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Oh, Hell No!
Mr. President, you were quick to latch on to the bogus House Intelligence Committee memo released on Friday to once again muddy the water concerning Russian intelligence’s interference in the 2016 election. You wrote on Saturday morning:

This memo totally vindicates “Trump” in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their (sic) was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace!
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Turtle Soup

For all of you criticizing Senator Schumer stop it. You either don’t understand why he did absolutely the right thing yesterday, or you are as bad as Cotton and Perdue. If you thought the President who can’t shoot straight or apologize about anything was going to blink, there is nothing I can do or say to help you other than I strongly advise that you stay away from any sort of gambling. You didn’t have the leverage. No matter how you tried to spin it every day you kept the government closed the more likely you would end up getting the blame not the President, not the republicans, and the Dreamers would still be out in the cold.

Part of the problem is you will never be able to explain to the American people the arcane rules and procedures of the Congress. Without that knowledge it is difficult to understand how first the House and now for several years the Senate leadership have rigged the system -- their way or the highway. Most of you know about the Hastert Rule that requires the Speaker of the House to only bring issues to the floor that can pass with 218 republican and 0 democratic votes. This gives the Freedom Caucus with its some 36 members a veto power over what the House can consider. They are pledged in most instances to vote as a block denying the Speaker enough republicans for a majority unless he is willing to break the Hastert rule. The caucus has already run off one Speaker for not always playing by their rules and are thought to have made it clear to Ryan before he accepted the speakership they expected him not to follow in his predecessor’s footsteps.

What hasn’t got nearly as much attention is the Senate Majority Leader’s, AKA, the Turtle’s own version of the Hastert Rule. That is why we have had 4 CRs since September. Unless he had enough republican votes he has relied on rules requiring only a majority that can’t be filibustered. That bag of tricks is all gone for a while, meaning that to get cloture and cut off debate the Turtle needs help from democrats. But that means compromise and until this weekend that is something he has not been willing to consider. His pledge to bring DACA to the floor opens the way for a good bill to be passed possibly by as many as 70 senators. More than enough to kill any Cotton/Purdue bill or amendments, and most importantly shut off debate by opponents of DACA.

Yes, the Turtle could go back on his word, anger at least 10 members of his own party, and try to get 60 votes on a bill you wouldn’t like, but I don’t think that is likely. Even if he does he won’t be able to muster 60 votes, probably not even 51. The CR will end, but this time it will be much more difficult to blame the democrats for the shutdown. It will be clear that it is the Turtle, and his going back on the pledge he made.

Should he do as I think he will – allow a vote on a good bill – there is no guarantee what Ryan and the Freedom Caucus will do. In this case, however, it will also be clear who kept the government shutdown – Ryan and the President. If a Senate bill dies in the House, it will only be because the President/Ryan refused to bend the Hastert rule and/or were unable to convince the Freedom Caucus to live up to its name. Should they surprise us with a vote on the Senate bill, I think it would pass easily with 260 or more yes votes. In none of these cases do you lose your leverage.

Compare those outcomes with what we would have if you had kept the government closed taking much of the blame for the President’s and the republicans’ outrageous behavior. If I were you, I would contact Senator Schumer and the moderate democrats and republicans to thank them for being smart and patriotic enough to do the right thing at the right time.

Just Saying.


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The Commnder-in-Chief 2017
I think it is enlightening to look back at President Trumptin’s foreign policy and national security decisions his first year in office. Even taking into account my vastly different world view, and obvious biases, I can’t help but conclude that he has succeeded in damaging our international reputation, undermined long-standing alliances and allies, and decreased our overall national security. Indeed, it is hard to imagine that one man could do so much harm in so little time.

I was led to believe that the much more experienced Defense Secretary and National Security Advisor would tutor the least qualified man in American history into making sane and workable policies. I didn’t expect to agree with all the administration came up with, but sane and workable do not appear to me be too much to ask.

I have seen what appeared to be instances when the President’s wishes were being ignored or drastically reworked, such as the what happened on the issue of transgender eligibility for military service. Fine. I agree that Trumptin’s inclination in this instance was distasteful and un-American, but I’m disturbed that it was necessary to ignore him, and worry what sort of precedent doing so might set. In any other administration, the same actions would lead to the immediate dismissal of the offending cabinet official. It is just another indicator how far from normal this administration is, and why his own people think steps are necessary to protect Trumptin from Trumptin. I can only conclude that these same folks either agree with the direction the president is taking, unable, or they are unwilling to confront him on diplomatic and security issues. Whatever the answer we are left with a cowboy in the oval office who neither knows how to ride a horse, handle a gun, and insists on wearing gaudy chaps that show his butt to the whole world.

Let me recount some of the unenforced errors I believe Trumptin has made. You may agree or disagree. I am not trying to persuade you to think like I do. I’ve been wrong many times, and learned early that it was wise to stay in earshot of the smartest people around, shamelessly borrowing their ideas to blend with my own. I always tried to give credit for the things that were not mine, but I probably didn’t protest enough when undeserved praise was coming my way. Again, my objective is not for you to agree, but to get you to think more about the serious challenges we face entering 2018.

1) A conscious decision to abdicate our world leadership role tops my list. As Richard Haass rightly notes this is unprecedented. Leadership has been lost in war, economic disruptions, and the rise of new powers, but never thrown away like an old shoe. We may have to pay dearly before Trumptin, and those who agree with him, realize what they have done, and the dangers to our military, political, and economic interests they have created.

2) Trumptin’s second error stems from this same mindset. If we don’t have a world leadership responsibility, do we really need the Department of State? The rookie president appoints a rookie secretary of state that accepts a budget so low that many important programs will be gutted. Not satisfied, he runs off several generations of our best and brightest. Such actions endanger the civilian/diplomatic influence in national security decision making, something that every president in modern times as insisted upon. It is unclear whether Trumptin did this purposefully to upset the balance in decision-making, or is just another instance of his lack of qualifications to be commander-in-chief.
3) This has also led to the third error, an over reliance on the military and the use of force. I spent 10 years in the Army and another 4 at the Pentagon. Anyone who thinks that I don’t have the highest respect for the military services and the people that are responsible for protecting our ass 24/7, simply doesn’t know me. But, a president who has shown clear authoritarian tendencies appointing a retired General to head the Pentagon, one that required a waiver from the Congress to qualify, followed by putting a retired General at Home Land Security, and ending up with a retired General as the National Security Advisor, who had to be replaced almost immediately by an active duty General, is unprecedented. Considered along with what has happened at the Department of State, I think even the most avid supporters of the military must admit that Trumptin’s reliance on “his generals” may not be healthy.
4) Then there is North Korea. Under Trumptin it has changed from a complex and perilous problem to one that will inevitability require a major war: A conflict that will put millions of people at risk. I say inevitable because that's where Trumptin’s demands lead us. I learned early on from Senator Glenn that great nations don't bluff. They say what they mean, and they do what they say. If the president truly believes that he must denuclearize the Korean Peninsula he will have no other recourse than doing it by force. I don't know of a single reputable North Korean specialist who believes that Pyongyang will willingly give up its nuclear deterrent. The only exception might be us being prepared to give up our nukes as part of the bargain. Good luck with that.
5) His threatening to use force in North Korea and elsewhere is another error in judgment. Given his rudimentary knowledge of the Constitution, and how the American government works, I hope his advisors are reminding him that he can't start a war just because he wants to. He should also understand that a nuclear test or even the test launch of an ICBM do not constitute acts of war, or for that matter even solid grounds for a Tonkin Gulf-like resolution. Let's hope that he also appreciates before initiating a conflict far more demanding than the Iraq war, that he must gain the unambiguous support of the American people, and formal congressional approval. If he is smart, he will also seek the support of the UN Security Council. I have a hard time believing that he is thought much about any of these things.
6) The president had barely moved into the Oval Office when he decided to give China a strategic advantage in East Asia. It doesn't matter whether you like or dislike TPP withdrawing from it only helps Beijing, disadvantage American businessman, and require the next president to start all over again. It was the first tipoff to our allies in the region that maybe trusting in America was not the smartest choice.
7) The president proving that he had more foolish things up his sleeve broadcast to all world leaders allies and adversaries alike that the key to manipulate him was to kiss his ass. The list of leaders who had his number is long, starting with the Japanese Prime Minister, Chinese President Xi, Putin, the Saudis, and virtually everyone else. It took a few months, but the Republicans in the Congress decided to engage in their own bit of bowing and scraping. Every time I see Trumptin and the vice president together I keep expecting Pence to kneel down and kiss the president’s ring. If you ask me, the whole mafia boss treatment Trumptin gets is kind of creepy.
8) I can't forget to put the decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on my list. I suspect Trumptin thinks that he has done something good for Israel. I don't see it that way. Indeed, I think his actions make it more likely that the only option left is a one state solution. Hopefully, this would lead to a more democratic Israel, but it might also increase the possibility of something like a South African apartheid taking hold. Any president who didn't care about the consequences of his actions could have moved the embassy long ago, but it took Trumptin to say, “Hell with the complications”. It will make me look good.
9) What does Trumptin have against our European allies. If he continues to spit in the eye of our friends long enough, the world can become a lonely place. I guess as long as people say good things to him he won’t realize the difference, just the rest of us.
10) I could go on and on, but 2018 would be over before I could complete my list. Let me end with the wall and the Muslim ban. Border security is a legitimate concern, but the wall is simply a $18 billion trophy for Trumptin’s ego, and the Muslim ban is proof positive that he doesn’t have a clue about terrorism. We got lucky that he likes to play golf more than being President of the United States. Since he didn’t have time to do both, he turned terrorism over to those who do.

Just Saying.
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Representative Francis Rooney, (R-FL, 19th District)
HAVE THE INMATES TAKEN OVER THE ASYLUM?
Who is this Congressman Rooney from Florida anyway? His comments on TV make him out to be a nut case at best, or worse someone who should know better, but still makes outrageous accusations knowing they are false. “Purge” the FBI of any career officials who are not big fans of President Trumptin? To hear him tell it the “Deep State”, whatever that is, has grasped control of both the Mueller Investigation, and the FBI. Sounds to me that he’s forgotten that he is living in America not some third world dictatorship. If Mueller finds that the President is innocent of any wrong doing, I bet Mr. Rooney will quickly change his tune about those he believes are biased against the President. I can hear him now telling everyone who will listen that even an investigation dominated by liberals and democrats had found the President not guilty; end of story. Sounds to me, however, that the RHINOS are deeply worried there is something there. Everyday despite their best efforts, the President seems determined to provide all the evidence Mueller needs for charging him with obstruction.

How do his pals like Rooney get elected to Congress? Somebody please tell me. I suppose it was the same way he became a diplomat, he bought a couple of years at the Holy See with political contributions. Statesman he is not. Once he was called on his talk of purges and the “deep state” by the media and began back tracking, he still ended up near where he had started. Responding to CNN with, “I think they probably ought to push him out the door.” Well, I hope the people in the 19
th District of Florida take his advice and push Representative Rooney out the door, not in a purge, but a democratic election. That’s how we do it in America. Those like the Congressman who are undermining our democratic institutions have forgotten what America stands for, and should they continue their attacks everything we have accomplished as a people and a nation are at risk. He does not deserve the honor of representing the people of his district. He surely can’t claim he is a patriot. He wouldn’t recognize a patriot even if he ran into one.

Don’t tread on me.

Just saying.

P.S. Even President Trumptin’s most ardent supporters must admit that that his chances of being considered by historians as “… the greatest presidency that we’ve seen not only in generations, but maybe ever …” as suggested by Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT) are slim to none. Someone please give the senator a biography of Abraham Lincoln or Ronald Reagan. Maybe the greatest ever? You have to be kidding me. The inmates have truly taken over the asylum.
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Representative Francis Rooney, (R-FL, 19th District)
HAVE THE INMATES TAKEN OVER THE ASYLUM?
Who is this Congressman Rooney from Florida anyway? His comments on TV make him out to be a nut case at best, or worse someone who should know better, but still makes outrageous accusations knowing they are false. “Purge” the FBI of any career officials who are not big fans of President Trumptin? To hear him tell it the “Deep State”, whatever that is, has grasped control of both the Mueller Investigation, and the FBI? Sounds to me that he’s forgotten that he is living in America not some third world dictatorship. If Mueller finds that the President is innocent of any wrong doing, I bet Mr. Rooney will quickly change his tune about those he believes are biased against the President. I can hear him now telling everyone who will listen that even an investigation dominated by liberals and democrats had found the President not guilty; end of story. Sounds to me, however, that the RHINOS are deeply worried there is something there. Everyday despite their best efforts, the President seems determined to provide all the evidence Mueller needs for a charging him with obstruction.

How do his pals like Rooney get elected to Congress? Somebody please tell me. I suppose it was the same way he became a diplomat, he bought a couple of years at the Holy See with political contributions. Statesman he is not. Once he was called on his talk of purges and the “deep state” by the media and began back tracking, he still ended up near where he had started. Responding to CNN with, “I think they probably ought to push him out the door.” Well, I hope the people in the 19
th District of Florida take his advice and push Representative Rooney out the door, not in a purge, but a democratic election. That’s how we do it in America. Those like the Congressman who are undermining our democratic institutions have forgotten what America stands for, and should they continue their attacks everything we have accomplished as a people and a nation are at risk. He does not deserve the honor of representing the people of his district. He surely can’t claim he is a patriot. He wouldn’t recognize a patriot even if he ran into one.

Don’t tread on me.

Just saying.

P.S. Even President Trumptin’s most ardent supporters must admit that that his chances of being considered by historians as “… the greatest presidency that we’ve seen not only in generations, but maybe ever …” as suggested by Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT) are slim to none. Someone please give the senator a biography of Abraham Lincoln or Ronald Reagan. Maybe the greatest ever? You have to be kidding me. The inmates have truly taken over the asylum.
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My Rouge's Gallery of RHINOs

I’m tired of being ashamed that I am a Republican. A bunch of politicians calling themselves Republicans have appeared on the scene saying and doing things that undermine the rule of law, the constitution, and our democracy itself. I want no part of them and what they are doing to our country. In my mind they are republicans in name only — RHINOS —who I believe should be culled from the herd. By their words and actions they do not deserve to call themselves Republicans. Hence, I am forming my own rouge’s gallery of RHINOs, people who do not speak for me or my party. They are figuratively dead to me. These are my top six. Unfortunately, I expect the list to grow.
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Who is Brave and Who is Cynical?
I hope the American people think twice before they follow our supreme leader into the more authoritarian country he seems to prefer. The last time I checked President Trump did not serve in the US military. I heard there was something about his feet or maybe it was his small hands, I don't know. But as a veteran, I feel disrespected by his antics over some young men in the NFL kneeling during the national anthem. It suggests to me that he may not understand that the flag is just a piece of cloth, and that the national anthem is only a song. What is important about both of them is what they stand for--freedom and justice for all. You may agree or disagree with the players kneeling down, but the point they're trying to make is that we as a people, we as a country, are not living up in all respects to what our flag and our national anthem are trying to tell us. I know that the people who voted for President Trump love this country as much as I do. They love their flag. They love the national anthem. If only I felt the same way about President Trump.

His using these sacred symbols in a political gambit makes me think he either doesn't know what these symbols stand for, or doesn't care. His past behavior suggests that it is the latter. Anything that helps him with his base must be good. Me. Me. Me. The game he is playing this time, however, uses our patriotism in the most cynical of ways. Don’t be fooled. Remember folks, although I wouldn't do it, the Supreme Court has ruled that you can actually burn the American flag. I think that's stupid, but the court's ruling is proof positive we live in the land of the free, even when we think the actions taken are wrong or ugly. Please keep in mind that if we find ourselves living in a country where those brave young men can't kneel during the national anthem, we should take it as a warning sign. A warning that we are living in a country that is no longer free.

Unfortunately, I think the point the players are trying to make is valid and something all of us should be concerned about. While I'm not particularly happy about their choosing the flag and the national anthem to make that point, I am much angrier that the President of the United States would close his eyes, or maybe not even care about the message these young men are trying to send to all of us for a headline or two. Where are we heading when the President makes a fuss about a football game for political gain? his actions thus far make me begin to wonder if his slogan, “Making America Great Again,” might not involve a return to some sort of second Jim Crow era. An exaggeration, maybe? I certainly hope and pray I'm wrong.

“O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”


Just saying.

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Surprised but Pleased
Growing up in Arkansas my grandmother taught me to call a spade a spade -- she liked to play poker – but her intention was to remind me that you always tell the truth even when it hurts. This is a reference to her practice of requiring me to select my own switch from her yard when I did something bad. Well that’s the way I feel about President Trump this morning. I have been dumping on him for months, complaining about everything he did and said.
 
Last night the President surprised me. I don’t know if the strategy he has laid out for South Asia will work. Knocking down a hornets’ nest in Pakistan might certainly sting us more than the strategy anticipates. But it was a bold move, and may turn out to be one of the necessary steps in achieving some forward movement. I would certainly like to be a fly on the wall in Islamabad about now. I’ve got my fingers crossed.
 
Especially important to me was the part of the presentation when President Trump admitted his instincts had been wrong on Afghanistan. As best as I can tell it is the first time he has done something like that on anything. Some may label it a flip flop, but I disagree. His admission suggests to me that he has accepted that he can’t do it all himself. He needs help. I also see hints that he has begun to realize there is a limit on how much he can delegate to others. Anything requiring a change of direction -- in this case a strategy, can only be made by the President. That’s not micromanaging. It is what Presidents do. They set goals and objectives. Subordinates prepare a detailed plan requiring Presidential approval. Trying to tell the experts how to implement the details is where the micromanaging comes in.
 
It was also the first change in direction that signaled an orderly national security policy existed in this White House. I think we have General Kelly, the National Security Advisor, and the Secretary of Defense to thank. Kudos to all. Past history suggests for them this may rank as one of their greatest accomplishments. I’m especially pleased that the President listened to the people around him who know what they are doing. Now, if he would only give the State Department something to do, we would be getting closer to a return to a normal way of formulating national security policy. Good.
 
Just saying.
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