Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Back to Basics

Posted on November 15, 2017

When things get crazy slow everything down and go back to basics. The great truths have not been repealed….ignored, yes…but not repealed. Consider:

NATURE (AND POLITICS) ABHORS A VACUUM (PARMENDIES, PHILOSPHER, GREECE, 485 BC)

The Office of President of the United States is essentially vacant. The occupant is happy to spend his days at parades and lavish ceremonial occasions. He has learned how to execute a handshake. Actual leaders like Merkel in Germany, Putin in Russia, and Xi Jinping in China allow him to mug and act like a boor. They smile in a tolerant sort of way. Then, they go about the business of filling the vacuum. Others have plans for “properly directing” an easily manipulated Empty Suit in the Oval Office. Sheldon Adelson has plans for the Suit. He didn’t kick in $35 Million to the Suit’s Campaign for good government. For that kind of money one ought to be able to vaporize a Country (like Iran) for Pete’s sake.

PRIDE GOETH BEFORE THE FALL (PROVERBS 16:18)

The Suit is all about appearances. Did the other leaders really look happy to see him? Are they “strong” leaders? The Suit likes leaders who kill their dissidents and opponents. People like Duterte in the Philippines and Putin in Russia are his kind of guys. He likes to huddle and “joke” with these guys and mug for the cameras giving the implied message “we’re special people, we’re killers. We know how to get our way, we never apologize, get out of our way we’re going to another parade in our honor.”

PATRIOTISM IS THE LAST REFUGE OF SCOUNDREL (SAMUEL JOHNSON)

Politicians love to wrap themselves in the flag. Nixon was a master. He represented the “silent majority”. The people who opposed him were not, in Nixon’s view, “real Americans”. To emphasize the point, he became the first President to wear an American flag lapel pin. Now, its standard attire for conservative politicians and FOX TV hosts. The threat from an “outside enemy” is fertile ground for a politician with sagging poll numbers to mine. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has done that for a long time. Continue Reading……..

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: It’s Sheldon Adelson’s Dream and We’re living It

Billionaire Casino owner Sheldon Adelson is not wracked by doubt. In Sheldon’s world there is no such thing as the Palestinian People, there was never anything to negotiate with Iran, and Israel’s Capitol is Jerusalem.

Sheldon has no trouble keeping things simple and no problem getting to the point.

In dealing with the Trump Campaign, Adelson was reluctant to come in big because, like everybody else, he didn’t think Trump could win. By late October, Adelson was sufficiently convinced that there was enough of a chance that Trump could surprise that it was better to be in than out.

So he came in to the tune of $30 Million to Trump with about 10 days to go and another $5 Million for the Trump Inaugural Committee. A total of $35 Million from a man with a net worth of $35 Billion…no strain, plenty of opportunity to gain.

Before that contribution was made I think we can safely assume that Trump and Adelson spent about 30 seconds talking about “good government” in general and a couple of hours talking about the particulars of Adelson’s latter life passion (since his marriage to his second wife, Israeli born Miriam, in 1991)…Israel.

I continue to be amazed at the number of people who know a lot about a lot and know almost nothing about Sheldon Adelson. Born into a relatively poor Jewish family in heavily Irish Catholic Dorchester, MA I’m sure he took his knocks but there is no doubt he came out with a formidable toughness and focus that have made him the most powerful private citizen in two countries…Israel and the United States.

In Israel, he helped defeat an Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, when Sheldon thought he was being too accommodative to the Palestinians and he has sustained and supported Netanyahu through his Newspaper, Israel Hayom, that has the widest circulation in Israel. Continue Reading……..

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Making Love to Madame – A Tall Story in Paris

Posted on September 26, 2017

First, it didn’t happen. Or, it probably didn’t happen. When dealing with Madame, one doesn’t know for sure. You see, Madame has this ability to make you wonder if you (meaning me)…or, in this case, I am all here or all there.

I exchanged Emails with Madame this AM. I’m in Paris and she’s in one of those straight laced New England states. I’m having my car fixed, a while back, in one of those states and I’m waiting in the sitting area, standing.

That’s Madame’s influence. Everything must be literally and provably true in all details. I, on the other hand, believe in a more generalized version of “Truthiness”. It tends to keep the conversation moving.

Meanwhile, Madame can say any goddamned thing she wants and if I so much as say “boo” she goes into one of those tiny type email tirades that I have no concept of truth, beauty, love and freedom and, furthermore, would probably “stink up the joint” in bed if it ever came to that. (That amuses the hell out of me…not because it isn’t true…but because that’s how my father would describe a sports team that played really badly…’they stunk up the joint.”).

Furthermore, my continued existence on the planet is a burden to humanity of which she is a part and me not at all. And, the fact that I continue to call my half-assed blog a website is further evidence that I am a pompous self-centered MFer and should be stuffed in a rusty woodchipper forthwith.

(Now, those of you who lack a pure heart may interpret MFer as an obscenity…not necessarily so. I happen to have played way too much poker in California, at a place called the Commerce Club. The demographics of the Club on any given night would be about 50% Asian. When something bad happened to some of the Asian players in a poker game they would sometimes exclaim “Mother Father Mother Father”…so, judge not lest ye be judged.)

Hey, so the lady has strong views, that doesn’t mean she’s a bad person. And, if she is a bad person, and has a dynamite body, who gives a shit…certainly not me. So, it appears as though I’ve set up the perfect lose, lose, lose situation…also known as the Irish Trifecta.

Continue Reading……

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Steve Bannon Gone But Not Forgotten

Posted on August 21, 2017

Friday was quite a day for Steve Bannon. From being fired in the morning from his job as Chief Strategist at the Trump White House to convening an Editorial Meeting at his old home, Breitbart News, in the afternoon.

When the news crossed the wires that Trump had let Bannon go, cheers broke out on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. I’m sure that tickled the hell out of Bannon. He doesn’t do hurt feelings. He’s a warrior. He’ll use a tape of those cheers to his advantage in Central Pennsylvania, the Upper Peninsular of Michigan and the Panhandle of Florida.

I’ll bet he was singing the last lines of MLK’s historic speech as he walked out the door of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave…”Free at Last, Free at Last…Thank God Almighty…Free at Last.”

Hey, he lasted a year…measured from the day he took over the Trump Campaign, with the absolute certainty that Trump would win and that he would make it happen, until Friday. Good for him.

Continue Reading……..

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: We’d Be Better Off If He Was a Drunk

Yeah, I’m talking about Trump, our president. At least if he was a drunk, there could be an intervention. He could get help. Get in a program. AA. Something. Unfortunately, he’s stone cold sober. We’re seeing Trump at the top of his game. This is who he is. We’re on notice. How much more do we need to know?

All the adjectives describing Trump have been used. I don’t have any to add. I do, however, have a few to describe our situation here in the USA and in the world. Dire. Dangerous. Deadly Serious. Unsustainable.

Hand wringing time is over. He has to be removed by the constitutional process sooner rather than later. Preferably, no later than six months from now.

I remember when I was involved with a rag tag group pushing for the impeachment of Richard Nixon. When things looked bleak and it looked like Nixon was going to get away with it we’d sit around and bitch and moan. There was a young Jewish girl who would always chime in and say “OK, path forward?”

She made us recognize how ridiculous it was to do nothing when there was an opportunity to do something and advance the ball down the field, even if only by baby steps. Continue Reading…...

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Good News and Bad News

Published on July 18, 2017

The good news is that Trump is down to a record low in job approval for a President six months into his first term…36%. The bad news is that 36% is too high to get rid of him via impeachment in the House and removal in the Senate.

Trump is losing the smattering of democrats and a significant number of the independents who were with him in 2016. He is, however, retaining his base. That’s the core of Republican voters who like him because of the people and institutions Trump purports to hate and still campaigns against.

We’re talking Obama, Hillary and the mainstream media. Trump can’t let them go. Bashing them is his ticket to survival. It makes the base feel good. That’s the power of hate. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Do I have a whole lot of studies to cite in support of my theory on the power of hate in politics? Not really. But, I can draw your attention to a couple of savvy political operators and a sage from way back in American History.

The operators: Kevin Phillips and Ed Rendell. Phillips was one of the architects of Nixon’s southern strategy that helped Nixon win in 1968. He said that “the secret to politics is understanding who hates who.” Nixon played that truism in the south like a virtuoso violinist. Ed Rendell (no similarity to Tricky Dick) was a successful Governor of Pennsylvania, and former Chairman of the Democrat National Committee. Rendell observed “in politics hate is a far stronger motivator than love.” Continue reading “Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Good News and Bad News”

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Time to Step Up

In sports, when a star player gets injured the coach invariably says “somebody has to step up”. In other words, some player who had a lesser role has an opportunity to show he can do more.

Right now, in the USA, we don’t have a star player. The most charitable thing we can say about the Office of President of the United States is that it’s basically vacant.

We have someone living in the residential quarters of the White House (the “Occupant”). He dresses up with a clean shirt and tie. He slithers about in reptilian fashion and people come to see him. He says things like “we’ll see what happens.” His family dresses beautifully and they scurry around with massive security details. They whisper in the Occupant’s ear and it has nothing to do with anything. Its all bullshit. Nobody knows anything. There’s no there there.

The Occupant doesn’t preside over anything. So, he’s hardly the President. He’s more or less the heckler in chief. He calls his friends and complains about the ineffectiveness of his staff…people who gave their all to him when he didn’t have a snowball’s chance. He sends out tweets in the middle of the night to remind us that he’s a little bit stupider than he was the day before. Continue Reading………..

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Trump – Where Are We At?

Posted on May 15, 2017

Here’s where I think we are In The Matter of Donald J. Trump.

One. Impeachment is not possible…now. Trump’s job approval rating, as of this writing, is 39%. That is historically LOW for a President at this stage of his presidency but it’s too HIGH for impeachment. When Richard Nixon resigned in August of 1974, his job approval rating was 23%.

Two. Remember Lincoln’s Law. “Public sentiment is everything. With it, anything is possible. Without it, nothing can be accomplished”. Let me volunteer Callaghan’s Corollary to Lincoln’s Law. “Public sentiment is in constant flux. It is moved, for better or worse, by interested parties advocating for their version of the public interest. The most skillful, intense, and persistent win. Their version of the public interest becomes the prevailing public sentiment. They get their way.”

Three. After Nixon’s Second Inaugural in January of 1973, his job approval rating was 69%. One year later, in January of 1974, his job approval number was 23%. If Nixon could lose 46 percentage points in a year, Trump can lose 15 percentage points by August. Precedent has shown August is a good month for Impeachment. At a 24% job approval rating, Trump would be ripe.

Four. Has Trump committed an impeachable offense? Absolutely. Trump’s epidemic lying about all matters, large and small, has done such violence to the fabric of trust that holds us together as a people, that it easily meets the “impeachable offense” standard. Former President Gerald Ford said “an impeachable offense is whatever the House of Representatives says it is.” If the Senate, by two-thirds vote, agrees — that’s that. There is no judicial review of the Senate’s Verdict of Removal. When the details emerge on Trump’s “Russia Problem” and the firing of Jim Comey, there may well be an Obstruction of Justice charge as part of an Impeachment package. Continue Reading…….

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Bannon!

Posted on April 19, 2017

Steve Bannon has a problem. He’s in a tribal fight against the toughest, most effective political tribe in the country, the American Jewish Community, and Bannon’s tribe, Irish Catholics, disbanded 40 years ago. They don’t wear their brass knuckles anymore and they only meet on St. Patrick’s Day.

We’re not cohesive and we don’t support each other. I know. I’m a member.

The Bannon tribe’s last hurrah was the election of JFK back in 1960. The Irish Catholic Mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley, was key, as was the longtime Boss of the Bronx, Charlie Buckley. Since then, there have been flashes of tribal effectiveness with Ted Kennedy and Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the Senate and Tip O’Neill, Speaker of the House and Hugh Carey, Governor of New York. At least then we could get our native-born Irish in the country … now, it’s like we are from Yemen.

It’s not necessary to address at great length the effectiveness of the Jewish community in American politics. I’ve done that before. Suffice it to look at the Annual American Aid Gift Package to Israel, a prosperous country of about eight million people. It exceeds the amount we give to all the countries in sub-Saharan Africa combined … a desperately poor region with a population in the hundreds of millions.

Someone should ask Mike Pence (you know the guy with the permanently sappy Prayer Breakfast look on his face) if shortchanging the desperately poor to give more to the prosperously rich gives him the Warm Christian Fuzzy Wuzzies? I don’t know exactly what he’d say, but I know it would start something like this … “Gee, I’m just so awfully glad you asked me that question, and I’m here to say I’m just proud as punch … blah blah blah.”

Thank God Steve Bannon ain’t no Mike Pence. Continue Reading…………….

Other Voices | Wednesdays Wars: Impeachment

Posted on March 27, 2017

As of today, Donald Trump has been our President for 68 days. If he makes it through an entire four year term, we’ve got him for 1,393 more days.

How does that make you feel? Does that put a smile on your face and a bounce in your step? Does that give you the feeling that the affairs of State and the World are in wise, dependable, and responsible hands, and that whatever our President says is thoughtful and true?

Are we being led by a man so honorable and deserving of respect that his visage will someday be carved into the hills of South Dakota at Mt. Rushmore, taking his rightful place with Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, and T. Roosevelt?

If the contemplation of those questions and the comparison of Trump with some of our best Presidents makes you physically ill or, as they say in the poker world, puts you “on tilt”, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Close to 60% of the country has pretty much had a bellyfull of Mr. Donald J. Trump.

So, what’s the path forward? Do we have to wait until November 2020 for an election, or is impeachment in order?

There are two conditions precedent to successfully impeach a President and remove him from office. First, one must be able to show that the President is guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors”. Second, there must be the political will to initiate proceedings in the House of Representatives and Convict and Remove him by trial in the Senate. Continue Reading………