“President Trump”: stunned disbelief

Since the United States agreed to VOLUNTARY benchmarks for our participation in the Paris climate change accord, the US withdrawal doesn’t even make sense.

Our first contestant in Ask Roger Anything -you may still participate! is Jaquandor, writer of fine books, who asks:

To what degree does the phrase “President Trump” still fill you with stunned disbelief?

It used to be about 11 on a scale of 10. Now it’s only 9.89. To this day, there are people who say I dislike him because my candidate lost. This is not at all the case. I never felt as though his predecessors lacked the ethos of being President, even when I vigorously disagreed with their positions, such as W on the Iraq war.

This guy, though, either doesn’t know how to be Presidential or actively chooses not to be. I never thought He goes on Twitter, finds a video of him hitting a golf ball and his shot “hitting” Hillary Clinton. So, like a juvenile, he retweets it.

He comes up with an unclever name for North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, “Rocket Man” – isn’t that what he wants Kim to STOP doing? The New Yorker’s David Borowitz had some satirical fun with this: In War of Elton John Lyrics, Kim Jong Un Calls Trump “Honky Cat” .

And then Trump, possibly encouraged by his shrinking base, uses it AGAIN in his address to the United Nations. This appears to be the dangerous taunting by an adolescent.

And Kim’s use of the word dotard – “a person, especially an old person, exhibiting a decline in mental faculties; a weak-minded or foolish old person” – put many Americans in the uncomfortable position of wondering whether he was onto something.

His threatened withdrawal of the Iran nuclear agreement makes creating a deal with North Korea even more difficult. Since the United States agreed to VOLUNTARY benchmarks for our participation in the Paris climate change accord, the US withdrawal doesn’t even make sense. Our allies oppose our leaving the Paris accords, and most feel the same on the Iran deal.

Trump pardons a criminal sheriff, who violated hundreds of people’s civil rights. He declares that Nazis and white supremacists can be “good people.” Then he calls NFL players who kneel for the national anthem “sons of bitches” who should be fired. The NFL commissioner Roger Goodell rightly released a statement saying Trump’s comments are “divisive” and show a lack of respect for the league, the game, and the players.

His behavior, to borrow a term, is unpresidented.

He supports various pieces of legislation in Congress without seeming to have any idea what they mean. He said that Cassidy-Graham, the now-dead latest iteration of “let’s kill Obamacare”, was “better than the other bills” the Senate tried to pass in 2017. Given the fact that the new bill’s impact hadn’t been fully explored by the Congressional Budget Office, this assertion seems dubious.

His anti-immigrant positions have helped lead foreign students to choose to go to college in Canada, travelers abroad to avoid the United States and the DACA families to feel destabilized in the US. I won’t even get into the migrant farm workers who won’t be there to pick the crops.

His insensitivity towards Puerto Rico in its hour of need is not only appalling but possibly self-serving.

So, yes, it’s difficult to believe that any “normal” President could be so terrible so quickly. See The Seth Abramson Trump Tweetstorm.

The Obama Presidency: Five Years Down, Three To Go

Whether you see Edward Snowden as whistleblower or unpatriotic – I land in the former camp – it’s difficult to think that we would not have been talking about this had he not released the information he had.

President Barack Obama Honors TeachersI know judging a two-term presidency with 36 months to go is a dodgy proposition, but what is the point of writing a blog if not to make these brilliant observations?

I had great hopes because the very first thing he tackled was wage discrimination. He was stuck with a horrendous economy in freefall, and the stimulus, despite spending that ought to have been better targeted, had an overall good effect. GM and Chrysler were saved from almost certain death, which would have had a huge ripple effect on other parts of the economy.

The Affordable Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare, was not what I wanted, as I think his team took the single-payer option off the table WAY too early. Still, the fact that it doesn’t doom persons with pre-existing conditions to, likely, no insurance is a plus, and I appreciate the provision of keeping young adults on their parents’ policies.

Although he may have become more directed on the issue because of something his Vice-President said “too early,” Obama has been strong on LGBT issues, and in particular on marriage equality. One can argue about the US participation at the Sochi Olympics, but his delegation sends a message to Russia.

Obama is rather good at speechifying. From his talks after the shootings in Arizona to Nelson Mandela’s celebration, I often like listening to what he has to say, and how he says it.

The GOOD (but late):

The commuting of the sentences of eight federal inmates who were convicted of crack cocaine offenses, when the crime, if committed today, would not have engendered as much jail time, is the right thing.


Here’s what I believe: our use of drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan and Yemen, with its inevitable loss of innocent life/”collateral damage”, is creating more terrorists. If you review the news stories about the various heads of terrorist organizations that have been killed abroad, it doesn’t appear to have had any long-lasting effect on the problem.

In the case of the NSA spying, the President is only now making plans to limit its reach, as though he had been oblivious to the extent it had been going on, which I found quite disquieting. Whether you see Edward Snowden as a whistleblower or unpatriotic – I land in the former camp – it’s difficult to think that we would not have been talking about this had he not released the information he had.

Surely, the Benghazi bombing, while not the unique situation that it has been painted, was never really well explained, and, as a recent Congressional inquiry suggests, avoidable.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is awful, and it’s little wonder Congressional Democrats are unexcited about it, citing the “potential to undermine important environmental, public health and labor standards.”

While I’ll tentatively tout Obamacare, there’s no defense to the terrible rollout on the website. If it’s your signature accomplishment, you’d think you’d make sure it worked.


Every credible thing I read about the IRS targeting of conservative groups, suggested that it was 1) also done to liberal groups and 2) fairly limited in scope. I suppose I should define “limited” to clarify that there was no suggestion that this was directed by the White House since some groups wanted to use it as grounds for impeachment.

The bluster about going to war with Syria sounded like a bluff to get Congress to own it, and at least got Damascus to the table. How that situation will play out is still up in the air.

The Iraq war is one which the US shouldn’t have been fighting in the first place, and now the country seems to be falling into the sectarian violence that I had feared would happen. Not sure WHAT should happen there.

Much of the media point to the negative but see photos you didn’t see from the President’s trip to South Africa.


Yeah, the Obamacare rollout was a mess, but it’s become an excuse for bad behavior of other players: Insurance Scam; How Private Insurance Companies Are Using Obamacare Fears To Rip People Off.

And comparisons of Obama to Hitler and Mao are just stupid. Likewise the notion that he is paving the way for the Antichrist.

To suggest that none of these tasteless characterizations, not to mention calls for his assassination are about race would be disingenuous. Hey, The New York Post cover involving President Obama’s selfie at the Mandela event managed to be racist AND sexist.

I voted for Obama, TWICE. Never bought the HOPE stuff all that much, but I thought he was better than McCain, certainly better than Romney. This does not mean I approve of everything he’s done; far from it, and I’m undoubtedly leaving some stuff out.

At the same time, I’ve thought, pretty much from the outset, that being the first black President was going to prove to be very difficult, with folks on FOX Noise and its allies complaining about what he had not accomplished as early as January 28, 2009. The “spontaneous” Tea Party opposition was in full swing by April; where was the honeymoon presidents usually get?

Unfortunately, he’s getting to be pretty much a lame-duck president. Still, maybe something unexpected will come around to burnish his legacy.

Malala, the government shutdown, and other things

I worked with Jeff Sharlet’s late mother Nancy, so I knew Jeff from when he’d beat me, legitimately, in SORRY when he was six.

I was quite moved to watch Malala Yousafzai on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart this past week. Malala is the teenager shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan, but survived, and has since set up a fund to support girls’ education. Here’s Part 1, the section that aired, but see Part 2 and Part 3 as well. If those links don’t work, try this one.

When you listen, you’ll note that what she’s advocating for is essentially a liberal arts education, wanting girls to think for themselves, radical in the environment from which she came. The group that shot her was pleased she didn’t win the Nobel Peace Prize this week Jon Stewart may want to adopt her but she is reviled in her own hometown as not being Muslim enough or being a CIA plant.
My job is funded by state and federal monies. Which is to say I’m still working, but if this partial government shutdown continues for a while, that could be a problem. Yes, the House GOP’s little rule change guaranteed a shutdown. And Speaker of the House John Boehner, last weekend, acknowledged there was a clean continuing resolution – there are no budgets anymore, just a series of CRs – last July.

I suppose it’s ironic that the “reason” for the shutdown, Obamacare, was instituted anyway on October 1, with all its technical glitches. Perhaps a better strategy for the Republicans would have been to ENCOURAGE participation of the Affordable Care Act, hoping to crash the computers.

And yet, if you give in to cynicism about our democracy, our democracy steadily erodes. If it’s their plan to get so sick of it all that we throw up both our hands and let them do what they do, I must say it’s a brilliant strategy.
The Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857. I had never heard of this.

Sometimes you get a second chance to make a lasting impression.

Melanie has resigned herself “to needing help in private, but there is something that happens to me emotionally when I have to be helped to walk, or even be carried, in public. I do not handle it well.” Also: “Have you ever tried to pray for people who seriously want you dead?

The War on Q, W, and X.

It’s been a year since Mark Evanier’s mom died.

Voice and Hammer: Harry Belafonte’s unfinished fight by Jeff Sharlet. Jeff is prominently mentioned in the article College Writers Exit ‘Bubble’. I worked with Jeff’s late mother Nancy, so I knew Jeff from when he’d beat me, legitimately, in SORRY when he was six.

Roger Ebert’s scalding review of a Rob Schneider film, and what came next.

Disney’s first African-American animator, Floyd Norman.

This Scottish ad for breast cancer awareness may be NSFW, and may save someone’s life.

The reason I like this article is not because of the specific issue, which the homophobia of the Barilla pasta guy, but because Mark Evanier explains the First Amendment so well.

I too was surprised by the lawsuit after the Smiths/Peanuts comic strip mashup. Well, not by the suit itself, but by the fact it came from the Smiths’ music publisher. The Peanuts people have long been very litigious; I DO remember the barn in question.

The back roads of western New York State. Also, Albany’s lost boardwalk.

Entitled vacationers, plus Betty White plugs Air New Zealand.

Nedroid’s Party Cat series.

Jaquandor answers my questions about politics, film casting, and end-of-writing poetry, among other topics.

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