This is too serious a job for Trump, so he has assigned his obedient assistant, is he up to it?

February 29, 2020

In the face of the threat, worldwide and nationally, from the novel coronavirus, or Covid-19, steady leadership guided by medical science is needed. Not at all sure we are getting that. It appears that President Trump is more concerned about how it all plays out for him politically than the health of the nation.

He had tried to downplay it but circumstances have forced his hand somewhat.


UPDATE: In the last nine or so hours since I posted this, President Trump has reverted to his campaign mode and is calling the virus threat a hoax by his political opponents. While it may be true that some writers and some of his adversaries are slanting some of this and hoping it will bring down Trump, reality tells us daily it is not a hoax. Denying unpleasant truths does not make them go away. I’ll stick to what I get from medical and scientific professionals, not politicians from any side, if the government will allow the free flow of important information.


Respected health authorities warn that the virus, now spreading around the world rapidly, and which made its first appearance in China, is a serious threat to all mankind, even though they also acknowledge at present it is not known just how serious it will be — except the latest word seems to be that virtually all of us will somehow come into contact with it, which is not to say any one of us will necessarily come down with the disease. If it keeps on spreading like it has, eventually humankind may work up an immunity either through an as of yet not fully developed vaccine or from natural infection. Also it could become a regular occurrence as the annual strains of flu.

I’m not going to get into how deadly this new virus is because for one I do not know and for another thing it depends upon how you compare it. At present it is a virus spreading around the globe at an alarming rate. It is especially deadly to the young and old and anyone with a compromised immune system (I think that is safe to say). And as I already noted, there is no vaccine for it yet. But just to say, oh, well, it’s just like the sicknesses that go around every year, I think is not accurate — I mean if it comforts you, well fine. But I would hope those working on a cure or protection or care and our political leaders would have more of a genuine and rational concern.

Meanwhile, the stock markets have tanked in reaction to possible disruptions in worldwide commerce.

In his press conference the other day Trump looked pained and impatient when the well-respected immunologist Dr. Tony Fauci was talking. And the good doctor seemed to be aware that he was supposed to say little — keep it short. He did his best. A slight man, he looked nervous with Trump hovering behind him. Trump, himself, had a nervous or impatient scowl the whole time.

Trump reportedly was already furious that medical people had said too much.

Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control made remarks at the Trump press conference and was able to give what seemed an informative and level-headed, straight forward presentation, easily understandable to the public. Trump had complimented her earlier in the conference — Trump only appeared a little nervous while she spoke. I’m sure we need her medical expertise on the front line or right in back of it, but I’d rather see someone like her in charge rather than Pence who is too attached to Trump, afraid the bully will slap him down a notch.

So the whole nation, the whole world, is on edge with this thing. All Trump could do was brag that he took the correct initial actions by barring entry into the country even when everyone said he was wrong. They mocked me but I was right, he declared more than once. He also predictably kept using the word “strongly”. It seems it is one of the few adjectives he knows. And from what I have heard, whether Trump’s supposed actions were right or wrong, people have not been fully prevented from entering the country from infected areas. There are reports coming from students returning from overseas programs in Italy, which has been hit particularly hard by the virus, with no known source, who said they were not screened at the airport in the U.S.

At this point I am wondering just what the use of Trump is. Even vice president Mike Pence could do a better job (if he did not put unbending religious views in the way).

And indeed Trump has put his most obedient Pence in charge of the administration’s actions concerning the virus, and it has been especially noted that all announcements from the government on the subject are to go through him. Now I can see a good reason for wanting to have some control on information. It is important that messages from the government should be clear and accurate and not ambiguous. And of course it would do no good to just send out dire warnings that make it all sound hopeless. But from what we know about the Trump administration and what we know about Pence it seems the idea may be more to head off anything that might go against Trumpian politics or make the president look bad.

I would almost think a doctor needs to be in charge. But I suppose it is better to have knowledgeable medical people working to fight the disease and care for people and come up with vaccines and such. It may be better to have a civilian in charge. But it would be better to have one who is perhaps from the outside and does not have a political agenda (either pro or anti Trump). We need reassurance but also someone who sticks to just the facts.

When I first heard that American citizens who had been in China were being brought back to the U.S. for quarantine (14 days was it?) at various U.S. air bases on the mainland I thought about how as a truck driver I have driven past bases, such as March Air Force Base down by Riverside, Ca. And closer to my home, Travis Air Base, just outside the immediate Bay Area, near Fairfield and Vacaville. I remember wondering — crazy I thought — if I could somehow catch the virus just by driving near the places — like it was in the air.

Well, probably not from what I have heard and read so far, but it has been noted that the virus does seem to spread in other ways besides close contact where one gets the droplets from another human being who is infected and coughing and sneezing. It seems that the virus does survive on various surfaces for some time and one could catch it that way.

There have been at least two cases in the Solano County area of people getting infected who have not been, at least as far as can be determined, near suspected areas or where people known to be infected are. The reports I have been hearing don’t seem to mention Travis Air Base, which is in Solano County. But at least one radio call-in listener mused, and I am sure anyone who could put two and two together might guess (rightly or wrongly) that somehow the virus came out of there. I know that was my first reaction. The caller suggested that maybe one of the crew who cleaned the aircraft the quarantined people came in on got infected and then maybe went to a local store or something. We know now that people showing no symptoms can be infected and spread the virus.

And now I have to be careful. I don’t want to spread rumors but let me just say today I had an encounter — not of the close kind — with an individual who identified as just recently coming out of a certain country (not China but in that general part of the world) where the virus is present in fairly large numbers. The person was not ethnic of that nation. Neither one of us mentioned the virus. I was not in extreme close distance with the person. But it did make me wonder.

I think there is going to be a lot of that.

p.s.

In my job as an over-the-road truck driver I come into contact with all kinds of people and all kinds of sanitary conditions from good to really poor (hey anyone who has used a restroom out on the road, you don’t have to be a truck driver, knows what I am talking about). I’ve survived so far. I’ll keep on as long as I can.


We need better than anyone but Trump…

February 26, 2020

I was only able to catch brief snippets of the CBS Democratic debate live, but then tried to watch a full replay — for now I give up. Way too much cross talk.

Watching the first few minutes I have come to the scary conclusion that Donald Trump will likely win re-election — I mean someone has to stand out as a leader among the Democrats, someone besides Bernie Sanders. Barring some unforeseen events that could derail Trump, Sanders as the nominee will lose I am fairly sure. It is possible, for example, the fallout from the current coronavirus epidemic (or pandemic), could change the landscpae — not meaning that the virus is Trump’s fault, but how he deals with it and what the impact will be on the economy going forward. Too early to tell on that one.

The former Republican and former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg might well be an excellent alternatifve to Trump but I think his style and personality or lack thereof might not energize voters who might otherwise show up at the polls to oust Trump.

And can I stop here and again mention stop and frisk? Bloomberg’s opponents on the debate stage keep hammering away at him for this. Stop and frisk I guess is some kind of label you put on someone to prove they are a racist — end of story. He implemented it, a lot of black people were stopped, and apparently a lot of them were not guilty of anything or there was no probable cause to stop them. But I believe the idea was to go into crime-ridden areas and clean them up, making them safe for the law abiding citizens (mostly black). Bloomberg has apologized and seems obligated to repeat that apology every time someone brings it up. He says once he realized things had gotten out of hand he put a stop to it (others say he did not and of course somehow Joe Biden claims he, Biden, did, and there is a federal judge who says, no, she did). But as I said before, it seems to me that if I had to live in a crime-ridden area I would feel more comfortable with a high police presence and not just drive throughs in squad cars and responses after someone had been robbed or killed. And I heard a report on CNN (a sound byte) of a young man in what might be termed a New York ghetto neighborhood saying he wished the police were back working in his neighborhood.

Now of course simply stopping and frisking people at random or by simple fiat or because of their skin color is a civil rights violation, rightly so, on its face. But then there is probable cause — a tricky thing, can be rather subjective. A good and honest policeman might have an instict but be overrulled by a judge, who was not there. A bad cop can cause havoc. But I think the answer has to be heavy policing, and up close and personal policing, sometimes called community policing I think, especially in high-crime areas. And all I really want to say on all that is that I think maybe the stop and frisk criticism might be a cheap shot against Bloomberg,

They say it is make or break time for former vice president Joe Biden in this coming Super Tuesday voting. It is said he has to win South Carolina where he is depending upon support of the black commiunity.

I suppose if Biden could keep his wits about him and be more careful, that is avoid gaffes and exaggerations that he has already been caught in, he just might able to beat Trump, but it is sad to me if he is the best the Democratic Party could do. Old go along to get along Joe might draw in Republicans who might not dare say so but who are tired of Trump and his fascistic ways or just plain tired of the daily circus.

Still, I like Amy Klobuchar, but she desperately needs to do and say things to get to the head of the pack — she can’t quite do it. A pity she might well be a good centrist president.

And to all the socialists:

If you truly have missed out on getting what you thought you should from our great country, I am fairly sure that once you do, and do so by taking it from others, you will then become far more conservative. You will want to hold on to what you got.

Sanders cites problems, such as health care and income equality and the cost of education, and then proclaims socialism is the answer. I say the answer is social programs in some instances but not socialism.

And this thing about raising the minimum wage. My position on that is that sadly we probably need the minimum wage because there are some scoundrels, well quite a few, who would take advantage of down and out workers and pay next to nothing. So I guess there needs to be a floor. But naming some magic figure as the minimum wage or something called a livable income is problamatic. Not everyone needs as much as others. Some people are able and skillful enough to live economically. Some people actually save back and improve their skills and become successful and move up to the higher income brackets.

That’s why people come to this country. That’s why a lot of our ancestors did. Opportunity.

Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are right to a degree, that is the emphasis from the government seems to be to help the rich, the very people who don’t need the help. But the counter argument to that is that capital or capitalists are the ones who create the jobs and sustain the economy.

There just needs to be a better balance folks. Social programs good, socialism not good.

South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg has done well in the race so far. He seems to be a centrist and he talks well. Not sure exactly what his specifics are or how exactly he would handle things. It will be interesting to see if he progresses in the primary.

I think some have thought anyone but Trump and that most anyone could beat him. I don’t think they think that now.

To the extent we have a great economy now (the coronavirus effect notwithstanding), I think Trump gets far too much credit and former president Obama not enough, but fair or not, the particular president in office gets the credit for a good economy and blame for a poor one.

The main danger from Trump is that with his victory in the impeachment episode he is consolidating his power in the way of a true authoritarian by purging out anyone who dares to have a contrary opinion and even going as far to tell two Supreme Court justices that they should recuse themsevles on cases involving him. I mean it is probably the Supreme Court and the rule of law that stands between a dictatorship and a democracy.

Now obviously, cabinet members and immediate staff are subject to a president’s perogatives, but going further down the line is dangerous.

Politicizing the the Environmental Protection Agency is just plain wrong. I understand Trump has managed to get the EPA to disregard reports that would fly in the face of his climate change denial stances or his call for cutting down on pollution controls.

If we ever needed a president who respects science it is now in the face of this threat from the coronavirus (which I realize no one knows how serious it might become or if it will subside in a not too-distant time). Yes. How Trump handles it could determine his presidency. If he does it well (so far he has seemed indecisive), at least we can be relieved of that. He’s supposed to hold a news conference on the corona virus situation, as I finish this post.


Could Sanders win as Trump did? by offering something really different…

February 23, 2020

To quote from a popular song from some decades ago:

Amie, what you wanna do?
I think I could stay with you
for a while… (song written by Craig Fuller, recorded by Pure Prairie League, 1975)

In a recent post I said I was all in for Amy Klobuchar in the Democratic primary. It’s still way early but currently fresh off a major win in the Nevada caucus, Bernie Sanders, that old socialist from Vermont, has surged to a clear lead in the pack.

The big surprise to pundits (and me too) is that polling suggests that Sanders’ appeal goes beyond a dedicated base.

But maybe it should not be a surprise. In 2016, a lot of folks were just plain tired of the same old, same old in presidential politics and voted for Donald Trump — not a majority as we all know, but enough to allow him to slide in via the Electoral College. And they got what they wanted: not the same old, same old.

And before I go further with the thought, let me get back to Amy. I saw her as a softer, moderating force at neither extreme of the left, right continuum, one who could appeal to both Democrats and Republicans. She could bring back a sense of stability and civility.

But you have to be able to win to do that. Still time, but Bernie is on a roll.

And now back to the original thought: Trump is anti-establishment and some form of a populist of the right (even though he does not fit into what I would normally think of conservatism). In my reading of history, populists were formerly seen as a phenomenon of the political left (they wanted to break out of the status quo). But Trump came along and called for a rejection of the status quo in the Republican Party and its conservative base, which maybe seemed like too much of a club in cahoots with the opposing party (they were all in it just to keep their cozy jobs by fooling the public). Trump had not been a politician and through the years he had identified with both liberal and conservative causes or issues. He was and is an opportunist, doing things primarily that appeal to his own vanity or narcissistic tendencies.

The phenomenon noticed in the last presidential election was that even though Sanders and Trump seemed to be, or were, identified as being on the opposite side of the political spectrum, they both engendered appeal among some of the same demographic, often identified as white working class and disaffected voters (ones who felt the Democrats had abandoned them after for so many years of at least claiming to represent them).

But Sanders’ appeal, then, and apparently now, seems to go beyond all that. For one thing, even though he is 78, he appeals to young people, who see the world far differently than their parents or grandparents. For many, the idea of upward mobility is hard to conjure up. Stability in the work place for most is all but a relic of the past. Affordable housing is a thing of the past. And one can have somewhat affordable health care if he or she is fortunate enough to have a job that provides a group plan — but more and more young people find themselves in jobs that do not. Many are in the gig economy, even with higher education. And they are paying off exorbitant student debt. They work as essentially independent contractors — independent of benefits and stability.

And another thing: young people tend to be more concerned about climate change. They want to have a future on this planet. Sanders is among those who are pushing for a stronger emphasis on the environment.

The old fashioned political right has sided with Trump, even though Trump is really apolitical I think. Much of the left is with Sanders.

Personally I would be more comfortable with someone in the middle.

I suspect that in the end, that is next November, voter turnout will be the key. A large turnout would augur well for, say Sanders, if he wins the nomination, of course. A low turnout means four more years of Trump.

Would Sanders turn us into a European social democracy? There could probably be worse fates, but I don’t see that anyway. Unless he had both houses of congress, he would be fairly constrained.

Meanwhile, of course, billionaire and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to buy the election with his own money. But when I saw him on the debate stage, I saw a man who looked like he was having a hard time suffering common folks. He might be able to buy silence from harassed women employees, but not the votes needed to become president (if I am wrong about that, well there goes our democracy).

Former vice president Joe Biden did come out second in Nevada, so don’t count him out, except, while Bernie got 10 more delegates to the national convention out of Nevada, winning 46 percent of the caucus votes, everyone else, including Biden, got 0 out of it (yeah, I don’t know how all that works either).


The current delegate count from the three primary elections so far:

Bernie Sanders: 31; Pete Buttigieg: 22; Elizabeth Warren: 8; Amy Klobuchar: 7; Joe Biden: 6.


Elizabeth Warren is in there fighting. Way back, a Republican and a conservative, she has become a firebrand of the left. And she has a plan for everything. And she is quick witted and fast on her feet. And that is all I can say about her at this time.

And of course there is Pete Buttigieg, who I always feel compelled to mention is gay. I mean that has to be figured in when calculating electability. But times have changed and a high voter turnout could help him if he were nominated. He is one of the most articulate and reasonable sounding and moderate candidates out there.

No doubt, though, Bernie is on a roll. Nothing enables a candidate to win more than winning.

So, Amy was clear down in 5th place. Some political observers say she and some of the others ought to drop out for the good of the party, leaving maybe one strong center candidate to beat the lefty Sanders, who could then go on to beat Trump.

Amy, what you wanna do?


Americans waste money, no free lunch; Bloomberg a sophisticated Trump?

February 17, 2020

You don’t have to be a Republican to believe that you should work for what you get and that there is no free lunch or to be more precise, no free medical care or free college.

I don’t know of any doctors or medical personnel who want to work for free. Don’t know of any college professors who want to work for free either.

Of course if there were no or there are no jobs available there has to be some mechanism to tide people over.

We have forgotten or discarded the ways of the old world where adults chose trades or profession early on knowing that in the life ahead they had to have something to sustain them. They also wanted to get into something they could do and probably enjoy or at least tolerate.

One Democratic candidate who has now dropped out wanted to give everyone a thousand dollars a month I think. I have run this by a few people and they did not seem to buy what I was saying or get it. But my take, and maybe it’s just me, is that once everyone has that “free” thousand dollars, a thousand dollars no longer has value.

A friend of mine listening to my proposition today may not have been impressed by my take but she had one just as good or better: people getting that thousand dollars would just blow it. And then where would they be? I add. Back to square one.

In general Americans from the middle class on down are profligate with their money.

And it does not help that I and everyone else gets come-ons from credit card companies in the mail, regardless of our credit worthiness — and they all have super-exorbitant interest rates.

We need to reject the corporate interests not only at the ballot box but at the mail box.

In my observation through the years we take far better care of the poorest of the poor than we do of the lower middle class.

I’ll never forget when my second child was born. I worked at a mill. We paid the doctor with our money. The hippie couple next door who chose, and I mean chose, not to work had a baby for free — well on the taxpayers’ dime. Long time ago. But it has always stuck with me.

And then there is the class of people who work in the underground economy in many of the trades who pay no taxes but expect to be eligible for tax-funded programs. Of course they are no more guilty than the corporations that pay no taxes but get the legal protection and the military protection and the infrastructure support of the taxpayers.

And you know? Tulsi Gabbard is right. These overseas military operations are a wasteful pursuit. They are a product of mission creep. We no longer even know what that mission might be. Gabbard served in the war zone, more than once. Not endorsing her, just saying.


 

Meanwhile, trying to catch up on who Michael Bloomberg really is. Seems so far to be a more sophisticated version of Donald Trump. That is not comforting.

But on this stop and frisk thing he gets so much grief from: I would have to give it a study, but my first reaction is that if I was forced by circumstances to live in a crime-ridden neighborhood I’d be comforted that the police were trying to clear the hoodlums off the street. Yes, if the end result is that by way of racial profiling large numbers of innocent people fell into the net, then the program is not practical and of course probably violates civil rights.

It is too bad that in urban areas there cannot be police stations in each neighborhood and cops walking the beat, as well as cruising around, keeping in close and personal contact with the residents. And it is too bad that in many areas the police do not represent those whom they are supposed to protect when it comes to race. I mean there should be a mix. Simply having squad cars cruise through like armored patrols in a war zone only fosters an attitude of us against them.


Socialism is the wrong path, but Trump ousting is the right path…

February 13, 2020

Right now I’m all in for Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and I am glad to see she picked up the pace and came out among the top three in New Hampshire, at no. 3. And I am not at all unhappy that former vice president and king of gaffes Joe Biden took a drubbing and that Massachusetts Sen. and American native wannabe Elizabeth Warren is faltering — which is not to say that I would not eagerly vote for either one — anyone to beat Trump.

President Donald Trump, with the help of his senate lackeys, is destroying our democracy and even the notion that there is something called “truth”. He seems to think it is in his power to choose whether to follow the law and the constitution. More than his policies, it is his attitude and his boorishness that concerns me. There really is a place and need for manners and decorum in a civilized society. And the truth thing. While making a false or misleading statement here and there or exaggerating is the stuff of politics, Trump has shown a willingness just to lie and stick with that lie as long as it serves him or to even change his story in midstream if that seems to serve him. He has conditioned followers to simply believe that he is somehow their only protection and that truth really has no relevance anyway.

But what really concerns me is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders being considered the front runner in the Democratic Party. I have a hard time getting my head around the concept that an avowed socialist can win the presidency in the United States of America.

(A November matchup between Sanders and Trump might resemble McGovern vs. Nixon in 1972 — people sympathized with McGovern’s anti-Vietnam War message but in the end they just could not vote for him — he of course lost in a landslide, only winning one state, and not even his own).

There is a difference between social programs, which can do good, and socialism. I think Sanders considers himself something like a European socialist and that he would love to see a Scandinavian-style social democracy. But I think our constitutional format and our history does not fit into that.

There are different types of socialism models. There is European social democracy at one end and communism at the other. They are not the same of course. However they do have something in common. The good of the people is supposedly at the center. Well that sounds fair — but the people are represented by the “state”. And there you go, it is you the individual against the state or visa versa.

To the extent that the United States leads the world, it is because of individualism and the freedom that allows individuals to move ahead with new ideas and ways of doing things that make life better for all.

It may well be that in some places, Europe for instance, and in third-world nations, it is necessary for the state to take a more active role in protecting people because there is little room for individuals to advance, especially if they are not from wealth or the landed aristocracy.

To an extent we have that problem in the United States, so, yes, we do have social programs to address that. But our nation developed with the spirit, if not always the reality, that you could move west young man and strike out on your own. Yes, the frontier is settled, but we still have that frame of mind.

What do I know about it? Not more than you the reader, perhaps. But I do have an undergranduate degree in political science. But it so happens I am an over-the-road truck driver. So using that experience here is my take on socialism vs. capitalism:

Socialism –A driver goes to a warehouse where the employees are union members to unload his trailer. It’s 15 minutes before lunch. The forklift driver decides, too close to lunch to start now and just sits idle for that time. And he might have even had a recent 10- or 15-minute rest break, maybe not more than an hour previous.

Capitalism: On the other hand, a driver goes to a non-union warehouse. The forklift driver with only 15 minutes to lunch at least gets 15 minutes of work done, because, well that’s his (or her) job, and besides he might want to impress the boss, and beyond that he knows somewhere in his mind that if it were not for the business of the trucks coming in and out he would not have a job, that’s our non-socialist capitalist system. And maybe, get this, in a non-union warehouse they might even split lunch breaks so not everyone is at lunch at the same time (although I don’t see that much in real life).

But back to Sanders and socialism: free health care for all. Pay everyone’s student debt and free college for all. Except in reality nothing in this world is free. Someone will pay. Usually it is those who are diligent in their work and prudent with their money.

One thing that bothers me about free college for all is that we have already dumbed down our colleges and universities with students taking remedial English and math courses (not sure what happened in grade school and high school). Back in the day those students were not considered college material or they were offered community college to catch up. And, yes, I would support free (to the student) or almost free community college. They are great. They serve as both trade schools and prep for higher education and a combination of the two. Oh, and I realize free is not free, but they are a good investment for taxpayers.

But on the other hand, we can hardly afford to pay for everyone’s degree for a four-year college or more, nor should we. Not everyone is up to going the route of higher education or at least what higher education ought to be. And a good thing that is true. How would anything get built or repaired or moved or cleaned? And that is not put down. Skilled work, needed work, can command good pay. And although I a paragraph or so previous put unions in a bad light — they have their purpose for looking out for the interests of workers (although some just look after the interests of crooked union leadership).

One problem may be that the upper echelon of education has become a kind of trade school. It’s mostly about how much money one can make (not that making money is not important) and a lot less about understanding and appreciating the world and its history and various cultures and having an appreciation for all of those who make up our society.

We now have a president in office who on paper I guess is college educated but who seems to be lacking an educated world view beyond his desire to be seen as the most powerful man on the planet. The worst part of it is that he seems to have no notion of the rule of law — something he might have learned in college. It is something that separates true western democracies from other forms of government.

The president of the United States by virtue of his office and the reality of America’s position in the world power structure is the most powerful man in the world and, really, even with our constitution, there is not much to stop him from becoming a dictator but the rule of law. But the rule of law only really has its power as long as all in the government believe in it. We do not have a system with military coups.

People within the government (and elsewhere), the president included, have to agree with each other on one thing, the rule of law. President Richard Nixon refused to hand over his what turned out to be incriminating tapes, at first, but the Supreme Court ordered him to do so. And he did, with still some resistance. But what if he said no? There would have been no mechanism or practical way to make him. In the end it was that unwritten agreement to follow the rule of law.

I’m not at all sure that Trump in the same situation would break down and follow that rule. He would more likely just declare unilaterally that any court order was unfair or illegal and refuse. He of course did refuse to work with congress in the recent impeachment proceedings and ordered his administration officials not to as well.

He was advised not to on his own order the assassination of another nation’s (which we were not at war with) general, but he did so. Even if most agree, despite the questionable legality, it was probably a good thing because of the man’s role in terror and supplying weaponry that ended up killing Americans, still it is a president acting seemingly outside the rule of law.

A better example is that Trump has managed via tweet to overrule the Justice Department and get a lighter proposed sentence than originally suggested by prosecutors for a former associate convicted on federal charges. If all involved believed in the rule of law, that would not happen. But what is the remedy here? It’s that people follow the rule of law. But if they choose not to, all is lost.

Trump has also called for military discipline against an impeachment witness who testified against him. That’s almost like witness tampering after the fact.

Trump probably would not get away with anything if he did not have the protection of his enablers in the Republican senate majority.

Moving on:

Then there is second-place currently in the just beginning Democratic presidential primary race Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana. Finally some commentators are acknowledging that rightly or wrongly his problem is that he is gay, gay not as in happy as it meant when I was younger, but gay as in, he is homosexual, and he is married to a man. This will be mentioned a lot by his Republican opposition (and Democratic too?) throughout the campaign, directly or indirectly. I’d likely vote for him against Trump, even so. How many others would? Not enough, I imagine.

And finally, lots of glowing things said about Klobuchar, even a highly laudatory opinion piece on her in the Wall Street Journal. But why does everyone say how great she is and proclaim that surely she will be on the Democratic ticket — as the “vice president”? Why not president? I mean isn’t that the office she is running for?

As the legendary FDR vice president John Nance “Cactus Jack” Garner once said: the vice presidency is “not worth a warm bucket of piss”. Hell, just ask Mike Pence. It has to be tough when your only real job is to look glowingly at the president and act as his unthinking puppet as if you are made out of wood. Yes, he can break a tie in the senate too. And that is not to be scoffed at, I admit.

(I know Pence has a mind of his own, though. I’ve heard him. That is what scares me.)

Well, sometimes by accident or tragedy of course the VP becomes president and in recent years vice presidents have been given more duties and stature — but still. I mean what an insult to say you are qualified to be vice president (not president?).

Another reason I like Klobuchar is age. I’m 70, she is 59. I’m holding my own, but I am not president with the weight and fate of the whole world on my shoulders — we need younger blood folks. But not too young (Buttigieg is only 38).


Klobuchar’s moderation might beat Trump…

February 8, 2020

So I was not able to watch the Democratic presidential candidate debate in New Hampshire but from what I read, even though she was not characterized as the winner, Amy Klobuchar stood out. Watching one clip I loved her comment about candidates who claim they are Washington outsiders. She said that is an easy thing to say and makes you look like a “cool newcomer” (she was referring directly to Pete Buttigieg) but experience counts, adding, “we have a newcomer in the White House and look where that got us”.

(Of course for you Trump lovers that does not have much punch, but you would not be reading this anyway.)

And just now I saw a clip of Klobuchar relating how Trump blamed the king of Denmark for something and the prime minister of Canada for cutting him out of a movie: “who does that?” she asked rhetorically, and mockingly, adding that the U.S. needs to maintain its allies.

I already have my California ballot. But I am going to hold off on voting until I hear and read more about the candidates. But Klobuchar is certainly on the top of my list. I try not to be partisan in this blog but of course admitting that I am voting in the Democratic primary kind of gives it away. But like I have written previously, I would vote for a Republican if he or she gave me an excuse. In fact I think I did at least once vote for a Republican congressman years ago. He had long tenure and could and did get things done for the district. And anyway, under our current state law you have to register for a party in order to vote in the primary. And I emphasize, I classify myself as a moderate.

Bernie Sanders is seen as the front runner currently, or maybe Buttigieg. But here’s the problem: I don’t think the majority of the electorate wants a socialist (just like we, thankfully, never went communist), and Sanders classifies himself as one (a socialist). I am also not afraid to be politically incorrect and say I doubt that the electorate is ready for putting a homosexual, Buttigieg, in the White House. Does that make me a “gay basher”? I hope not, but I think I am just looking at reality. But then I could be wrong of course. Would I vote for Buttigieg? Maybe. He is seen as highly intelligent and one heck of a debater. And he is young, and I am old (relatively; I am 70). Most of the other likely contenders are long in the tooth. We need young blood. Oh, and is there something morally wrong about being homosexual? I believe evidence we all can see is that people are born that way so, no, nature or God, if you insist, planned it that way, or at least it was not a choice by the individual.

But we need someone who can beat Trump. I think Klobuchar could do it. She seems young enough, a mere 59, bright, level headed, and moderate, and above all civil.

Former vice president Joe Biden had previously been seen as the front runner. No more. He is too much from the past. His day has come and gone I think. And, fresh off his Ukraine aquittal, Trump will use Biden’s questionable Ukraine connection against him, and likely quite effectively.

As the campaign moves on, though, the candidates will need to emphasize in detail what they can do or will do and not talk directly about Trump, except it some circumstances. I read a story about a political science professor who suggests there is no such thing as a swing voter. People tend to be entrenched politically. However, some voters are encouraged to the polls if they like a candidate’s stance on certain issues, but if not, they just stay home.

I think this presidential election might be the most important in my lifetime. We need to rid the White House of a dangerous demagogue, who uses Hitler tactics, and who has no conscience whatsoever. While I do not know for sure whether he should get the most credit for what is said to be a great economy, I do know he gets the blame for threatening the very existence of our democracy. He is ignorant, crude, and vindictive.

(And what good is a thriving economy is you lose the democracy? Do you want the thought police coming after you? That is what you get at both extremes of right or left.)

A moderate candidate can continue any policies that bolster a thriving economy but at the same time restore democracy.

The week that was:

After the actions of President Trump in these past days since his acquittal, I feel a sense of not fear but deep concern that I felt during the dark days of Watergate. There was talk that with the walls closing in on him President Nixon might resort to drastic action, such as declare martial law on the grounds that things were just too out of hand on the demestic side while the nation was at war in Vietnam.

Nixon never could understand why anyone would want anything less than some honorable way to get out of Vietnam, save just pulling up stakes in that no-win deadly contest; he did not comprehend the anti-war movement. But that movement spread beyond the hippies into the mainstream.

Even before the Watergate scandal (which saw Nixon hire thugs, who thought themsevles clever and patriotic undercover operatives, to break into the Democratic Party campaign headquarters), Nixon ran his campaign not on his name but using the theme “Re-elect the president”. Actually “tricky dick”, as he was known, had made a lot of enemies and was not even all that well liked within his own party. So it was better not to use his own name so much — he just ran as “The President”. It was like: long live the king.

The rumors of Nixon’s paranoia got so bad that the story was that the military had to be advised not to act on any orders from the president to fire off nuclear missiles.

Well I have not heard yet of concern that Trump would fire nuclear missiles but he did take it upon himself recently to up and order a foreign military general to be assassinated. While that general reportedly did direct terrorists and supplied our enemies, which resulted in the deaths of American soldiers, that is quite a step to take unilaterally for a president, seeing as how the assassination was done in not the same nation from which the general came but another one that did not give its permission and was not even informed of before the action. We did take out a Japanese general in World War II but that was a declared war.

But back in the time of Nixon, I actually wondered that Nixon might try to cancel our democracy. His own daughter at the time was quoted as saying that people ought to quit criticizing her daddy and let “him rule”. I think she meant “govern”, but there was a kind of sense that you either supported president or you were a traitor.

And that is what Trump, free now of the constraints of impeachment, if there ever were any, is trying to do now, that is set the scene where citizens, and particulary elected officials, are thought of as supporting him and thus patriotic or not supporting him and thus treacherous traitors bent on evil.

And he is surprisingly effective at this. He seems to have almost the entire delegation of Republicans in both houses of congress kowtowing to him in fear. Oh, yes, in public they make excuses but in private, according to one Democratic senator, they confide that they do so in “fear”. One bad word from Trump and you’re toast, you’ll be shunned and perhaps run out of town on a rail, or at the very least primaried out, that is your own party will run someone against you.

Former and perhaps future presidential aspirant and now Utah Senator Mitt Romney stood up to Trump and actually voted for his removal from office in the wish-we-could forget impeachment fiasco. Trump has laid into him and others with vile invective.

Romney is either brave or perhaps just as likely an opportunist who sees some way he might make points in a future presidential race, maybe in a revival of the old-time mainstream Republican Party (it may be too late; the rabble has taken over).

Tricky Dick met his match with the smoking gun that was the revelation of his secret White House voice tapes that showed him actually committing a crime or crimes.

While there were breathless reports of smoking guns during the past year or more in the investigations of Trump, they all seemed to have been firing blanks.

Nixon always tried to stay above the fray, wise enough to let others do his dirty work.

Trump does have others doing dirty work but he likes getting right into the fight himself, as well, and he fights dirty and mean. He’s crude — so was Nixon in private, but Trump is publicly crude.

So, what do you do if you don’t like the way he acts?

And if you are one of those who say, oh my I don’t like some of the ways he acts out by I like what he is doing for the economy and other policies (would that be canceling environmental standards? and denying climate change and a global climate crisis?), spare me. We could certaily have a good economy and lots of good things without a crude tyrant who threatens our democracy and the free flow of ideas.

p.s.

On Trump ridding the administration of those who testified against him. That does not bother me. Of course anyone would do that. How can you have someone working for you who has done what he or she can to topple you?

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tearing up Trump’s speech may have been symbolic, i.e., he tore up the constitution she tears up his speech, but it seems a bit Trumpian to me. Stooping to his sophmoric level is beneath her. Trump revels in getting one’s goat.


Richard Nixon was just born too soon…

February 1, 2020

Richard Nixon was born too soon it seems. Today instead of resigning in disgrace, he would have finished his second term. It is a different world. The norms of behavior have changed. A crass bully who thumbs his nose at the conventions of civilized society and declares, as much by actions as words, that he is supreme and answerable to no one, runs rough shod over any who dare oppose him. The way he struts around reminds me of the old newsreels I’ve seen of the buffoon Mussolini in Italy during Word War II (but it’s not funny).

Nixon was strong willed and defiant but he was also a patriot and a war veteran, not a draft dodger like our president today (I write the latter because I think the accepted story is that Trump’s father arranged for a family friend who was a doctor to give the young Trump a phony diagnosis of bone spurs ; or maybe Trump, who engaged since in athletic activity, had a miracle recovery later).

Nixon was not always charming in private, his once secret oval office tapes revealed, but I think he was mostly a civilized gentleman in public.

But Nixon’s supporters found themselves forced to turn against him when his wrongdoings were displayed for all via those tapes. And in turn, Nixon felt forced to resign rather than face certain removal via impeachment.

That was back in what seems like ancient times now, 1974.

But now in 2020, the Republican-controlled senate, acting as an impeachment court, after charges were brought by the Democratic Party-controlled congress, has voted to not call any witnesses and is set to wrap the proceedings up as soon as it can, presumably with a vote for acquittal (although as of this writing the end is still uncertain).
And I have to say that since the consensus among, the Republican majority primarily, in the senate is that what President Trump is charged with, while it may have been wrong on some level, does not rise to the level that it requires removal from office, and that is to say almost everyone agrees he is guilty on some level of misbehavior, it makes sense not to drag the issue any further by calling witnesses. There really is little point in going on with the process. As one observer said: everyone knows he did it but most don’t think it is worth removing a sitting president from office in an election year.

(Now Trump did famously boast that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it, but that is not what he was impeached for.)

Donald Trump seems to be skating past impeachment because the specific charges against him are harder to make a case with. Nixon orchestrated a burglary of the Democratic Party headquarters and then a coverup that included bribe money to the burglars. He also used the power of the government to conduct tax audits on his opponents and did other things of that nature. The only life he knew was politics. And in politics winning is everything. Trump may have done or is doing worse things but he was charged with trying to get a foreign leader to dig up dirt on a political opponent. Well that is dirty politics, but everyone knows that politics is dirty. And no American citizens suffered directly from it — not even Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden (the intended victim) really. On the other hand, Nixon had drug on a no-win war in Vietnam, with thousands of American troops dead after promising to end the war with a secret plan in the campaign for his first term.

Trump is also charged with obstructing the congressional impeachment investigation but that is tied up in knots in an Alice through the looking glass argument where on the one hand the Trump side says it does not have to give over information and that the impeachment is illegal but on the other hand argues that if congress wanted the information it should go through the impeachment process (and through a lengthy court process).

It was Nixon who gets credit for appealing to lower class (I hate using that term) working people, primarily white people, that is bringing them into the Republican fold, stealing them away from the Democrats who had become the party of civil rights for minorities (confusing since both parties swapped some constituencies through time). Nixon appealed to whites nervous about losing their place in society. Trump followed that lead.

But one gets the feeling that Nixon’s wrong doings were more part of an overzealousness in his cause to support his vision of Republican conservatism (not to be confused with the brand in vogue today), while Trump’s seem more from ego, more from narcissism. Nixon was a student of world affairs — he lived and breathed it and wrote about it. Trump is a student of nothing, and neither reads nor writes anything, well except he is attune to TV ratings (and it does come in handy for him), and knows very little of the wider world around him.

But there is more: 2020 is not like 1973 or 1974. Society is somewhat divorced from mainstream conventions and has broken down into a kind of class warfare, not so much among income levels as among those who support standards of decency and concern about representative government and a commitment to society in general and those who care more about self.

And there is an all-out rejection of the intelligentsia from both those of lower education and even those with higher education — on paper anyway — who have valued the dollar and material things above all, rejecting thoughts of anything else, whether it be climate change or the general well-being of society or civil rights or peace among the races, or culture and literature. The world has become a kind of big box store, if you will.

And the mainstream press (read media if you prefer) that used to be the gatekeeper of information, editing for accuracy, has lost its foothold, and spends much of its time playing catchup or following the misdirection, or at least trying to correct an unending torrent of words and pictures (often doctored) on the world-wide web where anyone (and yes, even me) can spread anything true or false and have it available to millions, billions, in an instant. People are drowned with information true or false or in between (the most dangerous kind), and irrelevant.

But all this benefits those who would use public confusion and distrust and jealousy and bigotry to confuse things and get parties fighting among one another and in the meantime garner enough support to gain power for themselves (divide and conquer).

We have such a person, a demagogue, at the helm of our republic, have had for going on four years, and well may have for another four.

But the economy is so good, some will say (by overall statistics at least). And Trump is making America great again. What that means is a little hazy. It’s kind of a jingoism. Sounds good and can mean about whatever you want it to mean.

Right now I think the Trump presidency is something akin to the pandemic out of China:

In both cases, we may just have to let the virus take its course.

p.s.

What if a Democratic candidate wins the presidency next November, but only by way of the Electoral College, with a minority of the popular vote?

The Republicans could always move to impeach.