Update – Troubles Stack Up Against Pa. Lt. Governor

An update on the earlier post (below). Governor Tom Wolf has stripped Pa. Lt. Governor Mike Stack of his state trooper drivers and protection, plus the full time staff at the official state residence. The Governor gave the word to Stack personally.

These episodes of verbal abuse to troopers and staff by Stack and his wife were admitted to by the Lt. Governor.

I’m sure there will be more to come on this story.

Quick Takes On The Odd Week of Miscues — and A Nod To Pa. AG

Here we go.

Jeff Sessions: Remarks about Hawaii were stupid and a blot on his office. So far AG Sessions has spent too much time on fighting pot, racially-tinged policy, and sounding like he’s bewildered. As the President used to say, “Sad.”

Another Attorney General, Pennsylvania’s Josh Shapiro is on a consumer investigation marathon. His latest bust – the arrests in a two million dollar license plate scam. So far, Shapiro’s office has been extremely professional, outspoken, and how about this, transparent. That’s a good word, isn’t it.

Mike Stack. The Pa. Lt. Governor’s admission of bad behavior with state police was a bit of a surprise to me. It doesn’t sound like the man I’ve known for some years. Now we see more and more leaks out each week. Makes you wonder? Is Governor Wolf  trying to find a replacement for him? Of course, Stack can run independently, and win, but this negative publicity is not good.

For the first time on this page, a nod to the Trump administration reference the Korean situation. Although the President’s tweets are not helpful, his military commanders and Secretary of State have done a good job of scaring the hell out of the North Korean dictator. So far, so good. But we did receive, during an interview I conducted with Congressman Charlie Dent (@KYW NEWSRADIO) word that the Pentagon is moving 50 thousand American troops further south, to avoid possible artillery barrages from the North. Dent is over there on a fact finding mission. On the whole, most Democrats approve of the harsher approach toward North Korea. The only worry: Trump might get his feelings hurt at some moment and do the wrong thing.

New health care bill? DOA in the Senate, even if it passes the House. Mandate for Medicaid recipients to go to work, is meaningless. Many of them simply cannot work. They don’t even have enough money for public transit.

The Ivanka Trump story is fascinating. She is hiring a chief of staff. Now you tell me. Does Ivanka Trump need a chief of staff? Maybe she can hire a chief of staff with her own money from her green light to sell her products in China. That deal doesn’t pass the smell test.

Look for an expanded investigation on the Russian connection. The House Committee now has its act together.

Congressman Jason Chaffetz may leave in the middle of his term. He wants to run for Governor of Utah. But why quit early? He probably just wants to sever ties from the current Washington swampland. The fact is, since the days of George W. Bush, through Obama and now Trumpworld, this has been a do nothing congress. You can’t blame Trump for the sour, frightful and scared leadership of Congress.

Just a note in case you are interested. I’m hosting a forum of the Philly DA candidates sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and the Cozen law firm, 3:30 PM, Mitten Hall at Temple University on May 1.  The public is invited. We know very little about the candidates, and we have little time to find out about them. With Philadelphia’s recent corruption charges and convictions, it would be good to know more. It’s too bad we are getting such a bad rap, because most of our public servants are good and honest people.

Final note: The President’s almost endorsement of French Presidential Candidate Marine Le Pen is bad politics. Le Pen is the closest thing to the brown shirts of the mass murderer Hitler. She could turn France into an inward looking nation and destroy the European alliance. She is the greatest hope of Vladimir Putin, who shows his real hand with his close military jet fly overs near Alaska. Palin said she could see Russia. Now she can head out into the open sea and look to the sky. Le Pen would give Putin the excuse he wants to “fight the fascists” with more of his sordid expansionist views.

 

 

Who Is Donald Trump? The Good, The Bad, The ???? Danger Ahead

First of all, a happy holidays to all of you.  Hope you enjoy the love of family and the kindness of friends.

Secondly, I wish I was writing a post with the following headlines:

TRUMP SURPRISES WITH STRONG, CONSISTENT LEADERSHIP.

TRUMP RALLIES CONGRESS TO PASS MAJOR TAX REFORM PACKAGE.

TRUMP CAMPAIGNS AGAINST HATE AND DIVISION.

TRUMP PRAISES MILITARY – REGRETS SAYING “MY MILITARY.”

TRUMP PROMISES HEALTH CARE FOR ALL.

TRUMP CAMPAIGNS FOR AN END TO SEXUAL HARASSMENT.

TRUMP ANNOUNCES COMMISSION TO STUDY ROOTS OF ETHNIC HATRED.

TRUMP PROMISES FULL TRANSPARENCY AT WHITE HOUSE.

TRUMP TO RELEASE TAX RETURNS.

I’ve been writing news and  analysis for some 59 years, my first being a novice analyst of the Southwest Miami School football team at the age of 14. The team wasn’t great that year,  motivating me to write some challenging stories. I was wrong. Two years later we became an unquestioned power.

My recent analysis has been mostly political, and this year is a boom-time for people who do what I do – analyze the news on a common sense basis , regardless of who might be enlightened or disgusted by it.

It’s all about Trump.

Donald Trump is the most polarizing figure in American Presidential history. His supporters seem to support him with an intensity most invigorating, and his detractors simply can’t mention his name without some form of physical or emotional pain. Why? He has broken every conventional rule of governing, talking big and threatening a big stick, changing his mind so fast it is hard to keep up with his real policies. His supporters  love it. His detractors think he is the doctor of the apocalypse.

Both sides have their points. The President is a braggart, seems unhinged and flouts all elements of class and modesty. He is what I would call a “last person” manager. He makes decisions based on the “last person” he talked to. The defenders love the outrageous nature of Trump, although lately they have been wondering if he really knows what he is going to do next.For example, President Trump switched himself from right field to left field this week, though not completely. He changed his position on China, some trade issues, Fed Chief Janet Yellen who he demonized last year, and he has repudiated his own position against NATO. These are positive signs of flexibility. He still has a major problem, his tweets. He is currently tweeting so dangerously that his words might lead  us into a World War Three scenario. Hopefully my concern about that is an over reaction. But we all know that words can be as dangerous as bullets.

For detractors, there is considerable doubt that he’ll be on the same page next month! For supporters, the rationales keep piling up, but he’s still got most of his base. At the very least, we think he does.

But, like him or not, the fact remains that the President, in power since January 20, has shown his hand.

This is what we know. The President doesn’t have a Presidential style. He rarely smiles. He loves his Florida home, even he is not currently traveling without a national security adviser. He still wants to have a Camelot era with Vladimir Putin, who “appears” to be angry with the USA over the cruise missile attacks. He thinks that he has ALL the power, and is not afraid to stick it to people who can really hurt him. Last week, he publicly humiliated Steve Bannon. Bannon may be a nationalist, but he’s been verbally wounded by his Commander, to whom he has expressed unqualified loyalty.  In a TV interview Trump toyed with FBI Director James Comey, insinuating it is not too late to fire Comey. Now from my vantage point, that is not a message that you send to a guy like Comey, who for better or worse, is a confident, fearless investigator. Yes, it is true. Comey made some big mistakes last year. But now, he is supervising one of the biggest investigations in American history. Dare him to dig deeper, and he will go deeper than that extraordinary bomb we launched last week, the one that may have decapitated ISIS leadership in Afghanistan.

The President is saber rattling with North Korea, which is a threatening bastion of danger.  That may be a good way of scaring the dictator into a big cave somewhere near the Chinese border. I hope it works. Conflict may begin, and we will win, but the dangers to the world are enormous.  North Korea’s army is big but its efficiency level, and equipment, is poor.( South Korea’s munitions and savvy is stronger.) But don’t tell that to the 9.7 million people of Seoul , Korea. The city is just 35 miles from the border with the north. Any prolonged war will be a disaster for Seoul. A heavy, non-nuclear barrage of artillery and rockets can decimate Seoul, even as the effectiveness of the U.S. and South Korea brings the dictator death and destruction. So, again,  those tweets from the President should stop. After all, wasn’t he the one who said he wouldn’t telegraph his war plans?

The President is also at war with the following entities: The Republican Party and elements of the intelligence community and all Democrats. He despises the so called “mainstream media”, including most major newspapers, networks, and web sites. Notable exceptions are Fox News and Breitbart, although if O’Reilly is sacked, the President may be pleading Rachel Maddow to put him on her show. He’s also at war with Muslims, Latinos, and he offers little comfort to the Jewish communities. He fails to connect with African-Americans.  He doesn’t want to abandon his America First” mantra, which is a throwback to the unpatriotic bigots of then 193o’s who wanted to get into bed with Adolph Hitler.

The President has some good ideas. Tax reform is long overdue. Business is the engine that roars the economy.  The infrastructure must be a major project. He needs to review his position on climate change. Health care should be handled before tax reform. Lives are at risk. And showing that he can be flexible will boost his standing, and relieve concerns of the people who are scared to death of his presidency.

But as I’ve said in previous posts, Donald J. Trump must show the nation that he is stable and caring.  If he can’t pivot to that kind of leader, there will be failure, and that failure will trickle down to every community in America.

This is where we stand. Stay informed. Read everything you can get your hands on, or devour on the web. Don’t be left out. The Syria-Korea-Russian triple threat is worthy of your constant attention.

Hope for the best. Let’s make America safe again.

Attack on Syria – Two Day Turnaround in White House Policy

President Trump’s order to attack a major Syrian air base was a dramatic turnaround from a few days earlier. At that time, Defense Chief Rex Tillerson had stated that the removal of Syrian dictator Assad was not a priority for the country.

And then, the attack came. I would guess that watching the video of babies suffocating and dying from poison gas, along with scores of other people, was enough to stun President Trump to take action. At this point, there are several questions: Will the attack speedup the process to get Assad out? How will the Russians react? And what about the rest of the world, most of the nations that turned a blind eye to this genocide?

The apparent destruction of the airbase was a limited use of vast American power, and frugally, the President did not send any Americans in harm’s way. But it was an encouraging sign that Trump was not afraid to admit that the earlier assessment of writing off Syria was wrong. All of us hope the action will save lives.

At the time of the missile barrage, a poll from Quinnipiac University, described by its author as proof of a “downward spiral” in the President’s approval ratings.

It will be interested to see if Americans rally around the decision, or treat it with skepticism. I think they’ll rally as they always have in the initial stages of military engagement.

 

 

A Short Note On An Encounter With The One and Only Don Rickles

Most of the material in this post is about politics. But I can’t escape the passing of Don Rickles, a wonderful talent who made so many people laugh so hard. I had what you might call an encounter with the comic at my 1960 High School senior prom at a hotel in Miami Beach. He was the main event, and he walked through the room, with a “live” microphone , pausing at tables ad making jokes about the people. He arrived at our table, asked me to stand up, put his fingertip on my nose (which is somewhat long) and said simply , “beak”. My table howled and as he left he brushed my curly hair and said, “You’re a man who needs a hair job.” More laughter. Through the years I’ve enjoyed him. Don Rickles, a man who turned insults into laughter! Sadly in our modern political environment, insults are not laughable, but that is for another post coming up shortly.