Some Wednesday Why Questions

Several news stories have crystallized over the past few days forcing me to ask some why questions. Here are just a few on this Wednesday.

Why is the party that is adamant voter fraud is more prevalent the one who causes more of it? Today, the GOP North Carolina chair was indicted for bribing a public official with campaign donations. This is on the heels of the GOP Congressional candidate absentee ballot fraud issue and the unconstitutional gerrymandering that has gone on under GOP tutelage in NC.

Why are we playing politics with the President overriding an unheard of 25 security clearances, including two relatives? I don’t care what party is responsible, this should give all Americans pause, especially given the President’s poor attention to vetting, conflicts of interest and the fact his two relatives do not hold positions that were approved by the Senate. The CIA has been concerned about Jared Kushner’s culpability for some time, eg.

Why is the British parliament failing to read the tea leaves on Brexit? There is a petition with 6 million names asking for a cancellation of Brexit. When the petition was criticized for foreign involvement, it was determined that 96% of the names are UK citizens. I read today that Ford will re-evaluate what to do with two British car plants depending on what happens. They are not alone.

Why is Shell Oil pulling out of an US based petroleum industry lobby group beginning next year? Its shareholders are forcing the company to more demonstratively  address climate change and support the Paris Climate Change Accord. It should be noted Exxon Mobil shareholders asked the company to report back on what they are doing about climate change. Both companies were active on climate change research before they decided to pretend it was not a problem in public.

Why would the President even consider closing the border with our third largest trading partner, not to mention the people who live in Mexico and work in the US? This would be harmful to the US economy, per Senate leader Mitch McConnell (and many others) and even more so for border states. It also overlooks the greatest need to help with the chronic border problem – immigration judges. Walls and closures are just costly theatrics.

Why is it OK to want to trade with North Korea, but not Cuba? The real reason is Obama opened the doors to the relationship. For some reason, Trump has an unhealthy focus on things Obama did. But, trading with Cuba is desirous to many Americans and Cubans and is far easier to get a return on investment. Commerce is a good way to break down barriers.

That is all for now. Let me know what you think or if you have any more why questions.

 

Oh, what a week after many before

It seems to be a consistent pattern. Pundits reflect on the week that was for the President saying it was a horrible week for him. They have said these same words week after week.

More than a few people are simply fatigued by this man and his actions. I know I am. The relentless lying, bullying, cheating and even criminal activity wear me out. Other than a few timing issues, former Trump fixer Michael Cohen did not offer up anything surprising. Americans need to heed his words that defined his former boss as a racist, con man and cheat.

Just last night a report that said Trump ordered that Jared Kushner be given a security clearance over the written objections of the intelligence community and Chief of Staff. Unsurprisingly, the President denies this. It should be noted after getting this clearance, months later, money came from a Saudi source to pay off a $1.2 billion loan balloon payment that was of concern to Kushner. Why?

The President is in a death spiral and it is starting to get faster. The spiral slowly started when he fired James Comey. But, the resignation of James Mattis and Trump’s reneging on a deal with the Senate which led to the shutdown sped it up some more. More farmers going bankrupt due to tariffs and the economy showing signs of age will hasten it further.

Plus, the President’s inability to pay attention to detail, listen to experts, or be more patient has cost him and our country yet again. He should not have gone to Vietnam without all the ducks in a row. This follows numerous other examples – the disastrous initial travel ban, the transgender military ban, the ill-devised tariffs, announcing pulling out of Syria etc. – that were done against the advice of experts, without proper vetting and without communicating with interested parties.

As I type this I am watching a rerun of “The American President,” with Michael Douglas and Annette Bening, that I caught by channel-surfing. Everything this movie highlights as an ideal President, seems at odds with our current real one.

It is time for our Republican legislators to find their backbone. The ones who attended the Cohen testimony did exactly what Cohen had done for ten years, defend a man who is not worth defending. As he added, it will not end well for them. The GOP will deserve every bit of criticism they get, as none of this is news. They can help the country and party if they change their ways.

A good sign is Senator Lamar Alexander pushing back on Trump’s emergency declaration. He has the backing of others. This is a trend that has started. What I don’t understand is many GOP legislators know Trump is everything Cohen said he was, yet they don’t fear more that the past lies will come out and future ones will cause problems.

Folks, it is not going to get better. This President is a cornered animal and he will bite anyone to save himself. And, I mean anyone.

 

Hard to drain the swamp by hiring swamp creatures

The 45th US President won the election, in part, because of his commitment to drain the swamp in Washington. It should have given us pause when he hired more wealthy people than ever before to be members of his cabinet. As we continue to witness, it is hard to drain the swamp when you hire swamp creatures.

A few weeks ago, Scott Pruitt, the Secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency, resigned. Pruiit was under significant scrutiny over a series of unehtical and extremely poor leadership decisions around spending, travel, favoritism, and influence. Staff who tried to cry foul were let go or reassigned.

Last year, we saw Tom Price, the Secretary of Health and Human Services leave. A report came out last week that detailed his significant use of charter flights at taxpayer expense. A similar criticism over questionable trips and sporting tickets led to the resignation of David Shulkin, the Director of Veteran Affairs.

Now, Wilbur Ross, the Secretary of Commerce, is under fire for not divesting himself from several investments in companies. This astute business owner and investor claims these were oversights. But, documented reporting reveals he has numerous meetings on his calendar with CEOs of companies with whom he remained invested. That does not sound like an oversight to me.

Then, there is Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law who has no real title and only recently was fully vetted by the FBI for security clearance. It has been reported other global leaders speak openly about how they could use Kushner since he was soliciting money to pay off a $1.2 billion debt payment next year. He did get his funding, but my guess is that this is being investigated.

This should not be a total surprise as organizations take on the personality of its leader. With a leader who did not adequately divest or shelter his businesses from his ability to benefit, who does benefit from investment, hotel stays, etc. as patrons try to court influence, who significantly travels at taxpayer expense, it is not a stretch to witness his cabinet’s desire for perquisites and questionable practices in their favor.

To be frank, President Obama was vilified by conservative news outlet for his vacations to golf. Yet, these same news outlets condone with their silence the current incumbent’s conflicts of interests and sojourns. His travels far exceed that of other Presidents at this point.

It seems pretty swampy to me. Maybe more swamp creatures need to leave the lagoon.