The Presidency is not for Amateurs

Until the most recent presidential election, this country has never had a president who had absolutely no experience working within the government. Lincoln is the closest be he did hold a seat in the Illinois House of Representatives and was a captain in the state’s militia. Trump, however has had no such experience what-so-ever and it is beginning to show in spades.

Our country has had several presidents who held no previous elective offices but all were army generals. Two, Polk and Grant, were no good as president and served just a single term. But even they had some understanding of the nuances of governing. Historically, flag officers, generals and admirals, have had to deal with politicians if only to promote a part of the military needing funding or other political favor. As an aside, of the 44 individuals who have served as president, only 13 had no military service. But of those 13, FDR had served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and William Howard Taft served as Secretary of War.

In the 19th Century and into the beginning of the 20th Century, our country was isolationist. We were far more worried about what was happening on the home front than on being a force, either economically of militarily, on the world scene. World War 1 brought us part way out of that malaise, and World War 2 ended any lingering effects of isolationism. The United States had become a world leader first militarily and then economically. And since 1945, our responsibilities in both areas have steadily increased to where the rest of the world, even those countries who do not like us, look closely at what we do. This is particularly true of our economic and military partners.

President Trump just showed on the world’s stage how ill-suited he is for the job of president. He took a victory lap for landing a billion-dollar military deal claiming it will mean jobs for Americans. It may mean a few jobs, but the truth is, the contracts will be for equipment American companies are already producing and those companies are not likely to find the need to add many, if any, new employment positions. But Trump missed the more important deal to be had. Saudi Arabia flatly refused to put sanctions on ISIS groups existing within its own borders. Trump’s move was to leave the country with no military deal. For all his bluster about getting tough on ISIS, when the first chance for him to back up his rhetoric, he cowered. He seemed to forget that Saudi Arabia needs us more than we need it.

We live in an extremely dangerous world. There is no shortage of governments who want to take shots at the United States. Iran, North Korea, Russia, China and a number of other countries are not our allies and each has been known to give aid to terrorists. And while we have been able to clamp down on Iran and have decent trade pacts with China, neither of these countries would come to our aid.

The middle east is likely to remain unstable for years, if not decades, to come. Extremist groups in middle eastern and central Asia are not likely to be neutralized any time soon as can been seen in Afghanistan. But a more present danger lies in North Korea. The North Korean leader seems hell-bent on creating a war in his region. The peace that has been experienced on the Korean peninsula has been a tenuous one at best since 1953. One of our staunchest allies is South Korea but even with the tensions that exist there now, President Trump has not seen fit to schedule a visit. Why?

Not far from Korea is a long-time friend we are fast losing, the Philippines. I had the chance to talk to a well-educated Filipino recently and he informed me that even though his country has begged the United States for assistance militarily, none has been given. There is an insurgency in that country that if successful would put the Philippines at odds with U.S interests. My fear is that since the Philippines do not present the military or economic power to gain front page news, something negative will happen there if we do not treat them respectfully, recognize their difficulties and work with them for a resolution.

The Presidency is not place for amateurs and yet that is exactly what we have there now. He has surrounded himself with his billionaire friends who also have no government experience. The American people should consider this to be a most troubling of the Trump regime. Is difficult to navigate a mine field when you know what you are doing and impossible when you do not.


Is Massachusetts Turning Republican?

Twenty years ago such a question would be laughable.  Even today some might scoff at it considering the makeup of the Massachusetts legislature is overwhelmingly Democrat.  I am, and always have been, a registered Democrat.  But I suspect that like me, many of my fellow Democrats in this state are rather fed up with the arrogance shown by the state’s Democrats.

Massachusetts has elected the occasional Republican to state-wide and national office, Edward Brooke and William Weld in the more distant past.  But they were more the exception.  State politics has been large dominated by Democrats since the FDR administration, and to some degree prior to that with James Michael Curley.  But recent events where Democrats have been accused and convicted of felonious acts has given the state’s voters reason to question their elected leaders.  The worst thing they have done, which is not a crime but a betrayal of faith, has been the arrogance of the party leadership in the state.

Two national offices are being heavily contested in the state right now, that for a U.S. Senate seat, Brown vs. Warren, and US Representative seat, Tierney vs. Tisei.  And in some sense, Mitt Romney too, although I view him as truly a Michigan native rather than a Massachusetts resident.

In the case of Brown vs. Warren, we have a very affable Republican in Brown who is the state’s Republican US Senator being opposed by a very cerebral and professorial sounding Warren.  And that is her biggest problem.  She claims to come from blue-collar America but sounds anything but.  If anything, she comes across as preachy and professorial.  She is difficult to identify with at much of any level.  Brown, quite simply, comes across as entirely middle-class.  He is a middle-class veteran that I can more easily identify with than Warren’s academic persona.  If history teaches us anything, it is that people vote for who they best identify with which does not necessarily mean who is best qualified.  In this case, however, I cannot say that Brown is not best qualified to both serve and properly represent me.  That, it is my guess, is the question Warren needs to respond to more than any other and which, I doubt, the Democratic leadership of this state will come to terms with.  In the end, I expect Brown will be re-elected.  And even though I cannot say for certain right now, he may well get my vote.

Tierney is a case of absolute arrogance.  I do not, for a second, want Tisei to win this race however I feel he has an excellent chance of doing exactly that.  Not so many years Thomas Finneran had the same arrogance being displayed by Tierney.  As it turned out, Finneran was guilty of, at the very least, comprising the public trust for his own personal ends.  I think Tierney is guilty of the same thing.  It is difficult to believe that a man, as intelligent as he is, had no idea of his family’s involvement in illegal gambling activities long before it became public.  I have to admit that my distrust of Tierney pre-dates that.  It goes back to the mid-1990s when he was opposed by a man named Peter Torkilson, a Republican.  I voted for Torkilson back then on a gut feeling that he was simply the better man.  Unfortunately I am no longer in that district so I cannot have any say in that election.  I do not believe, however, that the state’s Democratic leadership has properly and fully addressed the charges leveled against Tierney by the Republican party.  It simply and arrogantly believes he will get re-elected because you have to go far before anyone’s memory to find a Republican being elected from that district.  The thing is, I know that district to be more conservative than party leaders tend to believe.  It would not take much for more conservative Democrats, like myself, to turn the present election in favor of Tisei.  And that is exactly what I believe is going to happen.

Right now probably few people in Massachusetts believe that Mitt Romney will carry his declared home-state in the presidential election.  The last time that happened was when Al Gore failed to carry his home state of Tennessee.  And as likely as it is that Obama will carry Massachusetts, it should not be taken for granted.  And yet that is exactly what Democratic leadership is doing.

In the latest round of political debates, Warren, Biden, and Obama each lost their respective debates.  Tierney and Tisei will not have any public debate forum although they should.  The point is, Democrats seem to be riding on their laurels thinking they have the upper hand.  They do not, by any stretch of the imagination.  Since those debates, each of the Democrats has lost their lead in the respective race to their Republican opponent.  That is extremely significant because it shows a reversal of fortunes.

I think most Americans find it difficult to believe much of anything politicians say, even those they vote for.  You frequently hear them state they are “voting for the lesser of two evils.”  How can that ever be a good thing?  I noted in the debates that when asked direct and simple questions, those question largely went unanswered.  The politician being asked did a tap dance around the truth, but seldom gave what was a clear and simple answer.  Would it not be refreshing to hear a candidate just once say, “I don’t know, but I intend to find out.”

I do not think Massachusetts is suddenly going to become a state in which Republicans rule the roost.  But I do believe, at least in the two contests mentioned, that Republican will prevail.  I think it good that Republican should have more of a say in this state’s politics.  It makes the Democrats more honest, or possibly honest in the first place.  But maybe, just maybe, it will knock some of the arrogance from the state’s Democrat Party.