Friday, April 12, 2019

Why I Can't Write About The Mueller Report

I really wanted to write about the Mueller report.  The problem is, there's nothing new to write about the Mueller report.  I was going to write about the absurdity of trying to boil a 300+ page report down to a four page synopsis.  Yet, everyone is already aware of this absurdity.

Subject: Attorney General William Barr | Date: 02/14/2019 | Source: United States Department of Justice | This United States Department of Justice image is in the public domain.

I was going to make a big deal out of the fact that members of Mueller's investigative team are claiming that Attorney General Barr’s pro Trump synopsis of the report isn’t reflective of their conclusions.  Writing such a line would have been tantamount to regurgitating common knowledge.

Surely, I could talk about the fact that Barr will only give Congress a redacted copy of the report, even though the law guarantees them a full copy.  Get this, I was actually going to equate the offer of the redacted report to the Treasury Department’s  refusal to honor the House of Representatives’ legal request for the last 6 years of President Donald Trump’s tax returns.  I was going to point out that in both cases it's obvious Trump has something to hide.  As I began to write the sentence though, I could hear the collective, “Well duh,” of my readers ringing in my ears.

Bottom line, you don't need me, or anyone else, to point out that Trump has something to hide.  Nobody needs to state the fact that our president believes he’s above the law.  Anyone who's been paying any kind of attention, already knows these things to be self evident.

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Christchurch Question - How Culpable Is Our President?

According to MSNBC, the man who allegedly killed 50 people last week at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, described President Donald Trump as, "a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose."

Subject: President Trump at White House garden podium | Photographer: White House Photographic Office |As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.
Liberal pundits have been quick to point to this quote to lay partial blame for the tragedy at Trump’s feet. As much as I dislike Trump, I wrestled with this idea for a few days.

On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan and three others were shot and wounded by John Hinckley Jr. Hinckley had shot the president in order to impress actress Jodie Foster. My initial reaction was that it’s as unfair to blame the president for the Christchurch massacre as it would be to blame Jodie Foster for Hinckley’s actions.

Yet, upon reflection, I realized there was a flaw to my comparison. Jodie Foster made no statement, gave no indication, and wrote no essay stating she would be impressed by the assassination of President Ronald Reagan. On the other hand, President Donald Trump has made several statements condoning racist attitudes and behavior toward Muslims.

*March 9, 2016: On CNN, Trump said: “I think Islam hates us. There’s something there that — there’s a tremendous hatred there. There’s a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it. There’s an unbelievable hatred of us.”

*Aug. 18, 2016: During a rally in North Carolina, Trump said that “all applicants for immigration will be vetted for ties to radical ideology, and we will screen out anyone who doesn't share our values and love our people.”

*Sept. 19, 2016: At a rally in Florida, Trump reacted to explosions over the weekend in New York and New Jersey and said: “There have been Islamic terrorist attacks in Minnesota and New York City and in New Jersey. These attacks and many others were made possible because of our extremely open immigration system, which fails to properly vet and screen the individuals and families coming into our country. Got to be careful.”

*Jan. 27, 2017: Within a week of becoming president, Trump signed an executive order blocking Syrian refugees and banning citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days. This order went into effect immediately, prompting mass chaos at airports, protests and legal challenges.

There are numerous other examples of President Donald Trump making racist anti-Muslim statements (click the footnote below for a more comprehensive list). Did President Trump tell Brenton Tarrant to kill 50 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand and film himself doing it? No, of course not.

Yet, like it or lump it, Donald Trump is a world leader. His words and deeds set a tone for people to follow. That’s what it means to be “a leader.” Yes, in the end Mr. Tarrant was 100% responsible for his actions; we all are. But, we’ll never know to what degree Trump's words may have set the stage for the brutal act.

*The Washington Post - May 06, 2017

Monday, February 25, 2019

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys

According to The Los Angeles Times, John Wayne said, "I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility," in 1971.  As a result, people want Orange County's John Wayne Airport to be renamed.

Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
Don't get me wrong, racism is down right ugly.  For thousands of years it has been used as an excuse for one group to oppress another group.  That being said, I'm not sure that racism is at the heart of this issue.

We all have heroes, people who are larger than life, who we look up to.  These people have done something which has inspired others on some level.  In September of 2014, I wrote a blog about meeting one of my childhood heroes, Dirk Benedict.

Mr. Benedict, played the part of two action heroes on television when I was growing up.  I was excited to meet him.  When I did meet him he turned out to be a right wing nut job.  I felt betrayed until I realized he didn't owe me anything.  He played a role on TV and made a little boy happy, and that's all he was suppose to do.

We idealize our heroes.  We assume that because they inspire us that they have no flaws.  One could argue that FDR, JFK, and Bill Clinton were three of the best presidents of the twentieth century.   Yet all three men cheated on their wives while in office.  Does this flaw mean that they should not be honored for their contributions?  Should we take their names off grade schools?

Heros are people and people have flaws.  Yes, John Wayne made a stupid racist comment.  I, for one, am glad he never ran for public office.  However, his job was not to make laws or serve as a moral compass.  His job was to make movies, and he did that.  His body of work has entertained and inspired generations of Americans.  The airport is named after the inspirational figure not the flawed man.

If we insist our heros be perfect before we honor them, we won't have any heros to look up to.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Too Many Cooks May Spoil The Soup

No, I haven't mistakenly posted one of my food blogs here. The title refers to the horde of Democrats who have announced their intention to run for President in 2020. To date, these are the candidates running, or threatening to run, for the Democratic nomination.

Table found at
Name Age State of candidacy
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts 69 Running for president
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii 37 Running for president
Ex-HUD chief Julian Castro 44 Running for president
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York 52 Running for president
Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland 55 Running for president
Andrew Yang, founder of Venture for America 44 Running for president
Sen. Kamala Harris 54 Running for president
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota 58 Running for president
Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey 49 Running for president
South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg 37 Running for president
Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio 66 Said he’ll decide in March
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont 77 Expected to announce in February
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg 76 Has said he would decide by end of February
Former Vice President Joe Biden 76 Has said he’s leaning toward running
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas 46 Said he would decide by the end of February
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper 66 Said he’s considering a run
Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado 54 Said he’s seriously thinking about running
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee 67 Considering a bid
Rep. Eric Swalwell of California 38 Said Feb. 11 he expects to make a decision “soon”
Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe 61 Said he would decide by March 31
Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon 62 Said he’ll decide by end of March
Former Attorney General Eric Holder 68 Has expressed interest
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock 52 May wait until May before making decision
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio 57 Said he hasn’t ruled out a run and is planning trip to New Hampshire on Feb. 15, fueling speculation that he will run.
Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts 40 Says he’s taking a “serious look” at running

Subject: Democratic Donkey | Artist: TheHoosierState89 at en.wikipedia | This work has been released into the public domain by its author.
Many pundits see this as a windfall of talent looking to oust President Trump from office, as if they're working together for a common goal.  This perception isn't quite accurate.

It’s true that each person on the list wants to replace Donald Trump as resident of the White House.   Yet, people seem to be forgetting the fact they'll initially be opposing each other for the Democratic nomination.  During primaries, things can be said which may hurt a nominee in the general election.

During 2008’s Democratic race, then Congressman Barack Obama said he had been working in the slums of Chicago while Clinton "was a corporate lawyer sitting on the board of Walmart". Clinton retaliated that Obama had represented a slum landlord.

In 2016, billionaire candidate Donald Trump smeared Cruz’s father, Rafael, touting a conspiracy theory that he was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. “His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald's being — you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous,” Trump said.

There are multiple other examples of nasty comments spewed during primary races, which weren’t easily forgotten afterwards.  My point is, with so many competitors entering the Democratic race, the odds of someone saying something which could potentially damage the Democratic ticket in the general election goes way up.

I‘d much rather see the party rally behind one strong candidate, rather than dividing the party.   Otherwise, they may very well trip over each other and hand the White House back to Donald Trump.