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Posts published in August 2016

Trump 88: The elusive statements


In political (and diplomatic) circles there's a certain amount of slipperiness, lubrication, that goes with the territory. Officials in and representatives of a democracy need a certain amount of space to negotiate and compromise and meld alliances. That doesn't explain all the dissembling that goes on, and doesn't excuse all of it either, but it does point to the reality that "telling it like it is" in politics is at best a near matter, not an absolute. Forget about honest George Washington and the cherry tree; George was a spymaster during the revolution, a pretty good one too, and he understood the realities of dealing in a human society.

But there's such a thing as the occasional necessary lie, and the lying that becomes so constant that memory starts to fail. The toughest thing about lying is keeping the lies straight, remembering what the story is supposed to be. It's a tough task under the best of circumstances. When the lies pile up (check out the story of an undercover cop sometime, for example), the difficulties can become overwhelming.

That's a problem Donald Trump has encountered, and his fabrications - which often as not have to do with not just facts but ideas, positions, stances - have come so fast that the conflicts crop up at startling speed. Watch a Trump speech from anywhere in early spring 2016 on, and you'll probably be able to find easily enough a flat contradiction, if not of fact then of idea. He's rapidly losing track of his own ideas, what he's said here and there, even just minutes ago.

Here's an example.

On July 23, at 3:42 am, Trump tweeted that "Pocahontas [Senator Elizabeth Warren] wanted VP slot so badly but wasn't chosen because she has done nothing in the Senate. Also, Crooked Hillary hates her!"

Exactly 13 minutes later, Trump tweeted about the Wikileaks email release at the Democratic National Committee and the internal criticisms there of Bernie Sanders which, Trump said disapprovingly, "mock his heritage."

So he tut-tuts about the heritage mocking of Bernie Sanders exactly 13 minutes after mocking Elizabeth Warren over her heritage.

Presidents need to keep track of what they're saying. Their words are parsed everywhere, and the kind of daily slips Trump delivers would not go unnoticed. - rs

Minority relations


Been pondering the complicated issue of relations between minorities in Idaho and between law enforcement and those minorities. As most people know, Idaho is one of the more lily-white states in the nation, with 83.5% of its appoximately 1.6 million citizens characterized as white.

People of African-American heritage are less than 1% of the state’s population. Chances of an Idahoan working with or knowing a black family are practically nil. Most Idahoans exposure to African-Americans is limited to watching talented and skilled members of the black community playing football or basketball in exchange for a college education.

Idaho’s largest minority is its Latino community with 11% of the state’s population being so identified. As in other western states, the Latino community is growing more rapidly than the white population and other minorities.

Already, in the State of California demographers report the combined birth rate of minorities is more than 50% of new births. Indeed, the far-seeing eye of history may be recording a reversion of the west back to its Spanish and Latino roots.

The United States may have appeared to win the Mexican War of 1848 with its subsequent turn-over of millions of acres which eventually became new states in the union, not to even mention the “annexation of Texas, but it looks to many like an Hispanic and Latino recolonization is well underway.

Idaho’s native Americans are also few in actual numbers. They represent 1.1% of the state’s population. As most people know minorities are disproportionally imprisoned, are more likely to come from poor economic circumstances and are under-educated. It should come as no surprise then that minorities commit more crimes.

This inevitably leads some in law enforcement to develop either a subconscious or a fully cognizant bias against one or more minorities, whether ethnic, gender or sexually based. And it often can lead to feelings on the part of the minority interest that they are being subjected to some kind of profiling which whites seldom if ever experience.

So is there an answer to this challenge in Idaho? There is certainly no one size fits all solution, but allow me to make five suggestions that could and should make a difference. If acted upon in a timely manner, especially in the Treasure Valley and the rapidly growing counties of Ada and Canyon:

1) All of Idaho’s cities and certainly all of its largest counties should “add the words” that have a community going further in its commitment not to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender identity, age or ethnicity. And the LDS members of the Idaho Legislature should recall the many years in which being Mormon resulted in discrimination, and take the lead in passing a state version of add the words.

2) Members of Idaho law enforcement should hold town meetings, or ice creaam socials, around the state once a month or once a quarter with various minority groups and primarily listen. The goal though should be to establish good dialogue on how to address issues of mutual concern.

3) A large community’s police force should reflect the larger minority interests in the community. If Nampa’s Latino population is 20% of its population, there should be approximately 20% Latinos in the police force. Yes, most people don’t like quotas but the benefits outway the negatives.

Spokane has almost 30,000 Russian speakers within its borders. Yet unless things have changed recently there are no Russian speaking members of the force. Ever tried to resolve a touchy domestic dispute but had to wait a couple hours for an interpeter to be found and brought to the scene?

4) Members of a police force should be required to live in the jurisdiction which they police. The benefits should be obvious. In addition, police officers should be incentivized to locate in tougher neighborhoods either through a rent subsidy or a mortgage subsidy.

5) Patrolman and police officers should be allowed to drive their cars home when they go off-shift. The mere sighting of a patrol vehicle can be a deterrent and it speaks loudly to the city’s commitment to public safety. Studies also show it is more cost effective than having to check a car in and out of a car pool every day.

There is no perfect answer, but Idaho, more so than most states is in a position to do it correctly the first time.

Trump 89: The Cohn connection


Those old enough, or historically-minded enough, to spot out the similarities in style and approach between Donald Trump and long-ago Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy have pinpointed a live connection. The link between the two is less-known, but just as significant.

He is Roy Cohn, an attorney by profession, who served as a behind the scenes key advisor for both Trump and McCarthy.

Cohn was born in New York, son of a politically well-connected Democrat who became a judge. (Perhaps because of his father's connection, Cohn self-identified as a Democrat but generally supported Republicans in local and national politics.) After earning his law degree, he worked briefly in the U.S. attorney's office, working on cases involving alleged Soviet spies. That brought him to the attention of McCarthy, then just coming to national attention as an anti-Communist crusader.

That description, of course, doesn't begin to cover what McCarthy did, spreading fear and suspicion as he took on witch hunts across the range of the federal government, among other places. Cohn was in the middle of it all, maybe most especially the famed Army-McCarthy hearings (wherein came the famous line addressed to McCarthy, "Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"). McCarthy crashed, and Cohn returned to New York.

There he thrived professionally, in a specialized way. A profile in the Daily Beast captured it: "But instead of fading into obscurity, Cohn became a socialite with a roster of high-powered, famous, pious, and allegedly murderous clients. He represented Andy Warhol, Studio 54, Roman Catholic Cardinals Francis Spellman and Terence Cooke, and mafia leaders Carmine “Cigar” Galante and Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno. Cohn’s tactics were thought to be so unethical and dishonest by the legal establishment (he was eventually disbarred) that Esquire dubbed him 'a legal executioner'.”

Trump met up with him in the early 70s at the exclusive Le Club, and they became tight - kindred souls, evidently. Cohn did legal work for him, and Trump's take on that presumably was captured in his quote by the Associated Press: “If you need someone to get vicious toward an opponent, you get Roy." The young man just getting started in New York business got quite an education from Cohn.

The New York Times, which has written extensively on the connection, described Cohn's influence on Trump this way: "If Fred Trump got his son’s career started, bringing him into the family business of middle-class rentals in Brooklyn and Queens, Mr. Cohn ushered him across the river and into Manhattan, introducing him to the social and political elite while ferociously defending him against a growing list of enemies. Decades later, Mr. Cohn’s influence on Mr. Trump is unmistakable. Mr. Trump’s wrecking ball of a presidential bid — the gleeful smearing of his opponents, the embracing of bluster as brand — has been a Roy Cohn number on a grand scale."

Joe McCarthy hit a wall in time, before the damage he could do would become really massive. We'll see soon enough whether Donald Trump hits a similar wall. - rs

Premier’s dilemma


At a recent Idaho Leadership in Nuclear Energy (LINE) meeting in Pocatello, Premier Technology Chief Business Officer and Co-Founder Douglas Sayer (pictured) testified that his Blackfoot-based design, engineering, manufacturing and construction management company is on the horns of a very challenging dilemma.

Since its start in 1996, Premier Technology has grown to employ about 300 highly skilled professionals, including engineers and machinists, at its cutting edge 210,000-square-foot fabrication plant conspicuously seen west of Blackfoot’s main Interstate 15 interchange.

Its welders are stringently trained to work with a variety of metals, ranging from stainless and carbon steel to exotic elements such as titanium.

Premier has done extensive sophisticated custom work for the Idaho National Laboratory and other U.S. Department of Energy contractors, but Sayer told LINE commissioners at Idaho State University that it’s a misconception to believe that private companies securing government contracts have grabbed brass rings.

He said it’s an uphill battle for relatively small businesses to get bank loans for such contracts as they struggle to make large capital investments. Only about half of Premier Technology’s business mix is related to the nuclear industry, Sayer noted.

“Food processing and mining allow us to participate on the nuclear side,” he said, mentioning that if it were up to his wife Shelly, Premier’s chief executive officer since 2013, the company would not be involved in the nuclear business due to its significant expenses and difficulty breaking even. Premier has heavily invested in research and development for new technologies.

Premier believes it has a moral obligation to maintain top quality levels of manufacturing to protect the environment and Idaho’s Snake River Plain aquifer, Sayer said, but pointed out companies in such countries as India are not held to the same standards or pay scales, making it more difficult to compete.

Competitors in Missouri and the United Kingdom see the economic advantages of developing Small Modular Reactors as the wave of the nuclear industry’s future and are aggressively pursuing the development of SMRs. NuScale Power has indicated it could start placing orders for SMR components as soon as 2019.

“We’re a little bit behind the eight ball if we want to get serious about it,” Sayer said, adding Premier Technology has imposed 60-hours-per-week mandatory shifts at its plant to keep up. “We’re short on human capital. … There’s a shortage of qualified talent in Idaho now.”

Unlike Chobani, which can tap the resources of the College of Southern Idaho, a community college in Twin Falls, for its yogurt plant employment needs, the nuclear industry’s requirements demand much higher training proficiencies. “There’s a difference between teaching and training,” Sayer said.

The Premier Technology executive urged LINE committee members to create a subcommittee to address the compelling need for trained, qualified personnel in the nuclear industry and initiate an effective strategy. The INL needs “top shelf talent” and is not a place for on-the-job training, Sayer stressed. “We’ve got to think outside the box.”

He also emphasized that Idaho ranks among the lowest states in terms of education investments. “We can’t wait any longer,” Sayer said, adding Premier Technology has considered acquiring oil and gas companies in Utah and Wyoming to secure their pipeline welding talent.

He also noted there is a large difference between nuclear performance-based welding requirements and those of the petroleum industry. Many if not most welding instructors in ISU’s College of Technology hail from the oil and gas industry. Idaho has not addressed the dire need for nuclear-qualified welders, machinists and crafts, he said, mentioning he has been working with ISU for 15 years.

“Five years ago I could operate every piece of equipment in our facility. Today I cannot operate any of them. That’s how far manufacturing has advanced,” Sayer said.

Premier Technology offered someone in Carlsbad, N.M., a quarter million dollar salary, a $50,000 relocation stipend and six weeks vacation to move to Idaho, but the individual turned it down because he was making the equivalent amount working part time, Sayer said. “And Carlsbad is not the prettiest place on earth,” he remarked.

Trump 90: Easily baited


The presidency isn't the only job where a certain cool and steadiness is necessary. A lawyer in a trial, a surgeon in the operating room - at such times, such people simply cannot allow themselves to be rattled or baited. It happens, unfortunately, and when it does lives can be ruined or ended. But capable professionals strive hard to keep a clear head, to do what's necessary and not be thrown into doing what isn't - or what might be harmful.

The presidency can be the same, on a far more vast scale. One of the most praised attributes of Barack Obama has been his cool, his resistance to being rattled, to do what he thinks he needs to do in his own time and his own way. Rarely is he provoked into a sharp response.

Donald Trump is easily baited.

On the last day of the Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton said during her acceptance speech that Trump should not be trusted with the nuclear arsenal because he is "a man who can be baited with a tweet." Just that had after all happened already during the campaign, as both sides well knew. And you would expect that with that near-warning - an implicit threat that we'll be trying to bait you and waiting for your reaction - that Trump would have been cautious enough to avoid fulfilling the prediction. Surely most candidates would have; it would have been an easy enough test for him to crow later about passing.

But the Clinton people knew their opponent. They knew he couldn't help but respond to a smackdown. And just as predicted, as if they could see the future - or at east predict Trump perfectly - he took fresh bait the very next day.

Shortly before Clinton's speech one of the DNC orators was former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a fellow NYC billionaire but no fan of Trump. He took some pungent shots at Trump, and Trump could not help but tweet the next day, July 28: "'Little' Michael Bloomberg, who never had the guts to run for president, knows nothing about me. His last term as Mayor was a disaster!"

What if anything useful Trump thereby accomplished for his campaign is unknown. But what he revealed about himself was plain enough. As writer James Fallows put it on the Atlantic: "Think of the strategic outlook you are seeing demonstrated on Trump’s side. On national TV, a woman has said that it is easy to get under his skin — after a much richer real billionaire has made fun of him with, 'I’m a New Yorker, and New Yorkers know a con when we see one.' And Trump’s response is … to take the bait and show that it has gotten under this skin."

Only hours later, he did it again in a much more explosive way, snarking at the Gold Star Khan family, which lost a (Muslim) Army captain in action on the far side of the globe. Republican Matt Mackowiak commented: “Trump is proving that Hillary’s criticism of his temperament has merit. He can’t even pretend when lashing out was predicted. Took bait.”

He would be the most easily manipulated president in the history of the United States. - rs

Trump 91: Assassination?


This dog whistle sounds pretty clear from here.

He can in the kerfluffle afterwards, as he so often does when he steps in it in a big way, call it a joke, as he already has, or he can maintain that he simply was walking about political activism by an interest group.

No sale.

On August 9, Donald Trump was talking at a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, when the subject turned to Hillary Clinton and the Supreme Court. If Clinton becomes president, he warned, she will appoint liberals to whatever court appointments come up. (True enough.)

Then: “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know.”

Only slight translation is needed here. "The Second Amendment people" would mean most generally people especially motivated by the subject of their rights to own and use firearms; that is to say, gun enthusiasts. He did not say the "gun lobby" (or the National Rifle Association) or "gun owners voting in large numbers," or something similar. He spoke of individual people highly motivated to action on the subject of gun rights, and he spoke of them in the context of being the last hope to avoid the specter of "liberal" (presumably, anti-gun) Supreme Court justices.

Just what do you think he's referring to here?

There's no need to get too cute about this. Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy tweeted: "Don't treat this as a political misstep. It's an assassination threat, seriously upping the possibility of a national tragedy & crisis."

Trump backers, and even some others who aren't supporters (Kevin Drum at Mother Jones, for example) write it off as a wisecrack. But as security officials were noting soon after the statement, words spoken at the presidential level are taken seriously, by people who may interpret them in many ways.

"Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?" called out, legendarily, England's King Henry II. He meant it rhetorically, not as an order of execution; but Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, did not live much longer anyway.

This is no mere Shakespearean construction. Here's the reaction from the New York Times' Thomas Friedman:

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin got assassinated.

His right-wing opponents just kept delegitimizing him as a “traitor” and “a Nazi” for wanting to make peace with the Palestinians and give back part of the Land of Israel. Of course, all is fair in politics, right? And they had God on their side, right? They weren’t actually telling anyone to assassinate Rabin. That would be horrible.

But there are always people down the line who don’t hear the caveats. They just hear the big message: The man is illegitimate, the man is a threat to the nation, the man is the equivalent of a Nazi war criminal. Well, you know what we do with people like that, don’t you? We kill them.

The Secret Service has said it was closely monitoring the situation. Let's hope so.

No major presidential candidate in this country's history has ever spoken in terms like this. Never. Imagine what terms he might employ if he actually got into the White House. - rs

Chinese money?


Today The Intercept posted a story about how with the help of the top GOP lawyer on campaign finance, a Chinese Millionaire and his wife used a company called American Pacific International Capital (APIC) to funnel $1.3 million to Jeb Bushes Super PAC. Buried deep in the story however is an Oregon connection.

APIC, which was initially incorporated in Oregon, made contributions between 2010 and 2014 to state and local Oregon politicians, mostly Democrats, totaling about $25,000. The earlier donations include $9,500 given to John Kitzhaber, a Democrat who was elected governor of Oregon in 2010 and 2014 and resigned last year in an unrelated ethics scandal.

The Intercept included a copy of the memo from the GOP Lawyer, Charlie Spies laying out how to launder the foreign money in a way that arguably complies with US law. It appears from the article, that APIC was set up specifically to allow foreigner nationals and their corporations to make unlimited contributions to US politicians using The Citizens United ruling, as well as Mr. Spies legal artifice.

And why did APIC first set up as an Oregon Corporation? Possibly because Oregon has no limits on campaign contributions.

In 2010 through 2012, APIC gave $22,500 to Oregon politicians and causes, including contributions in 2010 of $1,000 to Ted Wheeler and $1,000 to Washington County State Representative Tobias Read. Mr Read is now running as the Democratic nominee for Oregon State Treasurer.

Rankings – who needs ’em


We Nor’westerners like to think we live in a very special place and that all of America wants to move in next door. We bask in our oceanfront properties, covet our mountains and the water streaming down to our gorgeous valleys. We love the nearly always blue skies overhead. Trees. Deserts. Wildlife. We’re full of self-love for our multi-state neighborhood and we think of it all as pretty special.

So, how would you react if someone told you Oregon (specifically) is one of the worst states in which to make a living? I mean, what if the sources of that terrible news were reliable? Sure got my attention.

Some background. A respected outfit called recently statistically examined all states to figure out where average workers could make a good living. And where they couldn’t. Five criteria were used and sources were multiple: (1) average wages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; (2) cost of living from the Council for Community and Economic Research; (3) state tax rates from the research group Tax Foundation; (4) unemployment rate from U.S. Bureau of Labor; (5) incidents of workplace illness, injuries and fatalities compiled by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration folks. Pretty authoritative sources.

When computers regurgitated the results, Hawaii ranked as the worst state for workers based on all those parameters. Given the cost of living alone, finding Hawaii as the worst place for workers to get a break was not terribly surprising.

But what WAS a shock - at least to this former member of the everyday workforce - was that Oregon was #2. Or rather, 49th. Oregon! Right here in the middle of our Nor’western paradise! Oregon! And, even worse, that was down 11 slots from a year ago!

Again, using those same five criteria, cost of living here was determined to be almost 30% above national average. Average income was $46,850 - lower than 48 other states. Hawaii at #50 posted a $46,230 average.

Oregon has had recent high unemployment, though figures swing wildly depending on which county or which trade you’re talking about. And we’ve got a workplace safety incidence of 4.2 per 100 workers. We also had a numerical rise in workplace fatalities from 2014. I suspect timber and commercial fishing contribute heavily to those categories.

And in the fifth ranking - state taxes on average income - workers would pay about $3,982.50 on that annual income of $46,230. Plus federal. Only slightly more than Hawaii. But more.

Now, here’s shock #2. At least for me. The state rated second best for workers of all stripes to make a living was - was - Washington! Yep, our northern neighbor skunked us. But - ah ha - Washington slipped to #2 from the top spot a year earlier. So there! Wyoming was #3. But, consider this: neither state has a state income tax though they offer attractive employment opportunities and favorable cost-of-living environments.

So, who came out on top as the best state with the most favorable employment and living conditions for the American worker? Which state was considered nirvana for the 8-to-5 crowd? Where can you find the best of the best in all 50 states for working stiffs?

Texas. TEXAS! Now, as Deano famously said “Ain’t that a kick in the head?” The state’s gross domestic product expanded 3.7 percent last year compared with 1.8 percent for the rest of the country. Cost-of-living is below average and there’s no state income tax. Only Louisiana had a lower record of on-the-job injuries or fatalities.

But, back to Oregon and the very low ranking as a good place for the average worker to live and ply a trade. While the state may not offer a welcoming statistical climate for workers, I’d like to see a similar ranking system for which states lure the most retirees. People with spendable incomes not looking for employment. People who contribute big bucks to a solid, active economic growth.

Retirees aren’t terribly worried about a state income tax or injuries on the job or average wage scales or even unemployment. If they’ve done their homework prior to retiring, and if the cost-of-living is deemed to be suitable, given Oregon’s spectacular spread of natural and scenic wonders, moderate climate and comfortable small communities, retirees can boost a state’s economy in many ways while not demanding a lot of special services aside from satisfactory health care.

Still, none of us likes to see our home state ranked at the bottom of most surveys. But this one especially galls. Texas? TEXAS?

Trump 92: Endless lawsuits


Our legal system is supposed to be put to use, but this is ridiculous:

Donald Trump has been a plaintiff in at least 1,900 lawsuits and a defendant in 1,450 more, according to an analysis by USA Today.

That's 3,350 legal cases, assuming some aren't duplicative: Which would mean he is both plaintiff and dfendant in a single case, which somehow doesn't seem out of the question when it comes to these kind of number.

The paper had a lot of work to do in tracking it all down; the lawsuits were all over the country and over quite a few years. But think about it: Over the course of a third of a century or so, that's about 100 lawsuits filed either by or against him every year, on average.

Who gets into that many fights? Only someone whose standard for getting into legal battles is almost unbelievably low. Most of us would have no interested in this kind of thing - certainly not if we have any interest in accomplishing anything else in our lives.

This is the kind of thing that apparently preoccupies Donald Trump. The productive work of a presidency would presumably be of distinctly lesser interest. - rs

An answer to prayers?


Donald Trump picked fights with and hurled irretrievable insults at all of womankind, the Hispanic culture, the black voter, the American immigrant, Muslim refugees, a federal judge, the Pope, a handful of right leaning national columnists and commentators, and the entirety of the national media, and nothing happened. He inched up in the polls and knocked off the bottom of the sixteen contenders.

Then he did the same with a good share of the Republican hierarchy, including the RNC, most of the Republican governors, both of the living previous Republican Presidents, everyone at Fox News except O’Reilly and Hannity, all sixteen of his primary opponents, the Speaker of the House, the former Speaker of the House, the Majority Leader of the Senate, and John McCain. John McCain!

Still nothing happened. He continued to climb in the polls, and drew cheers from the crowds gathering for his stump speeches. In any other election year, with any other candidate, any one of these uninvited, unnecessary and self-induced popovers, especially the racist potshots and the slams against women, the Pope, the judge, and John McCain, would have resulted in the heavens opening for St. Thomas More to reach down, grab the candidate by his you-know-what, and unceremoniously dump him out of the boat.

This is exactly what every one of the cognoscenti predicted was going to happen at one time or another as these gaffs spilled out of the campaign winding through the early days, through the fall, through the heavy primary season, and finally towards the National Convention. Every one of the heavy hitting pundits, who had never been wrong in the history of media-centric electioneering before, came up with egg on their face. Nobody got it right. Nobody.

To the aghast astonishment of every single one of the hangers-on, Trump gathered steam and systematically mowed down all sixteen of the contenders, without a taking a mark from any of the outrageous antics he had been pulling since the outset. He now stood alone as the standard bearer of his party. As the convention neared, Trump unceremoniously abandoned his amateur campaign boss, and brought a pro aboard.

At last, came the cry from the bleachers, we shall see some normalcy injected into the campaign. The predictions flew that following the national convention, Trump would be brought to heel by his family, his new manager, and the professional campaigners that had been recruited. Different tactics would be seen for the general election.

Recent events indicate there is not a chance of any change. In fact, Trump has stepped up the unnecessary, outrageous and boorish outbursts aimed at folks other than the political opponents he needs to best in November, just as he had been pulling off before. In recent times, in just the few days since the convention, he has managed to blast away at, in no particular order, a hapless Muslim couple who lost their son in Iraq, a retired and highly respected four star Marine Corps general, the fire marshal and first responders in Columbus, Ohio, Senator Kelly Ayotte, the Speaker of the House, and John McCain. John McCain!

All of these outbursts are miniature tantrums and none would last through a single news cycle in normal times, if Trump would only brush them off and walk away. But it appears clear that Trump is paying no heed to any past remonstrations from his staff, his family, the party stalwarts, congressional leadership, or anyone else, but insists on continuing to throw gasoline all around, ensuring that everything will continue to blaze and clearly indicating that he has no intention of reforming his campaign style in the future.

While all these shenanigans are soaking up the oxygen in the current news cycles, two other of Trumps’ outrageous antics are beginning to fester. Trump has suggested that Putin is a better leader than Obama, and more recently has come out with inconsistent and conflicting comments on Obama’s policies and what Trump would propose towards the Putin’s actions in the Ukraine. Chuck Todd caught Trumps’ campaign pro in a blatant lie over Ukraine issues on Meet the Press last Sunday. Most recently, Trump has suggested that Putin should turn his email hackers loose on Clinton’s personal mails.

This kind of stuff used to be completely off limits under a longstanding and non-political tradition going back to the advent of the Truman administration, at the instigation of Senator Arthur Vandenberg (R-Mich) and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He insisted that no matter how divisive the intramural partisan politics can become in an election year, in foreign matters we have one President at a time, and all politics stops at the water’s edge.

Until now, no one in their right mind would think of aggrandizing a foreign leader over the sitting President to the American voter, or challenging the current administration’s actions over any ongoing issue of foreign policy in the middle of a developing crisis. Trumps’ outrageous violation of history’s tradition, and his blatant aggrandizement of a totalitarian foreign leader at the expense of our sitting President is beside the fact that his statements inviting Putin to take action on Clinton’s campaign emails may even be actionable under federal laws against foreign interference with elections, against foreign interference with emails, and perhaps even in conspiracy to treason, now that Trump and Clinton will be receiving National Security Briefings.
The establishment cognoscenti’s hair is on fire throughout the inner beltway over these developments, and their apoplectic commentary is beginning to spew forth. However, having been burned so badly by their predictions earlier, nobody is willing come right out with any predictions as to what will or should happen to Trump on account of any of it.

But things do seem different this time. While the far right continues to confound, the overall public reaction is more predictable, and the polls are beginning to respond. The critics are a lot hotter and more persistent than before. In an interjection of a type that has not been since Truman slammed Eisenhower’s credentials for office in 1953, President Obama declared that Trump was not fit to hold the office of President. At least two major commentators have opined that Trump is mentally unbalanced, with these comments being repeated throughout the media.

Rumors fly that Trumps’ professional manager has gone into hiding leaving the campaign staff in disarray and ready to bolt. A handful of inside staffers have jumped ship already. At least two congressmen and one prominent mover and shaker, Meg Whitman of California, have jumped all the way over to Clinton’s side. Reince Priebus is said to be apoplectic at the recent developments, and particularly at Trumps’ refusal to support Ryan, Ayotte and McCain. The New York Times is leaking that more defections from the masses of Republican Poohbahs may be in the offing.

Underneath it all, there is at least the beginning of a cackle that, at long last, St. Thomas More has awakened and may be paying attention. If so, it may not be long now.

One can only hope.