A few thoughts on a rainy Tuesday

It seems like we cannot escape the rain, but at least it is better than ice and snow. Take care and drive safely. Here are a couple of thoughts on this rainy Tuesday.

In the first Harry Potter movie, one of Potter’s dorm mates won his group extra points by standing up to his friends when they were about to do something wrong. The headmaster noted standing up to one’s friends shows more courage than standing up to one’s enemies. Senator Mitt Romney should be awarded more points for his political courage for standing alone as he spoke truth to power. Like Romney, the public servants who testified under oath and at great risk showed courage when they knew they would be punished by “he who should not be named.”

There is an old saying “one should never argue with a street preacher.” Why? If someone is going to stand on a corner and yell for several hours, they may be a tad zealous. Online or on social media, it is hard to identify the street preachers (a metaphor for zealous people). Their views are given too much weight, especially when they are elected officials. Unfortunately, with gerrymandering and tribal politics, some authors of ludicrous statements are better left ignored. When an official advocates killing people for their beliefs, that is not only asinine, it is hate speech. I wish the press would ignore much of the BS spewed by the US president, yet they feel obligated to report it.

Since my computer seems to be hiccupping this morning, let me leave you with those two thoughts. Have a great day.

A bellwether event

In a sea of bad news last week for the US President, a bellwether event occurred as to why this man does not deserve to be the incumbent. A bellwether is something that is an “indicator or predictor of other events.” It is getting more press and even overshadows the event where and when it occurred.

At the unsuccessful conference with North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un, which the President’s own staff forewarned him of beforehand, the President took the word of Kim that he did not know of the maltreatment of American prisoner Otto Warmbier. This maltreatment led, first to Warmbier’s coma, and then his death once he returned home. The parents of Warmbier took issue with Trump’s siding with Kim, a man known for squelching the smallest of dissent or less than enthusiastic applause with murder. Killing his half-brother and uncle are just two examples of his evil nature. Even Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy took issue with Trump’s acquiescence to Kim. He is not alone.

In the Washington Post,  Kathleen Parker’s editorial called “The president’s lying ears,” called the President on the carpet for this and other transgressions where he sided with despots over the advice of his own intelligence staff. Parker references “Trump’s strange attraction to tyrants, dictators, murderers and thieves.”  She goes on to say “Trump believed Russian President Vladimir Putin when he denied knowing about Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. And, he believed Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman when he denied knowing anything about the torture, murder, and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.”

“At the same time Trump believed their lies, he disbelieved the conclusions of American intelligence agencies, which, in each case, pointed a finger at the top guys. How could it be otherwise?”  Before he passed away, Senator John McCain called the President on the carpet for his weak-kneed acquiescence to Putin in Helsinki. I so wish McCain was alive today, as he would again vilify Trump for his lack of support for Americans and America. He might say hugging the flag at CPAC won’t erase the malevolence of your actions to our country.

Yet, an article, by a regional libertarian thinker and humorist named Keith Larson, who does a podcast along with weekly articles, called “A proud deranged American,” adds the flavor in McCain’s absence. Apparently, the MAGA cap wearers have called him “deranged” for saying something similar to Parker. His response includes the following:

“I thought expecting a president of the United States to stand up for Americans against brutal dictators was central to conservatism…I thought seeing soldiers – even, and perhaps, especially, those who fell into enemy hands – as heroes, was part and parcel to patriotism….Kim Jong Un is a murderous despotic dictator, the president of the United States has become his fawning publicist, and anyone who can’t abide him and his presidency has a Derangement Syndrome.”

“Life, in Donald Trump’s America. Where I’m proud to be deranged.”

These are not fake news stories, as Trump likes to claim about any bad press. He said the words and has not defended Americans or America. He is everything Michael Cohen said and more, which is not a very flattering picture. But, even if he were not a “racist, con man and a cheat,” not standing up for our citizens and country is not very presidential, nor is it courageous. It is weak. Acting tough to cheering crowds does not make up for that weakness. Nor does hugging the flag.

 

 

Sunday seasoning

Sunday is a good day to simmer something slowly in the crock pot. With judicious seasoning, the aroma permeates the house until dinner time. Now that I made you hungry for pot roast or stew, here are a few seasonings to sample.

It is nice to see Tiger Woods competing for The Open Championship at the northern most venue in the world at Carnoustie in Scotland. For more than a decade, Woods was more successful than any other golfer in history. Unfortunately, injuries and personal issues derailed him from more major victories that would help him overtake the impressive record of Jack Nicklaus. It is good to see him back on the leaderboard.

The unraveling continues with the US President. Not only did he bully his allies, he appeared very weak in the face of Vladimir Putin. What should not be lost is by throwing his intelligence people and country under the bus, he has made even more Americans believe he may be compromised by the Russians. It has been reported that we may see some more departures from his White House, as it is quite apparent, he will throw anyone under the bus to save face.

The best feel good story of the year has been the rescue of the Thai youth soccer team. What should not be understated is the significant amount of cross country collaboration and reliance on people who had expertise to figure out the best path forward. To me, this is an exemplar as the antithesis of Donald Trump’s “go-it-alone and I-know-best” approach. Collaboration is hard work, but when nurtured and seasoned can do wondrous things.

In this same vein, another large ego, Elon Musk, showed his disappointment that the Thai rescue crew did not use Musk’s expensive technology based idea. To his credit, Musk has done wonderful things for the world and wanted to help. Yet, I mention this as the most elegant solution is not always the most sophisticated one. The term “elegant” is used in computer programming to mean the easiest and most effective solution. In this case, the safest solution was arrived at after much debate by people on the ground who were more knowledgeable of the risks.

This reminds me of the story of the child who solved a problem with a delivery truck that was just a tad to tall for an overpass it tried to go under. Everyone was stymied at what to do. After much discussion, a child who had been watching opined that they should let enough air out of the tires to lower the truck and they could drive it out. Now, that is elegant. It also worked.

Stating the obvious

The last week and three days have been a whirlwind for our country and the US President. I am both incredulous and stunned at how the events and verbiage spilled out. Let me state the obvious.

The US reputation around the world is in tatters, with many allied leaders saying and thinking they can no longer trust the word of the US President. Some have said we must prepare to move forward without the US. It should be noted the EU and Japan just inked a trade deal yesterday. And, Germany is increasing its business relationship in China.

This has been happening for some time, but the President’s sojourn included the following lowlights:

– He belittled the German chancellor and country once again, this time for doing business with Russia. This is ironic as Trump wants to do more business with Russia.
– He bullied NATO and questioned its veracity. How about seventy years of no major European conflict Mr. President? Even when he has a point, his overbearing manner is both offputting and insulting.
– He insulted his host in the UK, Prime Minister Theresa May, in a recorded interview. Then, when questioned, he did not accept accountability saying it was fake news. The news organization stood by its story.
– He then met with the Russia President after an indictment was issued by Robert Mueller’s team for twelve Russians for meddling in our election. To make matters worse, he not only sided with the Russians on Putin’s defiance, he said Americans were to blame, in particular Democrats and the media. He threw his intelligence folks under the bus and like most bullies, he appeared weak in the heat of the moment.
– He then returned home and faced heat from his own party and a cadre of Fox News presenters for denying his intelligence people’s findings. He tried to weasel out of the mess, by saying he misspoke focusing on one line. But, he did not correct several other sentences where he sided with the Russians and even threw in that others also may be culpable, which also differs from the intelligence community’s findings.

Overall, this was as shameful a performance by a President that I have ever witnessed. It was worse than I expected. Specific to the Putin press conference, Senator John McCain called it disgraceful. Other Republican legislators chimed in with varying degrees of criticism.

I do walk away convinced of three major points. I have no doubt that Trump is guilty of more than obstruction of justice with respect to the Russian meddling. I believe he is a compromised asset as he is aiding and abetting Putin’s long term strategy of diminishing NATO and the US relationship with our allies.

I also am convinced that global leaders clearly see this man for his lying, bullying and lack of accountability. My guess is they talk among themselves and to other leaders in the US about working around this man.

Finally, I am convinced that most of his staff believe what Rex Tillerson was reported to say about this man last year. My guess is more departures will occur, as he is not listening to their advice and they have to cover for the scorched earth he leaves in his wake.