Archive for April, 2019

Number 2 important too

Author: admin

Show biz folks refer to it as a “cattle call” when open auditions are announced for a new movie or play and hopefuls come running.

Seems fitting to use the same terminology since everyone but your Aunt Susie has jumped into the 2020 race for the Democrat presidential nomination. Most Democrats are O.K. with the large field of names, hoping the “best” person wins. Well, you can always hope.

But, my question is this: Who’s running for vice president? Who wants that second spot on the ticket? Who’s looking at 2024 or 2028? And, you know some of them are.

No one I know can name all the candidates to date. There are several I’ve never heard of and we probably won’t see their names much longer. The winnowing process – lack of money and support – will take care of them sooner rather than later.

The field is hard to handicap. Most don’t have enough national political experience to be called “qualified” candidates. Biden, Warren and Sanders do. Maybe Klobuchar. But, a larger number are either governors, former governors, a mayor or two, some in their first terms in Congress and a couple of folks who like the idea of just running. Experience or no.

Barack Obama was a rarity as he jumped from the Illinois legislature to the U.S. Senate to the presidency in a series of quick moves. But, none of the congressional one-termers, so far, seems to have that possibility. They’re not able to “light the fire” Obama did.

There are some very able people in the field. Washington Governor Inslee is one. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Klobuchar have some good state and federal experience. All capable but short on foreign affairs and military issues. Important for a president.

Pete Buttgieg is a candidate with a name most folks can’t remember and even fewer can spell. Mayor of South Bend, Indiana. No prior national experience of any kind. Not someone who’d normally be considered a serious challenger. But – after listening to him and checking out some of his history – he’s getting a better welcome from some Democrats than you’d expect. Bright. Multi-lingual. Veteran. And seems to be catching on with younger voters. A “comer.”

When it comes to experience and background you’d look for in a presidential candidate, Biden tops them all. But, four things work against him. Age. An uncanny knack of verbally stepping on his own feet from time to time. The baggage all that 40 years of experience brings as he’s grown and evolved – as we all do – have put him on both sides of several major issues. And he was found guilty of some plagiarizing many years ago. All that is fodder for any opponent in a presidential race. When that opponent is certain to be Donald J. Trump, Biden could find himself on the defensive 24-7.

Two other names are worth considering for VP – Julian Castro and Beto O’Rourke.

There’s a lot of talk these days that younger folks are looking for the new – the interesting – the next “big thing” in politics. You even hear it said that “older, more experienced” candidates should “move over” and make room for the “new faces.” Interesting talk but the plain fact is our national problems require some “gray hair” in the front office.

It’s obvious Castro and O’Rourke have captured a lot of attention with intelligence, grasp of issues, ability to “light up” a crowd and a kind of dynamism not often seen in our national politics. Both would seem to have bright futures. Either one would make a good vice president. And, maybe that’s just what they’re positioning themselves for.

Neither has the “seasoning” or broad experience critical for the next President. There’ll be a lot of wreckage to clear away and many fences to mend. But, four years of on-the-job training would make either a formidable candidate for the top job in 2024.

Or, possibly, either or both would make good cabinet appointees in a Democrat administration. Get on “the inside” and learn the finer points of making a success of some of the tougher jobs. Become part of the decision-making process at the highest levels. Get that good, broad, international exposure they both lack.

When you’ve got 10 or so serious candidates to consider, there are many variables and outcomes on the table. Democrats are just a couple of votes shy of taking over the Senate. If they can do that, if they can hang on to the House and IF they can win the White House, they’ll face some very tough times trying to straighten out the mess left by Trump, his terrible decision-making and his “rogues gallery” of a cabinet.

Democrats need a combination of experience and youth. It’s not just the top job on the line here. The subject of succession needs to be at the center of the 2020 choice.

So, a very important question to answer is – who’s running for vice president?

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:


“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.”