Sore winner

During the run-up to the election, when so many people just didn’t believe they would ever have to say the words “President Trump”, many agonized over Tweety’s comments about the election being rigged, that there was massive voter fraud, that he may not accept the results, and so on. It was clear that his millions of followers were breathlessly awaiting his every Tweet, and eager to show their support for whatever he wanted them to do.

The legitimate fear throughout the land was that when he lost, he would rally the worst of them to violence in the streets. After the shocking election result, some took bitter consolation in thinking that at least this scenario was averted. It was also a given that impeachment proceedings would have immediately begun against President Crooked Hillary Clinton. Benghazi! Emails! So we were also spared that protracted convulsion.

What no one ever dreamed of was that even if he won, Tweety would continue to provoke violence in the streets. The Tweety era is proving to be far worse than we ever thought it would be, and we thought it would be pretty bad.

It’s very hard to understand Trump’s motives and behavior at this point, except if you embrace the notion that he is, in fact, deranged. He seems determined to fight with everyone, including loyalists, allies, and friends. He seems completely disinterested in the job of President. He seems to think his current role is an extension of his TV show, the ultimate purpose of which was to attract as many eyeballs as possible to publicize the brand and increase revenues.

During the campaign, Trump’s posture as provocateur and outsider help distinguish him from a large field of aspirants. When the nomination was apparently in hand, all talk turned to when Trump would “pivot” from the vulgar flame-thrower to the serious candidate for office – when would he start to show he could be “presidential”? It seemed clear to everyone that his antics were inappropriate once he was the official standard-bearer of the Republican party.

Tweety himself often repeated the promise that he could be very presidential, “more presidential than anybody”, the most presidential except Lincoln.

Although he assured us of this capability repeatedly, he never acted on it during the campaign as he cruised to the nomination. He equated being presidential with being boring, and he isn’t boring.

It turned out he was on to something. The crazy-pants chaos candidate never wavered and actually won the election. It was stunning. Then all the talk turned to what would happen next – it was one thing to be so crazy before becoming the nominee, another to be so crazy before the election, and yet another to be so crazy while president! Something had to change. Obviously.

Many of us took comfort in President Obama’s serene assurances that the power of the Oval Office itself had a way of exerting itself on whoever sat there. Once in the job, any president would immediately be moved by the awesome responsibility and weight of the surroundings, and the reality that every word and gesture would now reverberate throughout the world, perhaps with terrible consequences. Obama said January 20, 2017 would be the day of a wake-up call for Trump.

But just as Trump refused to be presidential as a primary candidate, and just as he refused to be presidential as the nominee, and just as he refused to be presidential as President-elect, he has also refused to be presidential as President.

In fact, it isn’t a question of “refusing” to do it. He simply can’t be presidential. This is because he is and always has been manifestly unsuited to the role and because he can not rise to the challenge. The fact that he cannot “fake it”, which would be easy enough to do by simply surrounding yourself with professionals and keeping your mouth shut, speaks to his mental state.

He is who he is. There is nothing to be done about changing that. Only the 25th Amendment can help us now, and that is the longest of long-shots.

Section 4: Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Too much would have to happen that almost certainly won’t, starting with a Mike Pence mutiny.  I don’t think so.

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And it is not completely clear that we can ever go back to “normal” again when Trump is finally gone. The damage done by this man may well be permanent.

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Trump boldly goes…

…to Afghanistan!

One thing you have to admit about President Donald J. Trump is that he has never wavered from his one overarching, bedrock principle: Look Out For Number One!

He doesn’t pussyfoot. He doesn’t flip-flop. He doesn’t waffle. What you see is what you get. Cover your own ass if you want to win and winning is all there is. There are no other issues or principles that matter.

A new poll shows that the Tweeter’s approval ratings in the three key rust belt states that gave him the presidency have not budged. He’s still their guy.

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Nothing matters to these people except “Obama is a Muslim” and “Lock Her Up”. Don’t bother reminding them of the Tweeter’s solemn pledge to get us out of the Afghan quagmire, tweeted (what else?) over and over again for years:

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Yesterday, a breathless nation awaited his long-promised brilliant plan for defeating al Qaeda and the Taliban, and was rewarded with a bold new policy: Into the Quagmire! It’s the only way! Kabul or Bust! More troops for the generals! More fodder for the cannons! Any reports of my abandoning the platform I was elected on are Fake News!

Of course, this announcement was made in the brilliant Trumpian style of pre-blaming others for its eventual failure.  He said he had always relied on his instincts in the past, had been hugely successful doing so, and that his instincts had been to get out of Afghanistan. But his “generals” had now claimed this was wrong and so he will reluctantly follow their advice.

Perfect. If, somehow, doing the same thing we’ve been doing fruitlessly for 16 years now magically produces positive results, then Trump’s a genius and a visionary and the best leader we’ve ever had. If it produces nothing but more body bags and years of grief for everyone involved, well, Trump is still a genius and a visionary – remember those instincts of his? The generals are to blame and will certainly pay with a good, public, career-ruining Twitter-shaming at the appropriate time.

Winning!

Best of all, no one now remembers or cares about the events of last week. It was only a few days ago that we all realized we had reached a historical inflection point and that Trump had to go.  He couldn’t bring himself to unambiguously criticize Nazis. Completely unprecedented and inappropriate for an American president of any party.  Remember? That was the straw that broke the camel’s back! No? OK, then. Never mind.

And if you don’t remember last week, I won’t bother trying to remind you of the week before. That was when the world was going to end because Trump recklessly dared the North Koreans to do something in Guam. Fire and fury, baby.

Tweety is winning. And all you losers who want to doubt him can just go home to Loserville and enjoy your loserpalooza.

 

 

Willie Mays Avenue

This week, we experienced another national paroxysm of “controversy”, the result of which is that a few more formerly obstinate people admitted what millions already found obvious: Donald J. Trump is a hyper-combative, utterly incompetent, ignorant narcissist who cannot do the job he finds himself in.

Also, he may or may not have proven himself to be a racist and Nazi sympathizer, though neither of those possibilities is nearly as important to the world as his utter incompetence.

On the plus side, a few monuments to the Confederacy have been torn down, thereby bringing the Civil War one baby step closer to conclusion, only 152 short years after the last shot was fired.

Also,  in some circles traveled only by the 1% , it has now become de rigueur to prove your bona fides on the subject of race by making some sort of gesture or speech about it, which doesn’t help all that much but doesn’t hurt either.

More than 40 years after the death of Tom Yawkey, Red Sox ownership is making little tiny noises about finally doing the right thing concerning the “legacy” of Tom Yawkey: killing it dead.

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Yawkey bought the Red Sox for himself a few days after he turned 30 years old in 1933 for $1.25 million, thereby sentencing the team and its die-hard fan base to decades of mediocrity. Yawkey had inherited $40 million from the lumber and iron empire built by his grandfather, and could finally access the money, having reached the age specified in the will.

Today, $40 million doesn’t buy that much. Maybe the privilege of watching David Price nurse a hangnail on the bench for two years, or maybe watching Pablo Sandoval eat hamburgers in the minors before recognizing you made another small mistake. But in 1933, it was real money.

Yawkey never earned or produced anything on his own, and treated the Red Sox as a private club, often taking batting practice with “his boys”.

He died in 1976, a year after the greatest World Series ever played, in which the Red Sox lost the seventh game and came up empty for the third time on his watch. They were one player short of success yet again.  The next year, Boston re-named part of Jersey St., on which Fenway Park’s main entrance sits, to Yawkey Way in honor of the great man. It’s been Yawkey Way since then.

In his day, most people in Boston thought Yawkey was a peach of a guy, and most had no problem with his views on black people. He didn’t like them. The Red Sox were the last team in baseball to put a black player on the field, waiting until 1959, and they did so half-heartedly. Pumpsie Green was the man’s name, a .246 hitter with zero power over his five year career.

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The Red Sox had the chance to sign Jackie Robinson and they passed. They did give him a tryout in 1945. A newly elected city councilman, Isadore Muchnick, campaigned to bring black players to Boston, and refused the usual formality of granting permission for the Red Sox and Braves to play on Sundays, unless they gave some guys from the Negro Leagues a tryout.

A day before the 1945 opener, Yawkey had Jackie Robinson, then of the Kansas City Monarchs, take the field for a look, along with Marvin Williams and Sam Jethroe. “We knew we were wasting our time”, Jackie said years later. No one from the press was there, and the whole charade lasted just a few minutes. It ended when someone from the stands yelled out. “Get those n—ers off the field”

In 1945, the Red Sox weren’t alone in their antipathy. But in 1949, two years after Jackie was already in the majors and the direction of history was clear, the Red Sox passed on a 17-year-old prospect named Willie Mays, who they could have signed for $4500.

In the 1950’s, the Red Sox could have, and should have, had Ted Williams in left, Willie Mays in center, and Jackie Robinson at second. But Yawkey was too smart for that. Why try to win games with guys you don’t like when it’s so much more fun to relax with the guys you like?

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The above picture is Yawkey and Carl Yastrzemski, one of his favorites, after the “Impossible Dream” Red Sox backed into the 1967 World Series, surviving the closest pennant race in history.

Yaz had a season for the ages, playing a supernatural left field all year while winning the Triple Crown. Wow. He played great in the Series, too, hitting .400 with three home runs and an On Base Percentage of .500. He carried the team  into the seventh game, where the Red Sox put their Cy Young winner, Gentleman Jim Lonborg, on the mound with only two days rest to face the immortal Bob Gibson. Gibson, of course, cruised to his third win of the Series, striking out ten and giving up only three hits, and ended the Red Sox season in the predictable fashion.

But a good time was had by all, right?

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The Red Sox were short just one player, as usual. Just one Bob Gibson. Or Jackie Robinson. Or Willie Mays. And it took another 37 years on top of that to finally get over the hump.

yawkey1

Now John Henry, principal owner of the Red Sox, is entertaining suggestions for re-naming Yawkey Way.  I think “Willie Mays Avenue” would work. My plan is that the next time I’m down there on game day, and I overhear some kid saying to his father, “Dad, why is this ‘Willie Mays Avenue’? Willie never played here!”, I’ll look at them both sadly and say, “Exactly.”

Here’s what will happen next

The President of the United States has made it clear to White Supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and their sympathizers that they have a friend in the White House, that their voice is welcomed in the national discourse, that their concerns will not be marginalized. They will have a seat at the table and equal time as needed to make their points.

You’re probably wondering how the Republic can now endure. Clearly, we have reached a historic precipice and whatever happens next will impact us all for years to come. Whatever principles we thought we were fighting for in World War II have been abandoned, and new principles are taking their place. Clearly, there is no longer any doubt that Donald J. Trump is unfit and must be removed from office, one way or another.

It’s all a bit unnerving and I’m sure you’d like a little guidance as we stare into the abyss.

Well, you’ve come to the right place. Due to the exceptionally clear internet weather we have recently been experiencing, plus the well-known GOML clairvoyance on issues such as these, we can now tell you exactly what will happen next. Ready?

Nothing.

Exactly nothing will now happen to Donald J. Trump.

This latest firestorm will not occupy our attention as long as “Obama Tapped My Wires” or “Grab Them By The Pussy”. The news cycle has already started to move on with the van attack in Barcelona, followed by some exceptionally absurd tweeting from you-know-who about how General Pershing soaked his bullets in pig’s blood, thereby scaring Muslims out of terrorism for 25 years (carefully adding that you won’t find this in “some” history books. The fake ones, I guess.).

It’s now Tweety’s favorite time: time to “fight back”. No one does it better or enjoys it more.

fight

Re: Charlottesville, the subject has already been changed. Instead of discussing why the former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan is congratulating the President on his courage, honesty and support, we will discuss whether Robert E. Lee occupies an important place in American history. Controversial!

Instead of asking why Tweety thinks counter-protesters are as bad as Nazis, or why he thinks they had no permit to assemble when they did, or why he is saying there were “many good people” supporting the “Unite the Right” rally when he can’t point to a single one, we will debate whether the “Alt-left” is a terrorist threat.

And right on cue, a State Senator from Missouri has stepped into the snare, saying she wished Trump would be killed. See? What’d we tell ya? The left is worse than the right! Nazis get very unfair treatment from the Fake News.

The goalposts have already been moved. There will be some hours of discussion where much evidence is produced that Tweety was right all along – that some people on the left are as bad as any on the right, that those who wish to honor our confederate past have been improperly silenced and bullied, that the fake media is fake, etc. etc.

Oh, and I almost forgot – the mayor of Chicago is now being asked to remove statues of George Washington because “It’s time”. Just like the Tweeter-in-Chief predicted! Now who’s the idiot, huh?

Political cover has already been granted to the professionals. Anodyne statements condemning racism and anti-semitism have been issued by former presidents and current congressmen. So brave! Seriously – was anyone going to issue a statement saying racism and anti-semitism weren’t really so bad? The President is not mentioned by name, except by the handful of usual suspects who are then personally attacked and dismissed as envious losers.

James Murdoch wrote a “personal letter” about it and pledged a million dollars to the Anti-Defamation League. Steve Cohen, a Democratic congressman from Tennessee says he will file articles of impeachment.

It’s all whispering in the hurricane, kids. Tweety is immune from such trifles. To quote the man himself, “Watch!”

As is to be expected, Tweety is already on the record with his own all-purpose condemnations of racism, thereby inoculating himself from his own disease and preemptively refuting evidence to the contrary.  As always, he has made sure that he has said something, however vague, that can prove he was correct from the get-go about anything and everything that might come up. The man has never been wrong once.

Apart from lack of any movement on the real issue here (bringing the Tweety era to a close), there actually will be some positive changes on the ground, although mainly only symbolic ones which will not stop the “free speech vs. hate speech” debate treadmill we just stepped on. Some Confederate monuments will finally be removed and some planned “Unite the Right” events will be cancelled. We repeat: Not The Point.

And late night comics are doing some great work. I particularly like this Jimmy Kimmel rant. Enjoy.

President violates Twitter T.O.S.

The In-House Corporate Counsel here at GOML has issued a strongly worded memo which will shortly be sent to Omid Kordestanti, the Executive Chairman of Twitter, and Jack Dorsey, its C.E.O.

The memo points out that the President of the United States is in clear violation of the Twitter Terms Of Services (T.O.S.) agreement that all users must abide by, and should have his account de-activated immediately, not only for the protection of the innocent people he routinely harasses using the social media site, but also to prevent further de-stabilization of the U.S. political and social landscape, and to improve the diplomatic climate on which world peace depends.

The memo sites the T.O.S agreement, noting particularly the “Abusive Behavior” element of the “Twitter Rules”:

We believe in freedom of expression and in speaking truth to power, but that means little as an underlying philosophy if voices are silenced because people are afraid to speak up. In order to ensure that people feel safe expressing diverse opinions and beliefs, we do not tolerate behavior that crosses the line into abuse, including behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another user’s voice.

It is a regular and predictable event that when someone is mildly or even inadvertently critical, or is simply perceived to be critical of the President, that person will certainly be attacked and insulted via Twitter. Those attacks are exactly “behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another user’s voice.”

Before yesterday, the most recent example had been Mitch McConnell, who made the mistake of mentioning that the President was new to the job and may not yet fully appreciate what’s involved in getting laws passed. This is something the Trump camp itself has repeated often as a way to emphasize Trump’s “outsider” bona fides, so McConnell certainly wouldn’t have thought himself to be attacking Trump. But Trump turned on him using Twitter.

But there’s no need to dissect that particular instance. The New York Times has kept a running account of Trump’s Twitter attacks on others.  There are hundreds and hundreds.

There is no question that these attacks are meant to silence criticism, and no question that they do so effectively. After the Alt-Right violence in Virginia a few days ago, Trump’s tepid and inappropriate response resulted in several CEO’s leaving his Management Advisory Counsel, starting with Merck CEO, Kenneth Frazier, followed immediately by the predictable Twitter attack-tirade from Trump.

Frazier was soon followed out by the Intel and Under Armor CEOs, but others stayed with Trump, not wanting to jeopardize their relations with a business-favoring White House, and, more importantly, not wanting to incur the Twitter-wrath of the POTUS. Who would want to be the subject of an attack-tweet from the leader of the free world?

Even Mrs. Stewie Generis, sipping coffee across the table from me as I write these words, is warning me to be careful what I write as there is a possibility that Trump could single us out and we wouldn’t want that!

In explaining why other CEOs and business leaders, e.g. Michael Dell, Jeff Immelt, and Richard Trumka, have issued statements abhorring racism but stayed with Trump and not endorsed Frazier’s actions, Michael Strain, an economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said,

“I’m sure that corporate leaders feel some reticence to speak out because they’re afraid of being attacked by the president by name.”

Exactly! And exactly what violates the Twitter T.O.S.

So what should you do to support the effort to ban the President from Twitter? Spread the word. Write a letter to the Twitter management team. Carry signs. Get a bumper sticker made. Start an online petition at Change.org. Get involved!

You are hereby granted permission to cite the GOML legal team in your efforts and you should know we’ll be right behind you every step of the way.

Right up until that first attack-tweet hits us – then we’re out. I’m sure you understand.

attack

Tweeting towards Armageddon

Only 200 days into the current administration and we are apparently on the brink. Another brilliant accomplishment for the man-baby!

The last time talk of nuclear strikes was so public and scary was in October, 1962. The Soviet Union had installed missiles in Cuba, and President Kennedy had to figure out what to do about it. He understood that the greatest threat he faced during the crisis was the accidental triggering of an action because of a misunderstanding, a misperception, or a miscommunication. He was very careful with the words he used and strictly controlled the messages coming from others in his administration.

He had read Barbara Tuchman’s “The Guns of August” not long before, a book which focuses on how WWI got started, and the thought of just how easy it was to blunder into war was very much on his mind. He asked his generals how many Americans would die  if a single missile struck the U.S., and was told 600,000. He immediately pointed out that this was more than all the casualties of the Civil War, and that we hadn’t come close in 100 years.

J.F.K. had served with distinction in the Navy in WWII, and was a serious student of war, history, and the presidency. He had a lot to draw on to make the important decisions needed, and he succeeded in averting war and getting the missiles out of Cuba.

Donald J.Trump, on the other hand, brags of never having read a book, successfully dodged military service, and demonstrates over and over that he knows little of war, history or the presidency.

The bluster that’s been coming out of North Korea has rarely been taken seriously in recent years, and Kim Jong Un has been regarded as an eccentric, somewhat comical pariah. But with Tweety carrying the nuclear football, things have changed. His “leadership style” is the same as that of Kim Jong Un. They both “value” unpredictability and will say anything. In the case of Donald J. Trump, his “thoughts” almost always take the form of 140-character tweets, and they are never validated or vetted by anyone else beforehand. Tweet first, ask questions later is the rule he has lived by.

This is an excellent recipe for the accidental triggering of nuclear war. But unlike incendiary tweeting on other subjects, there will be little opportunity for walking it all back, “explaining” what was really meant, or blaming others as is his wont (there is already some viral disinformation blaming Bill Clinton for North Korea’s nuclear program).

I would imagine there are very few Europeans, for example, who would say there is any difference between Trump and Kim at this point – neither can be trusted and neither seems to be making any more sense than the other.

In 200 days, Trump has managed to reduce the status of President of the United States to the level eccentric, somewhat comical pariah.

But in the mind of the man-baby, “standing up” to Kim in this way is a unique “accomplishment”, and completed faster than anyone else in history! Best of all, talk of Russian meddling in the election has been knocked off the internet, and everyone knows your approval ratings get a huge bump when you start a war!

Well done.

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Tweets are not nothing

When your president impulsively blasts out some crazy nonsense via twitter, there is a certain amount of comfort to be taken in knowing that whatever it is can’t and won’t happen because it’s, well, crazy.

But he’s the President. He tweeted it. It’s not nothing. It’s what was going through his tiny orange brain at that instant, even if he contradicts it the next. And even though tweets don’t (yet) have the force of law, or even an Executive Order, they do have an effect. At the very least, they can be a not-so-subtle, direct, and important threat. At worst they may have real consequences, possibly unintended.

Tweety often threatened to arrest and deport millions of undocumented immigrants, mainly through Twitter. None of these threats took the form of any formal policy (though he did sign some Executive Orders, which provide “guidance” on enforcing current regulations), much less law, and it was unclear how much of the bold talk could ever really be implemented or pass legal muster.

But simply tweeting about it bypassed all that messy debate that goes with making law, and all that messy paperwork and interaction with agencies that are supposed to be part of making regulations. The President had tweeted something, and this was good enough for Immigration officers and police, many of whom agreed with the sentiment behind it. From this February  NYT piece:

Gone are the Obama-era rules that required them to focus only on serious criminals. In Southern California, in one of the first major roundups during the Trump administration, officers detained 161 people with a wide range of felony and misdemeanor convictions, and 10 who had no criminal history at all.

“Before, we used to be told, ‘You can’t arrest those people,’ and we’d be disciplined for being insubordinate if we did,” said a 10-year veteran of the agency who took part in the operation. “Now those people are priorities again. And there are a lot of them here.”

Interviews with 17 agents and officials across the country, including in Florida, Alabama, Texas, Arizona, Washington and California, demonstrated how quickly a new atmosphere in the agency had taken hold. Since they are forbidden to talk to the press, they requested anonymity out of concern for losing their jobs.

The hoped-for effect was achieved just that quickly: illegal immigration apparently declined as many people feared heavy-handed treatment, legal or not.

When Tweety gives a speech to police about treating people they arrest less gently – don’t worry if they get a little bruised as you put them in the squad car – it has an effect. A lot of people wanted to hear something like that. Even if it’s followed by few hours of outrage on MSNBC and a few clarifying interviews with police chiefs assuring us that their policy will remain as respectful of law as always, you can bet there will be a few more bruises now. It’s inevitable.

When Tweety preposterously decreed over Twitter that transgender people will no longer be welcome in any role in the military, generals of all descriptions immediately emerged to explain that nothing will change until due process takes its course. But something will change. A chilling effect immediately takes effect and trans people will be less inclined to begin or continue a military career. Their numbers will be reduced simply by virtue of a tweet or two.

Tweety blames China for the rise of North Korea’s nuclear program. In a tweet. He thus creates a diplomatic problem. China will not ignore Presidential tweeting. They will adjust their behavior one way or another, irrespective of the diplomatic protocols of the past. Even if everyone agrees that such tweeting is not a substitute for the State Department, or treaty obligations, or existing back channel communications, tweeting is not nothing. It has a disruptive and possibly unintended effect.

Tweety is furious that the A.C.A. has not been repealed. He has repeatedly tweet-threatened to withhold payments known as “cost sharing reductions” to the insurance companies. This threat alone can de-stabilize the insurance markets and possibly have devastating effects on millions of people.

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Tweety is upset so it’s time to threaten the insurance companies, congress, and those who rely on their health insurance, in some cases to simply breathe.

And in this case, it is something that’s actually within the power of the president to do. It’s not an empty threat. And, as is his custom, Tweety tells us he’ll let us know what he’s going to do later in the week and that we’ll just have to “see”. No need for Congress or the Supreme Court. Just “we’ll see”.

Tweets are not nothing.  A few crazy tweets is all it takes to make a mess.