Outrage in the Sun

Outrage in the Sun

While happily tweeting from his golf club in New Jersey this morning, President Trump decided to attack the Carmen Yulin Cruz, Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Just like Kim Jong Un, John McCain and the NFL; she has run afoul of the President’s little fingers because she has called out the Federal response to the Puerto Rican disaster.

The United States military: poised to invade North Korea, helicoptering thousands from the flood waters of Houston, is unable to respond to the incredible disaster that Hurricane Maria made of Puerto Rico. “Because, you know, it’s an island, surrounded by water, big water, ocean water.”

I don’t believe that for a second. Our military, arguably the finest in world history, can’t launch an “invasion” of one of our islands in the Caribbean? Didn’t we do that to Granada in the 1980’s? Can’t we airborne in the 82nd and the 101st, can’t we land on the beaches with the 1st Marines? We obviously can. It’s not a question of capability, it’s a question of will.

And not even the will of the military. It’s been interesting to listen to the interviews with the lower level officers. In one, the communications director of the Naval Hospital Ship Comfort, tried to explain why they didn’t even leave for Puerto Rico until ten days after the hurricane struck. “It takes five days to mobilize,” he explained, as they draw the crew of the ship from land based medical facilities. And it takes four days to get to the island (you know, surrounded by water, big water, ocean water.) But the question that was left unanswered, over and over, was why wasn’t the order to mobilize given as soon as the destruction was clear. Why the four day wait?

It’s a question of will. And not the will of the “generals” who we have depended upon to make the “adult” decisions in our country: not the will of Mattis, and Kelly and McMasters. This was a failure of the will of the civilians in Washington. The acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, said the Puerto Rican effort was a “good news” story. Her agency, including FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) was “in charge” of rescue and recovery efforts.  And she serves at the “pleasure” of the President.

Yesterday, Mayor Cruz responded to the “good news.” She presented the thousands of pages of “red tape” she was struggling with to get needed supplies out to the people of San Juan and the rest of the island. She made the very clear case that this was about “life and death,” not paperwork. And she also made it clear that the US citizens of Puerto Rico were being left to die.

Trump, meanwhile, is arguing about the Puerto Rican debt, beginning the case for NOT rebuilding their infrastructure. He is trying to lay blame back onto the territorial government. But there is a more insidious reason for Trump’s lack of compassion and action.

Puerto Ricans are US citizens, but they don’t vote for President. The only non-state with that privilege is the District of Columbia. And even if they did, Puerto Rico is a heavily Democratic territory. And they are Hispanic.

But, you might say, Trump responded to Houston, a city with large minorities. He responded even more so to Texas, that big Republican state that gave him great margins. And what about Florida? Look at the vote totals, and besides, Mara Lago is there!!

So Trump was slow to respond to what he considered to be “some other part” of the world, not the United States. Now, as the references to Bush’s debacle in New Orleans with Katrina grow louder, Trump is beginning to move. While he can tweet all he wants about Mayor Cruz, he’s finally given the orders to make rescuing Puerto Rico a military mission. In an era where we grow more and more dependent on the military to solve our problems, there should be a nagging worry there. But in the meantime, invade Puerto Rico and save as many as we can. It’s already too late.

 

 

 

 

 

Who’s Afraid of a Snow Flake?

Who’s Afraid of a Snow Flake?

What is a Snow Flake? It is a multi-sided crystalline of frozen water, falling from the sky when temperatures are below freezing. No snowflake is the same, they are diverse, by definition.

In “Trump World,” Snow Flake is used to describe a “liberal”: someone who “melts” at the first sign of trouble, who cannot stand up for what they believe. They are “bleeding hearts”, “lovers of strays”: ones who cannot turn away from the problems of others. Snow Flakes are defined as scared, bullied, unable to deal with differences “like a man,” (often because they are in fact, women); unable to take care of themselves without the “nanny” state.

And yet in our current society, who is most “scared?” Snow Flakes aren’t the ones claiming they need guns to “protect their homes.” Snow Flakes aren’t frightened of the challenges of diversity, of the “browning” of America, of the reality that gender identity is gray, not black and white. Snow Flakes are willing to accept differences, and work to learn how others live, not demanding that “the different” hide themselves.  And Snow Flakes aren’t scared of the economic challenges of a changing world, they don’t need to build walls of steel, or tariffs, to protect America.

Snow Flakes aren’t challenged by young African American men, kneeling in solidarity with their brothers at an NFL football game. Snow Flakes recognize that there are grays in our society: it isn’t a binary choice between supporting “the thin blue line” or “Black Lives Matter.”

Snow Flakes see the American flag as a symbol for what makes America great, and that the ability to speak out, even for an unpopular cause, is one of the hallmarks of American greatness. As the French philosopher Voltaire is misquoted as saying; “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” (It was his biographer, Evelyn Beatrice Hall, a woman!!)

And Snow Flakes aren’t indifferent to Americans in crisis, even though they may be Hispanic Americans living in Puerto Rico (they know Puerto Ricans are US Citizens.)   They aren’t willing to accept a government that won’t take care of the less fortunate, and they aren’t interested in tax cuts for the wealthy.

In fact, Snow Flakes are pretty hardy, willing to stand up for those who cannot: not melting down at the first challenge to their preconceived notions. They aren’t afraid of Muslims, gays, the city, or immigrants. And Snow Flakes aren’t afraid to get to the facts of what happened in the 2016 Presidential election. In fact, when you really get down to it, who IS melting down in our current political situation? It doesn’t seem to be the Snow Flakes.

 

 

Highs and Lows

Highs and Lows

Today the “ other shoe” dropped on the Graham-Cassidy “Health Care Plan.” Susan Collins, Republican Senator from Maine has determined that she cannot vote for a bill that wipes out insurance for millions. This, along with John McCain’s and Rand Paul’s ‘no’ vote, means that the Republicans cannot pass the legislation through the Senate.

Most bills in the Senate require a majority fifty-one votes for passage (or fifty with the tie-breaking vote of the Vice President.) But before a bill gets a final vote, Senate rules allow unlimited debate. To oppose a bill, unlimited debate can expand to a full-blown filibuster, and prevent the Senate from continuing any business. The Senate has found a “civilized” way out of this work stoppage. It takes sixty votes to stop the debate, so they take a vote at the beginning of debate to see if there are enough to stop it. If there is, then debate limits are set, and a vote is scheduled. If there aren’t, then that piece of legislation fails there, without filibuster and the “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” drama.

There are a couple of exceptions to the “sixty vote” (cloture) rule. Nominations to the US Supreme Court, and certain bills relating to taxes are a straight majority vote. This is how Justice Neil Gorsuch received his appointment, and, for the next four days, it is how that Graham-Cassidy  (as a “tax” bill) could pass. That bill’s status as a “fifty vote” bill expires on September 30th. If there’s not fifty votes, then the issue is dead. Likely Graham-Cassidy will never be called to the floor for a vote.

It’s a good day for the Affordable Care Act, and for America. When the dust settles, it will be up to the Senate Democrats and Republicans to return to the table, to negotiate a way to fix, improve and make the ACA work. I hope our legislators can hammer their swords into plowshares for at least this important American question.

On a much more personal note it’s also been a day of highs and lows. On the low side, a friend got sick last week, went to the hospital, and is now home with a terminal diagnosis. There is little to do but be a friend and help. When we get so upset, depressed, and angry with what is going on from Russia, to the NFL, to healthcare, to the arrogance of the Trump Administration; it is important to remember that change can happen fast, and life can be altered.

To end on a high note, a different friend officially adopted his son today, and honored us by an invitation to the Courtroom for the final adjudication. He has been the boy’s father for three and a half of his four-year life, and the father/son bond between them is clear to all. Now it is official, and the joy in the face of the father (and the pride of the young son in his “official” last name) shines out.

Hug the ones you love.

Watching the NFL

Watching the NFL

I am a Bengals fan and I have been since 1968. That’s what you get for growing up in Cincinnati. As a Bengals fan I am aware that there will be many seasons when I will be “freed” from my obligation to watch the weekly game. Some years they are just that bad.  But today I am watching the NFL, and not just the two loss Bengals versus the two loss Packers. No, today I am even watching the two loss Colts versus the two loss, dare I say it, Browns.

1968 was not just the beginning of the Bengals. It was also the year of the Mexico City Olympics, the year when two of my track heroes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, made a stand against racism in the United States. After scoring the gold and silver medals in the 200 meter dash (my favorite race) they raised gloved left fists as the Star Spangled Banner was played.

1968 was the year of the death of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, the year of race riots in many cities in America, and the year when our nation was torn apart about Vietnam. Tommie Smith and John Carlos represented the best of American track athletes, and they knew the price they would pay for their actions. The American Olympic Committee, led by the infamous Avery Brundage, dismissed them from the team, with the 4×100 and 4×400 relays to go.

Smith and Carlos raised their fists and American and world awareness of the lack of civil rights in America, and ended their careers in track and field. Colin Kaepernick did the same. He took up the challenge of an America whose President cannot distinguish between legitimate protest and white supremacy and who is willing to use the latent racism of our nation to advance his own political cause. Kaepernick figured this out last year, sooner than most, and is paying the ultimate price of NFL exile for his action.

I was not a believer in the Colin Kaepernick, taking a knee during the National Anthem. I reflected that here was a man making millions, using the Anthem as a stage for his protest. I looked for a more “appropriate” way. But Kapernick knew early what we all have found out later: that racism is still an inherent part of America, whether we recognize it or not. Kaepernick was right – though it may be uncomfortable for the rest of America to see it.

And while Avery Brundage used his authority to “put down” the revolt of protest, the NFL (amazingly) has recognized another American value: the right to your own opinion, and the right to express it. Today the NFL (and many other professional sports) are showing solidarity with Kaepernick, whether they are taking a knee at the Anthem or not. Today I watched the Browns link arms, kneeling or standing, to demonstrate that they are one as a team, black or white. So did the Colts, and the Ravens in London as well.

And the President, rather than recognizing that America is still flawed and that the First Amendment allows and encourages this respectful action, instead uses his “bully pulpit” to call them “son of bitches” and demand their firing. He has raised the level of their protest, a protest that recognized early the internal racism that has become more and more evident in our nation.

Trump has called on Americans to “boycott” the NFL until the protests stop. So I will watch my Bengals – bad or good. I’ll even watch the Browns – and if I must, the Steelers. I will stand for what is good in America, even if it means kneeling.

God Speed, John McCain!!

God Speed John McCain!!

John McCain is the Senator of Arizona, hero of Vietnam, and the Presidential candidate who showed what grace in loss is all about. John McCain was the Senator who at the midnight hour, dramatically returned from brain surgery and turned his thumb down to defeat the Republican Senate’s last attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Today John McCain announced that in good conscience he cannot vote for friend Senator Lindsey Graham’s newest attempt to repeal Affordable Care Act.

McCain’s vote, combined with Kentucky’s Rand Paul (who believes that the Graham/Cassidy Bill doesn’t repeal enough), and one more Republican Senator will defeat the bill, and finally, put the Republican attempt to end the Affordable Care Act to rest.

Graham/Cassidy takes the amount of money currently spent for the Affordable Care Act, and sends it to the states in “block grants” where the states can use it to either continue what they are doing now, or alter it. The problem, over the next ten years the dollars are continually reduced, and then finally eliminated.

Graham/Cassidy ends the individual mandate, the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act that hoped to keep it affordable. It calls for insuring those with pre-existing conditions, but it allows for separate pricing, so that most of those folks would be priced out of the market. And finally, its reduction in funding would end both Medicaid expansion and even rollback some of those who had Medicaid before the Affordable Care Act. While the Congressional Budget Office will be unable to “score” the bill before a September 30th vote, it is likely that twenty million or more people will lose insurance.

So, after the debacle of “skinny repeal” last month, why would the Republicans come to this again?

Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa, answered the question for the Des Moines Register:

“You know, I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn’t be considered,” Grassley said. “But Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign. That’s pretty much as much of a reason as the substance of the bill.”[1]

It’s not about what’s good for “the people,” it’s about Republicans campaigning for eight years to end “Obamacare, ” They have to try do it. The fact that it may well fail again isn’t the point. The major Republican donors have made it a “must do” priority. Going into the 2018 election, Senators must show they have used every opportunity to try to end Obama’s signature achievement.[2]

And it’s an integral part of the overall Republican strategy on taxes. If they can find a way to pass repeal, they well then have over $300 Billion to use for their expected tax cuts.[3]

The clock is ticking. The Senate Parliamentarian has ruled that after September 30th, the special rule that allows for a fifty-one vote passage (or fifty with the Vice Presidential tiebreaker) will expire, returning the Senate to normal rules, where sixty votes are required for passage.

What will Senator Murkowski of Alaska, or Senator Susan Collins of Maine do? Both voted against the “skinny repeal,” and neither have committed either way on the current legislation. If either or both announce that they will not support, then Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won’t bring the bill to the floor for a vote. The pressure on these two must be incredible. I’m sure they are waiting on the Presidential tweet!

If this bill fails, it will allow a bipartisan attempt to revamp and improve the Affordable Care Act to continue. Senate Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander and Democratic Senator Patty Murray were working on this process before the introduction of Graham/Cassidy (and the presentation of a single payer proposal by Senator Bernie Sanders.) Ten governors, five Republicans and five Democrats, have endorsed this attempt and oppose Graham/Cassidy.

And, as far as insurance companies and medical providers are concerned, they need a stable environment to establish pricing and policies. After nine years it is time for the Affordable Care Act to become established law, with the Congress working to fix and improve, rather than destroy. Thank God for the courage of some Republican Senators, like McCain, who have determined to put country ahead of party.

 

 

[1] http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2017/09/20/chuck-grassley-regardless-substance-republicans-must-support-health-bill/685674001/

[2] https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/9/21/1700305/-Voters-hate-Republican-healthcare-bills-but-the-donors-who-matter-demand-repeal

[3] https://www.cbpp.org/research/health/like-other-aca-repeal-bills-cassidy-graham-plan-would-add-millions-to-uninsured

What’s in a T Shirt?

What’s in a T-Shirt?

For the past forty years I have had the privilege of being part of the McGowan Cross Country Invitational at Watkins Memorial High School (originally the Watkins Invitational.) Since 1984, I have been the meet manager.   This meet has grown from a dozen teams running in four races, to over 100 high school teams and over 100 middle school teams running in eighteen races. We are one of the biggest meets in Ohio.

For the first 38 years of the meet, the Cross Country Team and Track Team ran all of the elements of the meet except for ticket sales and parking. No one was particularly interested in a small meet. As we grew, the work became greater, and the finances became more complicated. Four years ago, the teams gave the concessions to the Watkins Athletic Association.

So the Coaches and athletes of Watkins Cross Country and Track organize and execute one of the biggest meets in Ohio. While we do it for the love of the sport and the love of our woods at Watkins, we also use this as our team fundraiser for the year. We do this by selling meet T-Shirts. Unlike other teams that have to sell and hustle everything from candy bars to popcorn to light bulbs: we are able to mostly fund the needs for four teams: the boys and girls track and cross country teams, from the McGowan Invitational. And we do it mostly from folks who live outside the SWL school district.

In 2016 the McGowan Invitational finances were:

  • Gate – $32000
  • Entries – approx. $18000 (meet costs – approx. $13,000)
  • Concessions – approx. $5000 net
  • T-Shirt Sales – ($16769 gross – $7475 net profit to Track/CC Acct)

We have three T-Shirt logos that we have rotated for the past several years. One is the “Running Warrior”, designed by one of our athletes in the 1990’s. One is the “Mudfoot”, conceptualized by our staff and created by our T-Shirt vendor, Ohio Select Imprints. One is the “Tiger in the Woods” also created by Ohio Select.

As all of these shirts have been sold with great success, and as athletes competing in the meet move on, we rotate the logos. This year I chose the “Running Warrior”, which we sold as the meet shirt two years ago, and used last year as our bright orange “staff shirts.”

As the boys track coach (forty years) and as the meet manager of several invitational meets in track and cross country at Watkins I have never been asked to get “approval” for T-shirts designs. This included Warrior logos on the 2017 Track team shirts. When the track team went with “spider jerseys” several years ago, I did get approval from the Athletic Director as this was a team uniform.

To recap: we sold this design two years ago, we used this design at the meet last year, we were never informed that we should get approval, and we did what we have done for the past thirty four years – we purchased shirts (800). The total bill for the shirts was approximately $6800 (the actual bill was turned in for payment two weeks prior to the meet.) Anticipated revenue from the sale would be around $17000, thus raising $10000 for the track/cc fund held by the Athletic Association. While this is the primary fundraiser for the boys and girls track and cross country program. Other actions that raise money: T-Shirt sales at the LCL meet ($1200 – 2016), T-Shirt sales at the District meet (fee for sales – $800 in 2016) and the Watkins Pole Vault Camp ($2131 in 2017.)

On Friday afternoon (around 3:00) I was called in from the cross country course and told that the cover for the program was “unacceptable” and had to be removed. There were 350 programs. I then informed the Athletic Director that the logo on the program was the logo for the T-Shirts. I was originally told that the T-Shirts were “on me” and that I could proceed with T-Shirt sales, but that the program cover had to be removed. The Athletic Director said she would tear the cover off of the programs, and I said that was fine.

I then went to the Principal’s office and said that it was these kinds of actions that made it difficult to work/coach at Watkins, and that it was one of the reasons that I retired from coaching track after 40 years. The Assistant Principal and Dean of Students were present as well. The Principal didn’t have much to say, and didn’t speak to me again. He did text me early the next morning.

About an hour later I was called back into the Athletic Director’s office, where I was met by the AD and the Assistant Principal, and informed that we were not to sell the T-shirts. I was told that the Superintendent and the Board President agreed (I later talked to the Board President, who had no idea about the issue). After some discussion, I raised the two major concerns:

  • who was going to pay the bill to Ohio Select
  • how was the Track/CC program going to be “made good” for the loss of income.

I was told that these issues would be “taken care of” but that there wasn’t an “answer” yet.

I proceeded to set up the rest of the meet. At 5:37 am the next morning, Mr. Tanchevski texted me asking whether it was possible to take orders for T-shirts to be delivered later. I told him that I didn’t think that would be successful, based on order taking at previous meets. I also noted my concern about how to pay for the shirts we had. His response was that “we’ll figure it out.” I didn’t speak to him again, either during the meet or after.

During the meet, the meet staff (and I) answered many questions about the T-shirts. I told the staff to answer the question by saying that we were told by the Administration that we were not allowed to sell a shirt with the “running Warrior” on it.

The 2017 McGowan was a tremendous success, with over 5000 entries, and near 4500 finishers in the races. Ticket sales were $34,000, our best year. Adding that to the entry fees paid by schools of approximately $18500, and the total gross for the Athletic Department was well over $50000. Expenses are around $12000, leaving the Athletic Department with a “profit” of near $40000. The Athletic Boosters have in the past made between $4000 and $5000 profit on the meet as well.

From a Cross Country meet standpoint it went flawlessly. Races were on time, the timing system worked well, the course was fast, and we had very few injuries of note. From what I understand, parking was better with the addition of the north field parking lot, and the bus parking at the Church went well. There was way too much garbage overflowing during the day, and the portapots become unacceptable as the day went on. These and T-Shirts were the only complaints I heard.

On Thursday, September 14th I received an email from the Athletic Director stating that they had not determined how to pay for the shirts. In the same email it was made clear that the Cross Country/Track Programs were simply going to be “out” the money that would have been raised (as they suggested other fund raising events.) I also talked to Bob Martin at Ohio Select, who was waiting on his money.

I sent much of the information above to the Athletic Director, Principal, Superintendent and School Board members at that time. Since then I have been told that “it will be taken care of” and to “hang tight.” Rumors abound. However, there are two points that need to be made clear:

  • The T-Shirt Bill must be paid to Ohio Select (not from Track/CC funds)
  • The Track/CC Athletic Association Account needs to be “made good” for the loss of the sale opportunity.

The Athletic Director should have informed me that shirts needed to be approved. The SWL schools should have informed all of us that the “Warriors” are now restricted. I certainly would have honored either. The Athletic Director had the “right” to make the call she did. But she also has the responsibility for the consequences of that decision – consequences that should not be inflicted on the student/athletes of the Watkins Boys and Girls Track and Cross Country programs.

 

Marty Dahlman

Cross Country Meet Manager

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

As President Trump (Madman Across the Water) and Supreme Leader Kim (Rocketman) engage in a battle of old Elton Jon songs, I am tremendously concerned. After reading about Trump’s speech to the United Nations this morning, it seems like KIM may be the more stable of the two leaders.

Trump seems more than willing to “think the unthinkable.” He is openly threatening not just the lives of the North Korean people, but the lives of hundreds of thousands of South Koreans, thousands of Japanese, and hundreds of thousands of US military and civilians in South Korea. It is a struggle to rationalize how the “leader of the free world” is so willing to engage in such reckless talk.

In the Cold War days it was called Nuclear Brinksmanship. The “hope” is that the US has determined a strategy of “carrot and stick,” where Trump and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley represent the stick of nuclear war, and Secretary of State Tillerson represents the carrot of peaceful resolution. And the grim reaper, General Mattis, remains poised to fulfill his duty to annihilate the nuclear capability of North Korea.

This is the “hope.” The world is aghast at our actions, as we stoop to the lowest denominator, acting as if we too were a petty dictatorship. And the “hope” is based on the premise that Kim is in the end a reasonable actor, who will value self-preservation over annihilation. From the North Korean standpoint staying alive makes perfect sense.

But that’s only if they calculate the decision in the same terms. What if the North Koreans don’t believe the “Madman Across the Water,” and instead think it really is all a bluff. What if they decide that the odds are right to call the bluff, just as Sadaam Hussein did in Iraq, claiming he had weapons of mass destruction when he did not.

Then what will the United States do? Will we engage in a war with North Korea, likely the biggest since World War II? And will this be because of North Korea’s miscalculation, or ours? And in the meantime, is this what Trump needs to distract from the looming Russia crisis?

Or will world peace, and the people of South Korea, be “like a candle in the wind?”

A.D.D.

A.D.D.

On this the 240th day of the Trump Administration, it’s a wonder that he can concentrate to get anything done. What’s on the menu today?

North Korea

The North Koreans launched another missile over flight of Japan, triggering air raid warnings across the northern island of Hokkaido. South Korea responded by firing short range missiles into the Sea of Japan demonstrating their ability to target North Korean missile sites. All of this brings us one step closer to a war, possibly nuclear, that would go beyond the Korean peninsula.  And US Ambassador Nikki Haley states: “if diplomacy fails to rein in North Korea, (Defense) Secretary Mattis will take care of it.”*

United Nations

President Trump is scheduled to address the United Nations Tuesday. His topics: North Korea, Iran, and World Terrorism. Let’s see if he can handle that without saying something that sounds racist. In the meantime, he is having multiple bilateral talks with world leaders. Who is not at the United Nations for this summit? Putin and Xi aren’t attending (not that Russia and China could help with North Korea.) However, Sunday night Secretary of State Tillerson did meet with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. This time we hope they aren’t joking about who got fired!!

Hurricanes and Fires

The Virgin Islands are devastated. Millions in Florida still don’t have power. Everglades City hasn’t seen an emergency worker. Texas is just starting to recover. Fires in Montana have been dampened by a freak early snowstorm, four days before Fall begins. Hurricane Maria is strengthening to possibly Category 3 before it hits the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, then heads northwest towards the US coast. Meanwhile no one seems to be clear about what Hurricane Jose will do. But Climate Change: since we don’t cause it there’s not much we can do. And by the way, there are billions of tons of coal in land now designated as National Monuments and the Interior Department’s Zinke recommends that we reduce restrictions and go get it[1]!!

Healthcare

Mitch McConnell is rumored to want to try “one more time” to kill the Affordable Care Act. Bernie Sanders is further dividing Democrats as he pushes the “Medicare for All Plan” (my opinion: good idea, bad timing) and helps intensify Republican efforts. And Republican Lamar Alexander is trying to find a way to support the Affordable Care Act through the next couple of years. Kasich and Hickenlooper want to help, but this doesn’t seem like a time when reason will prevail.

DACA and the WALL

Trump has made a deal with Democrats, maybe. Trump wants DACA Dreamers to be able to stay, maybe. And we will build a WALL, maybe. There is massive confusion by everyone about what the President will or will not support regarding immigration, the border, and the Dreamers. But there is one thing we know: New York Democrat Chuck Schumer thinks the President likes him!!!

But the President and his team have much more important issues to consider than those. Are their colleagues in the White House wearing secret recording devices to get in good with the Special Counsel? Can they afford the private attorneys they hired to council them during questioning?[2] And will their “friends” cut a deal to throw them “under the bus” when indictments come down?

The Mueller investigation is getting closer to the White House and the (New York Attorney General) Schneiderman investigation is getting closer to the Trump/Kushner family jewels (investments). General Flynn’s son is now a target[3], as well as Manafort’s son in law[4]; the pressure is clearly on to get these principals to flip. As they are near the top of the pyramid, there is only one person left for them to turn on, the President.

Meanwhile the President’s own lawyers can’t seem to get their act together, as they fight over the amount of cooperation they should give the Mueller investigation. Ty Cobb, newly hired Presidential counselor, known best for his outlandish midnight tweets, can’t keep his conversation private over steak in a Washington restaurant, and the world finds out. [5]

With all of this, how is any President supposed to concentrate. Especially when there’s so much tweeting to do: re-tweeting Hillary getting hit by his golf ball, calling North Korea’s leader Kim a “rocket man”, and calling terrorists “losers” like they were caught smoking in the high school restroom.[6]

Attention Deficit Disorder isn’t the problem: a Presidency and a world sliding out of control is. And no matter how many Generals demand ATTENTION, it’s unlikely there will be much unless and until the Commander in Chief is focused.

 

 

 

*http://nypost.com/2017/09/17/haley-says-mattis-will-take-care-of-north-korea-if-diplomacy-fails/

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/shrink-at-least-4-national-monuments-and-modify-a-half-dozen-others-zinke-tells-trump/2017/09/17/a0df45cc-9b48-11e7-82e4-f1076f6d6152_story.html?utm_term=.eb510fcd5498

[2] http://www.newsweek.com/white-house-staff-worried-colleagues-are-wearing-wire-robert-mueller-666741

[3] https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/mike-flynn-s-son-subject-federal-russia-probe-n800741

[4] http://www.thedailybeast.com/fbi-reportedly-investigating-manafort-and-son-in-law

[5] https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/09/17/us/politics/trump-lawyers-white-house-russia-mcgahn-ty-cobb.html?_r=0&referer=

[6]https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/09/18/why-donald-trumps-tweets-are-only-going-to-get-worse/?utm_term=.0def65398ad5

Is it Trump?

Is it Trump?

I apologize for not blogging much this week. In the “other” world where I run really big high school cross country meets, I’ve been involved in a crisis of leadership and “political correctness.” It’s led me to this blog.

There seems to be a “new” style of dealing with each other in every day life. My role models both in education and as a coach, taught me that it was the job of a leader to care about the folks that he/she led. A good friend, who won five state championships as a coach and school administrator said: “…my job is to serve those that I lead. If I serve them, then we can achieve our common goals…”

A leader is a servant. It’s not a new concept, but it’s one that seems to be lost in our current era. Whether it’s on the “macro” level: with President Trump creating an equivalence with Nazis and the “antifa” and calling even his allies “losers”, or whether on the local level where leaders demand obedience without question. “Be happy you have a job” is the message that comes across. Ask questions or disagree, and risk retribution and unemployment.

In both cases, we have lost the view that the role of a leader is to serve. As a coach, my biggest goal was to get a team of high school kids to “buy in” and believe in themselves. To lead was to not only make them feel that THEY were leading, but actually have them be the leaders. That era seems to have past.

And in life it seems like “Trump World” has overtaken civil relationships. We had to build “a wall” around our yard to fence out the neighbor (we paid for it) and even that could not keep out the intimidation and hate (see Thanks Mr. Frost.) We have local politicians who espouse fear tactics, and threaten legal action for every criticism. We have lost the common goal: to improve life for everyone.

Trump is not the cause. This has been going on for a while, and the divisions in our society grew far before his political career began. I believe part of the problem is our “new” ability to voice our opinions without having to be “face to face.” We can tweet and post and all of the other electronic media (including blog) without having to look someone in the eye. We can be cold and cruel without sharing in the emotional burden that results. And, of course, it all can be inflamed by others, whether they are individuals who enjoy the “game,” or more globally, those institutions who gain from division.

I am not calling for a “leader” in the Facists sense. I am not looking for someone to strong arm our nation back to caring. I hope that we can find leaders whose true goal is to serve US (both in the you and me and national sense.) They don’t have to agree with everything we believe in, but they do have to care. I certainly feel that President Obama tried to be that kind of leader, but I also think Governor John Kasich has that sense as well (though I don’t agree with much of his policy.) It’s about serving others, not a just serving a term in office.

 

 

Thanks Mr. Frost

(nothing to do with Trump World – just my world!)

Thanks Mr. Frost

Thanks to you Mr.Robert Frost. Today I had our yard surveyed. I paid to have someone tell me to the tiniest inch where the property lines were. They used high tech metal detectors to find fifty year old pins buried in the ground.   They used high tech sights to hone in on the actual line of property. The placed stakes and flags: HERE IS THE PROPERTY LINE!!!!

We have two neighbors. On one side, a young couple with a child and a dog, friends. Their fence (to hold the dog) hooks to ours; we have temporarily ceded some of our property to them (to avoid digging post holes into buried cables.) We are happy and they are happy.

On the other side, the neighbors that required a survey. They hate us, they hate our dogs, they hate, hate, hate. To avoid interaction we built a fence, six feet high, picketed across: they don’t need to see us, nor we them. But good fences haven’t made good neighbors.

After the fence went up came the questions: it’s on OUR property, your fence is on OUR property!! We fought over cutting grass, we killed all the weeds on the other side of the fence (that’s OUR property); good fences didn’t make good neighbors. So today, we surveyed – and the fence is on OUR property (though the corner is pretty close.) The stakes and flags meant to reassure – they will most likely inflame.

We will border the “line” with steel garden border; we will place bushes between our fence and our property line; we will build another barrier to hold out the hate. If good stakes, and steel, and bushes, and fences won’t make good neighbors, perhaps nothing will. But we will try – because good fences should make good neighbors.