MADNESS

This morning’s lead story in the Washington Post is headlined:

‘Pure madness’: Dark days inside the White House as Trump shocks and rages

The article begins:

“Inside the White House, aides over the past week have described an air of anxiety and volatility — with an uncontrollable commander in chief at its center.

These are the darkest days in at least half a year, they say, and they worry just how much further President Trump and his administration may plunge into unrest and malaise before they start to recover. As one official put it: “We haven’t bottomed out.”

Trump is now a president in transition, at times angry and increasingly isolated. He fumes in private that just about every time he looks up at a television screen, the cable news headlines are trumpeting yet another scandal. He voices frustration that son-in-law Jared Kushner has few on-air defenders. He revives old grudges. And he confides to friends that he is uncertain about whom to trust.”

Read the entire story for yourself:

http://wapo.st/2oN8OvD?tid=ss_mail&utm_term=.1d49f84d9cb7

What does this mean? And if one White House official says “We haven’t bottomed out” what happens at the “bottom?”

Are we nearing the point when a man gone mad from mental illness slips over the brink and follows the path of the Florida boy gone mad from mental illness who took his AR-15 and loosed a frenzy of gunfire that killed seventeen people?

Donald J Trump advocated the other day that guns be taken away from suspected mental patients and never mind “due process.” Take away the guns first, he said, do
“due process” second.

Has anyone looked to see whether Donald J Trump has ready access to a firearm?

Take it away now!

It no longer seems of any benefit to point out the problems with this man’s whims, actions, tweets, etc. in the hope that his enablers will come to their senses and cut him loose.

What good does it do to relate the history of Trade Wars and the unintended consequent costs that result. How about another Great Depression, anyone?

Is it not a waste of time to argue that cutting taxes to profit the wealthy only increases the burden on the middle class when it comes to financing the interest costs for a burgeoning national debt? Say “goodbye” to what’s left of the “middle class” and hello to a plunge toward the poverty line.

“ Let them eat cake,” indeed!

“Pure madness,” read the Post Headline and it came to me in a flash: The Japanese train bearing down on the new bridge constructed over the River by British prisoners of the Japanese under the leadership of the British Colonel who had gone mad.

I pulled up David Lean’s great movie. There it was.

William Holden dying on the River sandbar in an effort to stop Alec Guinness from preventing the commandos from blowing up the new bridge.

And Guinness in a suden flash of sanity asking rhetorically “what have I done” before collapsing on the plunger that sets off the explosives. And the train hurled into the River amid the bridge’s fallen timbers.

And then the British Doctor, surveying the scene and uttering three words”

“Madness” “Madness” “Madness”

Here is the link:

If only Donald J Trump is a flash of sanity would ask himself “what have I done?” But I fear it won’t happen.

In the meantime, take away his gun!

Wayne LaPierre – The Gunfighter vs The Kids

In the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida school massacre, officials of the National Rifle Association (NRA) spent a few days assessing the situation.

Then, yesterday, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s Executive Vice President and de facto leader, mounted a full throated “no holds barred” attack on the NRA’s enemies.

Here is the link:

Now an enemy for LaPierre is anyone who advocates what LaPierre
contemptuously and dismissively calls “more gun control” and when LaPierre defends his position by attacking his “enemies” he spares no one.

Yesterday at CPAC, he began with these thoughts – “As usual, the opportunists wasted not one second to exploit tragedy for political gain…they hate the NRA, they hate the 2nd Amendment, they hate individual freedom…The elites don’t care, not one whit, about America’s school system and school children. Their goal is to eliminate the 2nd Amendment and our firearms freedom so they can eradicate all individual freedom.”

Who are these “opportunists?” Who are these “elites?” Who are these people who don’t care one whit for America’s school children” and want to “eradicate all individual freedom?”

One is David Hogg, age 17, another is Sophie Whiting, age 17, another is Tyra Herman, age 19,students of Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They survived the day seventeen of their class mates were murdered before their eyes.

On Wednesday, one hundred of these young surviving “elites” descended on the Florida Legislature to advocate more control of the purchase and use of deadly firearms, particularly firearms like the AR-15 assault weapon that killed their classmates.

The day before, the GOP controlled House of the Florida Legislature had rejected a move by Democrats to have legislation heard that would ban military style assault weapons like the AR-15.

Ah, the Democrats.

In his speech to CPAC, the NRA’s LaPierre had words for the Democrats.

He said they are “A party that is now infested with saboteurs who don’t believe in Capitalism, don’t believe in our Constitution, don’t believe in Freedom and don’t believe in America as we know it.”

That is a view of the Democrats LaPierre may have a difficult time selling to the survivors of the Parkland high school shooting.

The Florida Times Union newspaper quoted Delaney Tarr, a senior at the high school, as saying of the Florida Legislature’s refusal to debate a bill to ban assault weapons “to shoot down a bill like that is absolutely abhorrent. That disgusts me and it disgusts my peers, because we know what we went through and we know this needs to be changed.”

All across the Country students, young people, and their parents and other adults are mounting protests of the NRA’s monolithic position.

They are calling for “more gun control.”

And the politicians are beginning to listen, understanding that in the face of these continuing gun massacres this movement appears to be gaining strength and speed, no longer sure to be checked by LaPierre’s hard nosed over-the-top rhetoric or the NRA’s political campaign contributions.

For Wayne LaPierre, who has led the NRA for three decades, it is the fight of his life.

The saavy defender of all things Gun vs the surving kids of the Parkland High Scool and their allies, young and old, all across America.

The wily “gunfighter” always before has been able to best his opponents but this time could be different.
This time he could lose to the kids and their idea of “more gun control.”

For it was the French novelist and writer Victor Hugo who once observed:

“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”

Destroy Today’s Republican Party – In Order to Save It

Today, Katherine Rampell wrote a column in the Washington Post that struck a nerve for me.
Under a Heading which read: “Don’t Blame ‘Washington.’ Blame the GOP” she began by writing:

“Dysfunctional Washington refuses to work out its differences to solve problems that matter to Americans. So say pundits and policy activists, perhaps hoping that diffuse criticism, rather than finger-pointing, will yield a government willing to govern.

But the problem isn’t “Washington.” It isn’t “Congress,” either. The problem is elected officials from a single political party: the GOP.”

Here is the link to her column:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dont-blame-washington-blame-the-gop/2018/02/19/f374bf28-15ba-11e8-92c9-376b4fe57ff7_story.html?tid=ss_mail&utm_term=.fc7a52ef7b08

I thought that’s true, but it is not a new thought.
Why haven’t we done something about it?

In 2014, Thomas Mann a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution which is usually identified as a “liberal” Institution and Norman J. Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, collaborated on a book titled: “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With The New Politics Of Extremism.”

And for the first time in a serious way, the authors named the responsible factor: The Republican Party.

They wrote that “Today’s Republicans in Congress behave like a parliamentary party in a British-style parliament, a winner-take-all system. But a parliamentary party – “ideologically polarized, internally unified, vehemently oppositional” – doesn’t work in a “separation –of-powers system that makes it extremely difficult for majorities to work their will.”

Mann and Ornstein in speaking truth to the Country were path finders who were ahead of their time, but as their title suggests, and as Katherine Rampell explains, it’s now even worse than they said.

Now, it is “crystal” clear that the majority of Republican members of Congress don’t care whether majorities can “work their will” as long as they get their way.

If huge majorities of the public want stricter gun control measures in the wake of the terrible gun massacres (80 to 90-percent majorities), why these people don’t care.

If a large majority of the public wants Federal Government Assistance for poor Americans to afford Medical Insurance, why these people don’t care.

If large majorities of the public don’t want severe cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Programs for the poor, why these people don’t care.

And let’s be clear who they are: They are today’s Republicans, a shameful rabble of greedy men and women who do their evil work under the banner of what once was a Grand Old Party.

We are truly at a “tipping point.” Are we a Government, “of the people, by the people, for the people” as Lincoln said or shall we perish from the earth in the hands of today’s Trumpified Republicans?

We must destroy these modern “Philistines” at the ballot box. We must encourage citizens to vote this November, in the off year elections, and in 2020.

We can and we must return our system to a functioning democracy, a Republic, actually, in which the majority’s will is reflected in our laws and in our government’s programs.

Perhaps, when the Trumpified Republicans are destroyed like the Phoenix of Greek Mythology which rose from the ashes, the new Republican party will be the party of the old GOP, a party that seeks to put its ideas into practice through persuasion and compromise.

We need that GOP.

So, in the spirit of the explanation by a U S Major during the Vietnam war of why the South Vietnamese village of Ben Tre, a stronghold for the communist Viet Cong was bombed and shelled into oblivion with the loss of many innocent civilian lives, “We had to destroy the village in order to save it,” let us destroy this parasite of a Republican party in order to save it!

The Civil War – Our Brother’s Keeper

The New Civil War – Our Brother’s Keeper

For some time, we in the United States have been engaged in a new Civil War. This time it is not a contest between the States but between attitudes of what kind of Country we want and how our society should be organized.”

Today I want to talk about one of the overriding issues that divide us as a Country. The issue of our “Social Contract” with each other.

What do we owe each other?

In the 17th & 18th Centuries, three philosophers –Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau – developed differing outlines for a Social Contract, a rationale and framework for society to band together with rules for the common good.

Simplified, a Social Contract defines, among other things, the issue of how much we are “our brother’s keeper,” and Government’s role in enforcing the answer.

Before Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” life in America was pretty much a reflection of individual struggle – the phrase “dog eat dog” comes to mind – and those who could not prevail had little help in surviving.

Leaving out the crooks and cheats, people became prosperous through hard work, family heritage or tribal connections, practicing current societal mores of acceptance and luck.

For those who didn’t “make the grade,” their only recourse was to fall back on the help of family and friends or public charities (which were inadequately funded for the need).

It was a time which calls to mind Scrooge’s retort in refusing a request for a contribution for the needy at Christmas time.

“Are there no prisons…and the Union workhouses?” Scrooge asked.

Told they were still in operation but that “many can’t go there; and many would rather die” Scrooge replied “if they would rather die they had better do it and decrease the surplus population.”

Now a Union workhouse (Poor House) of that day was a true “hell hole.” It housed the sick, the orphans, the elderly, the poorest of the poor and living conditions were, in fact, unlivable.

For example, “tasteless food” as described by one observer of the times “was rationed and the poor were always hungry. All the food had to be eaten by hands as there was not cutlery”

The facilities were not sanitary and no medical care of any kind was available. I thought of Scrooge when in 2012, at a Republican Party primary debate, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked a candidate who was resisting the idea of Government provided medical care what he would do with poor people who had no insurance, “let ‘em die?”

Immediately, from the audience came a number of loud, unabashed shouts of “Let ‘em die!”

Fortunately, the candidate said he wouldn’t do that and I think those shouters are a decided minority of Americans.

Still where is the majority today on the central question of what do we owe each other, meaning “how much are we our brother’s keeper”…and how much should Government be the instrument to enforce the answer.

Since Roosevelt’s reforms and Lyndon Johnson’s reforms and Barack Obama’s attempt to make medical insurance available for millions who were without it, the so-called “Safety Net” for Americans has been strengthened.

And over the years, even before FDR, “Reforms” in wages and worker benefits such as paid leave and company provided medical insurance, child labor laws, work place safety conditions, community standards of sanitation, environmental protections and many other reforms that help people have been emplaced.

But today, the “Safety Net” and the “Reforms” are under truly savage attack.

Today’s Republican controlled Congress, following a modern GOP playbook, empowered by a vain, self-absorbed, ignorant president, is in the process of:

-repealing many of those “Reforms” and the Regulations enforcing them

-degrading in a continuing effort to destroy Government provided medical insurance and medical care

-proposing to cut Federal benefits under Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (food Stamps) and Public Housing for low-income families, the elderly and persons with disabilities all in the name of frugality (while conferring huge tax benefits on the wealthy)

-weakening environmental regulations, thus denying science’s warning that we humans are destroying the earth’s atmosphere and living space

-hamstringing consumer protection agencies and programs

-and in so many other ways attempting to roll back the clock on the “Common Good “ in the service of the “Selfish Good.”

Regardless of how much one concludes we owe “our brother,” the three philosophers – Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau – differed on Government’s role in enforcing it.

Hobbes argued for a Monarchy, a single ruler, because he said to be safe in what he described as a life which is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” people must do what they are told and someone must tell them.

Locke believed mankind was essentially good and ought to have freedom to live under a government which had the consent of the governed and was both limited and liberal (in the classic definition).”

Rousseau believed in a collective Government of the whole body of citizens. A Countries’ people should band together to make the laws while a “legislator” enforces the will of the people.

He argued “a country cannot subsist well without liberty, nor liberty without virtue.”

Our Founders followed Locke and Rousseau, not Hobbes, and our Constitution, as amended, guides us to this day.

But we get to decide the fundamental questions of our own Social Contract.

We are clearly approaching a “tipping point” in deciding how much we should be our brother’s keeper.

So, who wins on this important issue if our new Civil War?

Do we go forward in strengthening our sense of obligation to each other, to our brothers? Or backward toward an individual struggle toward survival?

Our Constitution can not give us the answer, only our own sense of moral purpose and what I believe is an enlighted philosophy far older than outlined by Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau.

You’ll find it in Matthew 7:12

“They Are Laughing Their Assess Off In Moscow” – Donald J Trump

In a remarkable series of tweets this weekend, Donald J Trump has ranted and raged about his political enemies – The FBI, The Special Counsel, The Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Adam Shiff, General McMasters (his own National Security Advisor) and CNN.

Example:
“Donald J. Trump✔
@realDonaldTrump
If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!
6:11 AM – Feb 18, 2018”

Perhaps the Russians are laughing. But at you Donald J Trump and at us for having put you, a crazed fool, at the helm of our State.

If they are “laughing their assess off in Moscow” we are crying our hearts out in America.

Here is the link to the Washington Post article which details the madness of our own poor “Kurtz:”

http://wapo.st/2obuy4P?tid=ss_mail&utm_term=.0db57989408f

Yes, our own poor “Kurtz.”

Straight from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness or, later, Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, we tremble at the sight of our own mad man holed up not in a jungle hide-a-way but at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Of course, there is a profound difference between “Kurtz” and Trump.

Coppola’s “Kurtz” was driven mad by the horror of the atrocities he had witnessed in Vietnam. And what happened to Trump? What events or medical mishap in his brain shaped his madness?

It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that we take his advice to “Get smart Ameria” and remove him from power by legal and constitutional means – We do not want a Captain Willard to play any part in this scene!

He can go away to lead a happy life continuing to “con” the rubes and harrass the women content that in his mind he remains forever a winner…as witnessed by the last sad tweet quoted in the Post article:

“The Democrats, lead by their fearless leader, Crooked Hillary Clinton, lost the 2016 election. But wasn’t I a great candidate?”

The Lie and the Liar Unmasked

The most important result of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Indictment of thirteen Russians and their Organizations is it gives the lie to the lie and the Liar who has been denying the truth.

The most important and urgent task we have today as a Country is to dislodge the hold on power of Donald J Trump and his band of thugs and enablers.

And this Indictment adds weight and strenth to that effort.

It would be satisfying to see these Russians in a U S Court of Law but that almost certainly will not happen and it really doesn’t matter to the central point and contribution of this Idictment.

Think about it.

To dislodge Trump and Trumpism, enough of the people who have so far supported him must be stripped away. They must come to understand the danger to our Country he poses. And the most powerful weapon to use to do that is the truth.

A truth that cannot be denied, a truth that Fox News and othe sycophants can not “spin,” a truth already known to most Americans but now buttressed by specific facts (those “stubborn things” of which John Adams once spoke).

It was the unanimous judgement of the U S Intelliegence Services in the Obama Adminsitration that Russia was making major efforts to interfere with and disrupt the election process in our County.

It is the unanimous judgement of the Intelligence Services under new leadership in the Trump Administration that the Russians have been interfering and continue to interfere and distrupt our election process.

But one important man disagreed – Donald J Trump vigorously disputed the truth. And clearly many Americans, too many, believed him.

Just two examples of Trump’s attempt to mislead:

Last November at a politial rally in Alabama, Trump said “And by the way, folks, just in case you’re, like, curious? No, Russia did not help me, OK? Russia. I call it the Russian hoax.”

Last November after meeting Vladamir Putin at a conference in Vietnam, Trump said “He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle…Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.”

Hoax? Take the word of the ex-KGB Colonel who is now the Russian President over the unanimous judgment of U S Intelligence Agencies?

That lie has now been unmasked by the thirty seven page Mueller Indictment of Russia’s agents. The indictment charges that Russian agents “had a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. politial system…and by early to mid-2016, Defendants’ operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump (“Trump Campaign”) and disparaging Hillary Clinton.”

Here in the link for the full Indictment text:

https://www.justice.gov/file/1035477/download

This Indicment is not merely another official asssertion, such as the Intelligence Chiefs have made. No, this document outlines in such specificity – naming names, citing events, dates, contacts, schemes and techniques – that the effect is devastating to the lie and the Liar.

The U.S. national security adviser H.R. McMaster who serves in Trump’s White House acknowledged today that evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election was “incontrovertible.”

And what now will, can the Liar do?

Certainly not continue to deny the truth. Oh, to the end, some Americans will believe whatever he says. But as Lincoln observed “…you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” And every time the Liar is exposed, he looses support and the strength to hold on to power.

Meanwhile, Special Counsel Mueller continues his work, continues assembling facts to support truth and will in good time make further information public, issue additional Indictments of individuals found to have broken the law whether by knowingly colluding with the Russian effort, attempting to obstruct justice, or committing whatever other crimes may be uncovered.

Make no mistake about it.

Ultimately the final Truth surrounding the presidential election of 2016, will out.

And along with it the reasons why the Liar has been lying.

Stopping Murder Most Foul

I can’t write another “blog” on Gun Control.

It’s not that I’m lazy it’s just that I don’t have anything new to say about it.

If you’re interested I believe you can still find the two or three that I’ve written. But I’ll save you the time – We need stricter and better standards for background checks for gun buyers and we need to renew the ban on sale of military-style assault weapons that was in place in the 1990s until the Republican Congress (Both houses GOP) let it lapse.

Wayne LaPierre was most pleased.

No, today I want to talk about what motivates people to set out in careful preparation and with total premeditation to murder as many people at one time as their weapon(s) make possible.

And what we can do to stop them.

When I was growing up in the El Paso Southwest, coming of “age” as the then liquor laws would have it in the mid-1950s, nothing like this ever happened. Oh, people were shot and killed for various reasons – robbery, anger at preceived insults or slights, drunken rages, spousal abuse or quarrrels run amok, jealously, etc.

But almost always just one at a time.

Now, it’s take as many out before committing suicide yourself or being stopped in some fashion by the police.

Yes, these new killers are crazy. But why now? When I was growing up I knew a  lot of folks I thought were crazy to one degree or another (and they probably thought the same of me) but this mass killing just didn’t happen.

I’m not a trained expert but here are some reasons why I think it is becoming a routine  occurance  now, aside from true strong medical mental disorder.

-Loss of family cohesiveness. Many of our modern  mass killers have come from broken homes and received little  loving care (which includes discipline)and proper guidance when they were growing up. Others simply have been unable to find their own adult family in which they felt both secure and worthwhile. “Loners” are not only lonely, as we have seen they can be dangerous.

-Loss of Instruction and guidance from good schools and houses of worship. Aside from a “family” at home, young people need wider instruction in how to fit into society and the World around them. Education helps along with the setting of a moral and ethical code that religion can often provide.

-The growing population and fast pace today that “squeezes” young people (everybody) into attempting to grow up and fit in “fast and furious.”

-A culture that spreads and too often rewards  works like movies and music and other forms of art that peddle the basest and worst examples of so-called “artistic” effort. For instance, what do young people learn  from rap music that glorifies killing the police (?) or from movies that would make heroes of gangsters and murderers? I listened to Frank Sinatra and he told me how to feel sorry for myself when young love went wrong (Set ’em up Joe…”) but not how to take a gun and kill people.

-Modern methods of communication such as internet cites where games that allow you to shoot cops and defile women are there for the downloading. Or other cites where predators can lure away your daughter or trolls can bully your child into committing suicide.

-Modern methods of interpersonal communication like Facebook that serve not only to allow us to talk to one another but make it possible for too many people to stop learning about the world from traditional sources of news. How do you think the Russians get their message of de-stablization into American minds? Not by being able to get by the editorial standards of the Washington Post or the Dallas Morning News.

-The idea that everyone needs and thus is entited to their”fifteen minutes of fame” and the way to get it is to sound off on Facebook. Or, go out and shoot a bunch of people.

So how do we reverse these and other reasons for the creation of mass killers among us. We could make our schools better but of course, that and other strengthening of public insitutions takes money.  And hey, don’t we all need another tax cut?

Most of the things and the times that existed to strengthen me as I was growing up are never coming back.

Mom, Dad and the Children are not going to sit down every night at the family dinner table  anymore to talk over the day or watch the network Evening News and learn about the World.

The World around us is not going to slow down, only  get faster and more demanding. A gentleman’s “B-” average which enabled me to find a good job and make it through is no longer a ticket to anywhere but the “also ran” pile. Today the kids make 4.0 and then get on a waiting list. I have a pension. Today Corporations don’t have pensions anymore. Try to save enough money for your old age in a 401K.

Modern communication is only going to get more, not less sophisticated as a pathway for hostility and degridation as well as for good. It depends on how you use it and without the training and moral values that young people are not getting there is no way to bend the curve away from the “wrong” and back toward the “right.’ There are laws against and efforts to control pornography and we see how effective they are. Humans who are not trained away from the “dark side” of things will find it if there is a path and if it is  there.

And while there are ways now to become famous for at least fifteen minutes by signing up for “Dancing with the Stars” or various television shows that highlight amateurs hoping to be taken for professionals without going through the years of study and hard work necessary, those ways are still available for only a few. Assault rifles are everywhere and require little expertise. Just load the magazines and pull the trigger.

So how do we stop or at least cut down these  mass killings? How can we send our chidren to school without the fear that they won’t come home?

If you know how to restore the way of life which once existed and in which these mass killings did not exist, please tell us. But please don’t tell us to eliminate the broken homes without telling us how realisticaly that can be done. And so forth.

Or, if you know how to spot in advance a mentally ill person who is now or is becoming ill enough to commit mass murder and therefore use legal means to  stop him/her, please tell us. Sure more effective treatment of people who need screening because of their erractic actions and/or who need professonal help adjusting to their problems before they “snap”could cut down on some of it. But, that costs money and hey, don’t we all need another tax cut?

There is only one way I know of reducing this new slaughter.

And forgive me for not being truthful with you when I said at the outset that this was not another Blog on Gun Control.

It was and it is!

We can and we must cut down on the acquistion of and use of powerful assault weapons by private citizens.

Wayne LaPierre will tell you that is impermissable under the 2nd Amendment and a slipperly slope toward cofiscation of all guns (including my old .38 Ruger pistol which I keep by my beside).

But that is nonsense. The Founding Fathers said citizens must not be prevented from possessing weapons (Arms) for the principal reason that defense of the Country or the Community might be necessary. And just as the Colonists brought their own rifles when George Washington formed an army to fight the British, the Founders wanted to make certain citizens had their guns if there was again a need to fight off an eneemy.

Read it for yourself:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

And do you think for a moment the Founders who knew only of muzzle loading rifles and pistols with “caps” would have wanted you or me to possess for use against our neighbors machine guns, assault rifles, mortors, hand grenades, 175 Artillery Pieces, Stinger Missile Systems, an Atomic Cannon (all of which are “arms”)?

Wayne LaPierre likes to say that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people using guns.”  He’s right in that a human pulls the trigger. But that’s like saying that the late Col. Paul Tibbets killed 78-thousand Japanese one morning in Hiroshima.

No, Tibbets flew the plane that carried the Atomic Bomb but it was the Bomb that killed those Japanese.

Without the Bomb to drop Col. Tibbets could have done no harm.

Without that AR-15 military Assault Rifle, many of those seventeen people murdered yesterday at a Florida school might still be alive.

If someone denies that, well, that person is either heartless or stupid.

 

 

 

 

 

Trump’s Budget – A Con Man’s Fraud

I sat down this morning knowing I wanted to write about Donald J Trump’s new budget proposal sent to Congress yesterday. I dreaded the task.

First, even with others doing most of the work by constructing category pluses amd minuses complete with “pie chart,” sifting through what’s important and what’s not in a presidential budget is real work (something many of us avoid whenever we can).

Second, all presidential budgets in modern times have been DOA (Dead on Arrival) on Capitol Hill. They are politically (and fiscally) un-realistic and are prepared more as campaign documents than anything else.

Sometimes in the past (believe it or not) they are DOA because they want to spend much more money on helping the poor, the needy among us.

That is NOT the case in the present instance.

Third, no president can tell you without a teleprompter what’s in his budget with any specificity (Bill Clinton, the wonk, came the closest to being able to do that). And frequently when a president does discover some specific item that someone else has written into his budget he realizes he doesn’t agree with it. My favorite story about that centers on Ronald Reagan.

One year Reagan read in the newspaper about a young boy who desperately needed a liver transplant but his family couldn’t afford it. Reagan sent his personal check for a thousand dollars to the boy, an act that was not publicized by the White House but by the boy’s family.

The same year, Reagan’s budget sent to Congress called for the elimination of a small office at the National Insitutes of Health which would save three hundred thousand dollars, an office whose purpose was to put organ donors together with those who needed such transplants.

Reagan was like that. Show him a specific case of need and you thought he was the kindest, most genrerous person around. But when it was simply a case of his political ideology calling for the “willy nilly” reduction of “big Government” his budget often callously reflected the opposite.

Which brings us (finally-whew) to the new Trump budget. There is no bleeding heart hidden behind an attack on the “safety net” here.

For all the reasons I dreaded writing about this budget, that was the most important. How do you write for the upteenth time the same thing – that this president is an ignorant  “con man” and liar and thus a threat to the safety of our Republic?

And then, this morning, I read a column in the Washington Post about this Budget and its putative maker by Eugene Robinson, an experienced newsman and a writer who has the knack of reducing complexity to the basic level of understanding needed. In this case, the emotional level of what Trump’s budget seeks to do not for, but against the overall well being of our Country.

So I’m going to let Robinson do the work for me.

His first sentence reads” “The Trump administration is an aberration, an outrage, a threat to the nation’s very soul. But most of all, it’s a great big fraud.”

For the full column, here is the link:

http://wapo.st/2BWnSAf?tid=ss_mail&utm_term=.24e4e879a256

Yes. this budget thankfully is DOA on Capitol Hill. The fiscal senttlement recently agreed on (and signed by Trump) to keep the Government open is the outline Congress will use to write the specifics. The settlement raises spending caps by about $300 billion over two years. But the “Safety net” as well as the military gets an increase. And the next vote on the debt limit is postponed until after November’s midterm elections.

Let us hope this Congressional sanity is reflected in the Immigration Debate which has just begun in the Senate.

Let us hope.

 

 

John E Kelly Meets Laurence J Peter

Laurence J Peter said many true things. For instance, “Speak when your are angry – and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret!”

And

“Going to church doesn’t make you any more a Christian than going to a garage makes you a car.”

But Peter’s most famous truism and thus most famous saying is this:

“In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”

Long ago retired Marine General John E Kelly rose to his level of incompetence and  now he and the Administration he serves is paying the price.

Well, you say, don’t you understand that General Kelly has been lauded by everyone who knows him as one of the best military leaders this Country has produced in recent years?

How dare you call him “incompetent!”

Didn’t you hear White House Press Secretary Sanders once warn that it would be “highly inappropriate” to get into a debate with a four star Marine General?

Ah, but as a military man General Kelly had not risen to his “level of incompetence,” he was highly competent. No one is disputing that.

But as the White House civilian Chief of Staff charged with helping his president successfully negotiate the  minefield of political Washington and the turbulence of a sharply divided electorate,  Kelly shot through the Peter Principle from day one.

Instead of working to “tamp down” his bosses tendencies to shoot from the hip, dispute facts and denounce critics in harsh, sometimes vulgar terms, Kelly enabled the bosses worse tendencies and joined in attacking instead of attempting to win over his critics.

Remember when an African American member of Congress said that Trump had been disrespectful in a phone call to the widow of a slain American solider, Kelly, instead of trying to sooth the critic’s ire  in a friendly, solicitous and politically diplomatic way called her someone who was just sounding off like an “empty drum?”

And last October, Kelly opined that our Civil War was caused by an “inability to compromise.”

No, General, our civil war was fought because  enough people in the North found themselves unable to compromise any longer with the idea that human beings should be held as slaves, as chattel  in this Country.

Compromise was not the issue, slavery was the issue.

We are all entitled to our opinions. And a military general is probably more able to express them in a tough, crusty way than most. But not as White House Chief of Staff. That job is to pour soothing oil on troubled waters, not as one commentator put it “to wade back into the fray of Civil War history” and to dampen the critic’s ire, not reinforce their anger by calling them names.

And now, when the Rob Porter story broke around the  White House, Kelly first came forward with an over the top statement of full support for Porter. Until a couple of days later, when the abused former wife produced a picture of her black eye she said Porter had given her. Then Kelly backtracked and said he was shocked and claimed he had then acted decisively  against Porter within forty minutes of learning the truth.

Unfortunately for him, we soon learned that Kelly had known about the accusations of spousal abuse against Porter for months, having learned about them from the FBI. And did nothing until it was impossible to pretend otherwise.

Then Kelly publicly claimed he was shocked?

Together with whatever characterization of Kelly’s actions you care to make – callous disregard for credible claims of spousal abuse (particularly in this new day of female reckoning), cover up of Porter’s situation, lying about his own role – there is no  disputing the fact that General Kelly has shown gross incompetence in the important job of Chief of Staff to the President of the United States.

The post of Chief of Staff requires not total, blind loyalty to whatever mistakes and foolish actions the president might undertake but loyalty to the job of helping the president avoid such mistakes and if he makes them to helping ease the problem, not double down in making it worse.

In the present case John E Kelly hasn’t protected the president from the fire surrounding the White House because of Porter. He has poured kerosene on it.

Kelly as Marine Corp General – great.

Kelly as White House Chief of Staff – totally incompetent.

And now, having met Laurence J Peter big time Kelly should have the sense and decency to resign!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump the Attack Dog

Again attacking honorable men who he perceives to be his enemies.
Here is his tweet:

Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper! Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!

Who are these targets of Donald J Trump’s wrath?
Adam Schiff is the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee who has asked the Committee to vote to release his memo detailing inaccuracies in and objections to the memo Committee Chairman Deven Nunes released last week in an effort to show that the FBI/Mueller investigation of Trump & Company is biased.
James Comey is the former FBI Director whom Trump fired after demanding a personal “loyalty” oath and after asking him to “let go” the investigation of Michael Flynn (who has now pled guilty to the charge of lying to the FBI  about his contact with the Russians).
Mark Warner is the Senior U S Senator from Virginia who is Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and who has warned Trump not to attempt to fire the Special Counsel investigating possible Trump Campaign collusion with Russia.
John Brennan is a former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency who while a member of the Agency was accused of allowing the transport of Terrorist prisoners to Countries where they might be interegated using harsh means. Recently he has spoken out against Trump’s attack on U S Intelligence Agencies and on the Nunes memo mis-characterization of the requests to the FISA Court for warrants to evesdrop on  Trump associates suspected of colluding with Russia (warrants different Court Judges have regularly issued)
James Clapper, a retired Air Force Lt. General, is a former U S Director of National Intelligence and before that Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He has also spoken out against Trump’s attacks on U S Intelligence Agencies.
Previously Trump called Brennan and Clapper “hacks” when they pushed back against his assertion that U S Intelligence Communities in their unanimous judgement were wrong in believing Russia had interfered with the 2016 U S Presidential Election – an assessment written by Agency professionals and not the two men who were in charge.
Now, what can we make of this intemperate and vile twitter attack on these five men who in their various capacities have served our Country honorably?
Why, the obvious.
Donald J Trump is running scared. He feels the noose of Investigative findings tightening. He lashes out in the manner (forgive me) of a wild beast caught in the trapper’s iron jaws.
But then, what would you expect of this man, this pathetic human being?
As the saying goes “contemptible is as contemptible does.”