19 June 2017

Update no.807

Update from the Heartland
No.807
12.6.17 – 18.6.17

            To all,
            The spectacle of what is happening in Washington DC (and other Trump properties for him to make money off of his presidency) continues to raise the level of bizarreness far beyond any realm of reasonableness in the history of this Grand Republic.  Now, one of his lackeys (Christopher Ruddy) publicly suggested the president is considering whether to fire newly appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  The White House has denied any such conversation occurred, and of course, we believe them without question.  Well, I have thousands of questions, but one inquiry seems to percolate to the top of my list.  Is he purposefully and intentionally trying to appear guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors?  Well, and the obvious ancillary question, why is he doing this to himself?  Is he taunting and daring Congress to impeach him?  We have been down a similar road before – 20.October.1973.  President Nixon (a Republican, I must say) was embroiled in the Watergate Scandal [17.June.1972; (28.May.1972)].  The so-called Saturday Night Massacre made Nixon appear guilty as sin and ultimately sealed his fate.  Nixon resigned [8.August.1974] to avoid impeachment on charges of obstruction of justice, among other crimes.  Nixon remains the only president in history to resign.  At the rate Trump is going, Nixon will not be alone for much longer.  Instead of seeking to clarify the various aspects of this matter, Trump appears to be seeking new and more bizarre ways to perpetuate and darken the situation.
            At virtually the same time on Monday, the President held his first full Cabinet meeting (all members finally and duly confirmed, and sworn in), with each member gushing praises upon their boss for the witness of the cameras.  Whether the cabinet members were asked or directed to praise il jefe remains a point of debate.  His need for adoration by those around him is like nothing I have ever witnessed in my life.  Not even the likes of Kim Jung Un and his ancestral predecessors resorted this degree of ass-kissing.
            As Steven Colbert so succinctly and eloquently said, “This is the next level of weird.”  Actually, Colbert’s joke might well be a serious understatement.  The joke punch line also implies there are more levels of weirdness ahead.
            The more Trump tweets and insults everyone not to his liking, the more he surrounds himself in the mantel of guilt.  I have never perceived him as being blind to public opinion, so in this case, the image of him purposefully doing everything he can to appear guilty and intimidate anyone even remotely involved in the Russia investigation may well be a masterful attempt at subterfuge, i.e., when it is all said and done, and there is insufficient evidence beyond a reasonable doubt and possibly even beyond probable cause, he will preen and puff up like a grand peacock and shout in Twitter-speak – I TOLD YOU SO!  I would rather have that outcome than the inverse.  I am not eager for another impeachment trial in my lifetime; such an action would further calcify the political divisions we suffer today in this Grand Republic.

            The President publicly stated: “I am being investigated for firing the FBI director.”  No, Donald, you are being investigated for obstruction of justice – huge difference.  As noted above, Donald, you have done your cause no favors with your continuing conduct that mounts and makes you look guilty as hell.  Especially in your case and conduct, I am constantly reminded of Shakespeare’s prescient words: “Me thinks the lady doth protest too much.”  I believe Director Comey when he told you that you were not under investigation.  Well, after all your yammering and suspect conduct, now you are under investigation, Donald.  Congratulations; I hope you are happy.

            If the Russia election meddling matter is a “made up,” “fake news” story as Trump repeatedly publicly claims, why is not the President demanding prompt, aggressive, public investigation to expose the paucity of evidence to support his claims.  This is one of a rapidly growing number of bluster and bombast from Trump that offers NO substance, not one scintilla, to support his claims.  In fact, rather than focusing on the rapid conclusion of the investigation, he is doing everything he can, including the mobilization of his minions, to perpetuate, muddy the waters more, to defend his public image, his brand, to the apparent exclusion of everything else.  Regrettably, Trump is correct; he could stand on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and shoot someone [755], any old random innocent person, and his supporters would still support him and vote for him.

            President Trump traveled to Miami (Little Havana) to play direct to and placate a specific group of American citizens of Cuban heritage.  He said he wants to expose the crimes of the Castro brothers and their regimes.  It is interesting and curious.  What criteria does he use to praise one dictator and condemn another?  How does he select the dictators he admires?  Other than my personal curiosity, I thought President Obama’s initiative to begin normalizing relations with Cuba was long overdue and a wise action.  Thus, President Trump’s move to undo some of the Cuban normalization actions is simply wrong, narrowly focused on one constituency, and NOT in the best interests of this Grand Republic.

            Watching the video of the tragic fire in the 24-story, Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, London, England, reminded me of the Address Downtown Hotel New Year’s Eve fire (31.December.2015) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates [733].  I simply cannot imagine a competent engineer approving a flammable exterior cladding in this day and age.  Further, the high-rise, residential building apparently had no fire-suppression sprinkler system or fire escape.  As of this writing, 58 residents of Grenfell Tower were declared missing and presumed dead, including 30 confirmed deaths in the fire, so far.  A terrible loss of life directly attributable to bad design and building practices . . . I trust those responsible will pay the appropriate price for their mistakes.

           The publicly available information regarding the at-sea collision between the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and the Philippines-registered, container ship MS ACX Crystal about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, near Tokyo, is not good by any perspective.  The merchant ship apparently did a very unusual U-turn after passing astern of the Fitzgerald.  Yet, to a ship captain, and by delegation to the duty officer of the deck, especially on a warship, what the other ship does really does not matter.  Boat drivers are taught very early on they must remain continuously vigilant and must abide one predictive axiom of boat-driving – constant bearing, decreasing range = imminent collision (action required).  Something went dreadfully wrong Saturday morning in the pre-dawn hours.  A lot of things failed that morning.  I suspect the captain and the duty officer of the deck will not fair well in the investigation of this incident.

            I have heard from more than a few supporters of and voters for Donald J. Trump that truly and deeply believe everyone who is critical of the President is against him, blindly resisting his actions and changes.  They apparently see this resistance as personal, i.e., you just do not like Trump and you are blindly resistive.  For example, they interpret my continued criticism of his personality flaws and actions as being endemically anti-Trump.
            I have been critical of every president since I have been old enough to write or express a political opinion and that goes back to Kennedy.  For the record, I want President Trump to be successful.  I do not want him to go down in the history books as a bad, dysfunctional or destructive president.
            I voted for Richard Nixon . . . twice . . . and yet, once the evidence became publicly known, I became and remain one of his harshest critics.  I did not vote for Jimmy Carter and I viewed Carter’s (Brown) actions from the unique perspective of an active duty Marine officer; I remain deeply critical of many (not all) of his actions.  I voted for Ronald Reagan, twice, and yet, I remain devoutly cavillous of his bonehead decisions contributing to the Iran-Contra Scandal and the Lebanon intervention; he was seriously disappointing in a number of areas.  Trump does not get a pass from my criticism because he is a novice politician.  He chose to seek the presidency and the Electoral College duly elected him president in accordance with the Constitution; as such, he gets the full monty.  He is our proper and legitimate president, but none of that gives him immunity from criticism where he is wrong, acting badly or making destructive decisions.  I realize his staunch supporters do not like to hear and choose not to see his seriously aberrant behavior.  I have not lost subscribers for my criticism of Obama, but I most assuredly have lost subscribers for my criticism of Trump.  C’est la vie!  I shall not dampen my criticism where I am convinced Trump (or any future president) is wrong or acting badly.  I am a proud American citizen.  I am neither Democrat nor Republican; I have NO party affiliation.  To close and repeat, I truly want Trump to be successful as our president, full stop.

            Comments and contributions from Update no.806:
Comment to the Blog:
“I’m not sure how Martin Schulz or you arrive at ‘un-American’ as the term for Trump’s insanity. He continues policies and practices dating back to Reagan and including Presidents of both major parties, except the trade agreements that began with Bill Clinton. (And Trump has only stopped one trade agreement. The rest are in place.) The rule violations are no news either, on anyone’s part. The only real difference is that Trump does these dangerous things openly. I agree with many negative adjectives to describe Trump: insane, corrupt, random, racist, and hateful, among others. However, ‘un-American’ only applies if Americans refuse to look in the mirror.
“I suppose you see the British electorate as focused on Brexit, based on what you wrote. Perhaps they voted to stop their Trump-style government element, as the French and Austrians did.
“Your ‘terrorist’ notion still seems to focus only on Muslims. Do you respond at all to the white supremacists, Nazis, et al.? They kill many more people in this country.
“Director of National ‘Intelligence’ Coats and NSA Director Rogers have shown us how often Trump correctly assumes people will not tell the truth about him. Trump continues to behave exactly like a middle-school bully, and it’s working better for him than the rest of us ever expected. Former FBI Director Comey finds himself in an extremely difficult position. I see him as taking the honorable road of telling his story in the most literal and un-spun account he can give. The lack of a satisfying ‘smoking gun’ merely reflects reality. Even the Donald is not insane enough to give Comey a direct order to stop the investigation. I would love it if Trump produced tapes of his conversations, but they probably do not exist.
“Of course I don’t believe anything Trump says. My particular brain specializes in words, and anyone who uses that many superlatives (‘greatest, the greatest ever!’) and loaded words (loser, nasty, genius, fraud) has no interest in whether their claims are true. That is the closest thing to an absolute I have ever seen about the way people use words. Those who wish either to tell the truth or to lie convincingly use more moderate words.
“Puerto Rico’s status will be an issue into the future. Puerto Ricans themselves disagree. The only clear fact is that the current situation harms the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico.”
My response to the Blog:
            Re: “un-American.”  There are ideals that define what it means to be an American: tolerance, compassionate, respect for others, love of freedom, et al.  Associating the new guy with Reagan or any person who has occupied the Oval Office is an insult to history.  Like Colbert said recently, “This is the next level of weird.”  Way understated, it seems to me.  “‘un-American’ only applies if Americans refuse to look in the mirror.”  This is a rather interesting statement.  The implication is there are no American ideals, as each American citizen defines American ideals.  So, there is no whole, only individual dots on the page.  Interesting concept.
            Are you suggesting that the May government is or has a “Trump-style government element”?  The election for individual MPs in each district hardly seems like a consolidated effort.  The ever so slight shift to the left seems more like a backhanded step away from Brexit, actually; which in turn complicates the process.  It remains my opinion that the British voters did not take the Brexit referendum seriously last year.
            Re: “Your ‘terrorist’ notion still seems to focus only on Muslims.”  If that’s how it seems, then I have not been successful in communicating.  I respond to ALL terrorist acts, including white supremacists.  Do you need me to cite my condemnation of non-Islamo-fascist terrorist attacks?  Timothy McViegh received the punishment he deserved, just not fast enough; but, he received the due process he was entitled to as an American citizen, regardless of his disgusting mutations.
            Re: Trump/Comey.  Well said.  I agree in toto.  Like so many Trump actions, he huffs & puffs and blusters about.  Clinton lobbed cruise missiles around when he got bad news.  Trump accuses others, e.g., Obama wiretapping him.  His Oval Office tape recording “hint” with respect to his 1v1 conversation with Comey is most likely exactly the same thing . . . just more hot air to distract our attention.  Trump seems to be doing everything he possibly can to create the image of his guilt.
            Bottom line: Trump is, has always been and will always be a snake-oil salesman, selling his particular brand of elixir potion cure-all to people who want to believe in the professed properties rather than truly knowing what the snake-oil actually is and does.  These guys have been around for centuries and millennia.  He is just the most prominent of his kind.
            Re: Puerto Rico.  Agreed.
 . . . Round two:
“Ideals have zero meaning unless actions back them up. I deliberately went back more than a few years and included administrations of both major parties. Regardless of speeches, Trump's actual actions differ less than we'd like to believe from his predecessors' actions. The actions of this Congress are largely in the future, but I have yet to see real results opposing Trump.”
 . . . my response to round two:
            Interesting observation . . . seems to be a chicken & egg dilemma.  Trump’s action similar to his predecessors . . . even more interesting and intriguing, I must say.
            Re: “opposing Trump.  Like so many of our discussions / debates, so much hangs upon definitions, i.e., what qualifies as “opposing”?  Surely there is clear resistance.  If by opposing you are implying the threshold is impeachment, then you are quite correct; we are not close to that threshold.
            This is definitely theater in real time.  The consequences of this theater are incalculable.
            Stay tuned . . .
 . . . Round three:
“Impeachment is a standard best studied carefully. My standard for opposition to Trump (or anyone) is results in policy and specific actions. For all of his embarrassing presentation, Trump has encountered remarkably little active opposition from Republicans or Democrats to his executive orders and other attempts at policy. Were it not for the courts, he would have banned all travel from some of the predominantly Muslim nations (but not the few where the 9-11 terrorists originated). As it is, he has disrupted our relationships with Europe, caused major stress with both Canada and Mexico, cut back on environmental protection, and generally ruled by whim, all without any real opposition.”
 . . . my response to round three:
            Given your definition, is not the failure of Congress to pass one of Trump’s favorite vitriol targets the PPACA repeal, and the continuing and mounting judicial rejections of Trump’s Muslim travel ban qualify as resistance?
            Yes, he has done a lot of not-so-good things by executive order and force of personality, but those things can be readily overcome once his presence has been removed.  The things he has done so far are largely within his constitutional authority vested upon him by the Electoral College.
            There is opposition.  Perhaps not as much as we would like, but resistance nonetheless.
            This too shall pass.
 . . . Round four:
“I will point out the obvious. The PPACA repeal passed the House and has yet to be tested in the Senate. The judicial rejection of the Muslim ban is judicial, not legislative. Advocates are opposing Trump in this, not the DNC. There are words bandied about, but results so far do not support them.
“The only real opposition is the various investigations, but they draw attention away from various policy moves that are ultimately more important to real people. The investigations will continue, and will likely bear fruit, but in the meantime the Republicans are quietly using the distraction to do more damage.”
 . . . my response to round four:
            PPACA, agreed in fact.  Awaiting action in the Senate.
            So, resistance only counts if it is legislative?  . . . just to clarify?
            Re: Investigations.  Quite so.  He is acting guiltier than a 5yo caught with his hand in the cookie jar.  His conduct remains baffling to me.  I’m not sure what you are referring to – very little legislation has made it to the President’s desk.  What damage do you think the Republican Congress is doing?
 . . . Round five:
“Resistance counts if it changes results. Words are vibrating air, especially in politics.”
 . . . my response to round five:
            Well said, actually!

Another contribution:
“Glad to hear the ‘surgery’ was on the book(s) words, and not you.  So glad to hear your health is good.
“Earth has an interesting way of seeking balance, and if it means the elimination of many people (cleansing), I have no doubt it can/will, and then we are the losers because we put profit, control, and power, above being good stewards of this God given beautiful Earth.
“Studies about the Roman Empire are indeed interesting and history tends to repeat itself.”
My reply:
            Thx mate.  It’s great to be alive.
            Re: balance.  Quite so.  I want to do my part to avoid being in the cleansed segment of the population.  The sad part of this whole climate change matter is our wasting time & energy arguing over whether mankind is causing the warming trend.  It does NOT matter.  We are still polluting the atmosphere and we must change our wanton ways because polluting the earth, water and/or air is simply & plainly wrong . . . full stop!
            Unfortunately, you are all too correct, IMHO.  I dare say if a thorough sampling of the American population was accomplished, the vast majority would not know what Watergate was, let alone why, and set aside the Hitler/Mussolini/Tojo era and the fall of the Roman Empire.  As long as that ignorance and complacency exists, we are destined to repeat those historical consequences.  Just a related, historic, FYI: I understand more every day why the Founders/Framers limited eligible voters to male, educated, property owners.

            My very best wishes to all.  Take care of yourselves and each other.
Cheers,
Cap                        :-)