MIND IS MUDDLED BY SO MUCH CHAOS by Milt Hankins

MIND IS MUDDLED BY SO MUCH CHAOS by Milt Hankins

Rarely do I find myself in a situation where, as we say, “I don’t know what to think.” I have one of those very active brains where various matters of interest constantly swirl around like bees before a hive. Then, all of a sudden, a particular subject will begin to develop and coalesce and force its way to the forefront of my mind, and I am ready to write a draft.

Over the past several weeks, I have been mulling over the opposing perspectives of the Donald Trump administration. On the one side, the “died-in-the-wool” Trump supporters seem to believe that Mr. Trump is doing just fine. They point to the executive orders he has signed; his appointment of a well-qualified, conservative justice to the Supreme Court; and, his reversal of many of the Obama administration policies which they found particularly odious. For example, EPA environmental protection regulations and the ban on transgender persons serving in the military.

 

On the other side, the “resistance, indivisible” Trump despisers point out that Mr. Trump has still not accomplished a single one of his major campaign promises, i.e. repeal and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a restructuring of the tax code, or any infrastructure improvement plan–all of which were strongly emphasized during his campaign.

And, overshadowing all of the pros and cons–that is, whether or not anyone believes the president is an enormously successful administrator or a failing, loudmouth buffoon–no one can deny that the Donald Trump administration is awash in scandal! Not merely a tiny, insignificant wrinkle in the start-up; the administration, since the campaign itself, has continually teetered on the brink of implosion.

My mind is constantly asking itself–no matter what news media I turn to–what can I believe is true? Or false? How do I assemble a rational presentation of what the future holds? And sometimes, I think it doesn’t matter. Everything will work out in the end.

Then, North Korea tests another intercontinental ballistic missile which its leaders hope can deliver a nuclear bomb to the Golden Gate Bridge! Some incident, i.e. shooting down an enemy military jet in Syria, the collision of a U.S. military vessel and a Japanese container ship, or a terrorist attack anywhere in the world get all stirred into the common, everyday Washington, D.C., cesspool of obstruction over this or that.

It’s enough to drive a sane man bonkers!

Just the other day, in our local post office, the lady in front of me glanced up at the television (which is generally set on the Weather Channel) and said to nobody in particular, “We’re going to keep on ’til we start a war with Russia!” I heard her, and I thought, “Lady, it might take a war with Russia to get us back on track!” It startled me when I realized what I had said. After all I grew up during the Cold War! But nothing seems to bring us together than a good old-fashioned international crisis. It’s just that I am not sure we can ever again have a “good old-fashioned international crisis.” A cringe ran down my spine. The truth is that there are rogue nations on both sides of us who would like nothing more than to annihilate us!

I’d like to think that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was absolutely right when he said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” but he said those words long before the age of nuclear weapons. 

When will everything no longer work out well…in the end? I suspect we are rapidly approaching that time, if we are not already there, when we have a lot more to fear than fear itself!

(c) 2017, L. Milton Hankins (all rights reserved)
TRUMP:  IS HE PRESIDENT OR A REAL ESTATE AGENT? by L. Milton Hankins

TRUMP: IS HE PRESIDENT OR A REAL ESTATE AGENT? by L. Milton Hankins

Let’s follow the money — if only we could!

We have a scandalous presidential administration right now unrivaled since the days of Warren G. Harding and the Teapot Dome Scandal, et al. The Trump scandals make the Richard Nixon administration resemble, as someone has said, “a conclave of the cardinals at the Vatican.”

All presidents since Nixon (minus one–Ford) have made their income taxes public. A president’s income taxes, like yours and mine, effectively reveal where a president’s money comes from, deductibles, and with a little effort, how it is spent. President Trump has no reason to withhold his taxes unless, clearly, there is evidence therein of transactions he does not want his constituents (you and me–all of us!) to know about.

The Trump administration has, without shame, employed the scandalous “Pay to Play” ploy when appointing members of his cabinet and sub-cabinet positions. Secretary of Education Betsy De Vos said, according to the Los Angeles Times, it’s “possible” her family has contributed $200 million to the Trump campaign. Would De Vos, who is absolutely devoid of qualifications for the post, have been chosen Secretary of Education without the aforesaid contribution?

According to the Washington Post, “together with their families, Trump’s nominees gave $11.6 million to support his presidential bid, his allied super PACs and the Republican National Committee….One single appointee–WWE co-founder Linda McMahon–contributed $5 million to back his White House run before Trump selected her to run the Small Business Administration….” The McMahon family were top outside donors to Trump’s private foundation!

Follow the money! What happened to the $500,000 that was donated to the Trump inaugural festivities by a Venezuelan oil magnate? The minimal festivities were already paid for when this donation was received. Oh, by the way, this businessman from Venezue3la (which is not exactly friendly to the United States right now) finagled, within days of his “gift,” a private meeting with the National Security Council. Huh?

President Trump says that he is not taking a salary while serving as president. So, I would assume he’s not billing the United States government for official high-level meetings (i.e. the Chinese president Xi Jinping) at his enormously expensive, private club Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. Or is he? According to ethics expert Steve Schooner, “It’s just another example of his consistent efforts to exploit public office for private gain. He’s using his official office and the fact that people have to travel with him, meet him, and follow him to promote his commercial enterprise, in this case, his privately owned club.”

 

TRUMP’S MAR-A-LAGO

 

USA Today has reported extensively on President Trump’s real estate holdings, which, contrary to promise, were never put into a “blind” trust. Any monies for the rental or sale of Trump’s real estate holdings go directly into his pockets. MSNBC reporter Rachel Maddow has suggested, and rightly so, it would be easy for a foreign government, or anyone, for that matter, who wants to curry favor with the president of the United States, to merely purchase an expensive piece of Trump property. Which is it–Trump the President? Or Trump the Realtor?

 

 

GOOD FACTUAL INFORMATION TO HAVE AVAILABLE by D. J. Salisbury

GOOD FACTUAL INFORMATION TO HAVE AVAILABLE by D. J. Salisbury

[Editor’s Note: Upon receipt of the following article, I had a number of reservations about publishing it. So, I did my own research and quickly learned that the statistics in this piece are readily available with little research through Google and other political, informational resources.  I am giving D. J. Salisbury credit for putting this information (in this form) with the opening and closing quotations on Facebook; however, the original article appears to have first appeared in Daily Kos.  Be that as it may, the statistics are in the public record and the public domain.]

“I made a comment recently in which I claimed that Republican administrations had been much more criminally corrupt over the last 50+ years than the Democrats. I was challenged (dared, actually) to prove it. So, I did a bit of research. And when I say ‘a bit’ I mean it didn’t take long. There is no comparison. When comparing criminal indictments of those serving in the executive branch of presidential administrations, it’s so lopsided as to be ridiculous. Yet all I ever hear is how corrupt the Democrats are. So why don’t we break it down by president and show the numbers?

BARACK OBAMA - 8 YEARS IN OFFICE. ZERO (0) CRIMINAL INDICTMENTS, ZERO (0) CONVICTIONS AND ZERO (0) PRISON SENTENCES. So the next time somebody describes the Obama administration as “scandal free” they aren’t speaking wishfully, they’re simply telling the truth.

GEORGE W. BUSH - 8 YEARS IN OFFICE, SIXTEEN (16) CRIMINAL INDICTMENTS, SIXTEEN (16) CONVICTIONS, NINE (9) PRISON SENTENCES.

BILL CLINTON - 8 YEARS IN OFFICE, TWO (2) CRIMINAL INDICTMENTS, ONE (1) CONVICTION, ONE (1) PRISON SENTENCE. That’s right nearly eight (8) years of investigations, tens of millions spent and thirty (30) years of claiming the Clintons are the most corrupt ever, and there was exactly one person convicted of a crime. Wishing for guilt doesn’t make it true.

GEORGE H. W. BUSH - 4 YEARS IN OFFICE, ONE (1) INDICTMENT, ONE (1) CONVICTION, ONE (1) PRISON SENTENCE.

RONALD REAGAN - 8 YEARS IN OFFICE, TWENTY-SIX (26) CRIMINAL INDICTMENTS, SIXTEEN (16) CONVICTIONS, EIGHT (8) PRISON SENTENCES.

JIMMY CARTER - 4 YEARS IN OFFICE, ONE (1) INDICTMENT, ZERO (0) CONVICTIONS AND ZERO (0) PRISON SENTENCES.

GERALD FORD - 2-1/2 YEARS IN OFFICE, ONE (1) INDICTMENT, ONE (1) CONVICTION AND ONE (1) PRISON SENTENCE.

RICHARD NIXON - 6 YEARS IN OFFICE, SEVENTY-SIX (76) CRIMINAL INDICTMENTS, FIFTY-FIVE (55) CONVICTIONS, FIFTEEN (15) PRISON SENTENCES.

LYNDON B. JOHNSON - 5 YEARS IN OFFICE, ZERO (0) INDICTMENTS, ZERO (0) CONVICTIONS, ZERO (0) PRISON SENTENCES.

So, let’s see where that leaves us. In the last fifty-three (53) years, Democrats have held the presidency for twenty-five (25), while Republicans held it for twenty-eight (28) [years]. In their twenty-five (25) years in office Democratic presidents had a total of three (3) executive branch officials indicted with one (1) conviction and one (1) prison sentence. That’s one whole executive branch official convicted of a crime in two and a half decades of Democratic leadership. In the twenty-eight (28) years that Republicans have held the presidency, they have had a total of (drum roll would be appropriate) one hundred twenty (120) criminal indictments of executive branch officials…eighty-nine (89) criminal convictions with thirty-four (34) prison sentences handed down. For the Republicans, that’s more prison sentences than presidential years in office since 1968, if you include articles of impeachment as indictments (they aren’t really, but we can count them as an action) both sides get one more. However, Clinton wasn’t found guilty while Nixon resigned and was pardoned by Ford. So those serve only to make Republicans look even worse.

With the Trump spectacle growing more bizarre by the day, it’s a safe bet that Republicans are going to be padding those numbers soon. So let’s just go over the numbers one more time, shall we? Republicans: one hundred twenty (120) indictments, eighty-nine (89) convictions, and thirty-four (34) prison sentences in twenty-eight (28) years. Democrats: three (3) indictments, one (1) conviction, and one (1) prison sentence in twenty-five (25) years.

Those aren’t ‘feelings’ or ‘alternate facts.’ Those are simply the statistics and numbers available [in the] public record.

It appears that the Republicans are, and have been for my entire lifetime, the most criminally corrupt party to hold the office of the presidency.”

THINK I’LL APPLY FOR A WHITE HOUSE JOB by Milt Hankins

THINK I’LL APPLY FOR A WHITE HOUSE JOB by Milt Hankins

I’ve been thinking about applying for a job at the White House. Seriously! As I understand it, many positions–from chief departmental personnel to ambassadorships–are available. The most noticeable, of course, is (still pending) Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

What do I know about hiring at the highest level? Not much. But, it does seem to me that highly qualified persons would be standing in line for some of these jobs. There’s always the danger, however, if one makes a mistake of hearing those horrible words “You’re Fired!”

QUEEN ELIZABETH II

Let me see. I’ve traveled extensively. I met the president of Argentina once. He’s long gone! I saw the Queen of England in Hawaii while serving in the U.S. Air Force. She’s eternal! I’ve had brief conversations with several presidents of the United States from John F. Kennedy to Richard Nixon to Jimmy Carter.

I have education, administrative experience, years of writing and public speaking experience. I’d be perfect. I even have a passport!

But I wouldn’t stand a chance. One look at my social media accounts, my columns and my webzine and I’ll be dead in the water. I’m an avowed liberal!

Looking over the cabinet positions already filled, I realize I don’t have any money in any large, New York financial institution; I’m not head of a major corporation; I wasn’t a major campaign contributor (to Trump’s campaign); I’m not a congressman or a senator; I believe in climate change and know something about the dangers of polluting our air and water (my father and grandfather were coal miners); I taught school at several levels, so I do know something about education.

         CLIMATE CHANGE

Then, of course, I believe Planned Parenthood is extremely valuable for the women and children of this country. I support National Public Radio, and I believe we must never do anything to endanger the future of our children. And, definitely, I believe every single person in this country has a right to health care–universal, free health care. I wouldn’t turn anybody away from an emergency room or urgent care facility, even if they were illegal immigrants!

So, I guess President Trump will just have to keep looking for “qualified” people to fill all of those federal jobs.

I’ve got it! I think I have a solution! The president needs to take a look at the incredible number of conservative, right-wing columnists, the talking heads at FOX News and read the columns and Letters to the Editor in the major newspapers like the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the San Francisco Chronicle. They seem to have all the answers!

If the president can’t tear himself away from Twitter, the National Enquirer, Breitbart and their ilk long enough to search for some good help; perhaps, he can dispatch his son-in-law Jared Kushner to take on the job.

JARED KUSHNER

Kusher already has the largest portfolio in the Trump administration. What’s one more responsibility?

During his campaign, Donald Trump repeated “Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!” ad nauseum. He promised better health care, tax relief and infrastructure improvement. Maybe, if he hired some qualified staff people and turned to professionals who know what they’re doing, he could fulfill some of those campaign promises.

If the president would just allow one or two people to tell him the truth about himself and show him how to run the Oval Office, he’d be well on his way.

He could start by firing Sean Spicer!

[Milt Hankins is the publisher and editor of Columnist with a View. His weekly column appears in the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch every Monday morning. He has written and published two books, Ashes on the Snow and A Sensible Theology for Thinking People. Both are available through Amazon.com and/or your local bookstore. He is currently working on his third book which is a study of the book of Genesis.] 

IF YOU DON’T ALREADY LOVE HIM…by Jen Hayden

IF YOU DON’T ALREADY LOVE HIM…by Jen Hayden

…This story about Al Franken dissing Ted Cruz should do the trick

Minnesota Senator Al Franken has a new book coming out entitled Giant of the Senate. From the description, it sounds like a fascinating look at how Franken eked out a razor-thin victory to put him in the United States Senate, and discovered he had a talent for governing:


This is a book about an unlikely campaign that had an even more improbable ending: the closest outcome in history and an unprecedented eight-month recount saga, which is pretty funny in retrospect.

It’s a book about what happens when the nation’s foremost progressive satirist gets a chance to serve in the United States Senate and, defying the low expectations of the pundit class, actually turns out to be good at it.

It’s a book about our deeply polarized, frequently depressing, occasionally inspiring political culture, written from inside the belly of the beast.


Writing about his time in the Senate thus far, Senator Franken dedicated an entire chapter to just one of his colleagues–Senator Ted Cruz, a man who is reportedly deeply despised by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Jonathon Tilove, the chief political writer for the Austin American-Statesman, has shared a portion of this chapter on Twitter. Senator Franken is careful to detail why he feels justified in calling out Ted Cruz specifically:


For what it’s worth, I feel fully justified in doing so, because Ted Cruz violated basic Senate protocol himself when he went to the floor and called Mitch McConnell a liar. It was the sort of thing that just isn’t done, a breach of decorum so shocking that even I haven’t committed it. And I love calling people liars!

Anyway, here’s the thing that you have to understand about Ted Cruz. I like Ted Cruz more than most of my colleagues like Ted Cruz. And I hate Ted Cruz.


Snort. Senator Franken does not stop there. He relayed this hilarious story about his Minnesota colleague, Senator Amy Klobuchar, asking for guidance with a joke she was going to deliver at the annual Gridiron Club dinner, an event that typically features the president of the United States, various elected representatives, and members of the media. The joke was about Ted Cruz. Senator Franken tagged along as Senator Klobuchar spoke to Senator Cruz about the joke beforehand and, whelp–read the exchange for yourself:


“Ted,” Amy smiled, “I’ve written a joke about you for the Gridiron, and I wanted to get your okay.”

“Sure,” Ted smiled back. “What’s the joke?”

“Well,” Amy smiled, “here it is: ‘When most people think of a difficult cruise, they think of Carnival. But we Democrats in the Senate think of Ted.'”

I noticed, of course, that she had softened the joke a bit, changing “a bad cruise” to “a difficult cruise” and changing “we think of Ted” to “we Democrats in the Senate think of Ted.”

Ted smiled. Then he offered a suggestion. “What if you changed ‘a difficult cruise’ to ‘a challenging cruise’?”

Oh my God. What a putz! Now the joke isn’t funny. I could tell that Amy was thinking the same thing. And so could Ted. So before Amy could respond, he smiled even more broadly and said magnanimously, “I’ll tell you what. I believe in the First Amendment. You go ahead and tell your joke.”

Wow, that was patronizing! I decided to step in.

“Say, Ted,” I smiled. “I did a rewrite of Amy’s joke, and I think it’s a lot better. Want to hear it?”

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Amy having two successive thoughts: 1. “Oh no–Al’s not going to do this!” 2. “But I definitely want to be here if he does.”

Ted was still smiling. “Sure!”

“Okay. Here it is: ‘When most people think of a cruise that’s full of shit, they think of Carnival. But we think of Ted.”

And there went Ted’s smile. For once, he had no words.

I nodded, turned around, and walked away.


From all of us in the peanut gallery, thank you Senator Franken.

[Editor’s Note: This article was reblogged by Daily Kos. Daily Kos has marked this column “Share this article.” We are doing so with that permission.  We are suggesting to readers that, if you like liberal political material, you should subscribe to Daily Kos!]

 

 

TRUMP DANGEROUSLY CLOSE TO OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE by Milt Hankins

TRUMP DANGEROUSLY CLOSE TO OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE by Milt Hankins

“Treason,” according to the Oxford American Dictionary, is “treachery toward one’s country or its ruler.” “Treasonable,” is “involving the crime of treason.” Only a thin line separates treasonable and treason.

To simplify, an activity might be “treasonable” without intent; that is, not rising to the level of treason per se. I know this distinction to be true. To understand it in strictly legal, indictable terms would require the services of a federal prosecutor, I suspect.

A step below treasonable behavior, as I understand it, could be something like “obstruction of justice;” that is, attempting to intrude upon, delay, or quash an investigation which might expose one to charges of treasonable behavior. As I understand it, if the President of the United States or any of his associates were knowing “colluding with the Russians” during the recent presidential election with a view toward influencing the outcome of that election, it would be treasonable behavior.

MANY FACES OF TRUMP

If the President of the United States, having discovered that an investigation into such a collusion was underway by any qualified government agency (i.e. the F.B.I.) and interfered, in either a formal or a casual way, to surreptitiously intrude upon, delay, or quash that investigation would be, as I understand it, an “obstruction of justice.”

If, theoretically, the aforementioned investigation, as a result of this high-level interference, was stopped, then this obstruction of justice would contribute to treasonable behavior, as I see it.

As I write, we have clear knowledge that certain members of the Donald Trump Campaign were in regular communication with the Russians. We also know that one of these campaign staff members was very close to Candidate Trump–so close, in fact, that the president actually appointed him to a high-level, high-security position within the administration. Other campaign operatives have been linked directly with Russia, as well.

GENERAL MIKE FLYNN

Let me move beyond generalities. In view of the above, clearly, General Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and others connected with the campaign are dangling over a double-edged sword.

Owing to the testimonies of several high-level officials in the intelligence services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the president himself may, knowingly or unwittingly, be implicated in attempts to obstruct the aforementioned investigations.

One example. According to Reuters, “Trump asked [FBI Director] Comey to end any investigation of Michael Flynn; to end the agency’s investigation….” President Trump has denied this allegation; Director James Comey is on record as having a memo, which he wrote on the subject, and told some associates that he was “uncomfortable” being alone with the president, partly at least because of the president’s attempt to influence him.

DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY

Subsequently, the President fired Director Comey.

Allegations, which have risen to the level of Washington, D.C. swamp stench, have brought on, according to CBS news, the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to investigate “possible links between Russia and Trump campaign associates.” The Senate and the House of Representatives are proceeding with their own investigations.

Time will tell whether we have obstruction of justice, treasonable behavior or treason that reaches into the White House.