Writings and observations

rainey

When world leaders get their heads together behind closed doors, many of us are curious about what may have been the topic of conversation.

So it was last week when our in-over-his-head president (small “p” please, Mr. Editor) and Pope Francis stepped away from what looked like an extremely uncomfortable public photo session. At least for the Pontiff. The two took a couple of steps into an adjoining room and the door closed quickly behind just the two of them.

When they emerged a few minutes later, Trump said loud enough for all to hear, “I’ll remember what you said.” So, what do you suppose His Holiness said?

Here’s what I hope it was: “I want your personal assurance that Gingrich woman won’t set foot in the Vatican as your ambassador – much less Italy!”

Trump has made a string of terrible Cabinet and ambassadorial selections. Hacks, know-nothings, revenge-seekers, government haters, politically and civically ignorant millionaires. But he surpassed even himself when he appointed a former congressional staff secretary and serial adulterer Ambassador to the Vatican.

Callista Bisek and Newt Gingrich began a six-year affair on Capitol Hill in 1993. She was a typist in Congressman Steve Gunderson’s office. Gunderson was gay but still “in the closet.” When he found out about the illicit bed hopping, he hesitated to fire Callista because she might “out” him as revenge. So, she and Newt were an open topic of conversation for years while Mrs. Gingrich (Marianne) fumed at home in Virginia.

In early2000, ol’ Newt informed his cancer-stricken – and hospitalized – wife he wanted a divorce. Bedside, it was. August 18th of that year, he and Callista made their long affair legal. Gingrich had pulled this same infidelity bit years before with his first wife but didn’t marry his co-adulterer.

While he was still in Congress, the Gingriches used his national clout to get the Catholic Church to annul his 18-year marriage to Marianne on the grounds she had been married before. Then Callista worked on Newt until he became a Catholic convert.

For several years, Newt battled his way up to becoming Speaker of the House until his “wheeling and dealing” and highly questionable ethics forced him to resign from Congress in disgrace. Or rather, it should have been disgrace.
The two have filled their time since Newt’s ouster selling books and video’s to the far right and becoming conservative celebrities. They’ve also raked in millions with public appearances and speeches appealing to the “religious” right. Apparently, serial adultery, public humiliation and disgrace can be overcome for a $19.95 video or a big bucks chicken dinner and a patriotic two-step.

The “business” of using ambassadorships as rewards for staunch, mostly rich political backers, is not new. Even John Kennedy’s Pop was an Ambassador to England in the ‘30’s because of his generous financial support of FDR. But, sometimes the appointee turns out to be a valuable asset in the largely ceremonial and administrative job. Former Senator Mike Mansfield and Caroline Kennedy, for example, were both ambassadors to Japan during some critical times and were publically praised for aiding America’s interests.

Still, most often, someone is appointed and never expected to do much more than pose for pictures, cut some ribbons and keep passport and other immigration issues to a minimum. And, of course, be the President’s eyes and ears in foreign political circles.

But, Callistsa Gingrich as ambassador to the Vatican – one of the most important geographic and moral places in all Christendom? Callista Gingrich? You’ve got to be kidding.

Those who watched the Pope and Trump closely during the short photo op couldn’t help but notice the Pontiff’s unsmiling face and the dour look he offered the cameras. A man who’s jubilant and charming manners have won him hundreds of millions fans all over the world, regardless of anyone’s differing personal religious beliefs, spent much of the brief time looking down at his shoes. Slippers?

I’d like to think there was a tipoff there – a silent pontifical message to the world that the following few minutes alone with Trump were going to be filled with very serious and important words on behalf of the Vatican, Catholics everywhere and honorable people of all faiths.

In my heart of hearts, I’d like to think the Pope said directly “I want your personal assurance that Gingrich woman won’t set foot in the Vatican as your ambassador – much less Italy.”

Hey, even us Protestants have feelings.

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Rainey

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for May 22. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

With Memorial Day coming up, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter announced on May 23 that the Idaho Division of Veterans Services has launched an effort to identify all Idaho monuments and memorials honoring the military and veterans.

The Idaho Water Resource Board has approved spending $109,273 with Ralston Hydraulic Services Inc. of Moscow for the second phase of the Lewiston Regional Deep Aquifer Study.

On May 24 the House Judiciary Committee approved a robust immigration enforcement bill introduced by Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Vice-Chairman Raúl Labrador (R-ID) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). Their legislation, the Michael Davis, Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act (H.R. 2431) was approved by a vote of 19-13.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has announced a $33 million multi-state settlement with Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson concerning the way they represented certain over-the-counter drugs between 2009 and 2011. Idaho’s portion of the settlement is just over $430,000.

Migration conditions in the lower Columbia River and a late run have challenged Fish and Game’s normal process for setting Chinook salmon seasons. Fisheries managers closed the spring/summer Chinook season as a precaution on May 24 on all rivers, except Hells Canyon, due to low numbers of Chinook counted at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River.

Representative Mike Simpson discussed important Idaho issues with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell during a hearing held by the House Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee.

PHOTO Idaho State University’s Holt Arena will undergo a $536,000 lighting upgrade this summer, replacing two older lighting systems with 85 LED lighting fixtures. (photo/Idaho State University)

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Briefings

Water rights weekly report for May 22. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

The New York Times on May 27 published a guest opinion from an environmental activist concerned about the future of water releases into the Upper Delaware river system in New York’s Catskills. Jeff Skelding of the Friends of the Upper Delaware wrote that “the Upper Delaware is a fragile ecosystem, and now it is threatened by a bitter dispute between New Jersey and New York City over water availability, and how much should be released into the river for the fishery and downstream states from reservoirs that provide water to the city.”

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper on May 21 signed into law Senate Bill 117, aimed at allowing use of water stored in federal reservoirs. Use of water for growing hemp or cannabis from those reservoirs, even by long-time water right holders, has been called into question because, though both are legal to grow in Colorado under state law, they still are considered highly restricted substances under federal law.

What happens when water users sell off their water rights, over a large area? That has been happening, to a degree at least, in southern Colorado’s Arkansas River area. A story by the area’s National Public Radio station noted that “Without many water rights left there, Heimerich says current residents rely heavily on a single correctional facility for access to full-time jobs. He calls Crowley County the poster child of an agricultural community that’s lost much of its water.”

A May report in the Arizona Capitol Times said Governor Doug Ducey plans to increase staffing at the state Department of Water Resources, main in the area of federal water adjudications. That may presage a more aggressive stance by the state on regional water allocations.

The Idaho Water Resource Board has approved spending $109,273 with Ralston Hydraulic Services Inc. of Moscow for the second phase of the Lewiston Regional Deep Aquifer Study.

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Digests

trahant

One election will not erase what is Donald Trump. Most of his voters see him as the antidote to business as usual. He’s shaking thing up (even if there is disagreement on specific issues). Destroying health care? Yes. So what. At least something new will surface.

Montana voters, it would seem, have a lot more at stake than most. This is a state where Medicaid expansion is working well. That very idea will be repealed in the Republican plan. So this election is a big deal.

Except voting is soooo hard. Especially when it’s a special election and no one is running for president.

Some numbers: Denise Juneau lost that same congressional district in November earning 201,758 votes to Ryan Zinke’s 280,472.

On Thursday Greg Gianforte won with 50.2 percent of the vote and only 189,240. In November 74.44 percent of the electorate showed up. Thursday night it was 54.4 percent.

Glacier County is a case in point. This is where the Blackfeet Nation votes. Juneau won the county by more than two-to-one over Zinke. In November more than 5,000 people voted. Last night: About 2,400.

So Democrats may be soothed by the fact that Gianforte lost nearly 7 points from Zinke’s win in November. The idea being that Democrats are picking up strength in a pro-Trump state. But when so few people vote that really has to be seen as an outlier statistic. Matthew Yglesias wrote as much for Vox. That geography determines so much of the Congress and that turns into a Republican advantage. But, “for prognostication purposes you don’t just want to know who wins or loses a special election — you want to know the margin,” he writes. “To win by only seven in Montana, a state that Trump won by 20 points, is a clear sign that seats Trump won by four or five points or more aren’t truly safe.”

True enough. But it really will depend on who shows up at the polls in 2018.

Yes this was a special election. Yes the rules were confusing (changed along the way) about where to vote and how. That just is a call to better. To figure out how to get more people engaged.

To me the real loss in Montana is that in an era when so much is at stake, 321,000 voters passed. They voted that voting is not all that important.

Mark Trahant is the Charles R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism at the University of North Dakota. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. On Twitter @TrahantReports

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Trahant

stapiluslogo1

The regular election day of mid-May passed barely noticed across most of Idaho, as it often does. And low attention often means low turnouts.

And what do low turnouts mean for election results? What’s the difference, in other words, between that and higher turnout elections?

One particular result from May 16 deserves a close look for just this point. It is the ballot issue in Bonneville County over whether to create a community college taxing district, the prerequisite to creating a new community college at Idaho Falls. (There’s currently an Eastern Idaho Technical College, but it’s much more limited in scope; it will be supplanted by the new community college.)

The issue was hotly debated locally, though the debate was not really partisan. It did sharply split local Republicans. The Bonneville Republican committee took a stance against it, and threw in campaign money as well. But a Republican women’s organization argued in favor, and a number of local Republican officials, along with Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, supported the measure.

The ballot issue passed with 71.4 percent of the vote; a two-thirds vote had been needed. The two-thirds mark often is a tough barrier to overcome. Are there any clues to tell us more specifically how it was done?

The college issue was prominent in the area, and it drew a significant voter turnout – significant, at least, by comparison with the norm. A year ago, in a presidential election year, the May election pulled only 19 percent of the electorate. This year (again, in Bonneville) it drew 28 percent; a significant increase.

The turnout was not uniform across all precincts. But some voting patterns did stick out.

Turnout was higher than 25 percent in eight precincts; in all but one of them, the college proposal won by more than two-thirds. Turnout was generally strong on the southern and western sides of Idaho Falls, and that is where the college proposal was strongest.

As you might expect with such a lopsided result, just a few precincts outright opposed the district – three out of 51 – and in two of those the turnout was well below average. (It was 22.9 percent and 20.9 percent in precincts 41 and 44, respectively.)

The Idaho Falls Post Register noted, “Of the 14 precincts with over 33.3 percent opposition to the creation of the community college, just one had a turnout over 25 percent – Precinct 54, generally speaking, the Ririe area.” That Ririe precinct opposed the district by a close vote, 86-80, and it’s worth recalling that this precinct in November voted 81.3 percent for Donald Trump. If you translated that percentage to the Ririe vote in May, it would have an anti-district vote of 134-32.

The top turnout precinct was 56 (at 45 percent), but that was an aberration since it was the mail-in “precinct”. (Take that as another argument in favor of mail-in voting.) Of the next four high-turnout regular precincts, three (the exception being Ririe) passed the district not just by the county-wide average of a little more than two to one, but by more than three to one.

As the Post Register added, “clearly just getting voters to the polls is what matters.”

Voting counts.

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Idaho Idaho column Stapilus

frazier

News reports coming out of Washington seem to have given new life to the A-10 “Warthog” close air support attack jet, rendering needless all the efforts of Boise City and Idaho State officials to attract the F-35 to replace the A-10.

Idaho Air National Guard spokesman Major Chris Borders told the GUARDIAN Wednesday, “We have seen the news reports, but so far there has been no official word received here.”

Back in Washington during a budget briefing Tuesday the Air Force confirmed that it plans to maintain the majority of its A-10 Warthogs in coming years despite past considerations of divesting the entire fleet.

The move could be a nice little windfall for the Idaho Dept. of Commerce. Gov. Butch Otter got a $100K appropriation from the legislature on behalf of Commerce to promote the F-35. If the money is not spent, it will go into the Department of Commerce coffers.

“If the A-10s remain it will be a blessing for the community,” said Dan Marler of the Citizens for a Livable Boise group which has opposed the F-35. He added, “it will also give the city and Air Guard time to prepare for the future of Gowen Field.

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Frazier

carlson

At an age when most men of means are sitting on a beach somewhere soaking up the sun’s therapeutic rays, or in a box seat watching their beloved Rockies (Cubs, Giants, Mariners) at spring training in Arizona, former Idaho Attorney General and Lt. Governor David Leroy, 69, is planning on a return to public service.

If elected Idaho for sure will be the beneficiary, and even the nation.

After a term as the state’s chief legal officer, and one as Lt. Governor, the Lewiston native and University of Idaho undergraduate (and Idaho Law School graduate), at the time a rising Republican star, decided to take on former Idaho Governor and Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus. Most observers thought Andrus would easily walk to a third term, not recognizing how tough a comeback can be for anyone seeking a return to the governorship after a ten-year absence.

It was the closest gubernatorial race in years. Leroy lost by just 3300 votes. He could have demanded a recount but instead graciously accepted the outcome. He then took a policy position as the nation’s Nuclear Waste negotiator before returning to the private sector to become a successful attorney.

Public service though is in his blood. In 1994 he sought to win the seat he is seeking now, but lost the GOP primary to his former campaign manager, Helen Chenoweth. For Leroy public service is a calling for which he is well-suited. He runs for the right reasons, not as a gratifying exercise in ego.

He runs because he sees himself as a problem solver. He is particularly intrigued by Republican control of both houses of Congress, of the White House with Donald Trump as POTUS, and, a 5-4 conservative majority on the Supreme Court. He sees opportunity for principled members of Congress to get past harsh partisanship and gridlock.

He calls himself a constitutional conservative, has deep admiration for President Abraham Lincoln (He has become a true Lincoln scholar) and sees himself as a uniter not a divider. He is no hide-bound ideologue. Rather, he applies his intellect and thoughtfulness to issues demanding solutions.

He will bring to the table maturity, experience, sound judgment and a sense of history. Some may say his time has past, but he can point to a president today in his 70’s and the three major Democratic challengers in the 2016 election would have been 70 or older by inauguration day (Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders). Seventy has truly become the new 45.

Leroy has also been a long-time admirer of former Idaho Governor and U.S. Senator Len B. Jordan, a true principled conservative Republican if there ever existed one in Idaho.

By announcing within a couple days of the currrent incumbent, Raul Labrador, signaling his intention to run for governor in 2018, Leroy is hoping to pre-empt the field. He quietly started planning his bid months ago, banking on Labrador not seeking re-election to Congress.

He has tied down loyalists across the district and should have no trouble financing his bid. He expects a challenger, someone like young GOP 4th District State Representative Luke Malek. A sleeper could be First District State Representative Heather Scott. Leroy should win regardless of who challenges him either from within the GOP or the Democrats.

Leroy has another attribute that does well by him – a sense of humor. In September of 1989 in what was a fortuitously clear, cloudless day with no wind, I climbed Mt. Borah. At 12,662 feet it is Idaho’s highest and the second highest, after Mr. Rainier, in the Pacific northwest. I carried with me an Andrus bumper sticker which I slapped onto a plastic tube at the top in which folks that make the climb can leave notes and messages.

I had a message I wanted to deliver to David Leroy who in the 1986 race had made much of his youth and vitality in a not too subtle contrast between Andrus’ age and his. Knowing that Leroy was thinking of a rematch I took an educated guess that if I left a message for him in the tube someone would read and report it to him within several weeks.

My message read: “By Chris Carlson, done on behalf of his friend, Governor Cecil D. Andrus, as a message to David Leroy. There are thousands like me who will climb any mountain and do whatever it takes to return the champion to the ring for another term. You better think long and hard before seeking a rematch.”

Three weeks later he called saying he understood I’d left a message for him on top of Mt. Borah. We shared a good laugh and not coincidentally was there a rematch. Ironically, the roles are reversed today, but the message is the same. A veteran who knows politics is going to be tough to beat. A political natural has returned.

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Carlson

carlson

Baby-boomer parents who ever read bedtime stories to their children often delighted in reading books by “Dr. Seuss.” They had a lyrical, often rhyming quality to them and the accompanying illustrations added to the joy.

If Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter truly loves Idaho, and wants to have some kind of noteworthy legacy, its time he took his cue from Marvin K. Mooney and exits stage right. He should resign and turn the governorship over to his loyal Lt. Governor Brad Little.

The positive reasons are many.

· It would make Little the incumbent and give him a leg up over First District congressman Raul Labrador in next May’s primary.

· It would provide Little with a legislative session to show what he could do for the state and his ability to work with leadership.

· Little would carry-on some of the Governor’s initiatives, most especially a continuation of restoring educational funding.

· It would give Little the opportunity to demonstrate his knowledge of the issues as well as his knowledge of state agencies, and that he knows how to instill positive response.

· Little is heads and tails above all the wanna-be’s in terms of qualifications. No other Republican nor is there any Democrat more prepared to take over.

· Having accompanied Governor Otter on almost all his “Capitol For A Day” visits, Little knows Idaho and almost every single community across this state better than any of the others.

· Little is the best, one-on-one retail campaigner of the lot.

There are also some negative reasons for Otter to abdicate:

· Otter’s office and his cabinet are mostly in “glide mode” – doing little or nothing as they wait to see who the next governor will be.

· Its obvious, given the snafu’s and turmoil coming from the governor’s office of late that Otter’s hand on the steering wheel has lessened considerably. Some say Otter is just mailing it in, that his heart is no longer in administering or managing.

· Labrador, given his prominence in the Freedom Caucus and their decisions that so vexed President Trump, will find that the current Administration will not work with him (they take names and keep enemies’ lists). Little will be able to work with the Trumpsters.

· Little listens and works to bring people together by fleshing out what they agree upon first. Labrador is an ideologue with pre-conceived thought of his own as to what has to be done.

With apologies to Dr. Seuss here is a revised version of his classic. “Clement Leroy” is the beginning of Governor Otter’s full name:

“The time has come/The time is now.

Just go. GO. GO! I don’t care how.

You can go by foot. You can go by horse or cow.

Clement Leroy, will you please go now!

You can go with your Tony Lamas’.

You can go on your ATV.

You can go with your stetson on.

But please go. Please.

I don’t care. You can go with your chuck wagon.

You can go on your mountain bike.

If you like you can go in your tennis shoes.

Just go, go, GO! Please do, do, DO!

Clement Leroy, I don’t care how.

Clement Leroy, will you please GO NOW!

You can go in a surrey. You can go by canoe.

You can go in the state cadillac, if you wish.

If you wish you may go by a wolf’s tail that you shot at and didn’t miss/Or stamp yourself and go by snail mail.

Clement Leroy! Don’t you know the time has come

To go, GO, GO!

Get on your way, Clement Leroy! Give the office to Brad Little today! I don’t care how you go, just GET!

Butch, Butch, Butch! Will you leave the office?

Clement Leroy Otter, I don’t care HOW!

Clement Leroy Otter, will you please GO NOW!

I said GO and GO I meant. . . .

The time had COME,

So Clement Leroy Otter WENT!

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Carlson

richardson

Almost all Republican members of Congress resist the idea of an independent commission to investigate the web of spy craft that undermined the integrity of the 2016 election. They argue that the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are up to the task.

They are wrong. However well-intentioned individual members, these committees cannot do the job.

One of the few Republicans to break ranks is Idaho’s Mike Simpson who has publicly advocated for a truly independent commission. The Washington Post and The Hill report that Simpson thinks members of the Intelligence Committees are “too involved” to do a proper job. He wisely suggests that we learn from history, observing that – in the early 1970s – many politicians were too quick to dismiss the notion that Nixon had done anything wrong.

I share the anger of others who are profoundly disappointed in Simpson’s vote to repeal the ACA and replace it with “Trumpcare” and his inclination to support the rest of the Trump agenda. But unlike other members of Idaho’s all GOP congressional delegation, Simpson will, on occasion, put country before party. This is such a time, and it is significant.

We must understand all ramifications of foreign interference in the 2016 election so that we can prepare to address new threats and make sure this never happens again. The appointment of a special counsel was a critical first step in the process. But a prosecutor’s focus is, necessarily, on past conduct. In order to prepare to thwart future meddling, an independent commission is needed. Creating such a commission will be a very heavy lift. It requires legislation – a bill passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president.

Several polls show that a large majority of the American public supports creation of an independent commission. But Democrats alone don’t have the numbers to pass a bill. Only if enough Republicans summon the courage to follow Mike Simpson’s lead and join the Democratic minority will a bill establishing this commission pass in the House and Senate.

If and when that bill lands on his desk, there will be tremendous pressure on the president to sign it into law. If he vetoes the bill, we can reasonably conclude that he wants to bury the truth, that he has a lot to hide, and that he is unwilling to address the escalating threats going forward. Should the president veto such a bill, it would help confirm what a growing body of evidence strongly suggests – that he is, indeed, Russia’s errand boy.

But if Congress acts to establish an independent commission, it will be because a handful of Republicans, like Mike Simpson, finally stepped up to break the partisan log jam. Regardless of my adverse views on much of Simpson’s record, I acknowledge and applaud his leadership on this extremely serious matter.

But now it is time for Simpson’s actions to match his words. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, has introduced a bill that would create a bipartisan, 12-member panel in the mold of the 9/11 Commission. Simpson should join his Republican colleagues Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan and Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina as co-sponsors of Swalwell’s bill.

Last week, the Republican majority in the House blocked a move to bring Swalwell’s bill to a vote. Democrats are now gathering signatures on a discharge petition, which would trigger a floor vote if a majority of Congress signs on. That means they need 23 Republican signatures.

This is where the rubber meets the road for Mike Simpson. If Simpson co-sponsors Swalwell’s bill and signs the discharge petition, we will know that his show of independence is more than lip service. As the saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.”

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Richardson

rainey

At the moment, our country suffers many ills. National anger, resentment, a sense of lethargy, lost direction and distrust of government and other traditional institutions. Poll after poll after endless poll confirm the national despair. It’s real. It’s palpable. It’s weighing us down and sapping energies like nothing in my lifetime.

Some pundits lay blame for all this at the feet of one D. Trump. Not totally so, I think. The symptoms and feelings, existed years before he got the political bug and became the darling of a too-willing media. At best, it seems he can be charged with brutishly using all this as a basis for a deeply flawed – but successful – candidacy. He turned them into tools with which he played to suspicions, pumped up fear, posited lies as truths, offered false hope of change and a return to some mythical country that never existed. He even created a fictional D. Trump. He’s still doing it. And will continue.

Those who believe he’ll lead this nation to some sort of political nirvana have always been with us. But two things have changed – they’ve found someone to lead them who has international access – and the Internet.

I’ve known some of these disparagers of America all my life; successfully avoiding them mostly because they appeared singly or in small groups. Remember the John Birch Society? Or the Liberty Lobby? But it’s been the I-Net that’s given voice and a realization there are others with whom they can connect. And they have.

Proof of this personal theory can be found on your own little computer machine daily. In large measure. Someone invents a name or website – bleedingpatriotsforamerica.com – and suddenly others, eager for affirmation of their flawed beliefs, copy and paste what was only the raving of a drunken individual at two in the morning in a Michigan basement. Then, someone you don’t even know – but who’s a “friend-of-a-friend” on some “social” media site – splashes it on your screen and the lie spreads like rippling water. You don’t have to be Breitbart or Drudge or Beck. You just need the I-net and a keyboard.

In those months of the worst presidential contest of a lifetime, it was Trump who had the keyboard. He didn’t invent the anger and malaise – he just organized it. He called it a presidential campaign, captured a national media of sycophants willing to act as his unpaid campaign team/ad agency, regurgitated all the angry bile of the disaffected, added some of his own and played sucker donors out of dollars to be paid to his own companies to cover his expenses.

I’ve said for months the guy doesn’t want to be president. Why would he? Money? Fame? Power? He has all those in spades. “Make America Great Again?” How? Is he saying or proposing things to reshape the country in a positive, world leadership role? Is he talking like a leader? Thinking like a leader? Acting like a leader?

Then there’s the issue of his businesses and financial affairs. The guy has proven himself to be someone who has to be – MUST BE – in charge of everything around him. Did he truly put all that in a blind trust? Did he give access to his personal/business fortunes to anyone else? Anyone? Would he actually give up “control?”

The only thing we do know is he’s a pain in the national political ass. He’s coalescing his angry followers and continues to feed the anger and division we now contend with.

Our familiar, traditional national political base has radically changed in these past 20 months. That’ll continue. Both parties are losing members. More and more people think of themselves as independents or unaffiliated. Minority voters are growing at an unprecedented rate and studies repeatedly show they want to be politically active. Voters – and major donors – are turning to state politics. Congress – proving itself ineffective and rife with partisanship – is becoming less of a factor in how this nation deals with its problems.

This all makes for a national malaise of uncertainty. Uncertainty can scare people. It can disappoint. It can disaffect and alienate countries around the world with whom we have to work. It can be a breeding ground for bad decision-making. If it continues long enough, it can alter the course of a nation.

No, D. Trump didn’t bring us to this trying time. We’ve done it to ourselves in many ways. But, he’s been clever enough, loud enough and manipulative enough to take full advantage of the situation. More than it ever should, where we go from here depends – in great measure – on how we deal with this guy. That’s a national problem we must fix. Quickly.

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Rainey