The biggest etiquette blunder ever made by a US president?

A lot has been going on in the last couple of weeks, both in my life personally and in the news. My unintentional leave of absence could be said to be somewhat ill-timed, but the flip side of that was that the most prominent news story of the month, the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, has had plenty of time to develop. Oh, and develop it did. Next week, probably earlier rather than later, I may post about other aspects of the story. But for now, I’m going to focus on, as the title implies, a huge blunder made by the minority-elected “buffoon-in-chief” I refer to as DJT.

Among others, The New Civil Rights Movement covered this photo op that DJT went to in Florida, even though he wasn’t wanted. From the story:

Donald Trump left Washington D.C. on Friday to visit victims of the country’s latest mass shooting in Florida, although he wasn’t wanted, resulting in a new header photo for the president’s Twitter account.

Let’s step back a bit. Were this Barack Obama, or just about any other president in recent memory save for Richard Nixon, the reaction might have been different and at the least, the president’s presence would not have been specifically shunned even if not openly welcomed.

What I can read into this, though, is it’s quite likely DJT went down there mainly for the photo op. Damn the cost to the taxpayers, DJT’s got to feed his ego, right?

There are moments I’m proud to be an American. Seeing this weasel go and, er, weasel his way into Florida at the taxpayer’s expense, definitely is not one of them.

After the president told reporters that he saw some of those injured by a 19-year old gunman who killed 17 people and wounded 14 others on Wednesday, he praised doctors, law enforcement officials and first responders.

Trump subsequently ignored a reporter asking about the nation’s gun laws, but soon weighed in on his tone deaf visit via Twitter:

If you read the story linked above, it mentions that DJT didn’t mention any of the victims by name or age. Knowing what we know of DJT, it’s possible he made the whole thing up about talking to the victims. I wouldn’t put it past him. DJT is all about soaking up the good PR and feeding his ego, but when it actually comes down to doing the job of President of the United States, he folds like a poker player who knows he’s beat. It’s crazy. I know the personality. I’ve dealt with it before on a much smaller scale.

But let’s get back to that picture and the original story I linked to above. Of all things to do in this photo op, DJT decides to smile and do a thumbs-up gesture.

Fourteen kids and three adults are dead as a result of this violence. And DJT decides to do a thumbs up.

He gets asked a question about whether it’s time to change our nation’s gun laws. He dodges that question, so he can get to this photo op and do a thumbs up after seventeen innocent people lost their lives.

Those are the values of our Weasel-in-Chief. “Screw the country, this is all about me. Here’s a thumbs-up. I don’t care if seventeen people died and that it’s tacky to do this photo op with a thumbs-up like we’re opening a car dealership. I’m president, you’re not, so screw you.” It may as well have been a middle finger. That’s no doubt how at least some, if not most or all, of the surviving relatives are feeling about this thumbs-up if they found out about it.

These things together (the photo op, the thumbs-up, the whole “I look like I’m shooting a photo op for a used car lot opening” smile) all combine to show the intelligence and social grace of a very stupid worm. Not that it even matters due to the way we elected our president in 2016, but I’m so glad I didn’t vote for this bonehead. What is pictured in this photo is tasteless and disgusting. Actually, I take that back. It’s beyond tasteless and disgusting; it’s DJT’s biggest failure in etiquette as a president, possibly the biggest failure in etiquette ever by a sitting US president.

As repulsive as they may be, these photos need to be preserved. They should be preserved so we, the American people, know never to let this happen again: both an incident of violence such as the one that happened in Parkland, and the election by a minority of the worst excuse for a president this country has known at least since Richard Nixon, if not in its entire 240+ year existence.

Can we impeach him already, please?

Profanity and racism: an example of how not to lead

This has to stop somewhere and somehow. I know I haven’t been the most active in writing about this flimsy excuse for an administration, but this simply cannot be ignored. This post will have profanity in it, but only because I’m quoting our supposed “leader” here in the US.

Continue reading Profanity and racism: an example of how not to lead

On our nation’s leadership and protests by professional athletes

I have a lot to weigh in on regarding the recent actions of our president and elected officials, given that I haven’t posted a lot recently. But this, as a football fan (for the moment, anyway), is something I feel needs to “jump the queue”.

This story from Huffington Post covers DJT’s unfortunate and inflammatory remarks about the NFL and its players, calling for fans to boycott NFL games over the protests taking place during the playing of the national anthem. For those that have not kept up with this, the protests follow those by Colin Kaepernick, at the time of the San Francisco 49ers, and now a free agent (i.e. not currently playing in the NFL), which I commented upon previously in this blog.

Before even getting into DJT’s remarks, I feel Colin remaining a free agent (i.e. not employed playing football) as its own problem. Some of it may be due to the injuries he was recovering from last year, but for the most part, I’m not buying any argument that it’s due to football skill or lack thereof. At least most of the reason most NFL teams won’t consider signing Colin to play is because of his protest. Colin’s original protests during the playing of the anthem were, in his own words: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” As I have said previously, it’s a noble cause to protest. That people are angry because those who take a knee during the anthem appear to be unpatriotic, without knowing the real reason, is an unfortunate side effect.

While this was sitting in the queue, something even more disturbing happened. Our vice president (and former governor of Indiana), Mike Pence, flew out to watch the San Francisco 49ers play the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium (in Indianapolis). He saw (49ers) players kneeling during the anthem. DJT told him before the game to leave if any players did this, so he left. According to the Indy Star, this costs the taxpayers somewhere around $250,000 at the minimum, possibly more. In government budgets, that’s not really a whole lot. But Mr. Pence had to expect that some 49ers players would take a knee, and I personally think he orchestrated this whole thing as a protest of his own. An editorial piece in the Indy Star which criticizes Mr. Pence’s walkout also says that he should have expected this, so I’m clearly not alone:

The vice president chose to attend Sunday’s game fully knowing what was likely to transpire. He should have stayed away or stayed in his seat for the game. Instead, he chose to run a political play that shouldn’t have been in the game plan.

(I do disagree with Tim Swarens on his stance that the players are wrong to protest. It is their right to protest both the oppression originally protested by Colin Kaepernick and DJT’s later statements where he suggests that NFL rules put in place to make the game safer for its players should be rolled back, and also suggests that protesting players should be fired with the “get that son of a bitch off the field” remark.)

In this case, Mr. Pence actually protested the existence of the First Amendment by walking out of a game. (That, and he missed what would have been a great game for him to watch, as his Colts beat the 49ers in overtime 26-23.) If DJT is as rich as he makes himself out to be, he should be able to cover the cost of this egregiously stupid PR stunt out of his own pocket. The taxpayers should not have to pay for this waste of resources. This was really DJT’s move here, even though Mr. Pence was the one who actually flew to Indianapolis and left the game. If DJT wants players to quit taking a knee during the anthem, he should show more respect for them and take action to fix the root cause of the protests, which is the systemic oppression of people of color. Given DJT built a large part of his campaign on racism and division, I’m not exactly holding my breath.

Rather than firing NFL players for bringing to the nation’s attention something which has been long ignored, I think a far more intelligent move would be to get that son of a bitch (DJT) out of the White House. The time has come to impeach DJT (and possibly Mr. Pence as well) without any further delay.

(This was written, but not posted, before Colin Kaepernick filed his grievance accusing the NFL owners of collusion. I will cover this in a later post.)

In re Charlottesville, and related events of the past few days

Hopefully this didn’t take too long; as I’m putting the finishing touches on this post, the Charlottesville protests are about a week ago. For reasons that should be obvious, this post is one of my more difficult posts to write. It’s about many “hot” topics. I am using the Wikipedia article on the events as my main source for an account of the event. As with all things on Wikipedia, it may have been changed by the time you read this.

We have reached a point in our history where the symbols of the Confederacy are starting to be seen for what they are: symbols of hate, symbols of racism, and perhaps more importantly, symbols of defeat and failure. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the town of Charlottesville voted to take town a statue of the Confederate war figure Robert E. Lee.

I have no issues with peaceful, nonviolent protests. However, the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, even if it started as a nonviolent protest, was not going to remain such owing to several factors. One, racism and anti-Semitism is a hot-button issue. Waving of Confederate flags and chants such as “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us” definitely approaches the line of so-called “fighting words” (as defined by Justice Frank Murphy, “those which by their very utterances inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace”). Some have argued that the Confederate and Nazi flags and symbols stand for, respectively, the enslavement and extermination of large masses of people, and based on that alone would run afoul of the “fighting words” exception to the First Amendment.

The counterprotesters chanted slogans such as “Kill all Nazis” and “punch a Nazi in the mouth.” There is no question these phrases definitely cross the line of “fighting words.” In addition, both the protesters and counter-protesters were carrying firearms, including semi-automatic weapons. It is difficult to say with certainty that the armed protesters and counter-protesters intended this to be a non-violent protest.

Given this, on one hand it’s a good thing that there was no shootout. On the other hand, there were deaths related to the aborted rally: two were from a Virginia State Police helicopter crash, and one was of course Heather Heyer from an auto-pedestrian crash that also non-fatally injured 19 other counter-protesters. Heather’s death in particular was tragic, senseless, and completely unnecessary. This does not imply the deaths of Troopers H. Jay Cullen and Berke M. M. Bates were not tragic–they were, though we do not have the full accident reports from the NTSB yet to better understand how their deaths happened.

As a rule, I condemn violence in protests of this sort. This is definitely not a case where I feel I can make an exception; we are intelligent creatures, not jungle animals, and protests like this are more the sort of thing that jungle animals do.

I can’t keep talking about this without talking about the campaign that elected our current president, who I will only refer to by his initials, DJT. DJT built his campaign on divisiveness and hate, and was elected by a popular minority of the people due to the way the Electoral College is set up. Those of us who voted otherwise watched in horror as the ballots were totalled up. It’s a bit off-topic, so I’m not going to devote pages to this, but to say the least I think DJT winning is the strongest indictment of the Electoral College system to date.

At least the other presidents to win elections despite not winning a popular majority were at least somewhat qualified. Wikipedia’s list of presidents of the US by experience shows DJT as the fifth president to have never held office before being elected president, after Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Herbert Hoover, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Taylor won a plurality but not a majority of the popular vote in his first election; Grant, Hoover, and Eisenhower all won the popular vote in their respective first elections. That leaves DJT alone as a president elected with a minority of the popular vote and without holding office before.

While the disaster in Charlottesville was not directly the result of DJT winning the election, I find it difficult to believe it would have happened with anyone else as president, whether that was Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, or Daffy Duck. (Yes, I think a cartoon character would be more fit for the office than DJT, but that’s a whole ‘nother rant I’ll have to post later.) It even took a while for DJT to find the right words after Charlottesville; at first he condemned both sides, those protesting against the monuments being taken down who wanted them to remain up, and those counter-protesting against those who wanted the monuments to remain up.

Again, George Santayana’s quote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” comes into play. At first glance, DJT clearly doesn’t remember World War II and what happened to Nazi Germany as led by Adolf Hitler. Alternatively, he does remember and just flat out doesn’t care. That in many ways is far worse if it’s true. Either way it’s inexcusable for the leader of a world superpower to fail to immediately and decisively condemn racist, discriminatory, and violent conduct.

DJT needs to accept that part of the blame for the events in Charlottesville falls directly on him and his campaign. At numerous times during the campaign, DJT was compared to none other than Adolf Hitler. I was derided for sharing the comparisons among my Facebook friends, but unfortunately the accuracy of those comparisons is now starting to show. I will more directly address this in a later post.

On the US withdrawal from the Paris Accord

I wanted to get this up a bit sooner, but other committments and personal illness made that impossible. This is still being talked about and will undoubtedly still be a major topic for months if not years to come.

CBS News recently reported on DJT’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Accord as our president.

The US is now on the same side of the agreement as Syria and Nicaragua. Nicaragua has a decent reason for not being part of the Paris Accord: they feel the agreement is not aggressive enough. There’s at least some honor in that. Syria also has a pretty good excuse: they are dealing with a civil war right now, so yeah, it’s hard to blame them for putting environmental issues a bit further down the list.

So, the United States of America not only the only country in the world to pull out of the Paris Accord after initially agreeing to be part of it, but also the only country to do so because of a change of administration, and specifically because of a change in the ruling political party. Say what bad things you will about Hillary Clinton, but I can assure you she would not have done this. Of course, I know Bernie Sanders wouldn’t have done something so selfish and short-sighted. Withdrawing from the Paris Accord is a bad move for America; I don’t care what DJT says.

So why did DJT pull the US out of the Paris Accord?

If you don’t feel like watching/listening to the entire 33 minute, 26 second video, NPR also has an annotated transcript of the speech. You might want to look at the transcript anyway because NPR provides some important non-obvious context to some of the things DJT says. I’ll quote a couple of them here as they are real eye-openers:

DJT: I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.

Jessica Taylor, NPR: Allegheny County, which encompasses Pittsburgh, actually voted for Hillary Clinton in November […] [a]nd the city itself voted for Clinton by about 80 percent. […]

The Pittsburgh mayor also said on Twitter that even though Trump is withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, the city will continue to follow the guidelines set forth in it.

[Pittsburgh Mayor Bill] Peduto is not the only one, either […] Those reaffirming their commitment to the Paris Agreement include the mayors of Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Chicago, Houston, Seattle, Philadelphia and Atlanta.

Scott Detrow, NPR: [Due to the area’s recent boom in natural gas drilling,] sticking to the Paris accord — and the Environmental Protection Agency regulations that the Obama administration set up to reach its Paris goals — would very likely have helped, not hurt, Pittsburgh.

And later on:

DJT: It is time to put Youngstown, Ohio; Detroit, Mich.; and Pittsburgh, Pa.; along with many many other locations in our country, before Paris, France. It is time to make America great again.

Jessica Taylor, NPR: Mahoning County, Ohio (which includes Youngstown), narrowly voted for Clinton, 49.8 percent to 46.8 percent. Wayne County, Mich. (Detroit), went heavily for Clinton over Trump, nearly 66.8 percent to 29.5 percent.

While I can get that DJT is naming these cities figuratively, the reality of it is, there are a lot of major cities where Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. Hillary Clinton also won the national popular vote, yet the Electoral College system gave us DJT instead, and arguably failed to do its job as the last-ditch effort to keep totally unqualified people like DJT out of the White House. DJT is also dead wrong in the actual effect of the Paris Accord on Pittsburgh, which shows just how out of touch he is with what’s going on in this country.

More from the NPR transcript:

DJT: Our tax bill is moving along in Congress, and I believe it’s doing very well.

Danielle Kurtzieben, NPR: This bill has not yet been introduced.

Yeah, nice leadership, DJT. You just told a flat-out lie to the American people. It’s kind of like saying I’m “moving along” on a trip, say, back to Columbus, Ohio, when I haven’t even bought bus tickets or a hotel room yet. (For a variety of reasons, I don’t fly right now.) Sure, I’d like to do a lot more travel at least around the US if not beyond, but I’m not going to say I’m “moving along” on plans to take a trip when the very first step hasn’t been taken.

Having our president tell flat-out lies like this gives the kids in school today the idea that it’s okay to lie. Dishonesty is about as un-American as you can get, at least according to the American values I was taught. You talk so damn much about “mak[ing] America great again?” If you really do want to make America great again, start by being honest and leading by example. Oh, and learn the results of the last election, and when you pull city names out of a hat for rhetorical purposes, try not to name cities that did not in fact have a majority vote in your favor. (Yeah, I know, there won’t be too many left. That’s kind of the point.)

I could probably go on and on, but there is something else that should be noted: getting us into the Paris Accord was one of Barack Obama’s most prized accomplishments, and DJT sees the withdrawal as a largely symbolic move to reverse part of Obama’s legacy. This is perhaps the most pathetic and most outrageous reason to screw up the reputation of the entire country of the United States of America.