Sense from Seattle

Common sense thoughts on life and current affairs by a Seattle area sexagenarian, drawing on personal experience, years of learning as a counselor to thousands of families and an innate passion for informed knowledge, to uniquely express sensible, thoughtful, honest and independent views.

Friday, January 20, 2017


Presidential inaugurations according to the US Constitution are pretty simple: just a 35 word oath of office and then the peaceful transfer of power is complete. But through the years lots of trappings have been added, what some might call bells and whistles. Trump is the most unpopular incomer since polls have been taken, so there will be lots of counter demonstrations also.

Through the years the extended inaugural ordeal has been too tedious to hold my attention. I do remember the JFK line "ask not what your country can do for you", I remember Carter walking for part of the parade and I did watch central parts of the first Obama inaugural because it was so encouragingly historically significant, but mostly I have no profound memories of these events.

My not watching today is particularly intentional due to what I consider the disgracing of the Presidency by the election of Trump, an utterly unqualified man, born with a silver spoon who has lived his entire life as a selfish boor, conducted a repulsive campaign and who seems to have no understanding or appreciation of our form of government. This is especially reprehensible since he is taking over from a man of color born and raised in humble circumstances who has devoted his life to public service, who fully understands and reveres the Constitution and has graced the Office of the President with great dignity.

I have been thinking about how Presidents achieved the office during my lifetime. Here is a somewhat flippant but still fairly accurate list of who or what brought them to power:

TRUMAN – FDR did not survive his fourth term and the Democrat power elite had limited options for VP;

IKE – WWII – he could have won running as a Republican, Democrat or independent;

KENNEDY – some say Mayor Daley of Chicago stuffing the ballot boxes, or the lousy makeup job Nixon got for the TV debate;

LBJ – an assassin's bullet;

NIXON – secret plan to win the Vietnam War – which if there ever was one must have been to expand it and then quit it;

FORD – Watergate (and I do not believe there was a deal to pardon Nixon);

CARTER – Watergate, the Nixon pardon and smart campaigning to get a delegate jump;

REAGAN – Iranian hostage takers, hokey Hollywood hooey and anti-government baloney;

BUSH I – Willie Horton;

CLINTON – "Read my lips" and Ross Perot;

BUSH II – Ralph Nader, the archaic Electoral College, Congressional Republican staffers pretending to be irate Florida voters, and five unelected Justices of SCOTUS;

OBAMA – The Audacity of Hope, overdue change and a truly fresh breath of air;

DRUMPF – an unbelievably stupid electorate, the FBI, Putin, fake news, "reality" TV, xenophobia, the lack of another fresh young Democrat and that same archaic Electoral College.

I cannot stop myself from engaging in "what if" history, so here are some contenders from my lifetime who came in second and were never inaugurated:


There are four "losers" who were nevertheless inaugurated at some point in time:
NIXON who lost to Kennedy later beat Humphrey and McGovern;
FORD who had been appointed and lost to Carter;
CARTER who was defeated for re-election;
BUSH I who was also defeated for re-election..

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What's Next"?

This question goes two ways for me. One is regarding our country and our planet, and what will happen to them under a Trump Presidency starting out with a Republican Congress. The other aspect is what does this mean for me with regard to expressing my views on this blog.

Regarding our country and what will happen, the answer is another question, "Who knows?" The pundits really do not know what is going on, which was amply demonstrated by their failure to predict the outcome of the election. Congressional Republicans have been split since the rise of the Tea Party in 2010,  have lost their bogey man Obama and are now sharing power with the disruptive huckster Trump. Democrats have been devastated and are still in a state of weakened shock. For the next two years there is going to be an interesting power match between the Congressional parties and factions within the parties and Donald Trump, with some role also being played by the Federal Judiciary eventually. This is another round of the way our national government works, but with a new twist that Trump owes less allegiance to the Republicans in Congress than any other Republican President in modern times.

There is also the matter of Trump taking our level of civil discourse to a new low and encouraging groups and individuals to act out of hate. But the reality is that our civil discourse has been low for a long time, our citizenry does a poor job of making themselves a well-informed electorate and there is much hate and resentment in our country. As a progressive I believe there has been for many decades a reactionary conspiracy funded by dark money from a small cadre of super wealthy individuals to exacerbate these flaws in our system. Trump used his skills as a huckster to successfully exploit these flaws to get elected.

Regarding our planet, there are several issues of concern, including international aggression, civil and military wars, trade wars, global warming and nuclear weapons. On these issues the under informed Twittering Trump has been at times vague, incoherent, inconsistent and unbelievable. Russian aggression does not seem a worry to Trump; in fact he seems to almost be encouraging it. How he handles ongoing and new hot spots and incidents could very likely be by knee jerk reaction to new developments. Trade agreements and trade wars gets more complicated for him because of shared Congressional power over these areas. Global warming is a long range problem and there is no reason to expect Trump and the Republican Congress will do anything to address it other than to continue false skepticism. The scariest issue is nuclear weapons, with Trump having a long record as a vindictive retaliator, and having famously asked (not particularly rhetorically), why do we make them if we wouldn't use them.

Trump and the Republicans may bring about domestic changes, but those changes could be undone in the future by a Democrat President and Congress. Foreign policy changes can be harder to undo if long term alliances are made or broken or if relatively permanent changes are made such as new borders or new governments. Adequately managing global warming requires global agreement maintained permanently, the sooner the better. But the reality is we are not making progress fast enough and a few more years of American foot dragging will not make or break the deal. Limitation and ultimate banning of nuclear weapons should be the goal. Growing the arsenal would be foolish, but some day could be undone. Actually using nuclear weapons would be an irreversible disaster.

Since the election I have assembled many computer folders with numerous links on a myriad of matters that could be discussed on this blog. But I am mindful that the real reason for writing here is to put my thoughts down for myself and my future reference. With that selfish purpose in mind and listening to my own inner voice, I have decided to take a wait and see attitude and create time and space to put politics in perspective in my life. For a year and a half I intensely followed every aspect of the Presidential campaigns. I do not want to continue that intensity. I will only write here when my inner voice tells me I need to, most likely when something concrete actually happens like legislation passes Congress and is signed by Trump, major regulatory changes are adopted or a serious foreign policy development occurs.

Finally, it is hard not to have some Pollyannaish thoughts about the Trump Presidency. Trump has no particular saving grace; he is a seriously flawed human being. The leopard does not change its spots, particularly at age 70.  But Trump owes no political debts and is as wild a card as any President we have elected. Maybe some weird confluence of fearful Republicans, pragmatic Democrats and Trump lusting for popular adulation will lead to a worthwhile step, such as the often cited infrastructure spending. When and if it happens, I expect to mention it here.