One dangerous section

Author: admin

So, we have the Mueller report. Rather, we have most of the Muller report. Some days ahead, we will have it all. No redactions. No phony accompanying “gas lighting” from an attorney general who’s failed his constitutional responsibilities and become a political whore for a failed – and likely doomed – president.

Strong words? Yes. Strong feelings? Yes.

But, there is a particular portion that scares the hell out of me. Just one section but its implications go far, far beyond the report.

Trump – who doesn’t know the legal difference between obstruction and collusion – has claimed “vindication” because he was “cleared” of obstruction. No, he wasn’t. The largest contributing proofs of that are the reasons I’m frightened.

The following is taken directly from the Muller report, courtesy of CNN:

Mueller: OBSTRUCTION BY TRUMP FAILED BECAUSE OTHERS REFUSED TO “CARRY OUT ORDERS.”

“The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”

“(James) Comey did not end the investigation of (Michael) Flynn, which ultimately resulted in Flynn’s prosecution and conviction for lying to the FBI. (Don) McGahn did not tell the Acting Attorney General that the special counsel must be removed, but was instead prepared to resign over the President’s order.

(Corey) Lewandowski and Dearborn did not deliver the President ‘s message to (Jeff) Sessions that he should confine the Russia investigation to future election meddling only. And McGahn refused to recede from his recollections about events surrounding the President’s direction to have the special counsel removed, despite the President’s multiple demands that he do so. Consistent with that pattern, the evidence we obtained would not support potential obstruction charges against the President’s aides and associates beyond those already filed,” the report said.

Permit me to translate all that. Trump TRIED to obstruct justice but his staff refused to follow his direct orders. Simple as that. Scary as that.

Take Trump out of the equation for a moment. Think only of the Office of the President of the United States.

I’m reminded of a line from the Spielberg movie “Lincoln” when an angry Abe pounded the table and railed “The is the office of the President – clothed in immense power!”

That’s an absolute fact. And it can be personally overwhelming when you stand silently in an empty Oval Office, listening to your own heart beat. The very real sense of authority – read “power” – is as authentic as the furniture.

That authority comes directly from the Constitution and is both specific and overarching. Whoever sits behind that desk is “clothed in immense power” and decisions and orders emanating from that spot are expected to be followed. Most often, previous occupants have made decisions or issued orders only after consultations with staff and discussions with experts in their fields to assure all relevant facts have been examined to assure accuracy.

Now, put Trump back in the picture. Like him or hate him, he’s also “clothed” in that power – that authority. His decisions – his orders – are issued with the same constitutional backing as his predecessors. Even if they don’t have the same group thinking.

BUT – many of his staff and advisors – those who know him best – have been given their orders from Trump and, without telling him, have refused to carry out ones they disagreed with. They’ve disobeyed and secreted their decision to do so,

I’ve written before about instances of such real resistance to Trump in activities of the military. Clear cases of finding ways to not do as ordered – no military parade, unarmed rather than armed soldiers at our southern border, Pentagon refusing to allow immigrants arrest powers, etc.. Again, a constitutionally authorized portion of our national government finding ways to block presidential authority.

Now, we know such resistance is occurring in the White House.

Given world conditions today – given Trump’s legal authority to unwisely conduct negotiations of a nuclear treaty with North Korea – given the failure of Congress to perform its duties as a co-equal branch of government – given Trump’s mercurial nature in his conduct of our national affairs – given even our military leaders thwarting some of his orders – given his serial lying – we should be afraid.

And, now, Robert Muller’s report contains specific examples of staff closest to Trump deciding, on their own, which orders they’ll obey, putting verbal gasoline on an already smouldering situation.

The pervasive thought, that people we’ve never heard of, elected to no leadership roles, people surrounding the President of the United States, individuals at the highest levels of our nation are often secretly ignoring legally-issued orders based on their own thinking – all that is quietly terrifying to me.

If that doesn’t kick-start a sleeping congress – especially Republicans – to perform their co-equal branch responsibilities, we’re in greater trouble than we know.

It’s subpoena time

Author: admin

When most of us were kids, we were taught to tell the truth. When we did, things around the household ran smoothly and life was good.

But, occasionally, a lie seemed like the easy way out. Besides, “who’d know?” Most often, Mom or Dad DID know. When that happened at our house, the result usually had something to do with a willow switch, wielded in love, though it didn’t seem so at the time.

Been watching the Congressional hearings of late? Been watching and listening to some of our nation’s “leaders” testify to this and that? Been trying to match a lot of that testimony with fact?

I have. And, IMHO, what’s needed most now, along the banks of the Potomac, is a willow tree – make that an orchard of willow trees – from which many switches could be cut. Many.

Though there are others, two major miscreants stand out: Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Attorney General Barr. Both have wandered so far from the truth their willow punishments alone could account for a tree or two.

The lying behavior of both wasn’t hard to see coming. There’s been plenty of evidence that, when push came to shove, their allegiance would not be to the great responsibilities of their positions but to an arrogant, serial-lying, racist misogynist who would sell out this country for a new hotel site.

Barr, especially, has come dangerously close to performing in a way that would put his law license in danger in the purview of some bar associations. He’s not skirted truth so much as stomped all over it. At the same time, he spewed conspiracy theories and some of the flat-out lies we’ve heard so often from his “master.”

Given a second chance, and sufficient rethink time, to recant one of the most heinous charges, he wouldn’t. Instead, he doubled down on a lie that’s been refuted by investigatory agents in his own department!

Rather than supporting the work of Special Prosecutor Muller, he’s blithely announced formation of yet another team to investigate why the Muller investigation was authorized in the first place. In other words, when the facts – and law – aren’t on your side, try to undermine those who do have the facts.

Barr’s whore-like “testimony” was given to a panel made up entirely of lawyers. All of ‘em. Some were prosecutors in their previous lives. They can spot what Barr was amateurishly trying to do. In the legal professions – and many others – it’s called “ass-covering.”

I have to wonder what Muller is thinking and feeling about all this, especially about Barr’s positing an investigation to try to undermine nearly two years of the Muller team’s work. These guys know each other – worked together. Their professional histories go back years.

What do you suppose Mueller thinks now? He, alone, knows what his nearly two years of work uncovered. He, alone, knows what was in -and what was left out – of his report. He knows far, far more about facts uncovered – facts that can eventually be used by Congress and other authorities to support future prosecutions. Barr doesn’t know that. Yet, there he was, promising an investigation of the investigators and their authority.

Mnuchin shared in that “ass-covering” drivel. The law regarding congressional access to tax filings – anyone’s tax filings – is simple-enough and straight-forward enough – to withstand challenge. But, there he was, trying to buffalo another committee of lawyers who know what he was attempting to do.

He even told the committee he had a “more important appointment” to get to and challenged the chair over when and how he could leave the proceedings. He looked like the damned fool he is. All he accomplished was to anger members of Congress that have many ways of bringing him to heel.

Again, IMHO, it’s time to start printing and distributing subpoena’s and handing them out. Lots of ‘em. The time has come to put Barr. Mnuchin and their cohorts under oath and hang the swords of contempt and lying to Congress charges over their misbegotten heads.

We’re headed for an explosion – or maybe many explosions – in D.C.. The pressure of Trump’s arrogance, outrageous behavior and dislike of any restrictions to his presidential authority, coupled with what has now been proven regarding coverup attempts by his minions, is heating up. Trump, alone, is the subject of 27 formal investigations. Other miscreants around him can account for another dozen or more.

This is all headed – now or when Trump leaves office – to legal charges for many folks in a number of jurisdictions.

Barr and Mnuchin are, quite possibly, the opening act. They may have become the first leaks of “steam” from the building pressures. If so, their shoddy efforts to carry water for a lying president are proof Trump will try to poison truth. That he, and those around him who’ve pledged their fealty to his cancerous presence in our Republic, will do and say anything to protect him.

Get out the popcorn. It’s subpoena time.

Joe and me

Author: admin

In this nation – and I suppose others as well – we have a constant national problem. Well, we have lots of national problems. But, this one you find in our news media, entertainment, religion, societal issues and a lot of other institutions. Including politics.

It usually becomes a major part of our national dialogue when some issue – or someone – becomes the major topic of the day capturing people’s attention. For good or ill. When it happens, the pendulum – discussion – swings from one side to the other at such a fast pace that reason and logic are often forgotten.

At the moment, Joe Biden is being victimized by that kind of national momentum that’s mostly undeserved. I say that as a man a decade older than Joe but as someone who was also raised in the ‘40’s and ‘50’s in a middle class working home. A home with two loving parents, public schooling, religious training and proud of it all.

We learned the social expectations of the time, learned to live by the right values of that era and, in most ways, evolved as the decades rolled by. We both are creatures of that background and, like Joe, I still live and most often practice those ways in daily life. It’s who we are.

Now, Biden’s being pilloried for some of the behavior which is part of his being. Just like mine. Not sexual actions or threatening, violent behavior or socially unacceptable language. But, he’s being subjected to daily public criticism as if all that were true of him. They’re not.

To those saying “Times have changed and we must change with ‘em,” I say, “I understand.” God knows, I understand. Even as our culture has grown grosser, our language in public more highly offensive and our acceptance of what was once unacceptable in entertainment, media, sports and other public activities continue unabated. But, I understand.

Joe is being accused of “touching” women or making them “uncomfortable.” Not by women he may have “touched” today or even this week. But, by women who said they felt “uncomfortable” several years ago. My question: “Where the hell have they been, why didn’t they speak up before a presidential campaign and, most important, when the behavior made them “uncomfortable,” did they say so to Biden?

As for the woman from Nevada, she and Biden were making a public appearance that day. She was about to speak. He leaned forward and touched her hair and shoulder as if to say, “You got this. You’ll do fine.” Encouragement is what I get from the details. Did she tell Joe afterwards he was wrong – that his actions upset her or made her more nervous? Did she?

Let’s talk about “behavior” for a moment.

When it comes to public “touching” or “caressing” or any other social act of greeting, I remember the late Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus and Senator Frank Church as they “worked” a room or campaign appearance. Both approached you with an extended right hand – palm up – followed many times by a left hand on someone’s body. Male or female. And, the gestures were nearly always returned.

Politicians of every stripe do the same. Always have. Many hug – or are hugged by – the other person. Sometimes even a kiss on the cheek. In a basic sense, it’s part of the “job description.” You may not like it or get upset. But, that’s a most common political social environment.

I understand some people – female and male – not liking physical closeness. I get it. Joe gets it, I’m sure. It’s always been that way. Many folks like their “space.” These people – female and male – aren’t new. Their feelings aren’t new. But, the current uproar by some voices is. The pendulum has swung quickly.

That pendulum swing of currently “acceptable” social behavior has gone far from center. Joe’s been around for 70+ years. Me for more than 80. This sudden “foot-on-the-brake” of what’s now “expected” is new to people – men and women – with all our previous years of experience. Of 70-80 years of what was acceptable conditioning.

Education is a two-step process for most of us. Especially seniors with years of history. Step one: forget – unlearn – what you know and have done in the past. Step two: learn the new, even if it’s radically different. Forget and re-learn. Forget and re-learn.

When you ask people who know Biden the best, what you hear most about are his many little – and mostly very private – acts of kindness toward both friends and strangers. How he often goes out of his way to do or say something to support individuals he doesn’t even know. How personable and, yes, even loving he is with just – people. Not the kinds of things you hear about other vice presidents or senators.

What angers me most, at the moment, is the sudden outbreak of female criticism of Biden. Aside from being probably the most experienced of all candidates in both parties, he’s an old “war horse.” But, some of the very experiences that make him so highly qualified are now being seen as inappropriate. In many ways, the older you get, the more history you have to overcome.

And, let’s not forget. Among Democrat contenders to take on Trump next year, Biden is the leading candidate. Hmm.

Finally, for Joe and me – and the millions of other men out there who are long-lived – give us some time. We’ve made careers – fathered families – lived long lives of achievement – been accepted for who and what we are. We’re paying attention. We’ll make the adjustments necessary for what’s expected today.

And, we’ll still be here when that pendulum swings back to its proper place.

Less light, more heat

Author: admin

Here’s a fun fact for you. Most recent CNN polling of registered voters has Trump and Orcasio-Cortez statistically tied in “like” versus “dislike.” The numbers approving (about 41% for each) and the numbers disapproving (about 54%). Weird, huh?

Trump’s been in office just over two years. But, AOC reached her numbers in just about 90 days Something of a record, I think, given all the media attention she gets or puts herself out there for. And that’s the problem. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “She runs the risk of being just another Kardashian.”

Which is too bad. She’s bright. She’s good on her feet. She’s advocating for most of the proper issues: new and better energy sources, improvements to banking and other finance regulations, higher wages. All good. All needed.

The problem is, since she won her Bronx election in November, between her efforts – and with willing support of national media – she’s achieved “rock star” status with a lot of folks. One of the late night talkers took to the streets recently to see what people thought of AOC. Answers were generally positive among those few who actually knew she was a member of Congress. But, an amazing number actually said “rock star!”

She’s not the only one of the new freshmen in Congress putting herself on the front pages and the talk shows. She has the highest public profile but others – mostly on House committees investigating Trump – are getting a lot of air time. IMHO, too much.

These young people have their “track shoes” on and many “hit the ground running.” Good. Mostly. But, some are demanding their predecessors take up their “new” bills right away. Demanding places on upper level committees. Right now. Wanting seats on the Budget & Finance Committee, for example, that traditionally go to members who’ve served longer and know a lot more about the budgeting process. The newcomers have proven patience is not one of their long suits.

Someone once likened the “ship of state” to an actual ocean liner. It takes a long time to turn that large ship around. It’s got to be done slowly, with many adjustments, before the maneuver is complete. There’s a lot of truth in that comparison.

Our national government was deliberately designed to be slow to change, though there are ways to achieve it. But, there’s great protection from making large-scale mistakes by having to push against the resistance to change. Took me years to learn that because, like AOC and the other “newbies,” I wanted to see more and faster responsiveness to ever-changing societal demands. It just doesn’t work that way. Nor should it.

Anyone who thinks change in government should come quickly need look no further for conclusive proof of the dangers than to note what’s happening in the White House. In the demands of one man’s unchecked, ignorant will, we’re seeing national and international carnage to a degree that’s never happened before. The wreckage he’s created can also come from a government unchecked and in too much of a hurry.

There’s a lot of talent in the new folks. Lots of energy that comes from not having experienced what the inside of Congress really looks like. Or how it operates or having been forced to slow down and learn how things get done. How bad ideas sometimes get through while good ones die aborning. Check back with ‘em in a couple of years and you’ll find the successful ones spent some time learning. And slowing down.

The 2020 election promises even more new faces. And the possible elimination of some disastrous roadblocks i.e. Ol’ Mitch. Whatever damage can be rightfully laid at Trump’s small feet, McConnell has done, in my opinion, far more lasting damage to this nation.

He’s done so by (1) stacking our federal court system with dozens of wholly unqualified people who’ll be there for decades and (2) killing any bills he doesn’t personally “like” or thinks shouldn’t become law. His actions have brought stalemate and partisanship to staggering new levels.

Aside from learning the ways Congress really works – when it works – the new folks need to study monoliths like McConnell and a few others. They need to listen. A lot. Listen to the members of both houses that are effective – that get things done. They need to divert some of that inexperienced enthusiasm into developing more patience with both the system and some of the “older” folks. Don’t lose the eagerness. Just temper it a bit.

They might spend some time with Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, who came to Congress some years ago, filled with zeal and lots of good ideas. Some of which are now law. Find out why people in “red state” Ohio keep returning him each election. Why they like his “lunch bucket” approach to governing. Still has the zeal. But, he’s also gathered a lot of knowledge and more than a few successes.

At the moment, AOC has a problem. That polling shows it. Just the fact that I can write “AOC” and you immediately know what those letters mean after only a few weeks makes the point.

There’s joy in recognition and acclaim – to be hounded by an ever-hungry media – to be asked by everyone what you think about this-and-that. But, there’s a deep downside when someone newer comes along; someone with a bit brighter wit, just a bit more enthusiasm, just a little more personality. Someone who’s a bit more “quotable.”

The good ones become better, often by ignoring the spotlight while sharpening their talents. She’s obviously got the talent. She’s just got too much spotlight.

Ask what people think when they hear the name “Kardasian.”

Marines vs. Navy

Author: admin

Polling. Polling. ‘Tis the season to be polling.

Unfortunately, when it comes to asking the public about Democrat presidential contenders, the numbers are just about meaningless at the moment. Way too early.

Saw one this week that had Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders way out in front. Duh. Of the 20 or so names on a pollster’s question sheet, do any of the others have the name identification of a 40 year politician – and recent Vice President for eight years – and a sitting senator who’s been running for President for 10 years and still has a national network of supporters?

It’s going to likely take another year for anything meaningful to come out of political sampling statistics. There’ll be lots of pushing and shoving and more than a few dropouts by early 2020.

Here in our cactus-littered landscape, we have an interesting race coming up. With some unique human interest.

After the death of John McCain, former Arizona Senator John Kyl was appointed to fill the remaining months until the 2018 election. At the same time, two of our members of Congress were going head-to-head for the other Senate opening to replace Jeff Flake who quit after polling showed him losing.

Eventually, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema beat the GOP’s Martha McSally in a close one.

Just before a new Congress could be seated, Kyl – as promised – stepped down, leaving McCain’s chair empty. So, what did our faithful Republican Governor do about filling it? Well, now, he just reached out and plopped the loser in the 2018 Senate race in it. The candidate the public had just rejected. McSally is in there until 2020 when – as the incumbent – she’s got to run again.

Hold those thoughts.

Several years ago, our Rep. Gabby Giffords was badly wounded in an assassination attempt in Tucson. During a long recovery, she was forced to resign and one of her staff members was eventually elected to replace her.

The main support for Giffords during recovery was her husband – former astronaut Mark Kelly. As she got better, the two of them started a national campaign to tighten requirements for gun ownership. Many prominent people joined in and the movement is now well-recognized and represented in several states.

A tragic story could happily end right there. But, it doesn’t.

After a lot of urging by a lot of people, Kelly has decided to run against McSally next year. Lots of hoopla around here when he made the announcement. Arizona has traditionally been a pretty red state. But, several House seats have recently gone to Democrats and Sinema is our first Dem in the Senate in 40 years.

Kelly was more than just another astronaut in our space program. He and his twin brother provided a unique opportunity for NASA to further determine the human effects of extended spaceflight when one twin circled the globe for a year while the other sat it out in Houston under the watchful eye of doctors. Additionally, Mark Kelly made three space flights himself.

As a result, Kelly brings a lot of charisma and name identification to the political wars. Around these parts, he’s thought of a lot more than just “local boy makes good.” So, there’s got to be some real concern in the McSally camp.

But, to me, there’s one more part of the promised McSally-Kelly match-up that will make it unique.

If all goes as planned, we’ll have a former Marine fighter pilot – McSally – running against a former Navy fighter pilot – Kelly – to replace another former Navy fighter pilot – McCain.

You just can’t get much more human interest than that.

Advertising for “active senior” communities usually depicts a silver-haired couple or two, golfing, playing tennis or lounging around some palm-studded oasis featuring a huge pool. “Retirement adventures.”

For many, that portrayal says everything they’re looking for is “Nirvana for the taking” and is immediately available in California, Nevada, Florida or, as in our case, Arizona.

But, there’s another side. One we’ve come to know living in one of three Del Webb communities that are “cheek-by-jowl” which total some 90,000 of us “silver-haired” folk.

People who move here may be in their 50’s, 60’s or 70’s. Ready to dive into that “active” retirement, doing all the things they promised themselves they’d get do someday. And, nearly all “go for it.”

But, we get older. We get weaker. We grow more susceptible to the physical and mental changes aging brings about. While communities like ours may be filled with wonderful facilities and golf courses every few blocks, as our years stack up, we often find our “new” physical limitations make us spectators rather than “active” participants.
Medical care in these communities is usually first-rate and, with Medicare – and possibly a “medigap” policy – it’s all available on a moment’s notice. From sniffles to sophisticated surgery, we’ve got it. In abundance.

Over the last few years, Barb and I have spent some time in various medical waiting rooms. And, we’ve seen a lot of those formerly “active, silver-haired” seniors who aren’t so “active” anymore. We’ve experienced the other side – the down side – of senior community retirement living. It’s something those attractive ads leave out.

When you lump some 90,000 seniors together, you get a steady progression to the end of life. Some may eventually move elsewhere in the country to be near family for assistance. A few more have enough resources to hire the best home care support. But, without those options, you’re pretty much on your own. Sitting in waiting rooms can be damned difficult as you see so many people suffering from every ailment known to man. Up to and including near total incapacity.

The “other side” of retirement communities is not advertised. You can spend years playing golf, pickleball, shuffleboard, swimming, working on exercise devices and enjoying hundreds of clubs for just about every hobby you ever heard of. But, the “new faces” will become the “old-timers” and the “old-timers” will eventually become the frail elderly.

We are surrounded with first-class medical care, several hospitals catering to geriatric medicine and a wealth of specialists for every ailment. But, the plain fact is, there is an end to “retirement.”

There are five main entrances to Sun City Grand and Sun City West. I’ve often chuckled that, outside two of them, you’ll find two funeral homes. Just outside. Waiting. Plus four more “on campus.”

Some folks find humor no matter the downside. One of the funeral parlors offers monthly “pre-need” sessions. At each, they serve pizza. “Pizza and pre-need,” it’s called. If you can’t find humor in planning funerals while eating pizza, you’re probably too old to live here.

For months, there was a huge billboard in the middle of our community that read “COMPLETE CREMATION JUST $695.” Why it needed the word “complete” is beyond me. Folks talked about asking the proprietor what you get for $475?

A joke going around these communities of senior living has a couple in their 90’s meeting with an attorney to file for divorce. “Why now, after all these years,” the lawyer asks? “We wanted to wait until the children died,” was the response.

Not funny? Maybe. Tasteless? Could be. But, if you’re in your 80’s or 90’s and retirement isn’t “fun-and-games” anymore, you’ve gotta laugh at something. Even yourselves and your conditions.

Getting into your last years is a most personal experience. Different for each of us. Even if you’re been a caregiver for a loved one – even if you’ve been a healthcare professional – someone else’s spinal pain or cancer surgery or even dementia is entirely different when it’s yours. In so many late-in-life experiences, it’s “learn-as-you-go” because it’s your pain or your cancer or your dementia and nobody else can live it for you.

Please don’t read this as a condemnation of retirement communities or even retirement living. It’s just that, when you put 90,000 people in one big plot of land, and when they’re all growing older together, it’s a far different experience than traditionally depicted in those glossy ads.

Unless life is cut short by disease or some fatal event, we’re all heading in one direction. Long life is a privilege not granted to all. Most, who’ve been “allowed” the experience, find parts of it challenging or downright hard to deal with. The “machine” that is our physical being isn’t under warranty. Some of the “breakdowns” can’t be fixed. Each day can present a new obstacle we have to learn to deal with.

The retirement experience can be – and most often is – a good one. For awhile. You meet so many folks that, though strangers, often have a lot in common, even if it’s just the aging process itself. You share things. You remember many of the same things. You do things together to the best of your current abilities.

But, eventually, it’s not retirement anymore. It’s personal experience dealing with issues you’ve never known in the “first person.” End-of-life issues. It’s also a learning experience. How you handle it is all up to you.

You won’t find that in the ads.

Context is everything

Author: admin

A long time ago, author A.D. Garrett – wrote “Context is everything. In a long media life, those words were a sort of Holy Grail for me. Whatever the story – whatever the situation – context was everything.

For sometime now, I’ve been unable to get the tragic story of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam out of my head. He’s accused of either wearing blackface or a Klan hood when in college about 45 years ago. He’s admitted to painting his face with shoe polish or something similar for a medical school party.

Whatever he did, it’s badly affected his political career. As it should. But, how badly? Will he be a one-term governor? Is he being held to a false standard?

I would say “Yes” to both.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m neither a racist nor an anti-Semite. Never have been. But, have I done or said racist things? Certainly. So, too, I would guess, have you. Have I accepted racist portrayals or laughed at racist portrayals. I have. So, too, I would guess, have you.

Faced with changing moral values and social mores, we’re constantly asked to accept where we are and what’s acceptable today and not where we were and what was acceptable yesterday.

Consider: In the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, the most intelligent and brilliantly written show on television was “MASH.” Weekly, we followed the comedic but thoughtful Korean War adventures of Hawkeye, Trapper John, Frank Burns and Hotlips. Masterly crafted comedy with a continuing subtle – but very strong – anti-war message.

In the first years of “MASH,” there were four doctors in “The Swamp.” Three surgeons and an anesthetist who happened to be a Black man. Do you remember the anesthetists character name? “Spearchucker.” “Spearchucker” Jones. While we nationally enjoyed the series for its humor and well-developed characters, we didn’t give a thought to an obviously racist name that was used in our living rooms for several years. The ‘70’s. When Northam was partying.

Each December at our house, we watch a seasonal movie called “White Christmas.” Released in 1954, it’s become a sort of classic musical companion to “It’s A Wonderful Life.” I’ve seen it dozens of times and it’s on my top 10 list.

It was full of brilliantly staged musical numbers. The kind you hardly see anymore. About midway through “White Christmas” there’s one with Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Danny Kaye. Very prominent. With Crosby and Kaye in blackface and a cast of other blackface actors sitting toward the rear of the stage. It was called the “Minstrel Show” number on a production “call” board.” You probably read it, watched the scene and thought nothing about. Just like me. In the ‘50’s.

In the ‘30’s and ‘40’s, two of the biggest comedic stars were Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor – both of whom used blackface in their movies and vaudeville shows. Nobody made a big deal out of it. Under the makeup, it was just Jolson and Cantor. Characters we readily accepted.

Context. Commonly known people with labels and mannerisms we just accepted – because it was then. Not now.

Now, we like to think of ourselves as “enlightened.” We don’t accept those “relics of our past.” We’re wiser, smarter, more aware of what’s proper – what’s “the right thing.”

But, consider. About 75 years ago, acting as a nation, we drove entire families of Japanese-Americans out of their homes – confiscated their businesses and other property. And, we trucked them off to barbed wire compounds in isolated areas of our country and kept them there for years. Most lost everything. But, in 1942, it was “necessary.” It was “proper.” It was “accepted.”

Later – much later – we acknowledged what we did then was wrong. It was racist. It was unnecessary. And, as a nation, we said “Never again!”

I happen to live in a state that borders Mexico. Enough said.

“Context is everything.”

What happens if …

Author: admin

I’ve harbored a thought for some time that’s seemed like pure fantasy but now others in the opinin’ business are talking about it. Even the loquacious George Will. Something that’s never happened in our system of government. But, it might.

Suppose D. Trump either doesn’t get to finish his term for some constitutional – or criminal – reason or he loses at the polls in 2020. Will he walk peacefully out of the White House?

Or, if he makes it to the 2020 election, and he loses, will he accept the results and step aside? Ex-Presidents always have. But, would he?

Talk about a “constitutional crisis!”

Now, you can add another voice to that thesis: Michael Cohen. In last week’s testimony at a congressional hearing, he said “Given my experience of working for Mr. Trump, I fear that, if he loses the election in 2020, there will never be a peaceful transition of power.” BOOM!

We’ve always prided ourselves on the ability to elect one or more candidates to office and change administrations without a fuss. Even in the worst of times, we’ve always transitioned and kept right on going.

Out here in the desert, I’m beginning to think the odds of Trump acknowledging a loss at the polls are about 60-40 no.

He’s said before – in 2018 – he wouldn’t accept losing. “Election fraud” and “voter fraud” and all that. A number of times, he’s railed against all sorts of imaginary enemies and promised, if the results went against him, he’d ignore them.

There are several options to enforce an election outcome. One is in the Electoral College. But, suppose some delegates refuse to follow the popular vote at home and vote their own way. It’s happened before but only in small instances. Remember, too, Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 but still won the election. In that same Electoral College.

Then, there’s Congress. Congress must verify election results. But, the basis on which to do so is – wait for it – what’s certified by the Electoral College. Would the present Congress refuse to verify? Would Congress authorize a second election? Could it? Very, very deep constitutional waters there.

How about the courts? Would our Supreme Court step in? Happened with Bush-Gore and the Florida outcome. Would SCOTUS tell Congress to do it all over or accept the numbers it has. Would Trump accept a loss in a court decision?

And, how about a possible faceoff at the White House front door. What would the Secret Service and the FBI do? After January 20, 2020, Trump may not be president but will he leave?

Then, there’s the possibility of a nervous military.

I know all this is imaginary at the moment. A lot of rambling by an old guy. But, I’m not the only one with an imagination fueled by Trump. Some of the national writers are moving the possibility of a Trump refusal to vacate from discussions at the corner watering hole to the pages of respectable media forums. And there’s Cohen.

In his own disastrously mercurial way, Trump has operated as if the rest of the world was his personal fiefdom. He’s ignored protocols, treaties, contracts and, in some cases, even the law. He’s made enemies of friends and supposedly “friends” of enemies. Wildly unpredictable. He also has a following of some 30-million or so folks that have and will likely continue to support him in whatever he does.

So, maybe a little speculation about Trump refusing to accept the outcome of losing re-election to our nation’s highest office is not totally farfetched. Maybe it’s worth thinking just a bit about the possibility. What if………

A chain under pressure

Author: admin

The armed services of this country like to heckle each other about this and that. Usually, good natured ribbing about “superiority” of one branch over the other. Although, sometimes not quite so “good natured.” Depends on the amount of beer consumed.

But, there’s one foundational system that drives all and which makes each effective: the chain of command. It starts at the top and flows in a straight vertical line from Commander-in-Chief to Secretary of Defense to Joint Chiefs to the commanders of the various services and down from there. If you’re in the military, you quickly learn the drill and you religiously abide by it. Failure to do so is not an option.

At least that’s how its always been. Maybe now, not so much.

Donald Trump’s world, to him and only him, is one in which he can do anything – say anything – demand anything and do so without considering the resulting repercussions or bad effects. But, only in his world. The rest of us know – it ain’t so.

Trump’s dangerous words and disastrous touch have screwed up, crippled and damaged many parts of our Republic. His ignorance of how government works, his lies, his broken promises, his lack of understanding of America’s role in the world have created monumental problems. He’s trampled international relationships, turned his back on historic treaties, reduced our standing among nations and tried to create new alliances with our enemies.

Now, with the same deliberate ignorance, he may be creating dangerous problems within our military. And for that chain-of-command element that’s been the backbone of all successful militaries.

Historically, when the President issues orders to the Defense Department, there is a loud clicking of heels, a quick “Yes, Sir” and immediate action. Thanks to Trump’s failure to understand the system and the rules – and refusal to learn – we’re seeing possible ruptures.

I first noticed it when he ordered up that military parade in his honor. In the following weeks, some DOD and military voices were heard grumbling and rebelling. There was no heel clicking, no snappy “Yes, Sir,” and no action The eventual response was the Pentagon putting a price tag on such an event that was so outrageous even Trump had to back down. Military resistance.

Now, more open resistance appearing in “the chain.” Trump ordered troops to our border with Mexico to turn back or arrest thousands of civilians – men, women and children – if they tied to cross that line. Shoot, if necessary.

A couple of days later, secure documents, created for Defense Department “eyes only,” were leaked to several news outlets. Much of the information contained was the usual organizational stuff dealing with troop movements. But, there were also portions – especially dealing with cost and subtle questioning of the use of trained military for such a purpose – that appeared critical of the venture. In effect, more resistance in the chain-of-command.

Some were willing to take up arms to follow that very questionable order. But, there seemed to be a sizeable contingent within DOD that didn’t want to; that believed it was not good use of money and manpower. Joint Chiefs finally agreed to send, but not to arrest, shoot, threaten or confront. Only to support U.S. Border Patrol and other law enforcement. Quiet but direct resistance. Again.

And this. Former Defense Secretary Mattis went public to say “The military doesn’t do things for show.” Not entirely true. (See Navy Blue Angels, Army Golden Knights, USAF Thunderbirds, etc.) But, the fact he felt the need to say so after public anger and military document leaking, could indicate Trump’s order created some interior negative military feedback he felt the need to address.

Now, military works of fiction in books and movies might be good entertainment. It may be memorable for Commander Denzel Washington to challenge the shipboard authority of Captain Gene Hackman. Good fiction. But not in real life. Not appearances of reluctance by some in DOD to follow an order of the Commander-in Chief. Might not be a wise order but an order nonetheless.

It’s not my intent here to warn the generals and admirals are plotting a government coup. But, when cracks of resistance appear within the chain-of-command – no matter the order – it’s worrisome.

Trump has proven himself incapable of exercising proper presidential authority because he doesn’t know how. He’s repeatedly proven himself unable to sustain relationships with his own staff, his appointees and even Congress. He’s made unwise decisions, taken inappropriate – and sometimes illegal – actions. He’s threatened, bullied and lied so much that polling shows less than half of us believe or trust him.

With such evidence on the table, it’s no wonder signs of discontent and reluctance to follow his orders are beginning to appear publically in the Pentagon and elsewhere. After all, the Americans who make up the military are like the rest of us. They have their own opinions, too.

A rigid chain-of-command is the spine that holds the military upright and functional. Always has been. It would be wise for all of us to keep close watch on the Oval Office-Department of Defense relationship. Trump has been savaging other parts of our government. His ill-advised actions may be showing up there, too.

Don’t impeach Trump

Author: admin

Words I never thought I’d write. Or say. But, to all members of Congress, “Please, don’t impeach Donald Trump!”

While growing evidence is proving Trump to be a consummate full-time liar, multiple adulterer, proven deadbeat and much, much more, “Please don’t impeach the bastard! Please!”

Though he appears to be a lawbreaker, a lousy president and a collaborator with the Russians, please keep Trump around till the 2020 general election so we voters can put an end to him and his entire cadre of self-dealers, misfits and crooks. Please!

In defense of my plea, I offer the only two words for keeping Trump in place until 2020: Mike Pence.

While Trump appears to have woven a web of lies, double-dealing, debauchery and massive money manipulation before, during and after his election, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” We know the devil we have and many steps are underway to deal with his miscreant – and possibly criminal – ways.

Pence’s history strongly indicates voters in Indiana only had him for governor for three years but were preparing to throw him out in his re-election bid in 2016. Campaign polling showed he would have been a “one-termer” when Trump reached down and pulled him off the highway before he became political roadkill.

In only three years as governor, Pence continually fought losing battles on just about everything he tried to do. Like the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” in his first year. It was definitely anti-LGBTQ. Pence tried everything to get it through but, in the end, he had to strike some of the prejudicial language. He still found himself losing votes of some GOP legislators. Upon eventual passage, several large companies either cancelled plans for Indiana expansion or trimmed back existing operations.

He signed a doomed anti-abortion bill which would have – had it survived an inevitably successful court challenge – made Indiana the first state with a nearly complete abortion ban. Two court decisions killed it.

Pence tried to create a state media propaganda network called “JustIN.” He wanted state employees, paid by taxpayers, to write material for “small media that couldn’t afford news staffs.” Even Indiana politicians and the media didn’t buy that. The reaction from one major newspaper was a headline reading “Pravda In The Plains.” “JustIN”died.

He signed bills he wanted cutting $15-billion from colleges and universities, social services and corrections in just one budget year. Several major corporations, citing a bad business climate, left Indiana for other climes. Better business climes.

Pence had a number of his vetoes overridden in the legislature. In one, nearly all Republican members voted against him.

He tried to have the NRA contract to train Illinois teachers and other state employees to use firearms. Again, even Republicans in his heavily Republican legislature stopped him cold.

He lost two congressional House races but eventually served for 12 years, quitting to run for governor. His congressional sponsorship “successes” amounted to little besides naming a couple of post offices. He was nearly always tied to some ultra-conservative effort and found most of his support coming from right-wing groups.

Pence’s oft- pronounced Evangelical views have made him a target for controversy and even ridicule when solidly backing Trump. He’s managed to be an outspoken supporter though Trump’s lifestyle, moral vagaries and proven sleazy business practices are an anathema to many Evangelicals.

In short, Pence’s limited political experience, his proclivity to nearly always support far-right people and causes, past rejection by even his own party leaders, his hypocrisy of proclaiming high moral standards while backing a president seemingly devoid of such doesn’t auger well for successful presidential material.

There are indications Pence has been a subject of some of the Mueller investigation involving Russian political activity. So far, no public indication one way or the other. But, some Republicans have expressed the thought that, should Pence be tied to such, HE should be impeached.

Now, that could make some sense. Especially if you’re O.K. with a President Nancy.