The True Witch Hunt

At the risk of alienating just about everyone …
Conservatives seem to be in a lather alleging partisanship by federal investigators looking into the election of 2016 and the follow-on potential obstruction of justice.
The general beef – as I understand it – is an allegation of investigators having an anti-Trump bias. One case is the existence of anti-Trump texts (some have said inappropriately released to the press) by an investigator. I have read the offending texter was transferred to a job by Special Counsel Robert Mueller that has nothing g to do with the investigation (sort of an administrative Siberia I guess) and the situation is being reviewed by the Inspectors General. Moreover, Jill McCabe, the wife of Deputy FBI director, received about $700,000 from Terry McAuliffe for an election run for state senate. This money is supposed to have Clinton fingerprints (figuratively) all over it. That is enough to throw the conservative punditry into apoplexy.
Aside from the my-side/your-side dimension of it all, we need to be careful. We are seemingly moving perilously close to a situation where political affiliation could decide who investigates who for any number of alleged crimes. The assumption that because someone voted for a particular party, or candidate that person is somehow incapable of being impartial and is thus disqualified from executing his/her duties is dangerous and to my mind fualty. It undermines institutional mores and individual professionalism.
If you buy into it all conservative suspicion, the question then becomes should there be some political litmus test before we assign government investigators to cases? Should only Republican employees be assigned to investigate alleged Republican crimes? Should federal employees be required to divulge the content of their secret ballot to ensure staffing equity when assigning cases. See the problem?
That leads us to spouses.
Can the spouse of federal employee run for elective office? And if the spouse does, should it impact the duties and career of the federal employee? It seems Mr. Trump is making quite a lot of hubbub about Mrs. McCabe democratic run for the state senate and connecting that to Mr. McCabe’s duties relative to the 2016 investigation. Is this fair fodder? Does it matter?
Regardless, it seems some conservatives are deriding our esteemed FBI to make political hay and ensure the diminishing of whatever conclusions are eventually reached. They talk of Clinton-friendly investigators and a diabolical deep state needing rooting out, ostensible making the unnecessary and un-American case for purges and political purity.
I am beginning to believe the US intelligence community generally and the FBI specifically are becoming the subject of the real witch hunt.

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Starting With The Man In The Mirror (An incoherent ramble)

I watched with dismay yesterday as president Trump chose to put votes in the senate over decency with his half-throated endorsement of Roy Moore. I was mortified as I considered whether this is indicates a new level of picking sides with no regard for right or wrong.

I’m trying to remain intellectually honest, but it is hard these days. As the columnist Eugene Robinson suggests, we have become tribal in our approaches I often find myself fall into it, “If it is bad for Trump it must be good.”.

Take the tax bill for example. I am convinced it is a dishonest money grab for the rich at the sake of the poor – and that’s without reading it. I need to be careful not to pass judgment on things I haven’t researched, just because a political party to which I don’t belong came up with an idea. That is bad citizenship and I can’t abrogate my responsibilities to join a mob.

And while I think there needs to be some type of national health insurance, the idea that a government can force people to buy a product (ala Obamacare) just doesn’t seem right either. I am loath to admit it because it is conservative hinge pin, but there it is. On the other hand a single payer system makes all the sense in the world to me.

If I have heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times, “What would the Republicans say if Obama did (_______fill in the blank)?” It’s irrelevant. We can’t measure rightness, by the behavior of who did what to whom eight years ago. At some point we have to measure things based on their relative value and not on the political advantage one group achieves.

But it is hard. Nothing operates in isolation. Tit for tat vengeance can be a strong motivating force.

Regardless, I am going to try to be more balanced in my approach to politic stuff and look to what is right without regard to who came up with the idea. To quote the King of Pop

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change

How Delaware Ruined Catfishing

I stood on the south bank of the Delaware’s C&D Canal seething. The gorgeous morning laughed at me as cast after cast inevitably snagged on the ocean of boulders used to build the waterway. The southside is almost unfishable because of the enormous rocks.
But on the north side – heaven. There are plenty of spots where the bank is shallow and access to the gentle moving water is generous and for that matter – safe.
The north side has a gorgeous fishing pier jutting out to the water. Disabled anglers can drive up to the pier, roll up, bait hooks, toss a line in and fight the battle royal. To be clear the facilities are there just waiting, but while they can do it – they may not.

 

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The steep rocky bank on hte South side

The pier, the road, and some of the great and safest fishing spots are denied disabled and able-bodied anglers. You see, vehicular traffic is prohibited on the north side because – ironically – that is reserved for people who limbs work – it’s bicycles and runners only.

 
The gorgeous pier is now effectively off-limits. State leaders will tell you (with a wink and a not) people can still fish from the pier; one just has to walk there from the parking area, but

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The Gorgeous Pier No One Can Use

that’s not reasonable. From the parking area to the fishing spots is quite a haul and it is all but impossible for a wheel chair to make.

 
So the people who fork over money for fishing licenses are sent to unfishable on the side of the canal, while the cyclists and runners – who pay nothing – frolic on North side.

Trump Resistance Led By Women

I have in recent weeks come to more respect the bravery of women. They have seemed to show a level of courage sorely lacking in many of us men.
I speak specifically about the courage liberal and conservative women are showing in their approach to current presidential initiatives. From Susan Collins, to Elizabeth Warren, to Lisa Murkowski, to Allison Grimes; all seem to be willing to thwart presidential initiatives in numbers that don’t seem to be reflected in the male population.
From the protest of predominantly women the day after the inauguration to now it has been women, who seem to be leading the anti-Trump charge. They have made mistakes along the way, (such as disenfranchising right to life female marchers) but by-and-large it is women of all stripe that have been leading from the front.
This isn’t to suggest that women who support Trump aren’t brave; how could they be otherwise. They just aren’t the point of this note (maybe I’ll chat about them later).
My only point is the Trump resistance seem to be led by women, while men who should be in the fight sit on the sidelines, seemingly waiting it out until the tide changes, stays the same, or ebbs.
It is at least interesting.

While You Weren’t Looking The National Security Council Changed

Lost in all falderal about the refugee bans and protests at airports was an Executive Order, which reorganized the National Security Council (NSC). That reorganization excludes the Chairman of The Joint Chiefs (CJCS) from regular committee meetings and instead has him attend only when his/her expertise is needed. Moreover, it installs the controversial White House adviser Steve Bannon as a permanent member.

This is an especially worrisome development as the military members are specifically trained to develop estimates and play the role as the strongest advocate AGAINST their own position. The CJCS provides presidents and the national command authority apolitical continuity.

The second part of order is the ascension of Mr. Bannon as a permanent member. Mr. Bannon is a longtime rabble-rouser and purveyor of questionable journalistic products. He has been accused of catering to white nationalists at Breitbart News.

It is important to remember that during the campaign Mr. Trump was quick to remind that he “knows more than the generals.”

While council and committee assignments lack the visibility of protests at airports, it is in these bodies that policy and priority are determined. Assigning the right people matters. By adding Mr. Bannon and subtracting the CJCS president, Trump may be creating a body that lacks the gravitas needed for complex, dangerous decisions.

Why We Should Be Listening to Trump Supporters

I have long ago come to understand, no one is ever all right or all wrong. That’s kind of where I start with the Trump movement. He is as flawed a candidate as has ever been, but yet, he tapped into something that is real.

I think it’s the idea people believe no one cares about them and they have become little more than units of economic output working to line the pockets of the wealthy.

There is something to that. Trump voters have legitimate concerns; they see factories closing and it seems all the jobs that once led to a good middle class life are going overseas. They see a changing world-scape where America exceptionalism is global commonness.

They are not quite sure whose fault it is, but it is somebody’s. And they may be right that it is the political elite doing most of the damage, but as someone once said, “The messenger becomes the message.”

And because of all things Trump he probably won’t win, but we shun the message of his supporters at our own peril. They are on to something to here. There is a bubbling beneath the surface we all need to come to grips with if we want to move forward as a nation and an economic powerhouse.

Trump supporters are not outliers, they are educators.