Monthly Archives: July 2018

They Did It My Way


Related imageSunday afternoon, America was treated to the latest barrage of venom directed at special counsel Robert Mueller by Donald Trump.  Tweet One, posted at 3:35 p.m., could have been labeled Trump’s greatest hits.  No collusion!  Witchhunt!  Fraudulent dossier!  Angry Democrats! Illegal scam!  But it was Tweet Two, posted at 4:12 p.m., which reminds us not what the liar-in-chief does, but how he reaches each and every one of his inaccurate conclusions.

Is Robert Mueller ever going to release his conflicts of interest with respect to President Trump, including the fact that we had a very nasty & contentious business relationship, I turned him down to head the FBI (one day before appointment as S.C.) & Comey is his close friend..

Donald Trump believes everyone on earth behaves in the same manner as he would in a similar circumstance.  All you need to do is parse the 480 characters in the above tweet.

  • Robert Mueller must have conflicts of interest because I have conflicts of interest.
  • Robert Mueller must have “nasty and contentious business relationships” because my business landscape is littered with nasty and contentious relationships.
  • Robert Mueller is seeking revenge because I did not make him FBI director (assuming Mueller would have ever taken the job if offered) because I want revenge every time someone does not give me what I want.
  • Robert Mueller defines friendship in terms of loyalty which includes protecting one another at all costs because that is what I expect of my close friends.

The nature of this diatribe should come as no surprise.  From day one of his campaign, projecting his own personal failings on others has been the primary modus operandus in Trump world.  At the top of the list was his charge Hillary Clinton and the Democrats were trying to rig the election when his campaign was doing exactly that.

Some media outlets have picked up on this, but only in the realm of politics.  What is becoming more clear every day is Trump approaches both foreign and domestic policy from the same perspective.  Assume for argument sake the Trump/Putin relationship is not dependent on Russian money to finance Trump properties or kompromat.  Does anyone truly believe Trump would not still have an affinity for the Russian dictator?  Trump would admire Putin simply because he runs his country in much the same fashion as Trump ran his business.  Staffed by family and friends.  No transparency.  Loyalty based on fear.  Putin runs Russia the way Trump used to run his organization and the way he wishes he could, and in some instances tries to, run the United States.

Which brings me to the latest example where Trump again used his “my way” mentality to justify that which is unjustifiable, the failure to comply with a court order to reunify ALL of the parents and children separated as a result of the Trump/Sessions zero-tolerance policy.  U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw set a July 27 deadline for reunification of the approximately 2,500 affected families.  Late Friday, the Trump administration declared “mission accomplished” although there were only 1,440 documented cases of reunification.

How is this possible?  The administration claimed approximately 650 children (according to a report by NBC’s Jacob Soboroff and Julia Ainsley) were “ineligible” for reunification.  Where had we heard that before?  In response to lawsuits filed by unpaid or underpaid contractors, Trump lawyers argued the workers were not entitled to payment often based on technicalities or inaccurate interpretations of the work orders.  Therefore, Trump had no obligation to comply with the contracts on which the contested payments were based.  Just as Trump claims he was an ethical business man (if you just ignore the thousands of people he scammed and the promises he broke), he now asks us to discount the yet uncoupled parents and children who do not fit his falsely congratulatory pat on the back for meeting Judge Sabraw’s deadline.

In the spirit of Paul Anka’s lyrics to the Frank Sinatra classic, “My Way,” we can only hope:

And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain…

For what it’s worth,


A Bushel And A Pecker


Sometimes Donald Trump tells the truth.  The problem, of course, is that he lies so often and so much Americans tend to tune him out.  But this past week, it has been hard to ignore the harsh reality there were occasions during the 2016 presidential race voters and the media should have paid more attention.  Consider the following two examples.

  • At the Republic National Convention, contrary to the GOP mantra since the party’s inception that America success depends on faith in and the collective effort of its people, Trump declared, “I am your voice.  I alone can fix it.”
  • On October 27, 2016 at the opening of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.  at which he claimed the project had come in “under budget and ahead of schedule,” the future White House occupant told those in attendance, “Today is a metaphor for what we can accomplish for this company.”  In other words, Trump asserted he was going to run the federal government like he ran his private enterprises.

There should be no doubt Trump honestly believes he is smarter than everyone else in the room.  He ignored his staff’s briefing materials provided before the NATO summit and decided to go it alone with Vladimir Putin.  He invited Putin to the White House without informing, much less consulting with, many of his national security advisors.  He imposed tariffs launching a trade war which may result in long-term realignments in global markets leaving the United States on the sidelines.

Yet it is the second example which so clearly came into focus the past 48 hours.  And it did not matter whether the topic was moral turpitude or trade policy.  There is one, and only one, modus operandi which underpins every transaction in which Donald Trump is involved.  Regardless of the size or composition of the nail, Trump reverts to the same hammer over and over again, paying someone to go away.

We now know, in at least two cases, Trump and/or his supporters paid hush money to women with whom he allegedly (you can stop laughing now) had affairs to buy their silence until after the 2016 election.  At least, in these instances, the payments consisted of Trump’s own funds or those of a private donor (i.e. David Pecker, CEO of American Media).

In contrast, since taking office, Trump now has a new source of funds to silence potential critics:  American taxpayers.  Consider yesterday’s announcement by Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross the administration has allocated $12 billion of trade adjustment funds to compensate farmers for the unnecessary pain they are experiencing due to Trump’s ill-advised tariffs.  Make no mistake.  This is HUSH money.  The purpose: to placate farm state voters until after the November mid-terms.

Twelve billion dollars may seem like a lot of money, but if as predicted, foreign buyers of American beef, pork and soybeans start relying on non-U.S. suppliers, this down payment is only a drop in the bushel.   It is no different from the payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal with two MAJOR exceptions.  You and I are footing the bill.  And it is not a one-time outlay.  After the mid-terms, additional outlays will be required if impacted farms are expected to make ends meet.  But no one should be surprised if public sector Trump treats farmers the same way private sector Trump handled contractors.  Can you spell “stiffed?”

Regardless of whether the issue is conspiracies to silence Trump’s paramours or a future where the Heartland is littered with fallow farmland, don’t expect me to remind you, “I told you so.”  No need.  HE told you so.

For what it’s worth.


HEAD Coach


University of North Carolina football coach Larry Fedora is under fire.  During an interview at the ACC media day in Charlotte, he questioned the relationship between chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and football.

I don’t think it’s been proven that the game of football causes CTE.  We don’t really know that. Are there chances for concussions? Of course. There are collisions. But the game is safer than it’s ever been.

Image result for larry fedoraI guess Coach Fedora did not read the article in the Journal of the American Medical Association in which the Boston University CTE Center reported 99 percent of brains obtained from NFL players, 91 percent from college football players and 21 percent of high school players showed effects of CTE.  Or that the NFL has already made over $100 million in payments to affected players in a settlement that may eventually exceed one billion dollars and acknowledges the link between football and CTE.

Despite the public and media backlash, UNC athletic director Bubba (you were expecting something else) Cunningham defended Fedora.  Admitting Fedora’s comments were “poorly communicated,” Cunningham believes the Tar Heels coach has the health and safety of his players at heart saying, “…he’s passionate about protecting these students, he’s passionate about the game of football, it just didn’t come off all that well.”

Yes, Fedora is passionate about football.  In fact, he believes the national security of the United States depends on the sport.  During the Charlotte interview, Fedora shared this concern.

Our game is under attack. I fear the game will be pushed so far from what we know that we won’t recognize it in 10 years. And if it does, our country will go down, too.

Without providing evidence, Fedora claimed,  “The success of the United States military was due, in part, to the number of football player who went on to join the armed forces.”  (Source:, July 18, 2018)

Giving Fedora the benefit of the doubt, I decided to do my own research.  I Googled a number of phrases around the theme “former college football players join armed forces.”  Not one hit.  The first page of on-line related articles suggest the opposite.  Consider the following headlines.

  • Military veterans find a home in college football/
  • Playing college sports after the military/Athletes of Valor
  • Military members find challenge in college football as walk-on players/USA Today
  • From military vet to college football rookie/

It is unclear whether Fedora’s job is in jeopardy.  But just in case, surely there is an institution of higher learning that would welcome a coach who doesn’t believe in science and makes up his own facts.  Too bad for Fedora Trump University did not have an athletic program.

For what it’s worth.


Into the Valley of Dearth


Yesterday, Donald Trump accused Germany of being controlled by the Russians.  More shocking was he did it with a straight face.  Maybe he should finally get that Emmy about which he constantly whines.  To paraphrase Buffalo Springfield, it’s not paranoia but irony that runs deep.

This morning, Trump laid out a broad agenda for his one-on-one meeting with Vladimir Putin.  When asked about Crimea, he focused on construction projects Russia has completed–bridges and a sea port–to solidify its de facto annexation of the region.  He was quick to remind everyone the taking occurred “under Barack Obama’s watch,” but failed to mention the sanctions Obama imposed to punish Russia or the fact that several members of his campaign and administration had done everything in their power to undermine the economic pressure to get Russia to reverse or at least cease its aggression in eastern Ukraine.

Image result for alfred lord tennysonWhich brings me to the title of today’s post, an obvious play on a phrase in Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s ode to military devotion to duty in spite of the odds The Charge of the Light Brigade.  Why this particular poem?  Because it refers to an event during the (drum roll) Crimean War.   Irony does run deep.  The most often quoted lines refer to the arc of enemy artillery into which the British cavalry rode.  Cannons to the right of them, Cannons to the left of them…

Sadly today, such eloquent words would not be reserved for the brave but for those who retreat from duty.  To paraphrase Tennyson, as we face a precarious time in American history when democracy and the rule of law are under siege daily and valor should be the order of the day, we are not surrounded by cannons but cowardice on both the right and the left.

The sins of comission and omission on the right are obvious.  A self-proclaimed “tough guy” in the White House who has become the antithesis of Theodore Roosevelt, talking bigly and carrying a soft stick (if any at all).  Ask former Mexican President  Enrique Peña Nieto how Trump did not even raise his oft-stated demand our southern neighbor pay for his border wall. A chief executive who has yet to tell a subordinate to his or her face, “You’re fired.”  And tomorrow Trump will totally avoid London proper for fear of a 20 foot helium balloon of “Baby Trump” straight out of a Macy’s parade in Bizarro World.

And it does not stop at the White House gates.  The occasions on which the GOP Congress or the religious right have failed to call out the administration for any actions regardless of how racist, xenophobic, cruel, unconstitutional or un-Christian are well documented.  Last week, radio talk show host John Fugelsang challenged a self-identified “hardcore Christian” to quote any Bible verse which would support Trump policies.  The response.  Crickets.

I would not expect anything less from a party that chose the 1964 Civil Rights Act to reinvent itself as the champion of white America.  A less obvious and greater disappointment comes when my own party of choice chooses political expediency over moral imperative.  Two examples.

In 2016, following the death of Antonin Scalia, Obama was given the same opportunity to leave his mark on the Supreme Court Trump enjoys today.  As Eric Levitz points out in a June 28 article in New York Magazine, Obama’s selection of Merrick Garland was a mistake.  Levitz asks us to imagine the outrage if a GOP-controlled Senate had refused to consider, not a moderate white male, but a true progressive and more importantly the first black female justice.  Consider how much more energized liberal, African-American and female voters would have been.  It would have been the cause célèbre for Democratic candidates in November 2016.

Which brings us to the 2018 mid-term elections.  Much is being made of the pressure on Democratic candidates in red states to support the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.  As Parkland students would say, “I call BS.”  Joe Donnelly (Indiana), Joe Manchin (West Virginia), Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota), Doug Jones (Alabama) and John Tester (Montana) all know, in their hearts, Kavanaugh’s confirmation is problematic on many levels.  But they are concerned they need Trump voters to survive in December.

They are half right.  They do need some (not all) of those who voted for Trump, but their approach should not be by supporting bad nominees or policies.  It should rely on their ability to explain to their constituents why they should cast ballots to oppose the Trump and GOP agenda.  How tough is it to convince someone they have or will be laid off because of an unnecessary trade war with our allies as well as our adversaries?  Or that the GOP budget includes major cuts to transfer payments, a major source of income in rural states?  Or that they will once again lose their health insurance as the result of a pre-existing condition?  Or their access to information on the internet will be controlled by those who provide the service?  Or that pro-choice is not pro-abortion?  Or that you honor police and first-responders when you take military-grade weapons out of the hands of those who wish to do them harm?  Or that we can have secure borders without a wall or separating babies and toddlers from their parents?

As I have written on many occasions, legitimate polls, bar none, show the majority of Americans agree with progressives on virtually every major issue facing our country.  If an incumbent Democratic candidate cannot translate those attitudes into votes, perhaps it is time to find someone else who can.  Democratic voters in Queens did exactly that when they chose Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over Joseph Crowley.

For what it’s worth.


Oil and Water


Image result for comedians in cars getting coffeeMuch is being written about “tribal America” and how politics has made people choose the circle in which the stand.  But tribalism has always been a feature of our culture, way before the Age of Trump.  I was reminded of this by a article in yesterday’s Washington Post about the premiere of the new season of Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”  It was not the critic’s take that caught my attention (he thought the show had run its course), but the reader comments.  Much like Seinfeld’s iconic sitcom, many argued you either got it or you did not.

The article took me back in time to an era when my commute from Annapolis to Washington, DC was made easier by listening to pre-SiriusXM Howard Stern.  One morning Stern went on a tirade about “lame Garrison Keillor” and his stupid radio show.  As a regular listener of A Prairie Home Companion I wondered why anyone would think you had to choose between Stern and Keillor.  (NOTE:  You have to appreciate the irony it is GARRISON KEILLOR who has been become a persona non grata as a result of the #metoo movement.)  And as Trevor Noah reminded us, support for Black Lives Matter and police is not a zero-sum game.  Why can’t you do both?

Madison Avenue preys on our natural desire to be absolutists.  You must either drink Coke OR Pepsi.  You listen to the Beatles OR the Rolling Stones.  You use an iPhone or an Android device.  Preference is one thing.  Exclusion is another.  Totally avoiding a restaurant because it does not serve your favored soft drinks seems a big extreme.  And yes, there are people who do that.

You can make a a very good living selling a product to a limited demographic.  By playing to your base, even if it is a minority, you can even swing enough electoral votes to secure 1000+ nights sleeping in the White House.  Guy Kawasaki, a member of the Apple team that created the iMac and now CEO of, reminds us no one can please all of the people all of time.  He counsels clients to build something that garners passion among your customers even if others hate it.  Call it commercial tribalism.  Create passion, not mediocrity.

There is only one problem.  When you become so tethered to one brand you can miss offerings from competitors which are a better fit or are more responsive to your needs.  You may even act in ways that are against you own best interests.  (Ask any soybean farmer in Iowa.) Especially when the brands to which you are already loyal do everything in their power to convince you to stay put.  And their success lies in capturing more from an existing base than broadening their audience.

Maybe what we need is a better metaphor for our times.  It need not be “oil and water” but “oil and vinegar,” something that when combined is a better tasting and healthier topping for the mixed salad America has become.


Tonight we get a chance to see the extent to which Donald Trump is more interested in tribal politics than governing.  Among the four remaining candidates to replace Anthony Kennedy, the most contentious is Amy Coney Barrett.  Trump has been warned by several GOP senators that she might not be confirmed based on her previous rulings and writing related to abortion and legal precedence.  If that is the case, the only reason to pick this fight is to energize Trump’s base in the mid-term elections.   You can hear the campaign spiel now.

The Democrats say we are anti-female.  But who voted against the next woman justice on the Supreme Court?  Democrats believe a woman must be pro-abortion.  This proves it.  The Democrats say she does not feel bound by legal precedence.  But given the chance, they would jump up and down if a liberal Supreme Court overturned Citizens United. A Democrat House and Senate will obstruct everything you voted for in 2016 when you elected me. DON’T LET THAT HAPPEN.  (Hugs the flag.)

I am one of the many who believe a chief executive who may rely on the Supreme Court for decisions related to executive privilege, impeachment or indictment should not pick those who must eventually rule on these issues.  But if the confirmation process goes forward, Trump can either pick the least objectionable of the four finalist (probably Thomas Hardiman) or christen the latest poster child for the culture wars.

You have to admit, you need pretty big pelotas to publicly express the level of racism, xenophobia and sexism Trump spews on a daily basis.  The ballsy chose is Barrett.  That’s where my money is.

For what it’s worth.