Father’s Day

June 18, 2018

A friend of mine once told me that no matter what anyone ever tells you, you will never be prepared for how your life will change when you have a child. That observation is so true. I’m not necessarily talking about how it changes decisions on how we spend our time, our money and other aspects of lifestyle. Being a father to children causes a fundamental shift in how we see and relate to the world. We become less dismissive of bad behavior and bad jokes. It changes choices of where we eat, the movies we watch, and the minutia of life that we never thought twice about previously. We begin to think more, and about different things. We become more concerned with issues like education, ongoing wars, and other events in the wider world.

Above all else, becoming a father shifts our focus from being egocentric to relating to the world in terms of how events affect other people, especially our own children. It also compels a sense of urgency to change the world for the better and to build a better future. And it’s a permanent change. The focus, the care and the responsibility doesn’t end when they become independent adults either. If anything, it causes more angst because the day to day contact ends and you always wonder how they are doing. It doesn’t change either when they have their own children. That just means it starts all over again for you with the grandchildren. There’s no denying that being a good father is a burden and a daily challenge, but it is a burden of love that rewards you more than your children.

This Father’s Day I am grateful for my children, and also grateful for how fatherhood has made me a better human being. And so, if you are planning on having children think twice because no matter how much you think about it and prepare for it, you have no idea…


The Swampiness Gets Swampier

June 18, 2018

New York’s Attorney General filed a lawsuit today against the Trump Foundation, alleging the Foundation violated numerous laws regulating “charitable” Foundations, IRS and State tax violations, Campaign Finance Law violations and self-dealing. This is one of an accumulating number of legal problems involving corruption with the self-declared swamp drainer, including the following:

  • Trump Inaugural Committee: The Committee raised over $107 million to pay for the Inauguration celebrations, and still has not provided an accounting for over $38 million. The money just disappeared.
  • Trump Hotel/Emolument Clause Violations: The Trump hotel profited over $3 million in its first year while most other D.C. hotels showed no profits, and two went bankrupt. Foreign dignitaries hoping to curry favor (or at least an appointment) with Trump know to book rooms and events at the Hotel. The Emolument Clause was written precisely to avoid this type of situation.
  • Payments to women to cover-up extra-marital affairs alleged to have violated Campaign Finance Laws and involving money from foreign donors.

Scott Pruitt is a walking corruption machine, with 15 formal investigations directed at him at last count. He may soon be following in the resignation perp walk with other Trump Cabinet members such as Tom Price (HHS) and Gary Cohn (NEC) for financial wrongdoing. Add to them the special White House advisers DJ Gribbin, John McEntee, Rob Porter and Keith Schiller, along with Flynn Senior and Junior, and you have more people being forced to resign/fired for corruption or scandal in the first year of Trump’s Presidency than in the 8 years of Obama. No wonder Walter Shaub, the Government Ethics Chief resigned.

During the transition Trump announced that they were asking every US Attorney to resign (except notably NY District’s Preet Bharara who was later fired for refusing to stop a Trump-related investigation).  This is a norm for every new Administration and nearly all AGs are usually retained. What was not normal was that Trump also announced that they wanted every Inspector General to resign so he could replace them with loyalists. That move was blocked by Congress. IGs are like Federal Judges in the sense that once appointed and approved they stay until they choose to retire. IGs are combination auditors and investigators who are charged with investigating the investigators. They are people nominated and approved because they have not only impeccable professional credentials, but also unquestioned ethics. And they are busier than ever right now…

Maybe after the full and formal indictment of Trump’s fixer (people who aren’t criminals don’t need a fixer) Cohen is announced we will discover all the swamp draining did was reveal the swamp monster – and how does he maintain that tan in the swamp?

We Can Do Business with Them

June 14, 2018

President Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, defended the indefensible suggestion that Russia be re-admitted back to the G6 by inadvertently invoking an historic phrase from WWII. While virtually all of the allies cringed with loathing at the suggestion (Italy initially said Russia should be readmitted once they abandon occupation of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine). Trump made the suggestion on the very same day that the head of the National Security Counsel testified to Congress that was Russia was actively planning to interfere with the mid-term elections. The suggestion led to some terse responses from other world leaders. France’s Premier pointed out that values and principles should be upheld. Britain’s Prime Minister pointed out that Russia not only invaded to countries but has also attacked her Country’s elections and laws as well. Germany said that it does not reward countries who have and are still attacking German elections (ouch!).

Kudlow, argued that principles were secondary to business and inadvertently (I assume) paraphrased Stalin’s justification for the pact with Hitler at the onset of WWII! Stalin told his comrades that Germany was a world leader and they could “do business” with Hitler. We all know how that ended. Britain’s Prime Minister Chamberlain also thought he could make a deal with Hitler and left British woefully unprepared for the start of WWII. Putin knows his history and uses it to his advantage.

Trump and his compatriots are certainly used to dealing with thugs and criminals – as one former Trump attorney said you don’t need a fixer with good guys, you do when you deal with the mob. However, making deals with mob run construction trades in New York City is not the same as geopolitics. The real currency in politics is power, not money. Appeasing Putin will have the same result as appeasement has had in history. No wonder Europeans suggest that Trump is a better advocate for Russian interests than western democracies.

Oh … Canada!

June 13, 2018

No one should be that surprised with the news of Trump’s temper tantrum and personal attacks on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. News pundits wonder at what prompted the all out attack by Trump and his top aids, but I know the real cause. It seemed to be an irrational and disproportionate response to a relatively benign statement from Trudeau on the disagreement over tariffs. Some speculate that Trump didn’t want to appear passive prior to the summit with Kim (not Kardashian). Some speculate that he was only appealing to his base (especially farmers who have the most to lose with a trade war).  But its the personal nature of the attack is the clue that leads me to the real reason.

Prior to the G6 Summit, Trump went out of his way to antagonize allies and in so doing, simply reinforced the world’s concept of him as simply ignorant. Trump seemed to have a particular thing against the Canadians. He claimed that the Canadians burned down the White House in the War of 1812, and also claimed the equally false claim that we have a trade deficit with Canada, Trudeau in particular. Once there in Quebec, the Canadian media highlighted several uncomplimentary issues about Trump. For example, it was pointed out that Trudeau was clearly taller than Trump, although Trump’s physical exam indicated that Trump was 2 inches taller than the Canadian Prime Minister. The speculation was that the extra inches in height (and adjustments to weight) were just enough to put Trump out of the range of being classified “obese”. As Marco Rubio learned, its not good to point out Trump’s physical shortcomings. However, the real topper was an article pointing out that Trudeau could hardly hold back laughing out loud as he presented a gift picture of the Hotel Trump’s grandfather owned that was used as a bordello back in the day. While Trump took the gift seriously and Sarah Huckabee-Sanders Tweeted how nice a gesture it was and how well the relationship was going. It became apparent that they had been fooled the morning Trump abruptly left. Apparently stewing on Air Force One, he issued the salvo of harsh, personal attacks.

Of course, behavior like this from anyone, let alone the President is not only irrational, it is also contrary to the welfare of the Country. It is totally consistent with his mental illness. Malignant Narcissists respond with rage whenever they feel slighted personally. The younger (and taller) Trudeau is sophisticated, educated and very popular. He got along very well with Mrs. Trump, and the dance they had together during his last visit led to some very poorly disguised snickers from the other guests (Melania reportedly had just refused to dance with Trump). If this explanation is accurate, then it highlights how dangerous Trump can be with the slightest of slights. It kind of reminds us of… the Great Leader.



Hmmmmm… National Security

June 12, 2018

What do they know that we don’t know? When you consider the list of the most senior members of the Country’s national security structures – National Security Adviser, NSA Directors and CIA Directors – who have been warning Americans of the danger of the actions of Trump, it’s really worrisome. These are men who have served Republican as well as Democratic Presidents. They are men who have NEVER spoken publicly even when they disagreed with policy actions, who are now very publicly speaking out. Here’s a partial list of men who have been sounding alarms about Trump:

Former National Security Advisers: Poindexter, Powell, Scowcroft, Rice. The only former National Security Adviser who has not been critical of Trump has been Flynn, a Trump appointee and now convicted and cooperating witness on the Russian Probe.

Former NSA Directors: Hayden, Rogers, Alexander.

Former CIA Directors: Gates, Woolsey, Tenet.

Together, these men have led the intelligence gathering apparatus since 1985. All of them have been publicly critical, even alarming in their comments and none of them have ever gone public before in their criticism of an existing President. Of course, Trumpanzies will start jumping around and blabbering about the “Secret State”, a secret society that apparently has been responsible for running the Country for decades (along with the Masons and Illuminati).  Foreign intelligence agencies have already begun to scale back sharing intelligence with us. What do they know?

It makes you wonder.

A Day to Remember Leaders and Leadership

June 11, 2018

June 6th is one of those dates when so much history was made that it causes us to pause. The anniversary of D-Day is really the anniversary of the beginning of the American Century. American-led forces were tasked with the most difficult beaches to take in Normandy and then spearheaded the breakout into France and eventually into Germany. General Eisenhower had managed for two years to keep a coalition of allies united and focused on the goal of winning the war. He put out dozens of inter-Nicene fights, and he faced constant personal and professional attacks from politicians from half a dozen countries and the not infrequent back stabbing from his own allied staff. It was an historic display of real leadership – political as well as military. He managed it through his strength of character: determination, humility that put cause before ego, tireless work and a willingness to listen and change his mind. He famously wrote a letter in the event the invasion failed taking all the blame.

Eisenhower’s character remained in evidence even after he was elected President. On the anniversary of D-Day, President Eisenhower would retreat to Camp David and refuse media interviews because he said he wanted the credit for the victory to be focused on the men who fought and died on the beaches.

June 6this also the anniversary of Robert Kennedy’s assassination. He also had a strength of character that allowed him to be an historic leader. He had the same quality of humility as Eisenhower as well. A humility that allowed him to listen to opponents and to change his views that created a remarkable ability to make a difference. His courage was another attribute that he shared with Eisenhower and other historic leaders. He chose to deliver a speech in South Africa against Apartheid, and to face a crowd with people prepared to riot and announced the death of Martin Luther King Jr. He single handedly prevented a riot, showing the power of real leadership to make a difference.

Both men spent their entire adult lives serving the country – in the military and in politics. Both men proved their leadership by uniting people for a common purpose.

They are a remarkable contrast to the current President who shamefully displayed his lack of leadership on the front lawn of the White House yesterday. A man who dodged the draft to avoid service to the Country, using a fake reason to divide Americans and hiding behind the flag. He didn’t even know the words to “God Bless America”! A man who can never admit a mistake, let alone take responsibility for his actions, Trump is in may ways the anti-leader – a man who holds power by dividing people.

How would Ike and Bobby handled the day (other than never generate a fake controversy in the first place)? My guess is that they would have had a meeting with the players, listened to the concerns they had, solicit solutions for a way forward. Leaders unite people and solve problems.

Roseanne and “Teaching Moments”

June 6, 2018

Many historians, sociologists, academics and many Americans consider slavery to be our “Original Sin”. Slavery and the legacy of slavery has certainly been a chronic problem and enduring stain on our national conscience. It has left generations of Americans with a reflexive and mostly unconscious racism. We see it every day in the form of people crossing the street to avoid a group of black teens, suspicion of a black person who seems “out of place”. We hear about in in the news when the police are called to investigate a black family barbequing in a public park, or moving into their own apartment or sleeping in a college dorm common area.

Unconscious racism is an enduring problem, we have to work at recognizing it and feel embarrassed when we do it. What we are seeing now in the Trump era is an unapologetic racism. Roseanne Barr’s Tweet was vile and overtly racist, but she is only the most recent example. Trump’s own speech is racist and unapologetic and anyone attending a Trump rally will hear dozens of comments that would make Roseanne blush.

Not all Trump supporters are racist, but apparently all Trump supporters tolerate racism, because I have yet to ever hear one criticize him for any bigoted rant or action. All racism is rooted in fear and expressed with hate. There are different levels of racism, and certainly unconscious biases while hurtful are not hateful. Overt racism is hateful – and dangerous. If we fail to speak out against the overt racism encouraged by Trump then we enable and encourage hatred. This is a truth that all Trump supporters should recognize.