The Trump Chronicles, Volume 152: Your Report Card Comes Due

Four years ago I placed a marker for President Trump. I recorded several indications of how our nation was doing and suggested that we could compare how we did in the last four years.

Interestingly, President Trump did well in several of them. Looking at the stock market we’ve seen increases in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (19,732 to 30,930), the NASDAQ (5540 to 13,197), and Standard and Poors (2263 to 3748). Despite the volatility of employment over the last year, the unemployment average rose from 4.7% to 6.7%. And the number of Americans employed rose from 123,570,000 to 158,130,000.

On the other hand his approval rating has dropped from 38% to 34% (it never hit 50%). The federal deficit rose from $590 billion to $3.3 trillion while the federal debt rose from $20 trillion to $27 trillion. The percentage of Americans was 11% and I was not able to find the current percentage.

The failure of the Trump Administration was, in the end, not economic. Here are my thoughts on why his administration failed:

  • He wasn’t able to keep several of his promises: His 2016 campaign centered on building a wall on the Mexican border (and have Mexico pay for it). While there has been some building, the wall he promised never happened and Mexico didn’t pay a penny (or peso). He promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something cheaper and better. He was unable to repeal it and never developed a better plan. He promised coal miners that he would “bring back coal” and that never happened. He promised to “win” a trade war with China that did nothing more than impoverish farmers who suffered from China’s retaliation to Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods.
  • Many Americans grew weary of his lies: He lied about things that were obvious. He claimed that more people attended his inauguration than did President Obama’s in 2012. He claimed that he would have won the popular vote in 2016 were it not for illegal votes. Whenever asked about white supremacists or organizations who supported him he claimed to know nothing about them (e.g. David Dukes or the Proud Boys). Lying is always dicey but having to explain to your children that it’s not OK to lie when the President does makes for difficult conversations
  • Democratic voters were too complacent in 2016 and vowed not to make that mistake again: Many of us never expected that our nation would elect Donald Trump. We scorned him during the Republican primary and expressed surprise that he won the nomination and we never expected he would beat Hilary Clinton. Enough Democrats didn’t bother to vote, falsely thinking their votes weren’t needed. Chastened by that experience they made certain it wouldn’t happen again
  • COVID-19: This probably made the most difference. President Trump made a point of ignoring the wisdom of his predecessors and that included a playbook for a possible viral infection. The Obama administration successfully battled Ebola in 2014 and learned a great deal about global pandemics. Their hope to pass their wisdom to treat the next pandemic fell on deaf ears and when COVID-19 showed up on our shores the Trump administration had no plan. He attempted to blame the Chinese (hoping this would solve it), insisted that it won’t last long, and argued that wearing face masks were not necessary. Meanwhile thousands of Americans fell ill, died, or grieved loved ones who died. President Trump’s decision to ignore COVID convinced many Americans that he was no longer trustworthy to lead our nation.

Since his defeat in November he has shown himself to be far from a gracious loser. Two weeks ago we saw him ignite an assault on the US Capitol.

We can only hope that Americans from future generations learn the lessons of history and never again elect someone who has such disregard for our nation.

COVID and the 1918 Flu: Lest we forget

Several years ago I discovered Findagrave. It came out of my interest in genealogy. Volunteers like myself tramp through cemeteries and set up memorials from the headstones to honor those who have gone before us. Sometimes we know them, oftentimes we don’t. But we don’t want their memories to disappear.

Today I came across a few headstones for the Chiappe and Carniglia families at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery here in San Diego. I’m not entirely certain how, but these two families are related to each other. What caught my were four memorials:

They ranged in age from 5 to 57 and all four died in the span of 10 days. Given their age and the proximity of their dates of death I think we can safely assume they all died in the 1918 Flu Pandemic.

Over a century later we find ourselves in the face of another pandemic. But we also find ourselves surrounded by people who believe it’s all a hoax and we don’t need to socially distance or wear a mask.

Don’t listen to them. Instead listen to the voices of those who died within 10 days of each other in 1918.

The Trump Chronicles, Volume 151: Now Impeached He Needs To Be Convicted

Last Wednesday the House of Representatives voted 217-192 to impeach President Trump for the second time, and according to the Constitution it now moves to the Senate to convict. While it only takes a majority of the House to impeach it takes a 2/3 vote of the Senate to convict and remove him from office.

While Presidents Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump were impeached, none of them were convicted and removed from office. This may change soon.

I hope so.

President Trump’s allies argue that he has only a few days left in office and there is no point in removing someone from an office that he no longer holds.

On its face it does make some sense, but I argue that he still needs to be removed.

President Trump continues to claim that he won the 2020 election and has been robbed of a second term. He and his allies claim that voter fraud, uncounted ballots, and various other conspiracy theories cheated him of his reelection. While he hasn’t conceded defeat he has claimed he will run again in 2024. A conviction will ensure this won’t happen as he will be barred from running from another office.

More importantly, a conviction will send the message that nobody, even the President, is above the law. Our Founding Fathers wrote volumes (not only in the Constitution but also in the Federalist Papers) that they didn’t choose to overthrow King George III only to replace him with a homegrown tyrant. It’s often said that the mark of a true democracy isn’t the inauguration of the the first President but the inauguration of our second President. In other words the peaceful transition of power from one President to another makes us a true nation of, by, and for the people.

Since this happened for the first time in 1800 (when George Washington passed the mantle to John Adams) it hasn’t always been easy and several times a current President has been forced to watch his successor take the oath of office when he lost his bid for reelection.

But for the most part the outgoing President has shown graciousness and a respect for our nation. President Trump ended this. Not only has he refused to accept the will of the voters he has demanded that others break the law to keep him in office.

I hope we’re all aware of his threat to the Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (a Republican) that if he didn’t “find” 11,780 votes he would face criminal charges. Fortunately Mr. Raffensperger didn’t take his threat seriously.

But on January 7th it became much, much more serious. On that day Congress was set to meet to accept the electoral votes and certify that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were properly elected as President and Vice President. We’re learning more about this each day but I think we can all agree that President Trump emboldened his supporters to march on the Capitol and, frankly, occupy it. Not only did they wish to stop the certification they intended to keep President Trump in office.

Four years ago the majority of us voted for Hillary Clinton to lead us. She won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote (much like President Bush in 2000). We were hurt, angry, and afraid but we accepted the results and prayed that President Trump would govern better than we feared.

He didn’t. By any standard he made us worse and I have no desire to list his failures. But nobody can argue that he was unprepared for COVID-19. He blamed China, he blamed the Democrats, he made fun of those who wore masks, and refused to listen to the smartest people in the room.

President Trump hoped to follow the fascist playbook: Find a way to power and declare that yourself president for life. He hoped to whip up the mob to prevent Congress from certifying the election. And then he planned to stay. He had no mechanism to have the vote certified for him. He also presented no evidence of voter fraud.

He wished to be Donald the First. Gratefully he didn’t succeed. Now we must ensure he can’t make another attempt.

The Trump Chronicles, Volume 150: Enough is enough. Trump Needs To Go

We all knew that President Trump wouldn’t leave office easily or in a way that brings honor to our nation and traiditions. As a matter of fact I wrote about this last April.

In that post I feared that he would encourage his sycophants to surround the White House on January 20, 2021 to prevent his exit from the White House. I hadn’t thought Trump would encourage his minions to storm the U.S. Capitol on the day that they convened to accept the votes of the Electoral College.

It was a scary day and you can read a good timeline here. It began with a rally at the White House with President Trump telling the inciting the crowd to march to the Capitol. He promised to join them, but once the rally was over he returned to the White House.

We’ve seen the horrific scenes know that four people died and the Capitol was desecrated. The last time this happened was in 1814 and this was an invading force, not our own citizens.

The President’s actions are, simply put, sedition.

I doubt the President planned it, but he has taken no responsibility for it. After four years he still hasn’t learned that his words matter.

If there is a silver lining here, it’s this: we can pretty much ensure that President Trump won’t be able to call his people to action to surround the White House on January 20th.

It’s going to be a long 9 days.

Looking Back on 2020, Forward on 2021

I’m writing this at 8:30 on New Year’s Eve (Pacific Time). We have a few hours left in 2020 and almost everyone I know is celebrating the end of the horrible year.

But I’m struck by the fact that New Year’s is an artificial marker but so many events are. I wasn’t eligible to drive a car alone when I was 15 years and 364 days but the next day I was. At 17 years and 364 days I wasn’t able to vote, etc.

The change of one day doesn’t in itself make a huge difference, but we commemorate it all the same.

Tomorrow morning we will still battle COVID-19 and Donald Trump will still be President. Our planet will continue to warm because of human activity and we will continue to have complicated relationships with other nations in the world.

But we still look forward to 2021 because we (at least I) hope that some things will turn around and begin to get better rather than continue to get worse.

There’s no way I can talk about the pain of 2020 without talking about President Trump. Last year at this time we started hearing about a new and dangerous virus coming out of China. In February I spoke with a respiratory therapist who told me that this virus was really, really bad.

At the time President Trump told Americans it wasn’t our problem and was being controlled by China. This was before be began blaming China and referring to it as Kung Flu.

From Day 1 our scientists have spoken about the importance of wearing a mask and keeping at least six feet apart. But time and again our President has refused to wear a mask and has ridiculed those who did. Time and again he hosted gatherings of unmasked people in close proximity to each other. And time and again those who gathered got sick (including the President).

Tomorrow morning little will be different. But it’s a new year and 2021 could be a good year. I pray 2021 will be the year we eradicate COVID. I pray it’s the year we begin to take seriously the challenges of climate change and partner with other nations. I pray 2021 is a year when we rebuild relationships with our allies and stop craving the approval of the dictators of our enemies. I pray that in 2021 we inaugurate a President who respects his office and doesn’t believe his power is absolute. I pray that in 2021 that our President doesn’t see journalists as Enemies of the People.

I hope to still be blogging on December 31, 2021. And I hope I’ll have more to celebrate.

The Election 2020 Chronicles, Volume 16. The Trump Chronicles, Volume 150: Reflections on 2020

As 2020 comes to a close I have to make a confession: I had hoped to blog more this year on issues I care about. But after three years of the Presidency of Donald Trump I found it harder and harder. Not only was it difficult to blog, but frankly it was difficult to follow the news.

I don’t say that lightly. I grew up reading The Washington Post and occupied a front row seat into the Watergate scandal. Nobody argues the damage President Nixon caused but in the end democracy won.

But President Trump was different. His contempt for people of color, for immigrants, for those who disagreed with him stunned me to the core. I never felt he wanted to do the hard work of being President but enjoyed the perks (e.g. Air Force One). I also felt he ran for reelection only because he didn’t want to be seen as a looser or a quitter.

As with the majority of Americans I looked forward to the 2020 election as a way to defeat his attempt for a second term. But I also feared his lack of respect for his office or the democratic process would endanger a transition. I wrote about this here last April.

It’s been a little over 8 weeks since his defeat and he has refused to concede. I always knew acknowledging his defeat was a bridge too far for him and I was hardly surprised with his attempt to sabotage President elect Joe Biden’s transition.

But I’m still troubled. It’s bad for our nation if the Biden administration needs to catch up on issues they should have known about in November. It also shows President Trump’s contempt for our nation. Losing another four years as President stings but our nation has previously shown incredible graciousness.

In 1992 Governor Bill Clinton defeated President George H.W. Bush for a second term. President Bush, as was the custom, wrote a letter to his successor and left it on the desk in the Oval Office. The letter teaches us a great deal about the respect for the office. You can read it here. I don’t believe President Trump will do this, even with a box of 64 crayons.

I previously worried that President Trump would refuse to leave the White House but I’ve been reading that this is unlikely. I hope so.

In 2021 I’m going to stop writing on the 2020 Election Chronicles. I hope to stop writing on the Trump Chronicles but given his craving for attention I can’t make this promise.

The Election 2020 Chronicles, Volume 15: Today’s the Day (and Maybe the Next Several Days)

In the last several elections I’ve live blogged the results of the Presidential campaign. Alas, four years ago I got so depressed the prospect of the Trump election that I gave up around 8:00 PM and went to bed. Today’s election may not be decided tonight given the large number of absentee ballots. I’ll stay up as long as I can. I get my information from a number of different venues. In the last few months I’ve been following Nate Silver’s Five Thirty Eight blog. He gives Vice President Biden an 89% chance of winning, but four years ago he gave Hillary Clinton a 71% chance of winning so we’ll see. I also follow 270 To Win. In terms of the media I follow CNN, NBC and National Public Radio. Fasten your seatbelts.

3PM West Coast, 6PM East Coast, 11PM GMT As of now, no polls have closed and we don’t have any projections. As in previous years there are states that are safe for President Trump and states that are safe for Vice President Biden, and there are states that are considered “swing states.” Victory will be decided by who wins those states. I’m currently looking at three states that Secretary Clinton was expected to win in 2016: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin. They all went to Mr. Trump and swung the election. Additionally there are states that are normally swing states: Florida and Ohio. Mr. Trump won both of them. Vice President Biden hopes to win most of these states and also hopes to flip Georgia, North Carolina, and Arizona. Next post when I get more news. Some polls close in a few hours.

5PM West Coast, 8PM East Coast, 1AM GMT Polls closed in Georgia, Kentucky, Vermont, Indiana, South Carolina, Virginia an hour ago. North Carolina, West Virginia and Ohio closed 30 minutes ago. Now the polls close in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington D.C., Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Tennessee. As of now, NPR has projected Kentucky and West Virginia for President Trump and Vermont and Virginia for Vice President Biden. No surprise, but most races are too close to call and I expect that won’t change for several hours, and perhaps not even tonight. I keep going back and forth from NPR and NBC and there are differences, but as for now I’m sticking with NPR (who is following the Associated Press).

6PM West Coast, 9PM East Coast, 2AM GMT Polls continue to close and several states continue to be too close to call. Here’s what NPR (who reports from the AP) are calling:

Republican States:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

Democratic States:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington D.C.

There are no surprises, but some of the “leaning states” give me hope for the rest of the night. My biggest surprise? As I write this, Texas is reporting 63% of the vote is in and Vice President Biden is leading by a very small margin. If he wins Texas, it’s game over for President Trump.

8PM Pacific, 11PM Eastern, 4AM GMT The more I hear, the less I can predict. As I write this Vice President Biden is ahead in the AP forecast, 209 electoral votes to 112 for President Trump. Clearly some of these predictions are based on past voting patterns and that causes some concerns. The path to 270 electoral votes twists through several close states. One of the reasons we likely won’t have a declared winner tonight lies in the fact that several states will need a day or two to count absentee or mail in ballots. President Trump has spent months attempting to claim that these votes are invalid but he’s wrong. It’s hard to know how much longer I should stay awake and keep watching.

9PM Pacific, 12AM Eastern, 05AM GMT This election appears to be closer than we had hoped. President Trump has spent weeks claiming that absentee votes are fraudulent. They aren’t. But in the COVID world many of us chose not to vote in person. And since Democrats are more likely to listen to science we were more likely to vote by mail We can only hope that these ballots will count and Trump and his minions will not successfully use the courts to invalidate them.

The Trump Chronicles, Volume 149: The Election 2020 Chronicles, Volume 14: This Time Next Week

It’s no surprise but a week from tonight we should start learning the results of the Presidential election. I’ve been quiet on this blog for the last few months because frankly, the news has been hard to watch. I make no apologies for being a strong Democrat and watching President Trumps mismanagement of nearly everything he touches has been painful.

I write this blog primarily to inform and to keep the President accountable but I live in a nation with a stunning willingness (and enthusiasm) to ignore the truth. But next Tuesday I will sit down and live blog as the election results come it, just as I did in 2008, 2012, and 2016.

There’s a good chance that because of the record number of absentee ballots we won’t know the results on Tuesday night. That’s not a problem except that the President has signaled that he will not accept the results of the vote if he loses and he has (falsely) claimed that absentee ballots are fraudulent.

Fasten your seatbelts America.

It’s Been 19 Years and We Still Need to Remember

Nineteen years ago today most of us woke to horrible news: nearly 3,000 people woke up on the last day of their lives. We watched New York (NY), Arlington (VA) and Shanksville (PA) with horror as terrorists hijacked planes and crashed them into the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville.

I remember telling a friend that at the end of my life I’ll tell someone about this about who wasn’t even born in 2001. In the days following 9/11 I spend time listening to hospice patients who needed to tell me about their experience hearing about Pearl Harbor.

But they told me about how Pearl Harbor brought people together, how young men (and many women) lined up to volunteer to defend our nation. They told me that World War II was hell but at the end of the war they were proud to have contributed to victory over fascism and allowed Europe and Japan to embrace democracy.

In the following decades the United States helped rebuild Japan and Europe.

But in the nineteen years since 9/11 we’ve gone in a different direction. Many Americans turned anger against Muslims in the false belief that they hate us and were somehow complicit. They weren’t. Currently there are 3,000,000 Muslims in the United States and they overwhelmingly love the US as much as we do.

Unfortunately the current US President, Donald Trump, loves nothing more than blaming his troubles on “others.” We are a nation who deserves better than this. We are a nation who needs to continue to mourn our losses and at the same time looks forward to healing, peace, and reconciliation.

Next year we will commemorate 20 years since 9/11. Let us work toward being a nation worthy of their sacrifice.

The Election Chronicles, Volume 13: We’re Getting Close

As I write his we go to the polls in 71 days. At least some of us will: because of COVID 19 many will fill out mail in ballots and either mail them in or drop them off.

I haven’t written much about this because, frankly, it’s been a hard campaign to watch. Campaigns have always shown the differences between the candidates, and often times the divisions. But this campaign has been the worst I’ve seen.

I’ll confess by bias, but in the last 3 1/2 years President Trump has mishandled nearly every event of that time. My greatest fears of his Presidency have come true.

He has alienated our allies and fawned the approval of our enemies. He has exploded both the budget deficit and the national debt. He has chosen to used his power to settle scores instead of advancing American interests.

And finally, instead of listening to smart people about battling COVID he has advanced silly claims (e.g. hydroxychloroquin and oleander). He’s also attempted to divert attention by blaming the Chinese and calling it Kung Flu.

At this point Vice President Biden leads in the polls but I can’t relax for two reasons. First, four years ago at this time I was convinced Secretary Clinton would win and it didn’t. But also I fear that if President Trump is defeated he simply won’t leave the White House.

A few days ago Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was asked if the armed forces would move in if the President refuses to leave (they won’t). But the fact that he was asked the question is telling.

It’s going to be long 71 days (and perhaps longer). Stay tuned.