Today is Memorial Day. For the vast majority of us, it is a time to enjoy the beginning of summer. It didn’t start out that way. After the Civil War, cities and towns set aside a special day to put flowers on the graves of soldiers killed in the war. Gradually this coalesced into a single day known as Decoration Day. Eventually it became Memorial Day and was on May 30. Congress decided that the main reason for holidays is to have long weekends so it is now the last Monday in May.
There are 1,354,654 reasons why we should remember this day. That is the estimate of the number that died (it probably is too low) while serving their country in war. Of course statistics don’t begin to tell the story. Behind each one is a flesh and blood human being that had the same aspirations we do but didn’t live to achieve them. It doesn’t matter whether the war was popular or unpopular. They were there doing what they believed was necessary to keep the rest of us safe and free.
By all means go ahead and have some fun today. Please pause for just a moment to remember the true purpose of Memorial Day.
As part of her return to public life, Hillary Clinton gave the commencement speech at Wellesley. She spoke at the 1969 commencement as a representative of her graduating class and returned during the 1972 presidential campaign.
In my opinion it was a good speech. She tried to relate to the students and included some lighthearted comments on college life then and now. Her main message was to become empowered. The low point was her attacks on President Trump (not by name) and the Republicans. It was the same old stuff about how they are bad people. It didn’t work in the campaign and it doesn’t work now.
The paragraph that most impressed me was self-deprecating humor about losing the election. She said she was doing OK and talked about having time to spend with her grandchildren, go for long walks and organizing closets. She added “Chardonnay helped a little too”.
We certainly didn’t see aspect of her during the campaign. She actually has a pulse. If she acted this way during the campaign, had a compelling reason why she should be President (other than Republicans are evil) and courted blue collar voters, she would have won the election.
There was a media flurry when Michael Flynn announced that he would not testify before Congress, citing his Fifth Amendment rights. Democrats denounced it while Republicans said it was no big deal. Of course each party took the opposite position when associates of Hillary Clinton took the Fifth. Hypocrisy is alive and well in Washington.
I have no idea whether or not Flynn committed a crime. That’s not the point. Congress has refused to grant him immunity. That means everything he says can be used against him. Any lawyer would advise him not to testify. Even if he was granted immunity, there are still problems. Oliver North was given immunity. While prosecutors couldn’t use his testimony, it still affected their ability to prosecute. He was convicted but it was overturned. The court ruled that his testimony affected the testimony of others at the trial.
Either there should be a congressional or a criminal investigation. Trying to both at the same time reduces the likelihood of either being successful.
Donald Trump faced a number of challenges after winning the election. Many Democrats were totally unhinged and dedicated themselves to do whatever they could to damage his presidency. He had absolutely no experience in government. His thin skin, lashing out, acting without thinking and other aspects of his personality made him temperamentally a bad fit for the job.
Rather than trying to overcome these challenges, he made matters worse. None of his top three aides have any government experience. Now we have a dysfunctional White House with people jockeying for power and leaking like a sieve. His monumental ego has convinced him that there is no need to change. His continued outbursts have made matters worse.
His ill-timed and poorly handled firing of James Comey and subsequent news stories have damaged the administration. If there is nothing to the accusations of collusion with Russia, the appointment of a special prosecutor gives him political cover. Instead of taking it, he attacked the FBI.
Clearly it is time for a new playbook. I would suggest that Trump take a look at the Reagan administration. Many dismissed him as an incompetent old fool that didn’t know what he was talking about. Instead of anger, he used charm. He appointed James Baker as Chief of Staff even though he supported Bush in the 1980 primaries. This allowed Reagan to get his entire economic agenda passed even though Democrats controlled the House.
President Trump desperately needs to restore order among the White House staff. He should bring in an old Washington hand that can crack the whip. Ideally it should be someone Trump would listen to, if such a person exists. Secondly, he needs to rein in his ego and act more presidential.
There is plenty of time to turn things around. However, if things continue in the same direction he will be remembered as a failed one term president.
A recent story claims President Trump disclosed classified information during a White House meeting with top Russian officials. Presidents have the power to declassify any document and classified information is often shared with other countries. I have absolutely no idea if he did anything wrong. What interests me is the story that is not being covered.
Either someone who attended the meeting or had access to notes from the meeting decided to break the law by disclosing information to the Washington Post. This has happened before when someone committed a crime and denied General Flynn his constitutional rights.
It is a dangerous world out there. Effective gathering, analyzing and securing of intelligence is vital to our national security. It is scary to think that there are those entrusted with our secrets that prioritize embarrassing President Trump over national security. It makes me wonder what else they might do. Perhaps they will deliberately give Trump misinformation or something even more sinister.
Eventually we will find out whether or not Trump did the right thing. In the meantime it is vital that we ferret out these leakers and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.
Democrats are getting excited about the 2018 congressional elections. There is all kinds of talk about it being an anti-Trump wave election that will represent a triumphal return of Democratic control of Congress. This is utterly ridiculous.
In the first place, it is impossible to make a meaningful prediction eighteen months in advance. Look at how many people, including myself, predicted that Hillary Clinton would win the election.
The numbers are very much against them. They need to defend ten Senate seats in states Trump won while Republicans have only one seat in a state Clinton won. On the surface it may seem to be easier to take the House. That still seems unlikely. A combination of gerrymandered districts and people hating Congress but liking their congressman makes seat turnover very low. Last time only eight incumbents lost in the general election.
It’s hard to see that Democrats have done much of anything in the last six months to prepare for the election. They have been too busy whining about the last election and hating Trump. To the extent they are developing a strategy it seems to be doubling down on what didn’t work in 2016. Running around the country demonizing President Trump and the Republicans won’t bring the blue collar vote back.
If they want to do well next year, it’s time for them to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Wishful thinking about a wave election may make them feel better but it doesn’t get them more seats in Congress.
President Trump ignited a firestorm with his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. Some Republicans wanted him fired for recommending against indicting Hillary Clinton. I do believe that he acted honorably in reaching his decision. The real problem was that he made the decision as a prosecutor. That is not his job. That was a serious lapse of judgement. I think he caught Potomac Fever, a “disease characterized by a heightened sense of one’s importance and a desire for media exposure. If Trump’s assertion that Comey told him he was not under investigation is true, that is a serious breach of protocol.
While I think Trump was right to fire him, it was handled extremely poorly. This is the travel ban fiasco all over again. In the first place, Comey should have been notified before the media. Although this will have no effect on the Russia investigation, it was politically insensitive to make a move before it was completed. A carefully laid out strategy should have been implemented. Instead, the press secretary and others were given only a one hour notice. After they came up with a rationale for the firing, Trump cut their legs off with an alternate explanation. Doing it just before he met with a Russian official just added fuel to the fire. I wonder if they are ever going to get their act together.
Democrats changed their position so fast I’m surprised they didn’t get whiplash. They hated Comey with a passion and demanded he be fired. Once he was, they were totally outraged. They tried to compare it to Nixon firing Archibald Cox, the lead Watergate investigator. This is absolutely ridiculous. Watergate was a major scandal that sent many to prison and took down a president. Even top Obama appointees say there is no evidence anyone in the campaign colluded with Russia. No party has a monopoly on hypocrisy but the Democrats seem to be trying to corner the market. They are so filled with hate that they can’t seem to think straight.
As expected, the media went crazy. Among other things, there was talk of a coup, Fascism and impeachment. They think they are hurting Trump but they only hurt their credibility with such outrageous statements.
Now the Trump administration needs to find a new director. They should choose someone who is nonpartisan and has a sterling reputation
Donald Trump and House Republicans were jubilant after passing the health care bill. There was talk about the great victory and praise for all involved. I believe that they were a little premature in their celebration. This really had nothing to do with repealing and replacing Obamacare. The bill could have contained nursery rhymes. All it represented was a political win in getting something through the House. Once it reaches the Senate, there will be major adjustments. They may even start from scratch. While their reaction may have been over the top, it was nothing compared to the disgusting display of House Democrats. Anticipating a return to power next year they sang “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”. Since the party is at its lowest ebb in nearly a century their arrogance (not to mention their judgement) is misplaced.
This is part of a continuing pattern. The stock market has soared based on what Trump MIGHT do. I subscribe to an investment service that is already factoring tax cuts into corporate earnings estimates. This is nothing new. Barack Obama entered the White House like a modern day Moses leading people to the Promised Land.
I can’t predict the future. Perhaps Trump’s vision will be realized. In the meantime, let’s put the champagne on hold.
Recently I met a man named Charlie. He is in the advanced stages of cancer. Once he was a college football player and coach. Now he is confined to a wheelchair. He may have lost his physical strength but is still very strong in mind and spirit. He was obviously making the most of the time he has left. There wasn’t a hint of complaint. Undoubtedly he figured out that self-pity and complaining are a waste of time.
Perhaps the reason Charlie made so much of an impression on me was that he reminds me of Karen, the love of my life. She led an incredibly hard life. Among other things, she had serious health issues that required dozens of surgeries and was widowed twice. Somehow she remained upbeat and rarely complained. She was a caring, giving woman that was loved by many. She was diagnosed with lung cancer and fought bravely. Unfortunately she passed away in August of 2015.
I had two years with Karen but only met Charlie briefly. Meeting special people like them makes us realize that most of our problems are insignificant. They also teach us what is really important.
A government shutdown has been averted. Cooler heads have prevailed and a budget deal has been reached. President Trump and the Republicans gained a considerable increase in spending on defense and border security. Democrats got, among other things, no money for the border wall and continued funding for Planned Parenthood. I commend President Trump and Congress for reaching an agreement.
Some members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus are really upset. In their mind not getting 100% of what they want is a sellout. They make up about 10% of the House but seem to feel that they should get everything they want. A democracy doesn’t work that way. Of course there are those on the left who are equally inflexible.
The Freedom Caucus reveres the Constitution. They should realize that the only reason it came into being was that everyone was willing to compromise.