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Tag Archives: Trump

A Couple More Thoughts

Thought #1

One of the interesting things for me during this impeachment season is experiencing it while reading Ron Chernow’s Hamilton. An 800 page behemoth of a historical piece, it is the basis of the musical that has been sweeping the country the last couple of years. After seeing the musical a few months ago, I decided I needed to read the book. It took me weeks to slog through it, but …

Given Hamilton’s role in the founding of this country, from being Washington’s key aide during the Revolutionary War, to being a key backer of getting rid of the Articles of Confederation and adopting the Constitution, to writing most of the Federalist Papers that explained the need for the Constitution, to being the nation’s first Treasury Secretary, his story really is the story of how America was founded.

Occasionally, on some of the talking head shows, and also during the House Judiciary Committee hearings, historians and law professors have talked about how the impeachment proceedings and charges against Trump fit into our history, the Constitution, and the Founding Fathers’ intent.

What I gleaned from Hamilton and my recollections of the history I’ve learned over the years is that the Founding Fathers intended a system with a strong executive, but with checks and balances and a separation of powers that would prevent that strong executive from becoming the equivalent of a King. Congressional oversight, with the ability to remove the President if necessary, was a critical piece of our American system of government. After fighting a war to break free from a monarchy — a war that lasted years and cost thousands of lives — the last thing the founders wanted was another government where one man could be king.

As a result, for more than 200 years, Congress’ ability to provide oversight of the executive branch (including the President), to investigate the executive branch, and, if necessary to bring charges against the executive branch have played a critical part in the stability of our government. And it is this fundamental concept that Trump, with his claims of absolute immunity and his refusal to provide any documents or any testimony or any anything to Congress as they perform their Constitutionally mandated function, has violated.

At the core of our system is checks and balances and separation of powers. No one branch of government is supreme over the other. But Trump and his allies (which basically means the entire Republican Party today) would have him be king. A thing the Founding Fathers would have found abhorrent. Everything about what they did all those years ago was meant to prevent exactly what Trump and the Republicans are now pushing.

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Thought #2

I keep hearing about how this is a witch hunt. Trump even claimed that the women slaughtered during the Salem Witch Trials got more due process than he is getting. (A concept that doesn’t have a lot of facts behind it.)  But then our President and his allies aren’t exactly interested in facts. Like his claims of this being the worst witch hunt in the history of the American Presidency.

Yeah.

Sure.

How soon we forget.

Let’s go back a few years. We don’t even have to back 30 years. Let’s go back 27 years. To the beginning of the Clinton Presidency. When, after 12 years of Reagan and Bush #1, Republicans reacted to Clinton’s win as though they had been denied their birth right.

Let’s relive some of the allegations made back then.

The Clintons were involved in a cocaine smuggling ring with shipments coming in and out of a small airport in Mena, Arkansas.

The Clintons were responsible for the deaths of Vince Foster, Ron Brown, and others.

Ken Starr was assigned the responsibility of investigating the Clintons in connection with Whitewater — a failed real estate deal they were rumored to have inappropriately profited off of. No charges against the Clintons were ever brought as a result of Whitewater.

But Starr’s investigation morphed into … well, if you have watched Stranger Things  … something very close to the creature that can transform from a blob of goo into a terrifying creature and then back again. He went on to Travelgate. Filegate. And more.

There were all sorts of right-wing media sites piling on in this — Newsmax, Richard Mellon Scaife, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and others — pushing every harebrained allegation they possibly could.

And Starr investigated and investigated and investigated. Until he found the stain on the blue dress and Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about a blowjob in the oval office. While absolutely none of the other allegations ever came to anything at all.

Seriously, that Republicans today, including Trump, can possibly claim that what he is going through is worse than what Republicans did to Clinton …

It is this kind of hypocrisy and dishonesty that has left me almost incapable of caring about any of this anymore. Like I said, in my last post, it is truly irrational that no Republican voted in favor of impeachment. How they can justify his behavior, his conduct, and his words is stunning.

So here’s the deal. If you’re a supporter of Trump and wish to explain to me how this makes any sense at all, I have an open mind. I desperately want to understand this. I invite you comment here and we can have a conversation about these issues. I promise to be respectful. Alternatively, send me an email … mpaxson55@gmail.com. I really want to have a good conversation about this with somebody who is on the Trump side on this because none of it makes sense to me.  So, the invitation is open.

 

Color Me Shocked

So … the FBI Inspector General, a person who is supposed to be impartial, non-partisan, and just about the facts ma’am, finally released his long awaited report of the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Apparently, the primary finding of the report is that some FBI agents may have played a bit fast and loose with the procedures and paperwork associated with the warrants they received approval for.

Wait a sec … law enforcement playing fast and loose with warrants and judges rubber stamping them anyway.

I am shocked!!! Just absolutely shocked that this could happen.

What’s that?

Oh. It happens all of the time?,

Well then.

Hmmm … I’m still shocked!

Okay. Never mind.

I just think it’s hilarious, to be honest. Now, wait. It’s not hilarious. It’s all so incredibly sad and yet more evidence that the end times are upon us.

After spouting that the FBI had committed treason for the last two years and that it was entirely a hoax and made up, Donald Trump now claims that the IG report is worse than he could ever imagined. Well, no. The IG concluded there was no political bias against Trump in the investigation (apparently, there were plenty of texts from agents who supported Trump and opposed Clinton), the Steele Dossier did not launch the investigation, the investigation was justified, Obama never wiretrapped Trump, etc.

But it was “all worse than [Trump] could have ever imagined”? Yeah, sure.

And now, we have the Attorney General and his handpicked investigator coming out with statements that they disagree with the IG Report. Because they claim to have more information than the IG had. This is the AG and his investigator speaking publicly about an investigation they are still conducting. Promising “facts” that they won’t reveal.

I remember when the IG investigation was launched, right-wing blogs and commenters were aflame with the possibilities. They were just sure that the IG would find evidence of the treason and rot endemic in the FBI. They could not wait for it. They were so sure of it all.

And now the IG report is out and it basically says what most rational people would expect. The FBI is like most law enforcement agents — made up of people with different political views, but who for the most part put those views to the side when doing their job. Because they are professionals. Unfortunately, that professionalism also comes with a bit of laziness that came out in how they handled the warrants in this case.

That’s it.

But those on the right and the President will continue to paint this with lie after lie after lie. Multiple coats of lies. It’s the only way they can keep fighting this.

Because, you know, “read the transcript.” It’s kind of funny, watching Trump and others keep spouting the line. To me, the transcript reads like a classic mafioso saying what needs to be said without actually uttering truly incriminating words. Remember, Republicans are the ones who criticized Obama for being caught on a mic telling the Russians that after the 2012 election he could be more flexible. That was it. Now, we have Trump asking for a favor in exchange for releasing the aid to Ukraine. A favor that involved investigating corruption. (I wonder why he doesn’t think Giuliani’s corruption needs to be investigated — I mean, here’s a guy with contracts with multiple people in the Ukraine, while he is also is serving as the President’s p of ersonal lawyer working primarily on matters involving … the Ukraine. I mean, seriously, you can’t make this shit up.)

No, Trump didn’t say “quid pro quo.” But that’s because he’s been doing this kind of thing for decades. You dance up to the line, maybe even dip your toe in the water, but you make sure you don’t take the polar bear plunge. The hard words and real language was used by others in conversations that were not recorded or for which notes were not taken.

Imagine if Obama had done any of these things, and you can imagine the heads of Republicans exploding in outrage.

But here they are, all in on this President and his lies and his lack of respect for American institutions and American democracy. Those who support Trump can no longer call themselves conservatives. He is the furthest thing from a conservative. Conservatives respect tradition and norms and institutions. They don’t tear those things down. Yet, they are supporting a man who is a gold-plated revolutionary, intent on destroying anything that stands in the way of his personal objectives.

This post could go on and on and on and on. I’m just so frustrated with the state of affairs in this country today. The level of corruption and hypocrisy at the highest levels of our nation are astounding and depressing.

How do we get out of this mess?

 

Why It’s So Hard To Support Trump, Part Two

I was going to title this post “The Perils of A Simple Mind” but given my post of a couple of days ago, why not go with a part two.

One of Donald Trump’s campaign themes was the idea of ending America’s involvement in endless wars. Iraq. Afghanistan. Syria. We’ve spent the last eighteen years in a never-ending series of wars in the Middle East. A place that defines “quagmire.”

When we first went into Afghanistan, I supported the action because Al Qaeda and the Taliban needed to pay for 9/11. And I thought it was also a place where America could do some good. While dealing with Osama and Mullah Omar and all the rest, we could spread some American wealth and resources around the country and maybe, just maybe, end the decades of tragedy that have existed in that country.

Then I read The Places in Between by Rory Sparrow and I realized how hopeless such a dream was. Then I watched as the Bush Administration completely screwed up the intervention and then got distracted by a needless war in Iraq, and I lost hope that we could actually do the right thing in that part of the world.

So, yes, we need to stop these endless wars. These conflicts that drain our resources and lead to the death of our soldiers. I support this wholeheartedly.

But, it has to be done wisely. With consideration for the consequences.

And here is why I simply cannot support Trump’s efforts in these areas. He views the only objective as ending the endless wars, of getting American troops home, and letting others fight their own fights. He appears to believe the only thing that matters is if he can get American troops home. He is a man of simple mind.

In a complicated world, every time we put troops somewhere, every time we join forces with somebody else, every single thing we do on the international stage has layers of entanglements and complications. It is just not as simple as “bring the troops home.”

When we abandon Syria and our Kurdish allies, we not only leave them to be slaughtered by the Turkish military, we also tell other allies that we cannot be trusted. If we just cut and run in Afghanistan, we leave a vacuum that our enemies will fill. If our only objective is to bring American troops home, we leave the world stage to be dominated by our enemies.

This is a thing I’ve struggled with for decades. I am, on some level, an isolationist. I would prefer a world in which we were not the world’s policeman. A world in which we take care of ourselves first — which, yes, there is a whole lot of that which needs to be done. A world in which other countries bear the burden of their own battles. I am so tired of our country bearing the cost, both financially and in lives, for the world’s battles.

But … we live in a complicated world. We have, for decades now, taken on this role. So, it’s not so easy to just … withdraw. We can’t do that. So, we have to be careful and thoughtful and respectful and introspective, and we need to consider the consequences of our actions.

And these are the things that Donald Trump is simply incapable of.  Careful? Yeah, right. Thoughtful? Umm, no. Respectful? Please. Introspective? Hah! Consider the consequences? Oh please. I got the troops out, what else should anybody else care about? That’s his response. he seriously is surprised that people, both Republicans and Democrats, are outraged at his actions in Syria.

Why?

Because he is a man of simple mind and doesn’t recognize the complexities of the modern world and that these things require more thought and more consideration than what he in his, great and unmatched wisdom (which is uninformed, uneducated and self-centered), is remotely capable of.

We are in the midst of an experiment in chaos and narcissism. I’m not liking the results.

Instead of Impeachment

I’ve had a lot of different thoughts about things I’ve wanted to write leading up to yesterday’s election. I haven’t written any of them down. Maybe I’ll come back to those ideas later.

But what I would like to suggest is this. With the Democrats now in control of the House, instead of impeachment, I’d like to see them focus on putting forward legislation that offers a clear alternative to Republican destruction.

Legislation that reinforces and improves the Affordable Care Act.

Legislation that moves America towards a more sane tax structure and begins to reduce the massive annual federal budget deficit.

Legislation that puts forward a comprehensive plan for immigration reform that deals credibly with the millions of illegal immigrants already in this country, reforming our existing immigration practices to encourage legal immigration, and, yes, strengthening security at the border. Not a wall per se, but taking measures that will reduce illegal immigrants crossing the border.

Legislation that speaks to the middle of America instead of to the leftist extremes of the Democratic Party.

Legislation that offers America a view of a positive, optimistic governing strategy that could replace the divisiveness and destruction of Trump and his Republican acolytes.

And I’d like to see a mainstream media that steps away from its own hyperpartisanship and away from its fervent, breathless reporting on every stupid thing Trump says and does and focuses on what the two parties actually are doing to govern in America today. (By the way, if you don’t believe the MSM is engaged in “its own hyperpartisanship” you don’t read the twitter accounts of MSM actors.)

Am I optimistic that any of this will happen?  Absolutely not. I have absolutely no hope that either Democratic leaders or the MSM will grow up and act like the adults in the room. They haven’t for the last two years.

Memorial Day Thoughts

I’m just about as anti-war as a person can be, and being an American I have had to watch countless military adventures our country’s leaders have taken us on. I have opposed virtually every one of those adventures. I came of age with Grenada and Lebanon and useless fist-shaking military strikes authorized by President Reagan.

The one I supported … well, actually, there have been two. The first was our military intervention to put a stop to the ethnic slaughters that were taking place in the former Yugoslavia. I felt that was a situation where we could use our military might for a good cause that didn’t necessarily have anything to do with our strategic interests. We actually used our power for an unselfish purpose.

The second was the post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan to put an end to the Taliban and al Qaeda and to help Afghanistan enter the modern world of nations. My support of this effort turned sour when it became clear that the Bush Administration actually had no real plan for accomplishing those objectives. Almost seventeen years later, that “war” grinds on with no end in sight, no clear idea of what the objective is, no exit strategy. nothing. Just soldiers continuing to try to do the right thing while fighting and dying.

As anti-war as I am I also am fascinated with the stories of war and the soldiers that fight them. A few months ago, I saw previews for Thank You For Your Service. The previews seemed far too jingoistic for me and I haven’t seen the movie. I did, however, buy the book and am reading it now. The author, David Finkel, also wrote The Good Soldiers, an excellent book about our Iraq War. The book is a no holds barred, in your face, gut-wrenching look at the after-effects of war on soldiers who return home.

I have read countless books on Afghanistan and Iraq, on World War II, Vietnam, the Civil War, The War to End All Wars (yeah, right), and others. I am fascinated with these stories. My favorite movie (if I’m not counting The Holy Grail) is Saving Private Ryan.  Band of Brothers is just incredible.

The point for me is this. I may be anti-war, but I honor those who serve and put their lives on the line. They do something I could never do, and I feel compelled to know their story. That’s the least I can do. So, on this Memorial Day, if you don’t want to read a book, read this. Honor a fallen hero by knowing his story and those who have lost him.

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Meanwhile, the NFL is a joke and our President is worse. The former announced a new policy that allows its players to continue protesting just so long as they do it behind closed doors so nobody can see it. They claim the owners supported it unanimously, but the 49ers abstained from the “vote” and the Jets have already said they won’t discipline any of their players if they continue to protest. So, not only did they adopt a policy that doesn’t stop the protesting, but treats the protesters like … well, they belong on the back of the bus … but they lied about it. I will do everything I can to skip the NFL this fall.

As for our President… After the NFL announced their new policy, he tweeted that players who kneel during the National Anthem should find another country. The idea that the only way to honor this country, to be patriotic, to demonstrate your love for this country, is to stand for the National Anthem — that kneeling during the song is disrespectful — is so dictatorial, authoritarian, and anti-American, I will not stand for the National Anthem as long as he is President. He has bastardized American and is destroying it from within. And disrespecting those who have fought and died for the freedoms and principles this country was founded on.

“Move to another country?” I think not. I’m staying right here, exercising my rights as an American to have a different opinion and to express it freely. I look forward to when we have a President again who respects those rights for all citizens.

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