Trump with his madness is still an anchor for Republican power…

February 21, 2019

With word that the special counsel report on the Russia investigation that seeks to determine whether the Trump world colluded with the Russians against American interests is expected to be submitted next week I continue to ask myself how the nation has managed to put up with Trump. Yeah, I know he has his fans, his followers, but surely they are in the minority. And yet it goes on.

Sometimes I read something I may have already thought of but is put in just the right context. And here is an example — a brief excerpt from an opinion piece in the New York Times:

By Jennifer Finney Boylan

“Lear is mad,” observes his friend, the duke of Kent, and everyone else in court wants to say, Well, duh. But (with the exception of Kent, and daughter Cordelia) they hold their tongues, because in their far-off, unimaginable world — so different from our own! — it is more important to cling to power than speak the honest truth…

And there you have it, the Republican establishment and others, including vast numbers, if still a minority, of the electorate, have been either willing to or felt compelled to put up with the outrages of King Donald because with the bad they also perhaps get some things they want. I think some voters just like to see Trump thumb his nose at what they consider the elites, even to their own or the nation’s detriment.

After two-plus years of virtually headlines every day of Trump’s antics and indictments of members of his administration I am surprised to read that the findings of the report by special counsel Robert Mueller might not be released to the public. I think that would be outrageous. However, I also read that the report will be a guide to the now Democratic Party-controlled House of Representatives to pursue investigation and hearings on alleged wrongdoings of Trump and his campaign and administration.

Strangely, in some ways I do not blame Trump for being angry about the investigation so far. I  mean how long can this slow motion thing go on with all of its innuendo but no clear connection of the dots to link traitorous acts with Trump? But at the same time I have to suppose his anger is more from a fear that embarrassing and/or incriminating things will come out. I have no real idea if he is a traitor. I know by his actions on video and by his constant tweets that he is a sleaze and a little off balance.

But how did we get into this mess? Originally the idea of Trump as president was dismissed. He was known to be a crooked real estate investor who got other folks to put their money in and then pulled out, and, by his own admission, used the bankruptcy courts as a tool to enrich himself. He claimed his use of bankruptcy courts was legitimate, as if that is what they are there for. Well without going into a legal treatise I think I am correct in saying that bankruptcy is supposed to be a last gasp measure by someone in trouble, meant only to save oneself from utter ruin and to compromise with debt holders. Trump was also known as a womanizer, and we saw with the access Hollywood tape an admitted woman molester. He was also a showman in the crazy and unreal, despite its name, world of “reality TV”.  And we also know by his own actions and by reports from others that whatever his IQ, he is someone who is surprisingly ignorant of the world and world affairs. He admits he does not like to read.

However, the Trump circus worked to arouse a portion of the masses angry over ever-changing social norms, their place in the world, and what globalization is doing to them, And who knows what all? In short Trump is a demagogue.

The editorial board of the National Review, which has represented conservative thought, originally described itself as part of the “never Trump” crowd, as did prominent Republicans, such as former presidential candidate Mitt Romney. But they nearly all caved when they saw his nomination inevitable and then saw him become president (although Romney is back as a senator and has criticized Trump).

So, the reason Trump holds on to power is two-fold: the Republican establishment is willing to give up its principles to hold on to power and a part of the masses is willing to put up with or overlook a lot of things to flip its middle fingers at elites it feels don’t represent its way of life or social position.

I imagine Trump will be able to at the minimum ride out the next two years, save some bombshell coming out of the Mueller report and subsequent congressional investigations, and, who knows? He might get re-elected if the Democrats suffer from too much infighting between centrists and super liberals.

The electorate is changing. I keep reading that the concept of socialism is far more acceptable these days. I for one believe in social programs but not socialism. Socialism combined with democracy in Europe, often called democratic-socialism (as opposed to communism or other so-called socialistic systems that do not incorporate true democracy) may or may not work there, but I think that the United States is exceptional with its form of democracy that offers more individual freedom and more of a chance to work up the economic ladder.

Our system is not perfect and not foolproof.

We do have Trump as president.


While the special counsel investigation is supposedly limited to the question of Russian interference with our elections, the results of it so far have resulted in indictments that deal with other crimes. If nothing else we see that although Trump vowed to drain the swamp he just made it murkier.







Congress only has itself to blame for Trump’s usurpation of power…

February 16, 2019

The president shockingly (if Donld Trump can still be shocking) admitted that there is no emergency — “I don’t need to do this” — but that he just wants to speed things up, so he used the 1976 Emergency Act, declaring an emergency so he can rob treasury funds to build his border wall to a degree more than congress just authorized.

(Interestingly, if not depressingly so, major and reputible news outlets are simply reporting that Trump is lying about statistics and other facts he is using to support the need for his border wall — they are not saying it is just his opinion. If one just dismissed all that (from the news outlets) as “fake news”, then I ask what is real and how do I know? I guess it is like pornography, one can’t describe it, one just knows it when one sees it.)

Will this fly with the Supreme Court where the issue is likely to land? Of course I would not know but I suspect it well could because the high court tries to not second guess executive decisions, thus intruding into the separation of powers under the Constitution. But I suppose if a majority thought his action did not pass constitutional muster it might rule against him.

The high court did rule against Trump on his Muslim ban and some of the lower federal courts have ruled against his administration. But Trump has been able to shape the high court and many of the lower federal courts more to his favor by his appointments. And they say the courts are not political (who says that? I don’t know).

My first reaction was that Trump’s action is purely unconstitutional but then I got to reading some quick history and realized that if congress has problems with the president exercising an authority over the purse strings it is supposed to have, then congress only has itself to blame for abrogating its responsibilities to the president — I am of course referring to congress in general, not necessarily the current make-up or the freshmen now in office.

You see when you have to make touchy decisions you run the risk of offending part of your constituency and thus losing votes and thus eventually your position at the public trough. So why not let the president decide and take the heat?

Among other things over the years since WWII congress has virtually given over the power to declare war to the president. It has also allowed the president to impose tariffs, and to do a myriad of other things. Much of this has been done under the 1976 Emergency Powers Act. I read that it has been used at least 50 times by presidents since then. Geez, what were all these “emergencies” I never read about?

I mean in natural disasters certainly the president would declare a national emergency but there should already be contingency funds in the budget….oh, that’s right, actually passing a budget and going by it is passé — congress prefers continuing resolutions to cover its tracks, rather than setting out concrete year-to-year spending plans, as it is supposed to do under the Constitution.

Congress, Republicans and Democrats and independents, needs to make a decision on whether it wants to take back its responsibilities or just be a rubber stamp.

I need to study this some more. I mean can one branch of the government simply give over its constitutional duties to another? Is that not a violation of the constitution in and of itself?

Meanwhile, let Trump build his Maginot Line. Remember how that worked out.


The Mexican border fight between Democrats and Republicans is pointless…

February 13, 2019

Part of me wants to say our federal government is broken but then again I think that I have heard that line most of my adult life.

But it seems to me that this tug of war between Republican and Democrat over the border wall and immigration is rather pointless and boils down to simple politics but not good public policy.

It would seem to me that all sensible people no matter what their political persuasion want border security and a fair and sensible immigration policy.

But in trying to attract voters to their side so they can stay in office and declare political victory both sides have gone to some unreasonable extremes.

I do fault Donald Trump the candidate and then the president, though, for his extreme and inaccurate or misleading rhetoric in claiming that we are essentially being invaded from the south by thugs and criminals and rapists, from Mexico and other parts of Latin America. For sure we have bad actors from that direction. But I still feel that they represent the usual cross section in any society.

If for some reason people were fleeing Canada we might get somewhere around the same amount proportionately of bad actors. But people are not fleeing Canada.

And amid all of this I keep reading that illegal immigration from the south is on a downward trend and has been since before Trump became president. But everyone has their own statistics, just like Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway said: alternative truths.

But what we have when it comes to illegal immigration from the south is people fleeing poverty and violence in dysfunctional governmental and economic systems and being urged on by the tradition of the United States to hire illegal immigrants, wink, wink, nod, nod, because they offer a supply of people willing and able to do our dirty work (primarily) and to do so for lower wages and few to none of those pesky health and safety regulations.

So what we need is border enforcement and reasonable barriers at the border. But if our enforcement was done right the barriers might not be needed as much. If people knew that they would not be hired for work they would be far less likely to come. But we have a decades upon decades tradition here of turning a blind eye to illegal immigration where the trick is for families to set their roots here and if they do long enough somehow they become citizens and their offspring are citizens by birth (of course those born elsewhere face the prospect of deportation, i.e., the “dreamers”).

What would I do? Well I know it’s a dirty word but I would offer yet another “amnesty” program for those here but with a history of no criminal behavior (traffic tickets and such excluded — well perhaps drunk driving a red flag) and a history of gainful employment. But I would make the amnesty program fair and simple, not complex where it is simply a boon for immigration attorneys. I mean how hard can it be to dig up records to indicate no criminal history and a work history (illegals usually pay taxes in one way or another)?

And then, most impotently, there would be strict enforcement on employers not to hire illegals, probably a requirement to use e-verify (although I have read that is not 100 percent foolproof).

Also, what is this nonsense about letting illegals who commit a serious crime go? We keep reading about it with no explanation. Who can be for that?

And what is the problem with a border wall? For one thing, as originally proposed by Trump it seems like a tremendous waste of money and doubtful it would deter illegal immigration to any large extent — not sure about that. I think we could deter illegal immigration by making the prospects of being employed here difficult to impossible other than through the legal route. And doing it that way would be far less costly than the border wall.

(As for public assistance to illegals, well I suppose out of humanitarian concern we would offer it, but only until they are deported.)

Then there is the aesthetics. Even though we would be trying to keep people out rather than in a wall would resemble too closely the walls and barriers of the old iron curtain, such as the most notorious of all, the Berlin Wall. Are we going to have guard towers with machine-gun armed sentries? Would we shoot people down like the East German police did?

We all know that a wall would not stop drug trafficking, since illegal drugs come in via legal transport and tunnels.

And I always ask but never get or find an answer: why do we make it so hard for people from Latin America to immigrate? I do not even know what the process is I admit, but I gather it is difficult and time consuming. I would make it far simpler but of course reasonable. I know a lot of people apply for asylum. That is a tricky one. Some truly do face threats to their lives in their home countries but I am afraid we have to tamp down on that lest we get too big a flood of people needing assistance. Perhaps if they have bonafide sponsors. But for those with needed skills and clean criminal records we should welcome them. Now there may be still a limit. I don’t know what that limit would be. But I am for welcoming immigrants because I think we are America the beacon of freedom and democracy. We are exceptional (Trump notwithstanding).

The world needs us.

The compromise over border barriers needs to be ratified and signed by the president and we need to move on.


Personally I think it would have been okay probably to let Trump have his wall. Elections have consequences. To all you Democrats who failed to vote and thus let Trump win, think about that next time. And if the Democrats were able to take complete control they could modify the border barrier project.






Future is all but here in employment, skills expansion needed along with social safety net…

February 9, 2019

Once again it’s time for me to write about the fact that we are all, unless we are already or soon to be retired, facing the real prospect (inevitability) of being automated out of our jobs due to the exponential expansion of technology. What then?

The latest thing I read about this is only hours old (the story that is) in the Wall Street Journal. “This Thriving City — and Many Others — Could Soon Be Disrupted by Robots”, the headline reads. The city referred to is Lakeland, Florida. It is a shipping hub from which online commerce and other freight issues forth out of sprawling warehouses or distribution centers or fulfillment centers or whatever the current term is (I mean I am a truck driver but I can’t keep up with the changing terminology).

Yes. Automation in the warehouses is pushing people out of work but it does not stop there. The article I reference deals primarily with the warehouses but before I go on let me make it clear, as I have written before in this blog, virtually everyone’s job is not secure, due to technology. It used to be thought that if you had a thinking job you were safe (not meaning that everyone does not have to think — I just mean cerebral over hands on, often repetitive work). But the use of artificial intelligence is expanding at warp speed. As they often say, a lot of lawyers do repetitive tasks that can be handled by AI (legal zoom). Even news reporters and writers are threatened. I have read that some major financial publications, for example, are using AI to analyze and actually report on market conditions. And it gets scarier, there are bots that are programmed with common frases that combined with raw data can produce a news story. We also of course know that now what you see in a photo and video can indeed not be true and it is getting harder to distinguish a fake or doctored photo. But all that in and of itself is a subject for another blog post.

(And this is spooky, but I swear, I was listening to a traffic report on am radio and it was put up to be a human being but the tone and lack of inflection in the voice sounded like a machine.)

Heck, decades ago now, I read that a computer wrote a novel. I’ve written most of my adult life, for money and for free. It’s just something I like to do and also something I day-dream that I could get paid for — like write that novel. Or novels. But this technology is going after our souls, our humanity.

But back to the warehouses. There has been a major expansion in the warehouse industry and it has created a heck of a lot of employment. What or who I see mostly are forklift drivers and clerks, but of course there is management too, and maintenance personnel and such. But thanks I guess to e-commerce these warehouses have become huge and they seem to be, no, they are, sprouting up all over the place, and they are no doubt one of the main contributors to the good news in our employment statistics here in the USA.

But now I read that at the same time, a lot of jobs are being eliminated. The article I referred to says that the ones who are safe now from the pink slips are those with the mental skills to work with the ever-expanding and changing technology and those with finger dexterity to handle sorting chores not quite mastered by the robots or technology or not cost attractive to the use of machines (that will change).

So this phenomenon is not isolated to warehouses, they are just an example.

But in the near future, those who study this say, the ranks of the working will be divided into those with the “right skills” and the “precariat”, defined in the article as the precariously employed, a workforce of low-wage jobs with few benefits and protections…” And I took that almost verbatim out of the Wall Street Journal article I have referred to (don’t want to be accused of plagiarism; I’ll try to provide a link at bottom.).

And this leads me to the thought that inspired me to do this post. With this being the new reality I can begin to understand what I have been reading, that more and more of the electorate in the USA, primarily the young, are finding an increased appeal or acceptance of socialism. Socialism is really a broad term that can be used to describe an ideology or maybe just a tool used in capitalist society to provide some security for all we non billionaires.

But really, what are we going to do? It seems the social contract is being broken or upset. We live in a society in which the opportunity for expanding personal wealth is, with some qualifications, nearly open ended. But in return there is an unwritten contract that the rich look out for the poor and owe something to the society that has given them so much. No hard and fast rules and regulations on that (aside from the IRS and state tax boards), just a practical and moral understanding.

We can cling to the past on all of this and make believe it will all work out but I am pretty sure it won’t. The time of reckoning is near. Despite the fact that we already have a lot of homeless, we are a fairly spoiled society. Back in 1929 and into the 1930s it was said people drove to the poor house in a Model T. Now we bring along a smart phone. What I mean by that is that a large part of the populace who would find themselves out on the street with no government safety net would be helpless and angry. There is nothing more ugly and dangerous than a hungry and unruly mob.

And if you are in eighth grade or you are a parent of an eighth grader, it is not too early to decide what the future of work holds and how to prepare. Unless your parents are super rich, trying to “find yourself” after high school might not be an option.

(And I think high school as it exists is probably outdated but that is something for a future blog post maybe.)

Sons used to take up dad’s trade. Well today sons and daughters need to take up something but that something better be a career in a field not too limited to one skill. Even hands-on trades will require the ability to think and analyze and work with the technology.

And what is old is new: skilled people get the work (the skills just keep changing and expanding).

The link from the Wall Street Journal:

Trump’s version of conciliation may be too late; drug makers charge so much because they can…

February 7, 2019

After doing my immediate reaction blog post to President Trump’s 2019 state of the union speech, in which I basically wrote that he gave a good presentation, his interpretation of the facts notwithstanding, I read some reviews the next morning and felt like I was back working as a news reporter who had covered a county board meeting but then is asked by someone who did not like his story: “did you go to the same meeting as I did?”

But maybe that was because I was reading CNN and the New York Times. The Wall Street Journal was more positive on the speech.

I did read, however, that in an immediate poll by CNN, the speech was seen as positive by 70 percent of the respondents.

We all know the problem, though. It’s a little late to try diplomacy for Mr. Trump. And he has already ruined any credibility he might have had with his lies and distortions and bullying tactics over the past two years of his presidency.

But with the new reality of a Democratic Party-controlled House of Representatives I guess he tried some sweet talk Tuesday evening. Well, I did hear it characterized as something like “I am willing to negotiate as long as it is done my way”. But that is how negotiations often go except you are not supposed to come out and say it.

I think one of my favorite political pundits David Gergen summed it all up in a tweet:

Had this speech been the tenor of his inaugural address or SOTU last year, Trump might enjoy wider public support today.  But tonight’s appeals beyond his base come too late. Millions of Americans have made up their minds that he is not fit to be  president.

Meanwhile, the new Democratic congress is forging ahead with investigations of Trump and his gang. Even if they do not get anywhere they will be a drag on Trump’s power. And he knows it.

And even if Trump is not fit to be president he is…president. If he would just settle down he could use the power he has to get positive things done. And he has seemed to have made headway in negotiations with North Korea. And winding down our endless and questionable wars in the Middle East (and beyond) seems like good sense to me (they need to solve their own problems over there but of course we need to let them know that they need to do something other than to make their problems our problems).

In his speech Trump said he wants to bring down the cost of legal drugs that for some reason cost way more in the United States than elsewhere. I think the Economist magazine explained why drug makers charge us so much: “because they can”. Other countries have laws and regulations that force the drug makers to negotiate with their respective governments for price. In the United States drug makers negotiate with various insurance carriers through a kind of patchwork system. The rationale for higher prices here by the drug makers and their lobbyists (and the legislators in their pockets) is that the higher prices are needed for an incentive to develop the drugs in the first place — so we are paying for research and development of drugs for the whole world — that seems fair and practical — not.

And that is the conundrum of the capitalist system which I nonetheless wholeheartedly support (if for no other reason than it just seems based on human nature), it depends on the incentive of a personal desire for wealth among investors and producers (I don’t think the word “greed” necessarily fits here, although that is part of it too). Socialist systems on the other hand by design (in reality I don’t know) work on the premise of the common good. Somehow the capitalist systems win out almost every time. Go figure.

And now an amplification from my previous speech reaction post:

The congress women in white clothes (the majority being Democrats) who unexpectedly got up and cheered President Trump’s remarks acknowledging the new reality of woman power in the congress were dressed so in honor of the suffragettes who won the right of women to vote. Trump, of course a Republican, was caught by surprise the first time they stood up and cheered. “You weren’t supposed to do that, but thank you” is what I recalled he said in reaction. His facial reaction was almost like that time he spoke before a gathering of world leaders at the UN engaging in his typical braggadocio and they all laughed.

It would be nice if we could all laugh off the fact that Trump is president.

Well, we have survived this long, and they say the economy is good.


CORRECTION: In a previous post I erred in claiming Gov. Ralph Northam was the first Democratic governor in Virginia in a while — I got it backwards. I truly regret the error in that it affects the credibility of what I write. I’ll try harder in the accuracy department.










Trump uses the old shape shifting trick…

February 6, 2019

(An immediate reaction to President Trump’s state of the union address on the evening of Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019)

President Trump put in the performance of a lifetime in his state of the union address this evening. I don’t know how the fact checkers will score him — but it was of course a political speech and politics is sales, so hard facts often take second place.

But the president presented his speech in a strong tone of conciliation while injecting his policy positions, especially to build a wall (or barrier — both terms used) on various sections on the southern border (he did not say the whole length).

He was a shape shifter of sorts, I thought, when compared to his previous defiant approaches.

And while I was getting something in the kitchen I missed exactly what happened (and I am writing this immediately after the speech, so no time to look at a replay) and, correct me if I am wrong, but a group of Democratic women dressed in white, stood up and cheered him or what he said (at one point in particular and then others). The leading Democrat in congress, Nancy Pelosi, who was also dressed in white, I thought looked a bit bemused at times (but I cannot know whether that is an accurate description of her condition. At one point I saw her make a silent hand gesture to quell some boos — it seemed to work).

While stressing conciliation and bipartisanship, Trump was able to slip in things like he and congress could not “pass legislation” with “wars and investigation”, thus calling for support of his change in Mideast strategy and an end to the Mueller special council investigation which has zeroed in on the actions of the president’s campaign and possibly the president himself, and meddling by the Russians in the last presidential election.

I thought Trump (a Republican) voiced support for many Democratic Party positions in general while slipping his own in.

Trump called for an end to late-term abortions and used the recent news from New York and Virginia where proponents of late-term abortion seemed to suggest the endorsement or acceptance of ending the life of babies just before or even just after birth (I’m not saying that is really the case but that is the message that comes through). Without giving detail he referenced the remarks of people in New York, along with the embattled governor of Virginia, who had described the policy of withholding life support from deformed babies (remarks that Gov. Ralph Northam has not as far as I know explained nor elaborated on.) But I mention all of this because in this way Trump put Democrats who champion abortion rights on the spot. At one point Trump invoked the word of God in defending unborn babies.

So to sum this up I would say that despite my suspicion that a lot of the statistics Trump quoted in his address that would indicate how he has personally transformed the U.S. economy and such may be suspect — sometimes performance is everything.

Now stick with me here, but that governor of Virginia is in trouble in part by admitting that he at one time at least put on black face for amusement or entertainment purposes. Well wouldn’t you know it? Famous performer Al Jolson did that a long time ago. And what has that got to do with all this? Nothing, except Al Jolson also I once read was one of the first singers to use the modern technique of moving around on stage, putting more life into the performance.

That is what I noticed Trump did. I’ve seen presidents since Eisenhower give presentations. Among them I always thought John Kennedy was the best speaker, some would say Ronald Reagan. But neither of them moved around on the stage so to speak.

Trump did. I believe I am right in saying he moved away from the lectern or at least moved around and made some gestures, mostly nodding his head.

Gone was the vile attack mode. It was replaced by a more conciliatory or cooperative mood combined with a resolute support of his own goals — such as that border wall.

And rather than come out against immigrants, he clearly (and cleverly) stated that he considered legal immigration valuable and necessary but that illegal immigration hurts both the native-born and those who immigrated legally.

(Actually if you like what you heard, credit his speech writer I suppose. I have always wondered about these politicians who cannot write their own speeches — that would seem a requisite skill. Maybe we should all vote for the best speech writer and forget the phony candidates who lack the ability to express their own thoughts. Oh, yeah, that’s right, often they are just presenting what they hope sells.)

As I am writing this I am not listening nor reading yet what the pundits are saying and have no idea how the polls will show the American electorate accepted it all. I think some might wonder why the more cooperative tone. Some will say he is smarting from the shut-down fiasco where Pelosi and the other Democrats seemed to get the best of him. I think that could be true in part but I also suspect that it is part of a strategy to come on strong to get the upper hand as much as possible and then lull the adversaries into submission or compromise by a peace-offering.

No I am not a Trump supporter. But I think Trump may have won this round — of course it was his night. It was his to lose.

(I have not watched the official Democratic response speech. I think response speeches by opposing parties are largely a waste of time for state of the union addresses, but I will try to catch it where I can).

Somewhat disturbing to me were the chants from time to time of “USA, USA”. I’m as patriotic as anyone, but considering the venue and the often bombastic leader (although not tonight), they sounded too much like Sieg Heil in Hitler’s Nuremberg rallies. I don’t think chants are appropriate for state occasions in our democracy. They sound too much like blind support in a cult of personality where inevitably some minority or those who have different opinions are in danger.

Trump came out full-fledged against “socialism”, which seems to have taken upon a more favorable cachet, particularly among the younger portion of the electorate, so I read. This phenomenon is pulling the Democratic Party further toward the left and threatening moderates, just as the movement of the Republican Party to the fringes of the far right has done the same.

Facts aside, a good performance by Trump I thought. Maybe his experience in real estate flim-flam came through to his benefit again. To ours, I would not be so sure.









Embattled Virginia governor faces a double standard but he is his own worst enemy…

February 3, 2019

CORRECTION: In my original post below I erred in claiming Gov. Northam was the first Democratic governor in Virginia in a while — I got it backwards. I truly regret the error in that it affects the credibility of what I write. I’ll try harder.


As a sort of followup to my just previous post in which I criticized and/or ridiculed embattled Virginia governor Ralph Northam for his troubling and ambiguous comments somehow connected to late-term abortion and then his zany off and on and off claims as to whether he was one of the subjects in a medical school yearbook, one in blackface and one wearing Ku Klux Klan attire, I have to note that it does seem a tad unfair to Northam that so many are calling on him to resign.

A double standard. If a Republican presidential candidate is recorded on tape bragging about how he sexually molests women (or how he grabs them in their private parts because his celebrity makes them accept it), he goes on to be president and his supporters either look the other way or make excuses.

But a lowly Democratic Party governor is called upon by both the rival party and his own to step down.

To be fair, poor Northam has been inept in the episodes — changing his story several times in the black face fisasco (the abortion thing who knows?). If it was all simply not true he should have said so and stuck with it. But if he was one of those persons in the photo (or photos — it is indicated he is the one in black face and he has admitted using black face on one occasion) then he should have owned up to it in the very beginning and started his explanation and apology. So much evidence from past such episodes with high-profile people (Trump notwithstanding) have proven the only way to avoid irreparable damage is to get out in front of everything.

Even Nixon likely could have escaped Watergate had early on he just blamed overzealous campaign people and apologized (even if he was the ring leader). Probably the whole thing would have ended there (without the damning details that did him in coming out). But he denied and then went to great lengths to cover up and that brought on the news hounds. And of course admitting things up front is good for someone who is not really guilty of any sin but has been involved in something that looks bad. Get on top of it and make it all go away.

But Northam does not have the vaunted and dreaded base of know-nothing angry and reactionary we-don’t-want-to-hear-the-facts anti-establishment voters on his side. And what he apparently did some time in history does not fit the politically correct straight jacket of the left and even the modern establishment as a whole.

And unlike Trump, Northam is apparently not seen as so politically indispensable that his behavior must be overlooked.

And of course Northam is white, his Lt. Governor ready to step in is black. And Northam is only a year into his term. The Republicans are out to get him. But apparently so is his own party — with friends like that, who needs enemies? They want to make themselves look good while making him look bad.

But from his performance in the abortion issue and the black face issue he has been the one most to blame for his own troubles.

But, to all Trump supporters I ask: where is your moral outrage against the president whose list of moral sins runs a mile long and continues almost on a daily basis?

I know, that’s different.


I did not know medical schools had yearbooks. Maybe not a good idea.





Are politicians clowns as a talk show host asserts? I hope not but the Virginia governor has me wondering…

February 3, 2019

A radio talk show host I like to listen to disappointed me the other day with his what I thought over-the-top flat-out assertion that most politicians are simply “clowns” and are at the bottom of the barrel in the smarts department. He claimed he had interviewed a lot of them (I’ll bet they are sorry they let him).

I mean he seemed to be saying this in earnest and not just using hyperbole —  yes, we are all familiar with the generalization and disparagement of politicians, news reporters, used car salesmen, and lawyers and such (and talk show hosts?). But this talk show host’s tone of voice seemed to indicate he meant what he said.

How conceited, snobbish, holier than-thou, I thought. I recalled that people had asked him to run for congress, but he said he had better things to do and would not stoop so low.

I mean I’m okay with stating that way too many politicians are not of high caliber and in fact may be low individuals if not outright scoundrels — but all of them? Even most of them? Hey it’s a dirty job, someone has to do it.

But then I caught the news about Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. This man seems to be trying to prove my talk show host correct.

First he makes some unsettling comments in support of late-term abortion, somehow conflating it with ending an infant’s life after the infant has been born. And this man supports late-term abortion and is a medical doctor in pediatrics. Two things here: I am not trying to comment or take sides on the abortion issue (yet) and somehow I can’t believe what I am reading and the video I saw and heard on his comments. But this is the way it is being reported. He seemed to try to justify late-term abortion by explaining that in such cases the fetus may be deformed. And he said that in some cases a baby might be delivered and would be resuscitated if that is what the mother and family desired.

You can read the news stories (lots of different versions and editorials that pick and choose in an attempt to frame what he said to a point of view) but even from respected sources it all seems unclear. Might be context is needed. One account I read indicated he was responding to the question of what would happen if a late-term abortion was unsuccessful and the baby was born.

Whatever the case, I have not yet seen any explanation from Northam himself on what he was specifically talking about. Was he suggesting that a proposed new abortion law in Virginia would allow ending a baby’s life after birth? That is not abortion. That is murder, infanticide. A baby of course, unfortunately, might die despite the best efforts of medical personnel on hand, but to simply let a baby die is killing the baby I think. But then again it may be like the end-of-life thing. We all know that despite laws against euthanasia it is a common practice to let the already dying die, either by terminating life support or even an overdose of morphine. It is done.

(New York State just passed a late-term abortion law. Some other states have them while some states are prepared to outlaw abortion again in anticipation of the Trump right-wing Supreme Court majority likelihood to overthrow Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal.)

First we have to assume or hope doctors and medical personnel are ethical. And then it seems to me it is all between the doctors and the families and government should all but butt out.

And now I am not being very clear. No I do not think a baby’s life should be ended once delivered. But I realize there is a grey area between actively ending a baby’s life or passively letting the baby die, knowing that the situation is hopeless.

But Gov. Northam with his apparent lack of specificity or clarity has muddied the waters in the hottest of hot button issues, abortion.

And what does this have to do with my talk show host’s assertion that virtually all politicians are clowns? Well this same Northam is now being called on to resign his governorship after being identified as one of two people in what is described as a medial school yearbook — one person in black face and one in Ku Klux Klan robes.

Northam is a Democrat and obviously left-wing with his abortion bill. Some right-wing operatives surfaced the photo of course to discredit him.

On day one he apologized. On day two he denied he was in it. And now he claims he recalls he had been at one time wearing black face created by black shoe polish and masquerading as Michael Jackson, although the reports said he could not remember the late singer’s name, that his wife had to whisper it to him in a news conference. He was asked by someone to do a moonwalk, but his wife saved him by suggesting it would be inappropriate.

Too bad someone did not suggest to him earlier that donning blackface and wearing Ku Klux Klan robes is not as popular as it once was.

So maybe my talk show guy is right — these politicians are clowns. But I hold out hope that the Virginia governor is not a representative example (pardon the pun if that is what it was).

The talk show host says he does not care for some of President Trump’s demeanor but he likes a lot of what he has done. I’ve heard a lot of people say that.

I for one think  Trump’s demeanor is one of a clown, a menacing clown.


And on a serious note: I think some things, such as abortion, are so private that they should be left to individuals in consultation with their doctors to decide upon with a minimum of government oversight. I would not, yes not, argue with any religious zealot that life indeed begins at conception. But what happens between conception and birth all takes place inside another human being, the mother. It is her body and none of the business of government or religious groups or others. They are all free to follow their own consciences and urge others to agree with them — not force them to under the auspices of government. It is a complex and troubling issue, though, for which neither I nor most people I think can square with their own conscience. I heard one commentator say that most public opinion polls indicate a solid majority of Americans believe in a woman’s right to choose and are anti-abortion at the same time.