The Baffled States of America

I try to be respectful towards the Office of the President.  The next four years will be an endurance test, one unlike any that I’ve ever embarked upon in my time alive.  Let me set the record straight first and foremost.  I have no personal animosity towards President Trump.  None at all.  That said, let’s get started.

First, he’s not a politician.  That’s why many voted for him.  That was the “appeal” that many Americans saw.  He wasn’t an insider in Washington, and he said all the right things in front of the right crowds*.  People seriously thought that he was listening to what they wanted and needed from the head of the Executive Branch of our government and have not been getting for decades.  He’s the one who will fix everything as he claimed that he would do, right?

Well, I can say that I have not been dazzled by his brilliance thus far, even though it’s only been a month.  Actually, not even a full month yet.  It hasn’t been a full four weeks at this point, and we already seem to be witnessing a 2mph train wreck happening during the evening rush hour.

We got warned about this long ago, but we didn’t heed the advice.  Dr. Seuss showed us how to avoid being taken for everything by a con man, a bullshit artist.  Trump is that, and then some.  Look at his history if you don’t want to take my word for it.  He has a record of stiffing businesses out of money on already agreed to contracts.  He’s avoided paying taxes for decades by assuming liability for an absurd amount of debt.  He reminds me of the guy on the street corner taking people for their money playing three card monte.  The problem is that he doesn’t know when to turn the bs off and has no idea of how to not bs people.  If there’s any one job in this country that should not be filled by a bs artist, it’s the job of being president.

We’ve been witness to this through the outright lies and doublespeak coming from people within the administration.  The apparently thin-skinned POTUS has attacked people personally or through spokespeople from everything from the size of the inauguration crowd to the portrayal of him on Saturday Night Live.  This has also been evident from the attacks on the media, the intelligence community, and pretty much everyone around the world except for Russia and Putin.  As things are beginning to show, we’re getting a good education on why he hasn’t attacked Russia or Putin.  The problem with the “breaking news” stuff about Gen. Flynn is that the only thing that’s new about the reporting is that we now have actual names of people with government positions who were communicating with Russia.

There were early reports about Paul Manafort and a server in Trump Towers that was communicating with a server in Russia.  There have also been rumors and such of other people involved with his campaign that had ties to Russia.  The Secretary of State is well-known to have strong business ties to Russia and Putin.  Individually, the rumors and innuendo don’t amount to anything that points to outright malfeasance.  At the same time, you can create an avalanche when you get enough things piled on top of each other.

At this point, there is permanent damage that has been done to the credibility of people in Washington.  It’s not like there was a vast amount of credibility to begin with, but I don’t recall any administration in my lifetime having a beginning like this.  It hasn’t been a full four weeks yet, and there’s enough stuff floating around to do about 8 years worth of Congressional investigations.  I don’t expect to see Republicans do anything at this point, as they’re likely going to try to wait things out.  It appears that Trump tried to wait things out on Flynn, and look at what it got him.

It’s not wise to try to pick a fight with the intelligence community that has taken an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States.  Especially when the intelligence community is full of people who take their oath seriously.  In case people forget, foreign enemies are not the only ones listed in that oath:

I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

5 U.S.C. §3331

Those who focus more on the leaks than the information leaked should stop long enough to consider that oath.  If the federal employee thinks the actions rise high enough to be considered as an enemy act, they have a responsibility to take actions to defend the Constitution.  I’m not saying that leaking information is always a good thing to do, but we do have some whistleblower protections for a reason.  It’s dumb to think that you could communicate with foreign adversaries and our intelligence community wouldn’t pick up on those communications.  I also saw that some of our allies also picked up communications on their own, and they have their own concerns about American leadership as a result.

If Hillary Clinton’s email investigation was so important that we had to have a press conference by the FBI about it, why wasn’t the American public told about the communications between Trump’s campaign and Russia?  Remember, Democrats left a classified briefing on Russian hacking and were furious with Director Comey.  Middle, rural America elected trump because he said that he would bring jobs back to their communities.  If they’re farmers, they will have enough manure over the next four years to keep fertilizing crops for generations.  If they’re not farmers, there’s always a need for someone to shovel the bs.  If the first four weeks are any indication, we’re in for record amounts of bs in short order.

Welcome to the Baffled States of America.  This is what some of  you voted for, and this is what we’re all going to get as a result.

*I think it’s entirely possible to say the right things to the right people.  That still doesn’t mean that you’re correct in what you’re saying, or that the people who believe you are also right. 

Bless their hearts

Going into the first full week of the Trump Era in America, I think I know what Trump’s job creation strategy will be.  He and his administration is going to create unheard of job growth in the media field if for nothing more than publications having to hire mass amounts of fact checkers to deal with the onslaught of “alternative facts” that seem to appear from thin air.

When I first heard that term alternative facts, I had one of those WTF moments complete with the head twist like dogs do when they see something interesting.  Facts are facts.  There is no alternative to them.  They exist or they don’t.

This whole issue came because of the new press secretary trying to defend his boss’ ego by claiming the inauguration was attended by far more people than actually were there.  There was no reason to lie about it.  The inauguration was on TV.  When the POTUS has an ego so frail that he has to lie about any and everything, it doesn’t set a good precedent for his term, especially considering we haven’t made it a full week into the four years yet.

From the inauguration speech to his address at the CIA, President Trump is setting himself up for four years of defending the most miniscule crap that he shouldn’t have to waste time dealing with.  Who cares how many people attended your inauguration?  You are not the most popular president in history, not by a long shot.  If you keep acting the way you do, you won’t become more popular than you are now.

I really want to give this president the same respect as I did the two previous that I served under.  However, I don’t trust people who are habitual liars.  Without trust, there is no respect.  Period.  I will always respect the office, but I don’t have to respect the person sitting behind the desk to show respect to the office they hold.

If we can’t get the administration to be honest about the most ordinary of things, what do we do if/when a crisis occurs and they’re responsible for telling us what is going on?  When the press secretary can’t tell an honest fact and has to spin a tale based on alternative facts, the administration should expect for the press to call them on it.  If you spread manure on a plowed field, you can’t complain about the stench afterwards.

I sincerely hope the media doesn’t cower to the threats of intimidation and other schemes to manipulate stories.  We need a strong press to keep fact separated from fiction.  If not, we risk falling for lies and misdeeds and allowing bad things to happen without any repercussions.  At the same time, the media doesn’t need to try to over hype things just to sell ad space.  This administration appears to be one that will be great for the for-profit media as well as the rest of the press.

I purposefully tried to unplug over the past few days, just to spend time with family away from electronics and such.  When you see those closest to you suffering from anxiety over the unknown, you have to do those kinds of things to ensure that they’re okay to function.  If the next four years are anyway like the past few days have been, we’re all going to need to take care of ourselves and others to stay sane and avoid being screwed over.

Paging Mr. Pot to the meeting room

Oh my goodness.  I don’t intend to spend the next four years talking about Trump, but I honestly wish someone within his circle of influence will remove any and every piece of technology that has access to Twitter from his reach.  I don’t follow Twitter, but it’s hard to not know what’s going on when the President-elect has diarrhea of the fingers on a regular basis.

Today, he decided to lash out at the intelligence community and the media about the allegations made against him in regards to Russia having potential blackmail information on him.

I’m guessing that either he has Alzheimer’s or he has completely forgotten about his own adventures in phony allegations.  As I seem to recall, he’s Tweeted and spewed false and phony allegations in the past himself.

“I have people that have been studying it and they cannot believe what they’re finding,”-Donald J. Trump to Meredith Viera on NBC April 7, 2011

On top of that, there’s his penchant for firing off tweets, many of which involved President Obama’s birth certificate.  Salon has compiled a list of all his birther tweets.  Looking at the list, something tells me that it is not 100% inclusive, but I’ll have to go with them as that’s the most comprehensive list I’ve seen.

Given how Trump himself has fanned the flames of ludicrous, incendiary, and patently false information, I have no sympathy for him if or when people return serve to him.  He had loads of fun poking at President Obama, but now he’s in the hot seat himself.  It’s his turn to be the center of attention, both good and bad.  I personally believe in the adage that you get what you give.  He’s flung fecal matter at others for years, so it’s only right that he gets it flung back at him.

Enjoy yourself Trump.  You deserve all the ridicule that you get.  One word of advice for you, though.  Learn to respect people and treat them with respect.  Otherwise, it’s only going to go downhill from here.  You haven’t even taken the oath of office yet, and you already appear to be on your way to stroking out of office.  Money can buy many things, but it doesn’t buy class or respect.  Even being president only gets you so much in respect.  Think about how you and others treated President Obama while he was in office.  It’s your turn.  I hope you’re ready.

Here we go America

Not even two full weeks into the new year, and Congress is already going for the throat.  Figuratively and maybe even literally on down the road.

From Reuters:

Republicans on Wednesday passed a bill in the House of Representatives that touched on nearly every step U.S. agencies take in creating and applying new rules, continuing their blitz to radically reform “abusive” federal regulation of areas from the environment to the workplace.

In a 238-183 vote, the House passed the “Regulatory Accountability Act,” which combined eight bills aimed at changing how the vast government bureaucracy runs. Only five Democrats voted for it.

The legislation would give President-elect Donald Trump tools “to wipe out abusive regulation,” said Bob Goodlatte, the Judiciary Committee chairman who is among the many House leaders calling for lighter regulation and saying the costs to comply with federal rules are too high.

Republicans say there is little accountability for regulations that apply to almost every aspect of American life because they are created by appointed officials and not elected representatives. Federal agencies operate either independently or under the president’s authority.

The crux of their argument, based on that last paragraph above is that there is no accountability for regulations because they’re not created by elected representatives.  If we don’t have enough with the incoming Ego-In-Chief already, now Congressional Republicans feel that things are not kosher unless they write it.  This is the same dysfunctional Congress that probably couldn’t pass legislation to get themselves out of a burning building.  There’s one major flaw in their thinking however.

The Constitution is filled with checks and balances along with separation of powers.  The power to legislate is delegated to Congress, and they’ve been quite adamant about that power with the numerous lawsuits filed against President Obama over his two terms.  That same Constitution also delegates the power to enforce laws to the Executive Branch, the very same branch filled with those appointed officials who are currently responsible for writing out those regulations.

You see, Republicans gripe about regulations to the point where most people don’t have a clue as to what a regulation is.  All we hear is how they cost businesses so much and they’re overburdensome.  We never hear Republicans actually explain how regulations come about and what their purposes are.  For those who don’t already know, here’s a quick rundown.  My apologies to those who already know this.

Legislation begins in Congress as bills.  The bills get voted on by both houses of Congress.  If they pass both houses, those bills then go to the president to either be signed or vetoed.  If the president signs the bill, then it becomes law.  The laws that are passed and signed are then codified and placed into the U.S. Code.  According to the definition at Wikipedia, “The Code of Laws of the United States of America[1] (variously abbreviated to Code of Laws of the United States, United States Code, U.S. Code, or U.S.C.) is the official compilation and codification of the general and permanent federal statutes of the United States.”  The U.S. Code currently consists of 52 titles, and each title is broken down by subject matter.

Now, once that statute is published, the agency(s) responsible for enforcing that law have to come up with a set of rules to enforce the law that Congress passed and the president signed.  Take a wild guess at what those rules are called?  They’re called regulations.  Those regulations, once approved, end up in the Code of Federal Regulations which is often abbreviated as CFR.  The CFR is contained in 50 titles, and just like the U.S. Code, those titles are broken down by subject matter.

I don’t know of a single person who has read the entire U.S. Code or CFR, so there may indeed be unnecessary entries in both compilations.  That said, I don’t think a Congress that has sued the outgoing president for overreach has a leg to stand on when trying to claim they should have more say in regulations.  If you’re that concerned about the costs of regulations, then pay more attention to the legislation that you write.  Instead of allowing ALEC or other outside groups or lobbyists write legislation, go back to doing your own job that you get paid $174,000 a year to do.  It’s not like Congress has passed much legislation in recent years anyway, so there’s not a whole lot of writing to be done.

I don’t see any good intentions behind this.  If Republicans want to deregulate everything, then write legislation to rescind the laws in place and get your president to sign it.  If there’s no law on the books, then the agency(s) don’t need regulations to enforce them.  It’s a win-win situation for Republicans.  I seriously doubt they’ll go that route because that would actually shine the light on what the ultimate goal appears to be, which is to make things easier for their financial backers to make more money.  That’s always the prevailing argument about how businesses are hampered by regulations, so it would make sense that the goal is to get businesses to making more money.

Quit lying to people and just be honest about what your intentions are.  We’ve already seen that many in the voting public don’t give a rat’s ass about what politicians do.  A party has campaigned for years on ending the ACA, and people who voted them into office are now acting surprised that they’re ending the ACA.  Words don’t describe the abject despair I feel when I read story after story about this.  Part of me wants to call people stupid, but I honestly think people are more swayed by personality than what the people are actually saying.  Trump proved that by winning this election after all he’s said.

This year is only beginning, and it’s Year One of our four year journey through Trumpland.  I hope things such as this doesn’t put us back to having flammable rivers and air you can slice with a knife.  I still refuse to be the crier of doom, but the blocks appear to be falling into place for some of the more frightening predictions to have a chance of coming to pass.  God help us all.

Enough is enough 2016

Is it just me or has the Grim Reaper gone into straight “Honey Badger” mode in 2016?

Within the last three days, we’ve lost singer George Michael, comedian Ricky Harris, and now actress Carrie Fisher.  Let’s not even try to run down the other celebrity deaths over the past year.

It’s not just celebrities either.  There’s the Russian military plane crash, the Bolivian plane crash in Colombia, and other mass casualty events.  Add the number of everyday deaths, and I’m beginning to wonder if the Grim Reaper is trying to set a new high score.

The celebrity deaths stick out because of the news reporting though.  The award shows for next year may very well turn out to be two-hour long memorial tributes with an award or two handed out in between segments.

 

If I were famous, I would be sitting on pins and needles while waiting for 2017 to arrive.  I’d even consider hunkering down in the Cheyenne Mountain fallout shelter.  Then again, that could end up becoming a tomb as well.  Doesn’t appear that the Grim Reaper really cares about when and where he does his business.  Those assistants to the stars are probably all packing aspirin, epi pens, automatic defibrillators, and first aid kits with them at all times just to be safe.  Hurry up and get here 2017 before we lose many more.