A deep state?

Author: admin

One of the moral issues all of us face from time to time is this: is it right to support a concept or an action we may know is wrong or is without factual basis or do we reject it for those same reasons?

Here’s one I’m wrestling with at the moment. Members of the Trump “family” – and a few other conspiratorial minds – are screaming there’s a “deep state” cabal working against our president. On the one hand, that’s highly doubtful. On the other, I hope so, because, left unchecked, the man is just plain dangerous to our survival!

Let’s set a common definition for that term “deep state.” The words are most often used by conspiratorial types to describe a “deep rooted civil service – or other behind-the-scenes group – at work to undermine elected officials.” Including presidents.

The latest White House denizen to publically use the term is Trump’s second son who lumped Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Ellen DeGeneres (?) together as “forces for evil.” Said it on Twitter. Just like Dad. Bannon and Faux Neus like it, too. And use it often.

It’s really too easy to poke sticks at anyone in the Trump family or others who think of him as our “political savior.” But, there’s a serious bent to this as well. Which brings about my ambivalence.

Some weeks ago, I used this space to highlight a couple of Air Force generals publically stating they would not necessarily follow a presidential order to unleash the force and nuclear weapons. The qualifier used was the question of a “legal versus illegal” order. I’ve since discovered there are as many legal definitions of those words as there are generals. Or staff attorneys. Whom we don’t have time to consult when there are incoming warheads.

But more evidence is piling up – as in some ‘50’s-‘60’s movies about renegade generals – that the military and other agencies are going their own ways on things. Rogue, if you will.

Case-in-point: last year, Trump said “no transgender people in the military.” The Pentagon, however, now says, as of January 1, transgender enlistees have been – and still are – welcome.

Case-in-point: Trump made a big public issue of claiming our embassy in Tel Aviv will be moved to Jerusalem. But State Department professionals – not Trump-appointee Tillerson – are saying there are “no plans in the foreseeable future” for such action.

Case-in-point: Trump continues to berate and insult North Korea’s leader while State Department professionals – not Trump-appointee Tillerson – continue back-channel discussions with counterparts in North Korea, South Korea, China and Japan.

Case-in-point: Trump pulls U.S. out of climate accords so individual states are now signing up directly with foreign governments.

Case-in-point: Trump’s own staff attorney did not tell him he had the authority to fire an F.B.I. director because his own staff attorney figured that’s just what Trump would do.

Case(s)-in-point: Trump continues demanding a stop to immigration – even legal immigration – but eleven courts have overruled him.

Upper level civil service professionals have often walked different paths from political appointees. That’s not new. What IS different is it’s currently being done more openly – more “in-your-face” – than previously. Especially in military, State and DOJ issues.

Trump has repeatedly proven he cannot cooperate with – nor countenance – people who are experts in their fields holding any different view from his. He refuses to recognize his job is not to call every shot but to oversee departments of government while recognizing it’s the professionals who really know what ’s going on. And how to do it. They may – and should – bend to changing political guidance. But we’re starting to see open defiance in some quarters.

Which brings us back to “deep state.” Is institutional resistance to Trump and his authority real? And, if so, who’s in charge? Which decisions will be carried out and which ignored? Is someone – or many someone(s) – working deep underground to subvert the power of the Presidency or just Trump? And, if so, who? And, to what end?

For the first time in my life, I go to bed at night wondering (a) if I’ll wake up and (b) if I do, to what? I have no use for Trump. He scares me. I want him gone. Preferably today.

But, he IS the President. He DOES have certain constitutional powers at his disposal. He DOES have the legal right to exercise them. And, what scares me more than him, is the idea that others may actually be working to thwart the lawful exercise of that authority.

We live in a technological (read nuclear, world-ending) environment requiring immediate decisions that can – within minutes – result in life-ending consequences. The evidence seems to indicate a “going-my-own-way” attitude in some portions of our government. Despite Trump, that’s not the way to run a country.

Mueller leaking?

Author: admin

If you want to keep a secret, never consider living in Washington D.C.. Nobody – absolutely nobody – can keep a secret there. Details of the most clandestine conversations often are relayed before the original speaker can take a deep breath.

Fact is, the continual sieve-like communications of the D.C. verbal plumbing system keep the place going, providing uninterrupted grist for the media mill. Some people you’ve never heard of – hangers-on mostly – make a pretty good living leaking.

The constant stream of “I-shouldn’t-say-anything-but…” is mother’s milk to the national media. Without the constant dribble, many of those folk would be unemployed. Whether that’s a good or bad thing we’ll leave for another time.

At the moment, those national writers and talkers are going on and on about the lack of leaks in the Robert Mueller investigation. “Air tight,” they say. “We have no idea what’s happening because no one’s talking.” Sitting out here in the arid Southwest, I’m not convinced.

I think the Mueller team IS leaking and it’s with such finesse and understatement those media types are either not paying attention or, if they are, some of ’em are in on the game.

Case in point. Ripped from CNN and NBC front pages as I write, a story headlined “Mueller asking if Trump knew about hacked Democratic emails before release.” It goes on to report Mueller’s team is asking “pointed questions” about whether Trump was aware those emails had been stolen before that fact was known publically.

Now, that’s a detailed report. And, if true, it gives us a bit of a window to what’s going on in the investigative offices. “If true.” And I’d bet it is.

In fact, I’d bet a sizeable amount that Mueller’s people have been strategically “leaking” since the git-go.

More cases in point. Before Mueller’s people talked to Manafort, Page, Ryan or any of the others, we learned of the impending sessions from the media. There were no filed documents in advance. No news releases about upcoming talks. No talking head interviews. No published schedules. All the interviewees were privately contacted. It’s not likely they tipped the media types beforehand. Would you?

No, I suspect Mueller and team have been “creatively leaking” bits and pieces to cooperative reporters. Little dribs and drabs that make headlines.

“Why would they do that,” you ask.

Pressure, sez I. I think Mueller is lifting the curtain – just a bit – every few days or so, to keep up the mounting pressure on folks in the White House. As more names from Trump’s inner circle show up in the headlines and on the HDTVs in the living quarters, I’d wager pulses are quickening and it’s getting harder to breathe.

When subjects are interviewed, there aren’t cameras around for the coming and going. Sometimes, the face-to-face sessions are in a third party location unknown to the media. Other times, subjects converse on closed-circuit TV.

We most often see file photos of Manafort, Ryan, et al. entering or leaving a court house or other public building when pleading to charges. But, not when visiting Mueller. Public locations are routinely staked out by the media. We sometimes see old pictures of the miscreants when documents are filed or unsealed. What we see most is file footage, shown repeatedly.

Mueller and friends are running a deep, searching, wide-ranging, thorough investigation. Unintended leaks or talented reporter sleuthing have amounted to zero.

But, leaks there have been. Many. And, they’re likely to continue. Mueller seems to be using them skillfully to create tensions and nervousness among both those his team’s talked to and those yet to sit in front of his microphones and cameras. He’s controlling the atmosphere around the investigation to twist the nerves of those waiting for both shoes to drop.

How’d you like to be waiting for his call? Oh, hold on. Donny, your phone’s ringing.

The Graham effect

Author: admin

Rev. Billy Graham has died. Christian communities are mourning his death. Condolences are even coming from a number of foreign countries. All out of respect for a major voice of evangelism.

Though worthy of respect, many of us were disappointed in Graham with publication of the Nixon tapes. As Nixon spit out a series of slander regarding Jews and Blacks, Graham was heard repeatedly agreeing and even offering some negative comments of his own. As more people heard the tapes and read transcripts, Graham’s public persona took a big hit. He later apologized but didn’t recant.

Aside from those unexpected conversations, Graham seemed to live the life he preached. A Graham biographer once commented, after the word “God,” the second most used word in his sermons was “faith.” That, Graham seemed to have in abundance.

But, Graham was also big business. Large corporate offices, many hundreds of support staff, advance teams, DVD’s, books, tapes, tracts, movies and more.

It was this business side that attracted me when Graham held one of his crusades in what is now called Taco Bell Arena on the Boise State University campus in the early 80’s. I began an eight month continuing story about that event.

Many weeks before Graham arrived, his advance people contacted all Christian churches in Southwest Idaho. Churches weren’t so much “asked” to participate as they were told what the Crusade “expected” in support. So many choir members, ushers, set up and takedown labor, underwriting of some local expenses, etc.. Even housing.

Days before the big event, large trucks arrived with scaffolding, choir risers, lights, sound system and other staging hardware. All was made ready.

In advance, I contacted six Christian churches to determine then current average attendance. I would do so twice more after the Crusade.

Graham drew several thousand people. The event went as it had so many times before in venues all over the world. When he made his “altar call” near the end, asking those who wanted to openly express their faith to come forward, a couple of hundred did. About the expected percentage I was told later. By sunup the next day, all evidence of the Crusade was gone. As if it never happened.

My first followup calls were made about three weeks later. All denominations contacted reported attendance had, indeed, gone up. The Crusade had apparently been successful.

Six months later, I checked with each church again. In all contacts, regular attendance had returned to pre-Crusade levels. Reporting later, I termed that “the Graham effect.

It appeared what we’d seen at the Crusade was personal involvement at an emotional moment in some lives. Those walking forward seemed moved to do so right then. But, without ongoing individual reinforcement, those emotions subsided and previous lifestyles returned. Though Graham’s staff had instructed churches how to reinforce the outpouring, it didn’t seem to work.

Drop off in church attendance some months after Graham’s appearance was not isolated. I found it in other cities.

None of this is to disparage Billy Graham or his life’s work. Those who got to their feet and walked did so, I’m sure, with honest feeling and emotion.

We’re seeing something very similar right now with school students moving people to their side through emotion. As with Graham and his Crusades, that’s not a bad thing. But, emotion won’t bring success if there’s no followup – no reinforcement of initial reactions with facts and a solid plan to turn the heartfelt outpouring into long-term support.

My prayer – and I’m sure Rev. Billy would concur – is that national action replaces our individual emotional responses to mass murder. Our individual attention has been “captured.” We need to keep our sympathetic responses alive until November when we’re asked to answer the “altar call” of the ballot box.

Bottom up politics

Author: admin

The United States Congress, as now constituted, is irretrievably broken. Maybe you agree. Maybe you don’t. If not, you can stop right here.

My belief in that statement is simple. The basic reason we have a Congress is to “provide for the common good” by meeting the ever-present needs of the nation at any given time. That may mean economic needs, societal needs, safety, infrastructure replacement or, especially, action in time(s) of war. To do what needs to be done as a nation that can’t be accomplished individually or by lesser bodies of authority.

But Congress is no longer legislating on the basis of national need. In fact, in all honesty, it’s not legislating at all! Needs – critical, life-saving and national needs – are being willfully ignored. The ability to accomplish anything meaningful has been lost in what can best be termed “bunker politics.”

Political success has always been accomplished by negotiation and compromise. I give a little. You give a little. We get the job done. The need is met. Not any more.

Yes, money is a key factor. But, it’s more than that. It’s individual and party entrenchment where one side has to be right and the other wrong. A minefield of distrust, anger, resentment, incumbent survival at all costs and a poisonous atmosphere filled with extreme partisanship separates the two sides. So, failure is predictable. Legislation seems no longer proposed to solve problems. In fact, much of it will create problems. The Idaho Legislature, for example, is now doing exactly that. Two bills have drawn warnings by the Attorney General that the Idaho House and Senate could – again – cost taxpayers millions in losing legal costs if enacted into law.

One piece of legislative cat litter would allow Idaho to ignore any federal laws or regulations somebody doesn’t like. In fact, the State would be prohibited from enforcing them. If this garbage becomes law, taxpayers – voters – will be large dollar losers. Yet again.

The other flotsam would prohibit any hint of Sharia Law in legal or legislative proceedings in the state. Something that’s never been present. Something that never will be. If passed and enacted, it’ll be some law firm’s retirement plan.

Congress, too, has hoppers filled with this crap. Some of it has actually become law! Not to address needs of the nation but the economic needs of billionaires, lobbyists and members of Congress concerned with their own job security.

Congress no longer acts on national needs from the bottom up – health care, homelessness, poverty, security, etc.. Members seem constantly in search of “top down” ways to serve small constituencies of the rich, religious zealots, conspiracy theorists and other special interests, Much like the Idaho Legislature.

All of this – and so much more – makes the November elections so damned important. Replacement candidates are, thankfully, going to be more plentiful – at all levels – than we’ve seen in a very long time. Some will be the self-serving, misfit variety we have now. But many won’t.

A lot of ‘em will be in the political fray for the first time. Many won’t have the experience needed to run successful campaigns. They likely won’t have the economic support necessary. They’ll need volunteers by the dozens. They’ll need access to service clubs and other citizen organizations to get their message out. They’ll need HELP in every way!

From dogcatcher to the Congress of these United States, this election is so very important. We can’t afford more mistakes at the ballot box. If ever we needed an informed electorate to weed out the miscreants, it’s right now.

And that message must come from the bottom up!

A shrinking mea culpa

Author: admin

Several days ago, I re-posted a news story on Facebook. It had been on the CNN website that day and appeared genuine. It outraged me so much I re-posted without checking. My bad.

Within minutes, some sharp-eyed Facebook friends started commenting they hadn’t seen it anywhere else and a few questioned its authenticity. Suddenly, so did I. Going back to the CNN page, the story I had copied was nowhere to be found. I checked every nook and cranny but it wasn’t there.

Since the story had a Nevada dateline, I looked up the state’s two largest newspaper web pages. Nothing. Not a word.

At this point, I was both professionally and personally embarrassed. So, after waiting 24 hours to do more research – and to think of a properly worded mea culpa – I checked the Nevada papers again. And there it was! Whew!

So, I re-posted one of the more detailed stories with a “soft” mea culpa and invited skeptical friends to check it out. After all, they had a right to be skeptical since I had not done my homework.

So, what’s the point?

Just this. Simply because something appears on a legitimate website like CNN, check a couple more sources before sharing. Each week, I visit some 15-20 sites – Washington Post, New York Times, LA Times, Boston Globe, Der Spiegel, London Times, The Guardian, Tokyo Times, CBS, NBC, etc. The idea is to be exposed to many issues and to check other views of all sorts of stories.

But, I think I got “had” on CNN. CNN, too. Which is a wake-up call for all my other online reading. I checked with the Atlanta powers-that-be and they couldn’t find my “story,” either. It could have been a Russian “bot.” My source didn’t use that word but did say the company’s site has been experiencing “some difficulties recently.”

So, the lesson learned is this: check, re-check, cross-check and, if necessary, check again. Corroborate. If it seems interesting enough to pass on, be sure you’re on solid ground.

Oh, by the way, the story that caused the outrage? It was accurate. Republicans in the Nevada legislature have been behind a recall campaign against two Democrat state senators. GOP sponsored. GOP run. GOP paid for. And the charge against the two “miscreants?” Nothing! Absolutely nothing!

Boiled down to its essentials, Republicans are trying to take control of the Nevada Senate by shifting numbers. The two targets here have committed no crimes. Have not shirked their responsibilities. Have not engaged in “moral turpitude.” They’re not guilty of anything!

The reason this Nevada story is so important is a favorable court ruling could be a precedent for all other states. Republicans could just dream up a “recall” and try to unseat Democrats. Any Democrats. Anywhere. Or vice versa.

I’ve seen nothing to support what my gut tells me which is this: dig deep enough and you’re likely to find the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and/or the Koch brothers who have large holdings in Nevada and other states. This just smells like a test run at the courts to gain leverage Republicans couldn’t get at the ballot box.

I sincerely hope the Nevada court system slams the door on this shabby Republican B.S.. The GOP has enough other shameful efforts going trying to thwart voters.

Pennsylvania is a good example. State Supreme Court threw out the Republican gerrymandering of districts. Deemed it illegal. So, the GOP went to the U.S. Supreme Court which kicked it back to the state. Now, Pennsylvania Republicans are trying to recall Democrat appointees on their own state supreme court for no other reason than the GOP wants to underhandedly take over legislative majorities. And the court!

These are important stories that more Americans should be watching closely and be greatly concerned about. These underhanded, totally flagrant and despicable Republican challenges are a flat-out challenge to the Constitution of the nation and those of every state.

So, here I am. Feeling guilty about passing along a single news report that might have been false – but wasn’t – while Republicans in at least two states are trying to overturn entire elections. And subvert several constitutions.

Suddenly, my mea culpa doesn’t feel so large after all.

There’s NO nuke button

Author: admin

I’ve been mentally wrestling with something for, oh, a year or more. Something I’ve not seen the national media explain ‘cause they probably don’t know. You won’t hear it from the Oval Office, either, ‘cause he certainly doesn’t know.

So, looks like it’s coming down to Ridenbaugh Press: a burden we didn’t ask for but have been given nonetheless. Here it is. As straightforward as it can be said.

There’s NO DAMNED NUCLEAR BUTTON. On Trump’s desk or in the entire White House! No! None! Zero! Zip! Nada! Never has been! PERIOD! His little fingers can’t push it ‘cause there’s nothing there to push! He cannot – repeat – CANNOT unilaterally order up a nuclear conflagration.

I spent a few cold war years about three-feet from where the button would have been if there had been a button to push if a nuclear button needed to be – pushed. And it wasn’t there, either! Never was! The damned thing has never existed!

So, without a “button,” what’s a guy “push” when we need to launch all the things in our far-flung nuclear arsenal? Well, therein lies a tale that needs some background.

Ever notice when a President travels away from the White House there’s always – ALWAYS – a field grade officer lurking nearby, carrying what looks like the president’s personal luggage? Always there. Always carrying. He’s one of a small cadre, holding the topmost security clearances, who have no other job but carrying that “luggage” for the Commander-In Chief.

The “luggage” is euphemistically called “the Football.” The best description of it I’ve ever seen – and of what’s inside – is an old Washington Post piece. To wit:

“The Football is a metal Zero Halliburton briefcase carried in a black leather”jacket”weighing about 45 pounds. A small antenna protrudes from the bag near the handle.

“There are four things in the Football. The Black Book containing retaliatory options; a book listing classified site locations; a manila folder with eight or ten pages stapled together giving a description of procedures for the Emergency Alert System; a three-by-five inch card with authentication codes.

“The Black Book is about 9 by 12 inches and has 75 loose-leaf pages printed in black and red. The book with classified site locations is about the same size as the Black Book and contains information on sites around the country where the president could be taken in an emergency.” End quote.

If someone in the Pentagon War Room sends a signal to the “Football,” it will be opened and the President will be in immediate contact. He’ll be given a very short update on what’s happening and will quickly be given options for military response – if any – previously developed and updated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

What happens from that point is highly classified. But we do know the approximate steps. The President can choose any option. Or decline. But, if the option to launch is made, he must read a long series of coded numbers aloud to the War Room listener – most likely the Secretary of Defense.
The numbers and sequences must be verified by responder and he must read aloud his own code series.

Others in strategic military locations around the world should be listening by this time, having been alerted after the initial presidential call. Once a decision is made, more codes in more sequences will be sent to field commanders to which they have to immediately respond with confirmation codes. If all checks are positive, those military commanders will issue the direct orders to the force. All forces with nukes must acknowledge and transmit their own codes.

Not the President. No “nuclear button.”

And there’s this. It’s within the purview of the Secretary, the Joint Chiefs and – theoretically – a force commander to refuse to obey if they believe the “go-to-war” order is illegal. So, just because the order is given, there’s no basis to believe it will be blindly followed.

The President can’t unilaterally send our military to war. There are too many checks and cross-checks. As there should be. And there’s NO DAMNED BUTTON!

Anyone got an email address for CNN and the rest?

Shut the hell up

Author: admin

A dyed-in-the-wool, real Republican has taken the words right out of my mouth. In doing so, he’s given my old heart a last gasp of hope there may be some life left in the old GOP corpse: that it may rise again.

We’ll get to him in a minute. First, some background. And a warning. If you’re a straight-up Evangelical believer who thinks our nation is being led to Hell by the guy in the White House, you reject his foul mouth, chronic lying, his total absence of qualifications to hold that office AND you accept the rest of us are entitled to our differing beliefs, please – PLEASE – don’t take offense at what you’re about to read. While I deeply and honestly mean the words, they are not directed at you. They ARE directed at some of your totally dangerous brethren.

Let’s start with Franklin Graham who must, by now, be an embarrassment to well-grounded Christian believers everywhere. His recent rhetoric about our president is anything but Christian.

Case in point: On CNN last week, Graham said Trump “is a changed man.” Meaning for the better, I’d guess. He said Trump’s affair with a porn star was “11,12,13,14 years ago,” Trump is “a businessman, not a politician…talks a certain way to get his point across” and while “he has offended people, God put him in the White House for a reason.”

“I believe Donald Trump is a good man,” Graham said. “I think God put him there.” End quote.

Given the depth of public knowledge about Trump and his activities the past year, this so-called “Christian leader” can’t possibly be representing thinking Christians, much less the entire Evangelical branch. A mass of evidence puts the lie to his words.

Then, there’s Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. The Council’s website says it “..champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue and the wellspring of society…families are formed only by ties of blood, marriage or adoption” and “marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”

So, here’s Perkins on Trump on CNN. “Evangelicals, conservatives, they gave him a mulligan – a do-over…a second chance.” Perkins said Trump had built a “relationship with Evangelicals” (with) “his constitutional conservative policies including appointing judges who oppose abortion (which) garners the support.”

Perkins is happy Trump will appoint judges with a fixed point of view rather than an open mind. Put another way, he wants judges appointed who will betray their oaths of office to support his closed mind.

While we’re all entitled to our opinions on this-that-and-the-other, we are seeing more and more cases of someone’s – or some group’s – social or moral beliefs framing issues. Perkins and Graham are exhibits A and B. That entitlement of expression extends to all Christians, non-Christians, unbelievers and, yes, “Evangelicals,” too. Our Constitution says so.

But, these two “leaders” want to eviscerate the Constitution, create a legal system with only their beliefs and dictate to all of society what their distinct minority supposedly adheres to.

Now, back to the Republican who has fostered some small hope in my heart that the old GOP may – like Lazarus – rise from the dead.

That one guy – former GOP Chairman Michael Steele – responded to the Perkins garbage this way on MSNBC. “I have a very simple admonition at this point,” he said. “Just shut the Hell up and don’t ever preach to me about anything ever again. I don’t want to hear it!”

Further, he said, “After telling me how to live my life, what to believe, what not to believe, what to do and what not to do and now you sit back and the prostitutes don’t matter? The grabbing the you-know-what doesn’t matter? The outright behavior and lies don’t matter? Just shut up!”

Michael, sez I, you took the words right out of my mouth!”

Has anyone seen a national Democrat who’d make an excellent president? Does anyone know of such – someone harboring the thought who’s ready to file petitions and start raising millions for the race? Anyone? Anywhere?

No? Well, how about someone who would be a likely candidate for vice president? Have you seen one of them? Someone out in the hustings on the rubber chicken dinner circuit? Someone helping raise funds for a local or state or national Democrat candidate for something and earning I-O-U’s?

No? Well, what HAVE you seen? Elizabeth? Bernie? Joe? Kamala? Oprah? OPRAH? Are you kidding me???

You do know, of course, it takes three-four years of advance work, raising money, setting up state-by-state connections, creating a technology network, getting local committees of workers up and running, shmoozing big donors, You know that, don’t you?

So, let’s ask again. Which Democrats are out there doing those things? Who’s got those petitions ready to file? Who’s ready to “hit-the-ground-running?” Walking? Crawling? Breathing?

The uniform answer to such queries seems to be “No one.” Since Tom Perez became National Democrat Chairman, what passes for national candidate recruitment has apparently been taking place underground in deep secrecy. I can’t come up with a single serious name being floated or even whispered. OPRAH? Are you kidding?

Hillary has said – more or less – she won’t run for office again. Good. Bernie won’t make such a statement and is letting backers ramp up the chant. Bad. Elizabeth and Kamala don’t have the chops. Joe’s age, three years hence, disqualifies him. No potential 2020 candidates there.

It’s not like the Dems don’t have some fine, highly qualified folk. Check the U.S. Senate: Mark Warner (VA), Patti Murray (WA), Sherrod Brown (OH), Amy Klobuchar (MI,) and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI). If you liked Joe Biden you’d love Whitehouse. He was Biden’s top staffer for years and is just as familiar with foreign heads-of-state and diplomacy as Joe.

Over in the House, Joaquin Castro (Tx). Smart, experienced, able to gain election majorities – even in Texas. Or Chris Van Hollen (MD), Jackie Speir or Eric Swalwell of California or Adam Schiff (Ca) of the House Intelligence Committee. Several state houses could produce some good names as well.

Democrats have some really top-notch talent. They do! But no one is carrying on a national dialogue, floating names or even openly promoting the necessary candidate search. It’s likely there’s a lot of commotion below the surface. But the clock’s ticking. The threshold for launching a national campaign is bearing down. Time to get going on some of the all-important name recognition. And work.

About the only national Dem chatter I hear is the continued bitching between Hillary and Bernie supporters. That’s got to STOP! Again, Hillary ain’t running and Bernie shouldn’t. Knock off the arguing and get behind someone else. Anyone else. Put that useless chatter andwasted energy into a candidate that would appreciate the added help. When you can find one.

This far out from November, 2020, it’s hard to know where Trump – or Pence -will be. Impeached. Sitting in a cell. Beaten in a nasty GOP national primary. Ready to run again. But, Democrats can be warned of one thing. In or out of office, Trump will be a larger-than-life figure in that election. His dwindling base will make it so. Faux Neus and Breitbart will make it so. Trump will make it so.

Somebody’s got to jerk the national Dems off their butts and out onto the battlefield. The need for all-out, flat-out action has never been more necessary. Or, they can just continue to grumble and watch Trump and his minions tear our government to pieces.

C’mon. Make some noise!

A deep state?

Author: admin

One of the moral issues all of us face from time to time is this: is it all right to support a concept or action we may know is wrong or is without factual basis or do we reject it for those same reasons?

Here’s one I’m wrestling with at the moment. Members of the Trump family – and a few other conspiratorial minds – are screaming there’s a “deep state” cabal working against our president. On the one hand, that’s highly doubtful. On the other, I hope so, because, left unchecked, the man is just plain dangerous to our survival!

Let’s set a common definition for that term “deep state.” The words are most often used by conspiratorial types to describe a “deep rooted civil service – or other behind-the-scenes group – at work to undermine elected officials.” Including presidents.

The latest White House denizen to publically use the term is Trump’s second son who lumped Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Ellen DeGeneres (?) together as “forces for evil.” Said it on Twitter. Just like Dad. Bannon and Faux Neus like it, too. And use it often.

It’s really too easy to poke sticks at anyone in the Trump family or others who think of him as our “political savior.” But, there is a serious bent to this as well. Which brings about my ambivalence.

Several weeks ago, I used this space to highlight a couple of Air Force generals publically stating they would not necessarily follow a presidential order to unleash the force and nuclear weapons. The qualifier used was the question of “legal versus illegal” orders. I’ve since discovered there are as many definitions of those words as there are generals. Or staff attorneys. Whom we don’t have time to consult when there are incoming warheads.

But more evidence is piling up – as in some ‘50’s-‘60’s” movies about renegade generals – that the military and other agencies are going their own ways on things. Case-in-point: in November, Trump said “no transgender people in the military.” The Pentagon, however, now says, as of January 1, transgender enlistees are welcome.

Case-in-point: Trump made a big public issue of claiming our embassy in Tel Aviv will be moved to Jerusalem. But State Department professionals – not Trump-appointee Tillerson – are saying there are “no plans in the foreseeable future” for such action.

Case-in-point: Trump continues to berate and insult North Korea’s leader while State Department professionals – not Trump-appointee Tillerson – continue back-channel discussions with counterparts in both North Korea, South Korea, China and Japan.

Case-in-point: Trump pulls U.S. out of climate accords so individual states are now signing up directly with foreign governments.

Case-in-point: Trump’s own staff attorney did not tell him he had the authority to fire an F.B.I. director because his own staff attorney figured that’s just what Trump would do.

Case(s)-in-point: Trump continues demanding a stop to immigration – even legal immigration – but nine courts have overruled him.

Upper level civil service professionals have often walked different paths from political appointees. That’s not new. What IS different is it’s being done more openly – more “in-your-face” – than previously. Especially in military, State and DOJ issues.

Trump has repeatedly proven he cannot cooperate with – and cannot countenance – people who are experts in their fields holding any different view from his. He refuses to recognize his job is not to call every shot but to oversee departments of government while recognizing it’s the professionals who really know what ’s going on. And how to do it. They may – and should – bend to changing political guidance. But we’re starting to see open defiance in some quarters.

Which brings us back to “deep state.” Is institutional resistance to Trump and his authority real? And, if so, who’s in charge? Which decisions will be carried out and which ignored? Is someone – or many someone(s) – working deep underground to subvert the power of the Presidency or just Trump? And, if so, who? And to what end?

For the first time in my life, I go to bed at night wondering if (a) I’ll wake up and (b) if I do, to what? I have no use for Trump. He scares me. I want him gone. Preferably today.

But, he IS the President. He DOES have certain constitutional powers at his disposal. He DOES have the legal right to exercise them. And, what scares me more than him, is the idea that others may actually be working to thwart the lawful exercise of that authority.

We live in a technological (read nuclear) environment requiring immediate decisions that can result in life-ending consequences. The evidence seems to indicate a “going-my-own-way” attitude in some portions of our government. Despite Trump, that’s not the way to run a country.

For years, pollsters have found a majority of Americans have little trust in their national media. In many instances, the positive percentages of those questioned about fairness, accuracy and impartiality have hovered below 30-percent or so. I’m not willing to accept those numbers at face value.

One reason for my scepticism is pollsters often don’t define the word “media” before asking their questions. I’ve looked at some of the larger outfits in that business – Gallup, Pew, etc. Most of their queries are about media in general which leaves responses open to interpretation. On occasion, if they specify which media, further questioning often avoids other sources – mass media – radio, TV, print or “social media.”

And therein lies one reason for my distrust of most such surveys. What about “social” media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like? Given the high percentages of folks – especially those age 40 or under – who get most of their information from such, are those sources broken out from print and broadcast media in polling? Seldom.

Four important factors to consider here. First, nearly none of what appears in “social” media is edited for accuracy, sourcing or even truth. There are no checks on whether the information is reliable. Given the huge number of people who have no idea how businesses operate – or even how their own government functions – you’re on your own when it comes to whether you believe what’s been read or told. That will, in turn, affect how a person sees all media.

Second, if pollsters don’t specifically break out which media is being asked about – which, in my checking is all too often the case – responses will be skewed. Comparing a Facebook post to The Washington Post makes responses invalid. One is checked, cross-checked and heavily edited. The other is totally unedited, unchecked and, too often, a bogus source.

Third, many of us tend to gravitate to media that agree with our viewpoints because they reinforce what we already believe. We routinely avoid the ones that don’t. (Fox, for me.) For those doing that consistently, they’re not exposed to new or different facts and, thus, cling to information that may be comfortable but also old or wrong. People who rely on Fox, for example, are fed a steady diet of information edited to skew things to false “facts.”

Finally, another factor skewing polling is the issue of what the word “news” means to both the pollster and the “pollee.” Unless there’s some major disaster or important world event at the moment, CNN, MSNBC and Fox have little to no news after 4pm MST. It’s mostly opinion mixed with a few facts. Much of it reporters talking to reporters or others favorable to the networks point-of-view. It’s not “news.” But, pollsters don’t always differentiate news from opinion in their questions. So, if the responder doesn’t like a certain news source, is that person conflating opinion with news?

I’m certainly not opposed to polling. Far from it. But, before taking results at face value, one needs to know how the question is asked and if the questioner and the responder are clear on the meaning of terms they’re using.

I think most of us have a higher trust of national media than a lot of polls indicate. But that’s just my opinion. Certainly not news. Just so we’re clear.