Why I haven’t written about Trump’s presidency all year

Last weekend I finally got around to cleaning out my email’s inbox, and reading older emails that I missed at the time, I found quite a few people that, noticing that I sort of dropped off the blogosphere and social media these last several months, had written to ask me why and/or to make sure I wasn’t kidnapped or worse.

In point of fact, I’ve written and posted very little since last January…since the inauguration of our president, Donald Trump, and I thought I should explain why to those who are interested.

I’ll start by stating the obvious… this year has been, at the very least, a confusing and troubling one for any number of reasons for many people in this country.  I’m not just talking about those who didn’t vote for President Trump, I’m talking about how the year has been for almost everyone.

To begin with, this year has been one entirely lacking in certainty.  I honestly don’t think anyone has any idea what will happen tomorrow or next week, next month… or an hour from now, for that matter.

That’s the first of the reasons I haven’t written much of anything this year.   With President Trump in office, by the time I’d write about something happening, there’d already be three or four new things happening that individually or collectively deserved to drown out whatever the last thing was that he did or that I’d planned to write about.

In other words, this presidency is next to impossible to keep up with.  I imagine you really need a staff supporting you to stay with it.

Following the Trump Administration has been something like following a popcorn machine with huge tires and four-wheel drive that’s been pushed off the rim of the Grand Canyon as it pops, bangs and bounces its way to the bottom.  Pop, bang, bash, pop pop, bang… and at times, no one appears to be driving, that I can tell anyway.

Look, I have no problem admitting that I was never so shocked as I was on election night, 2016… but so was EVERYONE else, including Donald Trump himself. 

Mr. Trump had no idea he’d win the election, in fact he was pretty sure that he’d lose just like everyone else.  He did everything he could to lose, I mean, he said things that no one would ever advise a presidential candidate to say when running for office, the sorts of things you’d only say if you were planning to lose anyway.

I get why he ran… had he lost, he could have gone onto having his own television show on Fox News or his own network, where he could criticize Hillary and the Democrats incessantly for his adoring fans.  It’s a perfect job for him and he would have enjoyed the work. 

The problem is that he won.  Roughly 80,000 people in three states… fewer people than would fill University of Michigan’s football stadium, voted for him and it was enough to carry those three states for the win. It was astonishing to watch by any historical standard.

For his supporters it was nirvana, signaling their time in the sun.  For those that supported Hillary Clinton, it was nothing short of horrifying.  And even for those who didn’t actually support either candidate, it was unsettling.  If we’re going to be honest about the whole thing, Donald Trump wasn’t anyone’s idea of a perfect presidential candidate.

One problem was that Trump didn’t run as a Republican… I mean he did, but not really. 

I say that because Republicans are traditionally in favor of things like free trade, not tariffs or trade barriers. Unions, and hence Democrats, are traditionally the ones that want those things in place, not free market Republicans.  And yet, Trump promised to restrict trade in an effort to bring back jobs that had been sent overseas or lost to automation. 

At one point, Trump said he would tax American companies that manufacture products overseas something like 30 percent when they bring the goods back into this country to be assembled or sold.  And that was about the least Republican thing I’d ever heard a GOP candidate say.

Trump said he would both spend a trillion on infrastructure and cut taxes, including a steep reduction in the corporate income tax.  To anyone with a calculator, that’s a recipe for increasing the deficit and national debt, and Republicans have never publicly been in favor of doing anything like that. 

In fact, it’s the Republicans that have been resolute in blocking the similar spending proposals introduced by the Obama administration several times over the last eight years.

Trump said he’d build a wall along the U.S. Mexican border.  Forget the bit about Mexico paying for it, this is the same sort of initiative that was started under President Bush and got almost nowhere before ending in a dilapidated fence that spans 650 miles and keeps no one from coming or going anywhere. 

All the estimates for building such a wall fall into the 15-25 billion dollar range and as to where that tidy sum is supposed to come from, no one is exactly sure. It seems like the last thing on which anyone in the House or Senate wants to comment.  Will there be a wall? It’s anyone’s guess, but if I could bet against it today, I would.

Trump the campaigner vowed not to touch Social Security or Medicare.  The Republicans, on the other hand, have for many years wanted to “touch” both programs in fairly major ways and they currently have bills floating about that would to some degree privatize and otherwise lessen the benefits provided by both programs. 

How will that jive with the president’s promises? Again, it’s anyone guess at this point.

When Trump talks about immigration, he speaks about things like “extreme vetting,” a phrase that I don’t think anyone has defined, and even so, its managed to divide the country into the equivalent of Hatfields and McCoys. 

My problem has been that since no one can explain what normal “vetting” includes or doesn’t, it’s impossible for me to know where I stand on the “extreme” version.  If normal vetting takes 90 days and Trump’s extreme vetting makes the process take a few weeks longer for whatever reason… then I’m probably fine with it. 

However, if normal vetting is already taking two years and Trump’s plan would make it take four years, then that might sound too extreme… but what do I really know about the whole subject anyway?  It’s the sort of thing that might be okay, and might not be… which, I believe, is why we have a legislature, to study and debate such complex topics, or at least that’s what I’d always thought. 

What’s obviously not okay is the way President Trump rolled out his ban on immigration. 

Without telling anyone outside his inner circle, he signed something that for whatever reason(s) blocked people who had already been “vetted” and were approved to come here, thus causing unbelievable chaos at U.S. Customs and at the borders.

Trump is the President of the United States.  At his disposal are literally thousands of brilliant people with tools, systems, data, knowledge and experience in every conceivable area of study.  And yet, President Trump thought it a better way to go to ignore all of that and without telling anyone else, just change the rules over a weekend.

Since then, the courts have ruled his ban on immigration to be unconstitutional and presumably it is now headed for the Supreme Court.  I’m guessing that, assuming the court agrees to hear the case, we should have a decision sometime in 2018, but I suppose it could be 2019, who knows?  If the Supreme Court agrees with the lower courts that Trump’s ban won’t fly constitutionally, then I suppose he can start again in 2019? 

Or will fixing immigration end up relegated to being another campaign promise for Trump in 2020?

Obviously, President Trump wasn’t totally up to speed on how to get things done as President of the United States when he decided to go with the total chaos and tied-up-in-the-courts approach to making and changing laws.  I realize that Trump has never served in government before, but that doesn’t really cover it.  He certainly could have handled his ban differently and caused everyone a lot less trouble, including himself, and that much shouldn’t be up for debate.

The whole thing just looked amateurish.  I know, some thought it was an evil and dastardly plan to block Muslims from entering this country, but that doesn’t seem right because evil and dastardly plans rarely fall on their faces right out of the proverbial gate.

Trump promised to “drain the swamp,” meaning that he wanted to get rid of establishment Washington D.C. politicians.  (At one point Trump also talked about wanting term limits for those serving in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, but as soon as Senator Mitch McConnell heard that kind of talk he wasted no time making it clear that the Senate would not be considering term limits anytime soon, and that was the end of that.)

However, as far as swamp creatures are concerned, the Trump Administration ended up with plenty of them.  President Trump has appointed billionaire after billionaire to positions for which they have little or no formal background.  It’s like President Trump and his advisors ardently believe that absolutely anyone can and should run our Department of Energy, Department of Education, or Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 

HUD alone, for example, employs almost 10,000 and has an annual budget of over $33 billion, as of 2014.  President Trump chose Dr. Ben Carson to run the federal agency, which surprised Dr. Carson as much as everyone else. 

The Department of Education employs about 5,000 people and spends $68 billion a year as of 2016.  To run it, President Trump chose Betsy DeVoss, whose background as a mega-contributor to the GOP was her only discernible virtue related to being appointed to run anything. 

And the Department of Energy (DOE) has roughly 13,000 on staff and an additional 95,000 contract employees.  It had an annual budget in 2015 of $28 billion… and its job is to watch over our nuclear arsenal, among other complex and mission critical responsibilities.  To run things at the DOE, President Trump chose former Texas governor, Rick Perry.

Perry is a politician.  He went to college and got a degree in animal science.  His first job after college was as a door-to-door book salesman.  Later he joined the Air Force and become a pilot.  He had no idea what the Department of Energy did or does, in fact, he promised to abolish the department while campaigning for president in 2016, and yet, the Senate confirmed him by a vote of 62-37.

To put things in context, our last Secretary of Energy was Ernest Moniz, a guy who received his Bachelor of Science summa cum laude in physics from Boston University and his PhD in theoretical physics from Stanford University. 

At MIT, he served as the head of the Department of Physics and as Director of the Bates Linear Accelerator Center.  He also served as Under Secretary of Energy from 1997 to 2001, and when he was appointed U.S. Secretary of Energy in 2013, he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate… the vote was 97-0.  That’s 97 YES… with zero voting no.

Also shocking has been President Trump’s willingness and propensity to misstate facts or make wild and unfounded accusations about anyone or anything with which he disagrees or doesn’t like for whatever reason.

He started out claiming that millions of dead people had voted in the 2016 presidential election.  It’s so preposterous that no one came along.  Dead people don’t vote, the whole idea is just nutty.  Dead people may be on the voting roles, but that’s only because few people notify the voting registration folks when someone dies.  It doesn’t mean that dead people are showing up at the polls on election day.

Trump tweets whatever he feels like tweeting whenever he feels like tweeting it.  He quotes sources like Breitbart and/or Fox News… everything else is “fake news,” and neither he nor many of his supporters seem to be bothered when he gets something wrong. 

Viewed in its entirety, you’d have to say that the Trump Presidency has gotten off to a rocky start, and that’s being fair and balanced.  It’s not the fault of Democrats.  Trump has been his own worst enemy thus far, and there should be no question about that.

Most Trump supporters know this too.  It’s not like it’s hard to see.  It’s him.  They know it.  They just don’t care. To the charge that he doesn’t know what he’s doing, they are quick to reply that he’s not a politician and that’s become the blanket answer to countless criticisms.

Trump supporters, although they fall into a few different philosophical camps, are just hoping that he’ll do some of what he promised and that somehow that will make things better for the country.  As a group, they don’t watch the mainstream news or read the newspapers much… they don’t want to hear their president criticized by the media… it’s all fake news according to Trump.

It may come as a surprise to some, but I think I do understand how and why many feel as they do… the mainstream media has gone at least little insane over President Trump becoming president.  I mean, he’s only been in office for seven months and they’re already talking about impeachment.

Look, I don’t blame people for criticizing President Trump and his administration, but impeachment?  Already?  Because he fired FBI Director Comey and may have obstructed justice in doing so? 

Personally, I think everyone should take the Russia thing down a notch until a few more facts are in.

We have our Special Counsel to investigate what if any role Russia played in the 2016 presidential campaign.  The guy is a former FBI chief, his name is Robert Mueller, and his reputation is absolutely stellar.  He’ll do his job and report his findings.  It could take two years.  Until then, we don’t know much of anything beyond the stuff of which innuendo is made.

Did Trump try to influence Comey?  Maybe, but the question is whether Comey believed that Trump was trying to obstruct justice and based on Comey’s testimony in early May, I’m really not sure.

The point, however, is that we don’t know what the truth is on the subject and it seems WAY too early to be calling for impeachment based on what we do know.  I realize that we have 24 hour news networks that have to program something all day and all night, but that doesn’t mean that we should all be engaging in baseless speculation.

It wasn’t right when Fox News did it to Hillary Clinton, and it’s not right for MSNBC or CNN to do it to President Trump.  At this point, it’s an investigation.  How about we wait and see what the facts actually are before we convene the firing squad.

Honestly, I personally don’t think that Donald Trump was in cahoots with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign.  Why would he be, he didn’t need any help, didn’t think he’d win anyway, so why bother to engage in some sort of covert international espionage? 

Besides that, he simply doesn’t seem sophisticated enough for that sort of partnership.  If he did what some accuse him of then he’s a lot smarter than he lets on, but also consider that if he did those things, then he didn’t do them very well because he got caught on close to day one.

So, which is it guys?  Is he a boob or a bond villain?  He can’t be both.

President Trump swings at every pitch and that causes him all sorts of problems.  It doesn’t matter what the topic is, if he’s mad at something or someone, he attacks.  He needs to come to the realization that he’s the President of the United States now.  The president doesn’t have to act tough, the president is tough by definition.

I remember when President Bush was in office and we were all talking about the weapons of mass destruction debacle.  Michael Moore released a movie about the war in Iraq and the role of the Bush family and presidency and when Bush’s Press Secretary was asked whether the president had any response to the movie he replied…

“I’m sorry, the White House doesn’t do movie reviews.” 

It was the perfect response under the circumstances and I wanted to cheer.

Trump should take a lesson from that exchange.  He simply doesn’t need to respond to everything said about him or his administration, although there isn’t much hope at this point that he’s going to change going forward.

People who oppose Trump find it impossible to understand how he can still have the same percentage of supporters approving of him that he did at his inauguration.  You have to admit, it is a curious thing, all things considered.

I think I understand it.  Many Trump supporters don’t really care what he’s done to-date or even what he does going forward… as long as it makes those on the left angry as all get out. If the left is spitting mad, Trump supporters love whatever made them that way regardless of what it means for them personally or the country as a whole.

The best example was the three-ring circus surrounding the repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act (aka the ACA, aka Obamacare), by the Senate.

The Republicans have been screaming for seven years about how they’ll repeal the ACA at their first opportunity.  Trump doubled down and said he’d repeal and replace the ACA on day one.  And not only that, according to the president, he’d replace it with something better in every imaginable way. 

He’d make sure that pre-existing conditions wouldn’t prevent anyone from becoming insured, just like the ACA.  He’d make sure that children could remain on their parents plans until age 26, just like the ACA.  He would give us a plan that would lower costs and increase choice… he basically promised to deliver the perfect health plan.  It would be unlike anything anyone had ever seen, considered or conceived of until now.

Uh huh… well, that’s not exactly what happened. 

The House did vote to repeal the ACA, but that only meant the ball was passed to the Senate where our politicians scurried to cover their asses as they tried to avoid having to actually be seen voting to get rid of the law that allowed some 20+ million Americans to get health insurance for the first time.

Trump supporters are among those folks who would lose coverage and the Republicans know that they don’t want to be the ones that voted to take that coverage away without something to replace it… and we can now all see clearly that they simply have nothing in that regard.

President Trump’s response to the problem of health care and repealing the ACA?  “Who knew how complicated health care could be?”  To which millions replied, “Um, everyone knew, Mr. President.”  His supporters couldn’t have cared less about his remark, however, and to his detractors it was just further evidence that he’s not qualified or capable of running the country.

But, again… why should he have known better? 

I’m almost positive that Donald Trump has never needed or purchased health insurance in his entire life and he paid no attention in 2010, when it was debated in the legislature and around the country prior to the passage of the ACA.  He was told the ACA was unpopular with many, so he vowed to repeal and replace it… it’s as simple as that.

Repeal of the ACA by the House of Representatives drove those on the left to distraction, so Trump supporters loved it.  Never mind that its repeal would cause many of them significant harm if not replaced with something else they can afford.  They don’t care as long as the left is hopping mad.

The way it looks to me, both sides are only a few clicks away from needing a sedative to maintain their composure. 

If I write an article that criticizes the Trump Administration, his supporters will only brand it fake news or claim that I’m a lefty, snowflake whatever who’s just mad because Hillary lost… and I’ll end up preaching to the proverbial choir. 

Conversely, if I were to write something praising Trump and/or his administration, his supporters may or may not read it, but the rest of the audience will turn away in disgust over anyone ever liking anything the man says or does.

Don’t you see the hypocrisy at work here?  When the Republicans treated Hillary Clinton as if she was a criminal, it wasn’t fair or right… but now when Hillary’s supporters are treating Trump in a similar fashion, it’s perfectly fine and totally reasonable.  I know that’s not a perfect comparison, but it’s on the same plane.

That’s another part of the reason that I haven’t written about Trump’s presidency until now.  What would be the point?  To join the choir preaching to the larger choir?  To support a president who obviously hasn’t yet found his footing and has made many errors and missteps during the first 100 days?  How much criticism does that president truly deserve? 

Not that I’m comparing, but you might recall that Barack Obama didn’t exactly do his best work during his first 100 days either.  I’m not defending Trump’s first 100 days, but there’s a limit to how much grief a president deserves for what happens during his first 100 days.

Trump’s biggest challenges will be how to fulfill on his campaign promises without alienating the Republicans who are in control of the House and Senate.  The GOP doesn’t have Democrats to blame this time around… whatever happens will be on them and they know it. 

The GOP is about losing seats in 2018, as a result of Trump’s less than popular actions, and they’re starting to look like a group of Christian Scientists with appendicitis. 

What will Trump be able to do related to the outcome of the midterms?  Who knows?  Absolutely no one can even guess, which is another reason I haven’t written about Trump this year.  It’s hard to write about something when you have no real idea what might be coming next.

TRUMP.  Brought to you by HAMP.

I understand a big part of why Trump was elected and if I were to write an article explaining it, I think I’d title it: “Trump.  Brought to you by HAMP.”  Do you think anyone outside my circle would understand what that meant?  I’m sure many would not, but if you’re still reading this, I know that you probably do.

HAMP was the Obama Administrations’s answer to the foreclosure crisis.  President Obama announced it less than 30 days after his inauguration.  Crowds cheered, until it was rolled out a few months later when it became the worst government program imaginable.

I wrote about it almost daily starting in 2009.

I criticized the Obama Administration relentlessly for not doing more to fix it faster.  I warned the administration and the Democrats as a whole that they would pay dearly for such appalling inattention to such an important program.  I wrote that what was happening would cut scars into the fabric of this nation that wouldn’t likely heal for 50 years.  I said it all and then some, and I said it over and over and over again.

Then, the midterms came around and as I knew would happen, the Democrats got hammered.  They lost control of the House and doomed the Obama presidency to legislative gridlock for the rest of his presidency.  I knew why, although the media didn’t seem to grasp why it had happened.

In 2012, again I warned about the growing level of anger among the tens of millions that were caught up in the foreclosure crisis and the Obama Administration’s answer, HAMP.  But Obama was reelected, although by a much smaller margin than in 2008, and although a few thousand read what I had to say, it didn’t seem to matter much.

In 2016, I wrote again about the potential for the people impacted by the foreclosure crisis and HAMP to influence the election and again, some commented that I could be right, but what difference would that make now?

Give or take, we lost eight million homes to foreclosure since 2008… some say the number is a little less, some say a little more, but it doesn’t matter.  We’re talking about millions of homes lost and many of which either shouldn’t have been lost or shouldn’t have been lost the way they were lost. 

If there were two adults in those homes, that’s close to 20 million people directly impacted by foreclosure and potentially angry about HAMP.  Add one older child to that math and we’re at 30 million people… throw in a relative per home lost and we’re over 40 million very unhappy people in this country.

That’s 40 million people who all have the right to be really angry at the Obama Administration and the democrats because when they had the reins, they blew it big time and in a very personal way… they failed and as a result millions lost homes unnecessarily.

I read recently that 20 percent of those that voted for Trump in 2016, had voted for Barack Obama in one or both previous elections.  That should tell you everything you need to know… 60 million voted for Trump so that means that 12.5 million of them weren’t party loyal Republicans or white supremacists, they were just homeowners that had bet on Obama and lost when they lost their home under the absolute chaos that was HAMP.

I spoke to a reader of mine and he explained it really well when he said… 

“Martin, I know Trump is a risk, of course he is.  But I lost two homes under Obama and HAMP and there just wasn’t any way I was voting for banking friendly Hillary, period.  Trump is an outsider, let’s give him a chance because the status quo isn’t working for millions of Americans and I don’t see her changing that reality.”

I get that, I really do.  But it didn’t change how shocked I was when Donald Trump won the election… it was unquestionably the most shocking political development of my life and perhaps in the country’s history.  In fact shocking doesn’t even describe it… I was floored.  Maybe I shouldn’t have been but I was.

At first, I fought with friends on Facebook, even deleting a few, an act that afterwards only made me feel stupid.  Next, I watched Trump’s misstating facts and then his immigration ban and before I knew it I felt almost unable to function.  I felt like I had lost friends over Trump, I’m sure I actually did.  After some time passed I felt ridiculous at how I had reacted.

So, yes… obviously Donald Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing yet, but he has time to improve and he’s so unpredictable that perhaps he will.  Or, maybe he won’t.

When he does something good, I want to be able to say so without alienating my friends and family.  When he missteps, I’m sure there won’t be any shortage of people calling out his mistakes.  But, he’s just a president and four years goes darn fast these days… heck, the midterms are around the corner already.

All we can do now is see how things shake out for our accidental president, Donald Trump.  At this point, to those on the left, I wouldn’t worry about him so much because the way he’s going he won’t get much done.  And, to those on the right, I guess you can either hope he gets his presidential act together, or just continue enjoying him for his entertainment value.

But, regardless… I’m not angry about President Trump winning, nor am I mad that Hillary Clinton lost.  That’s all ancient history as far as I’m concerned.  For me, it’s now only about our country’s continued recovery from the worst economic meltdown in 70 years.  President Trump says he wants to make America great again and, well… so do I.  So, how about we get to it, shall we?

As much as I was shocked on election night, I’ll be even more pleased if Trump accomplishes some positive things for the middle class in this country… and if he doesn’t… if four years from now we’re still talking about the same things we are today, with nothing having been accomplished, then I’m confident that he’ll end his presidency after one term.

So, now that I’ve explained my absence the last several months, it’s time to get back to our regularly scheduled program.


Mandelman out. 

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