledge of world affairs.

Consider his take on the president’s use of Twitter as a primary form of communication.

Friedman appeared this morning on “Meet the Press” and he asserted that Trump’s “moral authority” is being damaged by his random rants that go out in the wee hours from wherever he happens to be at the moment.

He noted that the president is going to Europe soon to meet with other heads of government and heads of state. They are our allies. Our friends. Our partners.

How will the U.S. president respond to these meetings? What might he say about President So-and-So or about Prime Minister What’s-His-Name?

Does the president’s Twitter fetish diminish the trust that these world leaders have in the head of the greatest nation on Earth?

Friedman believes Trump’s use of this social medium ultimately could cause great damage to this country’s standing among other world leaders who depend on America to be the source of reason, strength and wisdom.

Trump’s demonstrated careless use of Twitter undermines all of it.

The president is playing a dangerous game.

Trump has chosen the wrong ‘enemy’

Donald J. Trump’s war on what he calls the “enemy of the American people” has taken a seriously counterproductive and dangerous turn.

It’s also patently frightening. Outrageous. Un-American. Pick whatever negative description you prefer.

The president has ordered several major media organizations excluded from White House briefings. They include CNN, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Daily News, The Hill, Buzzfeed, Politico and the BBC.

He calls them “fake news” outlets. He doesn’t like the tone of their coverage. He is limiting access to, um, more “friendly” media organizations.

So help me, I am running out of ways to express my utter outrage over this treatment of the media by the president of the United States. Not since the late Richard Nixon have we seen anything quite like this — and not even Tricky Dick managed to do what one of his successors has done.

If you think for a moment about this, you have to wonder: What in the world is Trump hoping to accomplish? White House press flack Sean Spicer will deliver his briefings to certain media outlets; meanwhile, those that are left out will be left to write about their being excluded. That reporting, then, might simply anger those Americans who understand the meaning of the First Amendment’s protection of a “free press.”

Trump’s bullying of the media is an outrageous act of a thin-skinned narcissist who doesn’t comprehend — seemingly at any level — what the nation’s founders envisioned when they provided for a press that should be free of government intimidation.

We now are hearing the president of the United States of American declaring that the media are the “enemy of the people.”

Are you kidding me?

The irony of this approach is mind-boggling in the extreme. It can be argued that Trump owes his ascent to the pinnacle of political power to the media, which covered his every utterance for months without ever challenging their veracity.

Now that they have done what they should have done from the beginning, the president has decided he doesn’t like being challenged.

Mr. President, that’s what the media do. It’s their job.

You, sir, do not get it.

Mullen is right about Bannon: He doesn’t belong on NSC

Michael Mullen knows a thing or three about national security.

He’s a retired Navy admiral who served as Joint Chiefs chairman under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Mullen also believes that Donald Trump’s chief political adviser — Steve Bannon — should not be on the principals committee of the National Security Council.

My reaction? No-o-o-o-o!

Mullen has written his feelings in an op-ed published by the New York Times.

Mullen made his point clear. Bannon is a political hand. He is not a national security expert. Indeed, Trump demoted the current Joint Chiefs chair and the director of national intelligence to make room for the former Brietbart.com editor, and a guy believed to harbor dangerous views about white supremacy.

“Every president has the right and the responsibility to shape the security council as he sees fit,” Mullen added. “But partisan politics has no place at that table. And neither does Mr. Bannon.”

The NSC is a place where experts share their knowledge about imminent national security threats and make recommendations to the president on how to deal with them.

What in the world does Bannon bring to that discussion? Nothing, as far as I can tell.

Bravest man in America gets married

I hereby declare Michael Brown is the bravest man in America … heck, maybe the bravest man on the planet.

Why this highest of praise? Brown has just married Marilu Henner.

So, why is that such a big deal? Henner is a well-known comedic actress who broke onto the national scene on the TV series “Taxi.” But more than that, she possesses what’s called “total recall.” It’s called “autobiographical memory” or “hyperthymesia.”

Henner can recite every single moment of her life. She is now 64 years of age.

“60 Minutes” profiled Henner and some others a few years ago in a feature explaining this rare form of acute memory retention. “I can literally listen to a song on the radio when I’m driving and go to every single time I’ve heard it, like a flash montage,” she told The New York Times.

I saw the story on the NYT’s Style section this morning and couldn’t get over the courage Henner’s new husband is demonstrating by marrying a woman with that kind of recall.

All I have to say is that … Michael Brown, you’d better be on your best behavior — for the rest of your life! Mind all your Ps and Qs, sir. Take it from me, as I’ve been at this marriage gig for 45 years: Your wife will remember every single detail of when you mess up.

And you — in particular — would be a damn fool to challenge her.

I salute you, sir, the bravest man in the world.

Yes, Donald, you ‘mocked’ the NY Times reporter

I awoke this morning to news that the great actor Meryl Streep tore Donald J. Trump a new one at the Golden Globes awards ceremony.

She called him a bully and some other fitting epithets. I don’t want to comment specifically on the totality of her comments, but I do want to offer a brief critique of part of the president-elect’s tweet-storm response.

He said “for the 100th time” he didn’t mock a New York Times reporter’s physical disability while delivering a campaign-rally speech en route to his election as president.

Actually, Mr. President-elect, you did mock Serge Kovaleski, who suffers from a debilitating muscular disease that inhibits his arm movements. It was a disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of childish petulance the likes of which many of us never have seen coming from a major-party presidential nominee.

http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/09/movies/trump-meryl-streep-golden-globes-speech.html?partner=msft_msn&_r=0

For Trump to suggest — as if we’re all a bunch of rubes — that he merely was showing how the reporter was ” … ‘groveling’ when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!”

Trump said he “would never do that,” meaning mock someone in such a hideous manner.

Actually, I believe he would. And I also believe he did!

 

Liberals should heed advice from one of their own

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Nicholas Kristof makes no apologies for being a liberal thinker.

Nor should he. The New York Times columnist, though, offers a serious word of caution to his fellow liberals and progressives: If you mean what you say about demanding diversity in all aspects of contemporary life, then do not shut out those ideas with which you disagree.

Kristof’s essay in the Sunday New York Times echoes a recurring theme on which he has written before.

He chides universities and colleges for becoming echo chambers, for demonstrating unwillingness to hear thoughts expressed by those on the right, even the far right.

He says this about his fellow liberals: “We champion tolerance, except for conservatives and evangelical Christians. We want to be inclusive of people who don’t look like us — so long as they think like us.”

Ouch, man!

He’s correct. We see this played out on occasion when universities invite noted conservatives to speak on their campuses. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been victimized by outrage expressed by liberal faculty members and student body officers; so has Condoleezza Rice, the former national security adviser and secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration.

Even here in the Texas Panhandle, when one-time Bush presidential strategist Karl Rove was invited a few years ago to deliver a speech at a West Texas A&M University graduation event, you’d have thought WT had invited the spawn of Satan himself, based on some of the reaction.

Kristof has delivered a sound message for all his fellow liberals to heed. If you truly want diversity of thought and opinion, then open your own eyes, ears … and minds.

As Kristof writes: “It’s ineffably sad that today ‘that’s academic’ often means ‘that’s irrelevant.’ One step to correcting that is for us liberals to embrace the diversity we supposedly champion.”

Amen, brother.

Big surprise: Trump trashes CIA analysis of Russian hackers

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Of course Donald J. Trump would dismiss the CIA’s assessment that Russia played a role in seeking to influence the U.S. presidential election.

Naturally, he would dismiss the analysis provided by career intelligence officers trained to the max to make such determinations.

The president-elect won the election fair and square, by a “landslide,” he says. He didn’t need no stinkin’ Russian hackers trying to mess with our electoral process, he’ll say.

This is a potentially huge deal, folks.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/10/us/politics/trump-mocking-claim-that-russia-hacked-election-at-odds-with-gop.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

It’s so big that President Obama has ordered a top-to-bottom analysis of what happened, when it happened, who did it and why. He wants the results on his desk before he leaves office on Jan. 20.

The president-elect has fired yet another barrage at the U.S. intelligence community he is about to lead. He is opening up a potentially serious breach between the myriad intelligence agencies and the White House.

Trump has drawn fire from, get this, fellow Republicans. As the New York Times reported: “’To have the president-elect of the United States simply reject the fact-based narrative that the intelligence community puts together because it conflicts with his a priori assumptions — wow,’ said Michael V. Hayden, who was the director of the N.S.A. and later the C.I.A. under President George W. Bush.”

That’s what he is doing. He is rejecting these findings out of hand.

I get that partisan emotions are still burning white hot. More from the New York Times: “With the partisan emotions on both sides — Mr. Trump’s supporters see a plot to undermine his presidency, and Hillary Clinton’s supporters see a conspiracy to keep her from the presidency — the result is an environment in which even those basic facts become the basis for dispute.”

The man who’s still the president for a few more weeks has ordered a complete review. How about letting the intelligence pros do their job, deliver their complete findings to the president — and then let us discuss how we might need to defend our electoral system against foreign interference.

Trump damages due process

bergdahl

Donald J. Trump proved beyond anyone’s doubt that political candidates can — and do — say anything without regard to the consequences to certain cherished American principles … such as, oh, due process.

While running for president, Trump condemned a U.S. Army sergeant as a “rotten traitor.” The man in question is Bowe Bergdahl, who is set to be court-martialed in the spring on charges that he walked off his post in Afghanistan before he was captured by Taliban terrorists.

He was held captive for five years. Then he was released in a prisoner swap with U.S. officials.

I am not going to make an assertion about Bergdahl’s guilt or innocence. I wasn’t there. Neither was Trump. Or anyone other than the Taliban terrorists and Bergdahl. That didn’t prevent Trump from issuing a blanket campaign-stump conviction of the young man.

Moreover, as the New York Times wondered in an editorial published today, the rants of the future commander in chief likely have put Bergdahl’s right to a fair trail in extreme jeopardy.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/26/opinion/sunday/the-soldier-donald-trump-called-a-traitor.html?ref=opinion

As the Times stated: “Sergeant Bergdahl is charged with desertion and misbehavior in front of the enemy; a guilty verdict could result in a sentence anywhere from no jail time to life. But how can he get a fair trial in the military justice system when the next commander in chief has proclaimed his guilt and accused him of treason?

“The short answer is he can’t.”

The Army has charged Bergdahl with desertion and he could be sentenced to prison for the rest of his life if he’s convicted.

Trump’s proclamation of guilt of one of the men who soon will be under his command speaks to his utter disregard for the rule of law and of the due process that is accorded to all criminal defendants.

The Times suggests that President Obama might grant Bergdahl a pardon to allow him to “rebuild his life” and avoid what it calls a “questionable” prosecution. The Times states that Bergdahl had a pre-existing mental condition when he enlisted in the Army, which granted him an enlistment waiver.

Given the poison that the next commander in chief has inserted into this pre-trial discussion, the current commander in chief ought to take a hard look at a pardon.

Trump’s rhetorical recklessness only demonstrates his unfitness for the job he is about to assume.