By James A. Kidney It took one week for Defense Secretary James Mattis to prove wrong those who believed he might be a stabilizing island of sanity in the Trump Administration. See the picture above. It is a picture of President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Secretary Mattis last Friday at the Pentagon, where Trump executed his signature on the executive order “temporarily” barring immigration from seven Muslim countries. Note the display medal in the background. The visible one among several backing the stage is is of the Congressional Medal of Honor — the country’s highest military honor. The word “valor” is carefully staged to appear in photos above Trump’s head. Mattis is shown happily examining the pen with which Trump signed the order. I apologize for believing Defense Secretary James Mattis would bring sanity to the madness of the Trump administration. The disease that is Trump has already … Read more of this post . . .
By James A. Kidney Everyone is pleased to wave goodbye to 2016. No surprise. The angry, disturbing year had many events that made one pull the covers over your head and return to a mindless deep sleep. But these were mere portents, signs of things to come. That includes terrorism, political and social disruption, and an uneasy sense that America is not what we thought it was. Three hundred and sixty-five days from now, we may well be wishing it was 2016 again. A lot of good things happened in 2016, as recorded by Quartz, PBS, and even the snarky Huffington Post. Just Google “good things that happened in 2016” and you will find many more examples. All of these compilations begin with a bow to the terrible, awful, really, really bad election of Donald Trump. Few of them include political developments in the U.S. as a ground for optimism … Read more of this post . . .
By James A. Kidney Donald Trump’s actions as president-elect have been so aggressive that it is hard to keep up. Here are a collection of observations now that the cabinet is taking shape: We Have Our First Inarticulate President. That Means Trouble Donald Trump has the peculiar ability to speak or Tweet in abrupt, short sentences, using the same words over and over that have a visceral appeal to his supporters. This is a talent among advertising copy writers, but Trump does not so much seem to be applying a skill as testing the limits of his communication abilities. This is a serious problem for America. A President needs to communicate directly with his or her constituents. Doing so demonstrates leadership, builds confidence in the man and the office, explains policy and comforts Americans that their leader knows what he is doing. Trump has communicated only through Twitter, television appearances … Read more of this post . . .
The day after the presidential election, The New York Review of Books published an online article by Masha Gessen, a Russian and American journalist who was an outspoken critic of the Putin regime, initially for treatment of gays and lesbians and later more broadly. She moved to the U.S. in December 2013. The article, titled “Autocracy: Rules for Survival,” laid out six rules based on her personal experience under Russian autocrats. You can read the longer article linked here, but these are the rules and part of the descriptions as written by Ms. Gessen. As Trump recruits his cabinet, condemns our intelligence agencies and appears planning to rule the world with Russian President Putin (“Hey, there are two hemispheres. One each.”), these rules are worth recalling. Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is … Read more of this post . . .
By James A. Kidney Tuesday’s election results — President, Senate and House — freed liberalism from its shackles. The ransom payment is high. In the long run, it may be worth the price. The key is to put aside defeatism and start adopting new tactics now that the Democratic Party elite has been shamed and defeated by a horrible con man and his angry allies. Liberalism — by which I mean a set of political goals recognizing and trying to contain the power of the elite, bringing genuine equality of economic opportunity to those not sharing in the top five percent, and sponsoring a strong foreign policy using force as a last resort — has been treated by the Democratic Party for years as the smelly uncle at the dinner table who talks too much but contributes too little. Hillary Clinton embodied this party sentiment in her campaign, fully endorsed … Read more of this post . . .