Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

Whither America? The nation marks its 244th birthday in troubled circumstances

July 4, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 4, 2020

As America celebrates 244 years since it declared independence from Great Britain, I find it hard to be optimistic about the state of the union.

I find it hard to be optimistic when the United States has been ravaged by Covid-19, sustaining more infections and deaths than any other nation. The country’s novel coronavirus infection rate is higher than that of any other developed nation and its death rate is sixth among major economic powers, behind the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Sweden and France. (Notably, the U.K. initially adopted, and Sweden has largely maintained, a lax attitude toward containing the virus.)

I also find it hard to be optimistic about the nation as long as it’s led by the feckless Donald Trump. He is, granted, trailing by significant margins in presidential polling, but the incumbent still maintains the support of more than a third of American adults. It’s hard to imagine his base dropping much from current levels because of the intellectual stranglehold that conservative media — Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing broadcasters and websites — has on millions of devoted audience members. These outlets have prevented support for the Republican Party from plummeting to near zero, even as the Trump administration has taken multiple steps to deprive Americans of health care — a service that may be as vital today as it has been in a century.

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Washington Post reporters chronicle a chaotic White House in ‘A Very Stable Genius’

June 30, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 30, 2020

Multiple books have been written about Donald Trump’s presidency by insiders or former insiders, or by journalists with access to such people. John Bolton’s recent publication, The Room Where It Happened, is but the latest example.

But no matter the author, or the author’s ideology, the fundamental story remains the same: The president is lazy, vainglorious, utterly unprepared for his office and both unwilling and unable to acquire the knowledge or temperament needed to execute it faithfully. It’s the exact message that news reports have been conveying since the moment of Trump’s inauguration.

This very familiar theme was only reinforced by the January release A Very Stable Genius, which I recently read. Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig describe a chaotic White House in which public servants were forced to compete with ambitious self-centered sycophants to catch the president’s ear. Trump showed little regard for truth and displayed an astonishing ignorance of basic facts about history, the government and international affairs. He frequently upbraided underlings in meetings and often sulked openly when they refused to cater to his every wish, no matter how inappropriate or even illegal.

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Cheeps and Chirps for June 28, 2020

June 28, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 28, 2020

Man, I haven’t done one of these posts for the blog in a reallllly long time

Coronavirus, Donald Trump edition 

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Covid-19 diary: Part 10

May 26, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 26, 2020

The United States has started to reopen after around two months in which vast swathes of the public have been strongly encouraged to stay home. I’ve looked on this partial return to normalcy with major misgivings.

As of Tuesday evening, according to data kept by The New York Times, the U.S. has nearly 1.7 million Covid-19 cases and nearly 99,000 fatalities; the latter number is almost certainly an undercount. Brazil is second in cases with more than 391,000. The United Kingdom, where government officials initially eschewed stay-at-home orders, is second in fatalities with 37,000. (The U.K. is fourth in recorded cases, after Russia.)

Federal leaders in the United States badly mismanaged the novel coronavirus pandemic, missing opportunities to review or renew planning for this kind of emergency, to ramp up the manufacturing of personal protective equipment, to coordinate the acquisition and distribution of PPE and to encourage state and local government to implement and maintain social distancing and other vital infection-control measures.

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Super Tuesday aftermath: It looks like we’re down to Biden vs. Sanders, plus — maybe? — Democrats vs. Trump

March 5, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
March 5, 2020

Joe Biden swept the South on Super Tuesday and did well in the Northeast and Midwest, taking the delegate lead and becoming the Democrats’ clear frontrunner. Bernie Sanders won Colorado, Utah and possibly California and finished a close second to Biden in Texas and other states, positioning him as the party’s most viable alternative to the former vice president.

Elizabeth Warren finished third behind Biden and Sanders in Massachusetts, her home state; her 22 percent share of the vote there was her best showing, leaving her campaign in serious jeopardy. Michael Bloomberg, who spent half a billion-with-a-B dollars, dropped out Wednesday after winning the American Samoa caucus and nothing else. The media mogul and former New York City mayor endorsed Biden.

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Surveying the Democratic presidential campaign

March 3, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
March 3, 2020

As the rain fell this afternoon, I drove to a nearby elementary school and cast a ballot in North Carolina’s primary election.

I am not a Democrat; back in the spring of 2004, shortly after my move to the Old North State, I registered as an unaffiliated voter. But since I’ve resided in two heavily Democratic counties over the past 16 years, I’ve now voted in eight Democratic primaries. In even-numbered years, there typically aren’t enough candidates for local Republican, Libertarian or nonpartisan — meaning county and school board — offices for there to be a contested primary.

I’ve cast zero Republican or Libertarian ballots and five nonpartisan ones in primary elections; those five were all in odd-numbered Durham city races, which formally eschew political parties.

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Let’s look back on four years of fun and adventure as leap day comes to a close!

February 29, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Feb. 29, 2020

How’s your leap day been? Feb. 29 comes no more than once every four years, so I hope you’ve had a special one!

Just think: Four years ago, we had no idea that Donald Trump would…

• lose the popular vote — by a lot! — but win the election;

• repeatedly kowtow to authoritarians such as Vladimir Putin of Russia, Xi Jinping of China, Kim Jong Un of North Korea, Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Viktor Orbán of Hungary without raising a peep of protest from Republicans;

imprison migrant children at the border in horrendous conditions without raising a peep of protest from Republicans;

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There are no good outcomes: Thoughts on Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and impeachment

January 31, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 31, 2020

Author’s note: This post contains brief references to sexual assault and suicide. MEM

Over the years, I’ve come to believe something that I suspected but tried to suppress at the time: That Bill Clinton disgraced and endangered his office of the presidency by conducting an extramarital affair in the White House and then lying about it under oath.

The affair displayed bad judgment on a number of levels, not least because it potentially exposed him to blackmail. The perjury ultimately cost Clinton his ability to serve as a lawyer (although he hadn’t practiced in years). Shortly before Clinton left office, Robert Ray, the special counsel who succeeded Kenneth Starr, announced that the president has surrendered his Arkansas law license for five years and accepted a $25,000 fine.

As Starr’s investigation and impeachment effort proceeded throughout 1998 and into 1999, I generally scoffed at the Republican endeavor to remove Clinton from office. The Grand Old Party had always despised “Slick Willie,” a hatred that prompted Hillary Clinton to coin the infamous phrase “vast right-wing conspiracy.” Right-wing nuts and grifters — it was hard to think of them in any other way — had spent years accusing Clinton of committing sexual assault, exploiting a savings and loan association to salvage what turned out to be a bad investment in the Whitewater Development Corp., facilitating international arms and drug smuggling through an airport in Mena, Ark.; and killing a high-level White House attorney.

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The theoretical impartial senator and the very real imperial president: Thoughts on the impeachment trial

January 29, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 29, 2020

If there were such a thing as a truly impartial senator, then he or she might be in quite a pickle right now.

Before start of the ongoing proceedings against the president, senators took the following oath: “I solemnly swear [or affirm] that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: so help me God.”

The House of Representatives’ impeachment managers have presented an impressive case; the president’s defenders have mounted a vigorous defense. There are flaws in each.

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What if the Senate impeachment trial results in conviction?

January 24, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 24, 2019 2020

I’d originally planned to post a review of Ted Chiang’s outstanding recent anthology Exhalation this week, but life got in the way.

There was the big January charity Scrabble tournament, which took up most of Saturday and Sunday and about half of Monday. Then, of course, the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump began, and I found myself concentrating on National Public Radio’s audio feed from the Senate floor. (I was also, to be honest, playing word games as I listened.)

At any rate, there have been a few distractions from writing. However, I here present a few musings prompted by the impeachment trial.

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President Trump’s impeachment message to the Speaker of the House: A close read

December 18, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 18, 2019

Let’s look at some of the more interesting parts of the letter that President Trump sent yesterday to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.


This impeachment represents an unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power by Democrat Lawmakers…

Two American presidents have been impeached to date; Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 when it became clear that Congress would almost certainly impeach and remove him from office. Impeachment and removal of the chief executive is a mechanism incorporated into the Constitution by the Founding Fathers.

The Articles of Impeachment introduced by the House Judiciary Committee are not recognizable under any standard of Constitutional theory, interpretation, or jurisprudence. They include no crimes, no misdemeanors, and no offenses whatsoever.

These are the first two examples of many instances in the letter where the president lists three or more items. He claims that the impeachment articles are not recognized under a standard of Consitutional theory, interpretation or jurisprudence (1-2-3). He further asserts that they include no crimes, no misdemeanors, no offenses (1-2-3).

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President Donald Trump’s Dec. 17, 2019, message to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on impeachment

December 17, 2019

Author’s note: President Trump’s letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on impeachment is widely available on the web in portable document format. However, I wanted to present it in text form, as many readers, myself included, find that easier to absorb. I’ll have some comments on the president’s message in an upcoming post. MEM

THE WHITE HOUSE
WASHINGTON

December 17, 2019

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Washington, DC. 20515

Dear Madam Speaker:

I write to express my strongest and most powerful protest against the partisan impeachment crusade being pursued by the Democrats in the House of Representatives. This impeachment represents an unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power by Democrat Lawmakers, unequaled in nearly two and a half centuries of American legislative history.

The Articles of Impeachment introduced by the House Judiciary Committee are not recognizable under any standard of Constitutional theory, interpretation, or jurisprudence. They include no crimes, no misdemeanors, and no offenses whatsoever. You have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment!

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Weekend ruminations

December 8, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 8, 2019

One night this week, I parked by my house and started picking my way across the yard to the front porch. In the dark, I put my left foot down on something that was neither flat nor stable. (It was a little chunk of concrete, I found the next morning.) My left ankle rolled sharply, and I yelped in pain. It’s been slightly tender ever since.

•••

On Wednesday morning, I woke to a text from someone who works for my landlord:

Hello! Lowes has called and said they will be delivering the new machines today between 12pm-2pm. We’ll be meeting them there to install it.

This was welcome news. I’d reported a problem with the combination washing machine and dryer some time in early November, after the washer failed to drain. The rental management agency took a look at it and, after receiving the needed parts, dispatched workers to fix the appliance on Nov. 20.

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Cheeps and Chirps for Aug. 8, 2019: Political edition

August 8, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 8, 2019

I guess it’s time for another dive into my stream of consciousness.

• Politics ’n’ stuff

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Cheeps and Chirps for May 11, 2019

May 11, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 11, 2019

Let’s fire up the old tweeting machine.

• Politics

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Cheeps and Chirps for Nov. 28, 2018

November 28, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 28, 2018

The finest hand-crafted autumnal tweets.

• Politics

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Cheeps and Chirps for Oct. 31, 2018

October 31, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 31, 2018

 

Chirping from the hip.

• Politics, Supreme Court edition

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Cheeps and Chirps for Oct. 1, 2018

October 1, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 1, 2018

Chirp shots from the peanut gallery.

• Politics

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Cheeps and Chirps for July 31, 2018

July 31, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 31, 2018

Bits and bites from ye olde Twitter stream:

• A few personal notes

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In the executive and judicial branches, Trump appointees will advance ever more severe conservative principles

July 20, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 20, 2018

When the history of Donald Trump’s presidential administration is written, a chapter will likely be devoted to Scott Pruitt’s feckless reign over the Environmental Protection Agency.

The former Oklahoma attorney general’s 17-month tenure at EPA was a microcosm of Trump’s chaotic rule. Disdain for science, contempt for the rule of law, indifference to sound policy-making, eagerness to appease business interests, hunger for personal gain — the Pruitt era featured all the hallmarks that have come to represent Trumpist governance.

Pruitt’s replacement will be Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who once served as an aide to Jim Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who is the Senate’s most ardent climate skeptic. Wheeler will be hard-pressed to match Pruitt’s record of corruption and incompetence, which led to his resignation and distracted from his attempts to dismantle environmental regulations. It’s yet to be seen if Wheeler will be more effective at unraveling anti-pollution measures, although some pundits fear that he will surpass his former boss in this regard.

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Cheeps and Chirps: Singapore summit edition

June 14, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 14, 2018

President Donald’s big summit, Twitter-style:

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Cheeps and Chirps: Trumpian perfectly normal presidency special edition

June 7, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 7, 2018

Presenting some tweets about Donald Trump’s perfectly normal presidency!

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Thoughts on James Comey, the law-enforcement official who helped elect a corrupt president

April 21, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 21, 2018

When Donald Trump’s rampage through politics is fictionalized — assuming civilization survives the Trump administration — the figure of one James Comey will loom large. This will be especially true, I imagine, in any operas that might be written about final days of the 2016 campaign and the early months of Trump’s reign.

Once an assistant federal prosecutor who targeted New York crime families, Comey was elevated first to U.S. attorney and then to deputy attorney general by President George W. Bush. In the spring of 2004, Comey rushed to the hospital room of his boss, Attorney General John Ashcroft, to block White House officials from reauthorizing a sweeping domestic surveillance program that several Justice Department officials believed featured illegal components.

Comey is widely admired in civil liberties circles for taking this stand, but not all of his decisions are as popular. Encyclopaedia Britannica notes that Comey was criticized for his defense of the indefinite detention of Jose Padilla, an American citizen whom the government classified as an “enemy combatant.” Still, when President Barack Obama nominated Comey to lead the FBI in 2013, the Senate confirmed his appointment on a 93-1 vote.

Comey appears to be a devout Christian. He studied chemistry and religion at William & Mary, where, according to CNN, he “wrote a thesis comparing the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr to the televangelist Jerry Falwell.” Comey wed to his college girlfriend in 1987, two years after earning a law degree from the University of Chicago; they remain married and have had six children together.

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My public comment in support of preserving America’s national monuments

July 12, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 12, 2017

On Monday, I happened across this essay by Brent Rose about more than two dozen national monuments that could lose their protected status. This spring, after President Donald Trump ordered Ryan Zinke, the Secretary of the Interior, to conduct a review process that may lead to the revocation of some of their status as national monuments, Rose resolved to travel to the 22 monuments located in the continental United States.

I was so moved by Rose’s essay that I decided to leave a public comment on the process at regulations.gov. (The period for commenting closed at midnight on Monday.)

The following text is a slightly edited version of the comment that I made:

~~~

I’m writing to urge Secretary Zinke to uphold designations of National Monuments and Marine National Monuments unless there is overwhelming evidence that such designations were improperly made and/or that such designations directly harm the public interest.

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Cheeps and Chirps for April 2017 (more catch-up)

June 23, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 23, 2017

You got it: Yet more catching up from my Twitter feed!

• ZOMG Donald Trump!

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