Tuesday, May 16, 2017

An Adminstration and President in Dysfunctional Free Fall

Sadly, it's not surprising that, in the aftermath of the Washington Post's article chronicling Trump's disclosure of highly sensitive and classified information to Russian officials, the White House response is to immediately focus on the disloyalty of the source of the leak to the Post rather than on the implications of jeopardizing the viability and safety of a valuable intelligence partner. Moreover, this ill-advised breech of protocol and security renders as problematic any future relationship with a hard wrought intelligence asset while also giving information to a government with motives and intentions often in conflict with our own objectives in Syria and elsewhere.

Indeed, the presence of such a disclosure from within the White House is evidence of serious concern and growing mistrust within the ranks at a rather high level. In spite of this internal warning, once again we see deflection, evasion, and obfuscation employed in lieu of accountability, clarity, and responsible statesmanship by an administration and a president experiencing implosion and free fall created and propelled by their own dysfunctional hand.

Friday, May 12, 2017

An Unfortunate Combination of Arrogance and Stupidity

It's difficult to determine whether if it was an act of extreme arrogance or just garden variety stupidity (or perhaps an unhealthy combination of the two) that led to the decision to host the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador in the White House yesterday and allow it to devolve into a photo session which was well covered by Tass for worldwide distribution. In any case, but especially amid the current tumult and controversy regarding the possible collusion between the Trump administration and the Russian government not only involving the 2016 election but also with respect to the future development and possession of Russian petroleum resources, it is cringeworthy to see our president being played by Putin like a finely tuned Stradivarius to a standing ovation in Moscow.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Brian Williams and Lost Irony

Still attempting to unpack the layers of irony implicit in MSNBC's Brian Williams invocation of a Leonard Cohen lyric ('I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons', from First We Take Manhattan) as he glowingly described the recent US missile attack on a Syrian airfield. Not only was the irony of Cohen's original poem completely lost on the awestruck Williams but he then further compounds the farce by giving a literal reference to the poetic line when applying it to the film footage of the missiles' flight pattern. At this moment, my guess is that Leonard sat up from his grave, gave an ironic nod to the hapless mortal, and gently lowered his head.

Monday, April 3, 2017

The War Is Over

Did you hear the latest?; it came in a dream, delivered by an echo of Phil Ochs; the mindless repetition of murderous folly in our endless war against terror is, at last, over! To this day, the echoes remain: 'pardon me if I refrain'!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Judiciary and The Federalist Society's Vision

As we focus our attention on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court we also might want to remember that at least one hundred and twenty federal judgeships are set to be filled by this new president.

It is also useful to recall that these vacancies were a result of the concerted efforts by the Republican controlled Congress to block, stall, and otherwise prevent a significant number of Obama appointees from their fair hearing and eventual seating. As Eric Lipton has chronicled in his work with The NY Times, this persistent stonewalling was inspired and supported by the Federalist Society under the direction of Leonard Leo and the substantial underwriting of the Koch Brothers. Not coincidentally, the current nominee for the Supreme Court is a long standing member of this organization whose stated purpose, among other things, is to promote an agenda featuring the elimination of governmental regulation and the reduction of federal intervention into the activity of the private sector. Exercising it's influence through judicial appointments is essential to the Federalists vision of radically limiting the scope of the federal government while advocating a laissez fairer attitude with respect to the affairs of private business and 'free market' forces.

Trumps cabinet and advisory appointments have also reflected this ideological trend. Scott Pruitt's placement as the head of the EPA was preceded by a thorough vetting by Leo and earlier by the late Antonin Scalia and Justice Thomas, both of whom were and are Federalist Society members. Another devotee to this ever influential organization and chief advisor to DJT is Steve Bannon who has orchestrated the philosophical direction of this administration from the beginning and further underscores the decidedly conservative tendency toward an austere and constricted concept of governmental purview. Indeed, Steve Bannon has taken it a step further by publicly declaring his intention to 'deconstruct the administrative state'. He also ominously stated that early efforts at deregulation were only the beginning when he invoked a baseball analogy by saying 'we are only in the top of the first'. While Bannon, Gorsuch, Leo, and the Federalist Society are currently enjoying their moment in the field of play, we can be emboldened by the fact that the rank and file of a newly politically active people in this rapidly evolving and diverse nation will ultimately bat last!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Meals on Wheels and What It Means To Be An American

When considering the recent White House proposal to discontinue certain programs as a 'waste of resources', allow me to remind my brethren that Meals on Wheels is one of the most successful, partly government-sponsored programs in this country serving those who would otherwise be compromised without it.

It really becomes a matter of who we decide to be as a nation...a caring, compassionate, and thoughtful people whose goal it is to provide for the common good; or rather, a self-interested, greedy, and indifferent society dedicated to self-preservation, the perpetuation of a 'zero-sum' mentality and the sanctity of the bottom line.

The Beneficence of Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan's claim that under the new health care plan people will now have the free choice to pick any plan they might desire is a bit like telling the average middle class person that  purchasing a house in San Francisco is merely a matter of personal preference and really has nothing to do with its affordability. Furthermore, when that same person has saved enough through the ensuing years in order to actually afford the minimal down payment on that house on the hill, he is then told that there will be a 30% surcharge on the property because he was not sufficiently wealthy or, for whatever reason, was disinclined to purchase it in the first place.

In the meantime, further up the hill, the privileged few who benefited most from the near $150 billion in tax relief over the next decade will look down in satisfaction as they revue their now inflated savings account balance.

Speaker Ryan will have to find a way to excuse that middle class voter for not giving thanks for the Republican leader's magnanimity and largess as the medical bills increase and his tenuous hold on middle class status rapidly disintegrates.