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. 

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.

Team MAGA is loaded. Seriously

I found this interesting detail today from Quartz that I think is worth sharing.

The 17 people who US president-elect Donald Trump has selected for his cabinet or for posts with cabinet rank have well over $9.5 billion in combined wealth, with several positions still unfilled. This collection of wealth is greater than that of the 43 million least wealthy American households combined—over one third of the 126 million households total in the US.

Maybe it’s just a quirk based on him picking people from within his own social circle or something.  I even read a comment in an article about this where someone made the statement (joking, I hope) that they would be less susceptible to being bribed because they’re already wealthy.

This is what we have to look forward to America.  This was the choice that we ended up with.  This is the team that is going to look out for the everyday man and woman, the forgotten people of America.

IF, and that’s a very big if, they even know those people actually exist, I would be very surprised.  I’m not throwing in the towel yet, but when you see the 1% get rid of the middle man, then that gives the appearance that it’s time to get paid.  I seriously hope I’m wrong.  I guess that one way of draining the swamp is filling it so high that it overflows its border.  Then, it’s no longer a swamp.  It simply becomes a lake.

Linked story from The Guardian:  Trump’s billionaire cabinet could be the wealthiest administration ever

Searching for that silver lining

As the incoming Trump administration is still coming together, I’m trying to search for signs of how things will go.  I’ve heard both sides argue how Trump is going to do what he said he was going to do, and I’ve also heard the doom and gloom predictions of what’s coming down the pipeline.  Personally, I like to see who the president picks to make up their cabinet and advisors before I try to predict what’s going to happen.  I did that with both Bush and Obama, so I will extend the same courtesy to Trump as well.

Given his picks so far, the one thing I can come away with is that we’re going to be in for a long, long 4 years.  Trump rode populist anger against “elites” yet his picks are all pretty much elites and/or billionaire donors of some kind.  I don’t see any earthshaking “drain the swamp” picks as much as I see standard right-wing ideological picks that any Republican ideologue would choose.  From the pick of Steve Bannon as a White House advisor to Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, this country is going to swing so hard to the right that NASCAR may have to switch to running races in the opposite direction to avoid having to make left turns.

There’s also the issue of ethics that the administration will have to come to terms with.  Many of his picks have deep and varied investments that would likely face scrutiny during confirmation hearings.  As for Trump himself, he’s already stated “As far as the, you know, potential conflict of interests, though, I mean I know that from the standpoint, the law is totally on my side, meaning, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.”  Trump’s businesses make their fortune from the marketability of his name.  Add the title “President” before that name, and the marketing potential shoots through the roof.  What person or company in any country would refuse to engage with any Trump related business now?  I don’t think anyone, the Founders included, ever contemplated such a complex issue to ever reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

To further complicate things, America will also have to deal with whether outside influence tilted the balance of this election.  I read a story today from Philly.com about Russian influence in American politics this year.  It’s quite interesting, and I included a link if you want to check it out.  A Google search for Russian troll factory returns numerous articles about how Russia used social media to spread propaganda, including fake news stories.  America probably got taken for a ride this year in more ways than one, and only time will tell whether that’s true or not.

Maybe that’s the silver lining in this election.  We’re going to hit rock bottom so hard on ethics that people will realize that the government is not a business and being an expert in business does not make one an expert in running a government.  Maybe Trump will indeed make America great again by ensuring people become civic engaged and we find some ethical people who actually care about running the country.  I’ve already been working on my playlist for the next four years.  I’m starting off with Zoom by The Commodores because a brother can still have a dream nowadays:

I’m searching for that silver lining
Horizons that I’ve never seen
Oh I’d like to take just a moment and dream my dream
Dream my dream

Election night thoughts

It’s finally here.  Thank God.  While I can only hope that the ignorance, bigotry, hatred, and other negative things that propagated during this election could be wiped out in one single night, I know that’s not the case.  For some reason, America is angry.  I honestly wish I knew why.

We’re still the top economy in the world.  We’re still the sole super power in the world.  We’re still the world’s reserve currency.  The only thing that has changed is our demographic makeup.  Since we’re a country of immigrants, that’s always going to be the case.  There will always be a new wave of immigrants.

My political preferences are generally centered, regardless to whether I lean right or left on something, I don’t venture too far from what used to be the center.  Now, I don’t know what the hell to think of my personal politics.  I guess I’ll have to recalibrate myself in the morning once I see the results of this election.

Speaking of results, can someone please help me with a question that’s been bothering me.  I’ve seen Trump get plenty of pop from the “drain the swamp” statement.  People are believing that DC is so corrupt that we need to send someone there to clean things up.  That’s all fine and good when you hear that, but if people seriously believe that, then why do they send the same damn people to Congress every election?

For example, Johnny Isakson has been projected to win his third term in the Senate for the state of Georgia.  He’s already completing year number twelve, and Georgians (who voted for swamp draining Trump) are sending the same twelve-year Senator back for another six years?  WTF people?  Seriously?  To top things off, Isakson has been in DC for four decades now.  If you think DC is corrupt, then maybe it’s because of the voters doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.  The people of Georgia who vote this way shouldn’t open their mouths about DC being corrupt.  In fact, I think all of Georgia’s Congressional delegation is pretty safe on returning back to office.

There’s some serious mental disconnect between the thoughts and actions of many Americans, and we’re going to end up screwing up a damn good country because of our spastic tendencies.  I wish there was an enema big enough to wash out all the fecal matter in this country so we could start fresh, but I don’t think it’s possible to make one.  Regardless of who wins, America loses.  We’re going to be a polarized angry population with a government to match it.  I hope everyone stocked up on alcohol or their favorite vice because the next four years are going to make the last eight seem like a cakewalk.

Bravo America.  We’re going to get exactly what we’re asking for.