On a More Serious Note – Coal, Coal Mining, and Lies

Full Disclosure: I have a horse in this race. My grandfather was a coal miner in Utah who died, sadly, long before I was born in one of the worst coal mining explosions in America. You can look it up – Castle Gate, Utah, 1924. Worse for my family, my grandmother also lost her own father in that same explosion. Life was never the same after that. I’ve written about this elsewhere.

Donald Trump continues his rampage through all things Obama, and one of the latest is his promise to open up government land for more coal leases.

The so-called business genius in the White House is demonstrating that he doesn’t know a damn thing about business outside his limited arenas of building big casinos that eventually go bankrupt, harassing beauty contestants, tearing up foreign country sides for golf courses and making demands that everybody obey the Master and Commander.

Beyond those, he doesn’t know jack.

Two stories this morning about the coal mining industry clarify the truth of what Trump does and doesn’t know about business.

Reuter’s has a story that outlines in terms even Trump could understand if he turned off the cable news for two minutes the real situation with coal and coal leases. The four major coal mining companies in the U.S. already have leases that could provide enough coal for the next 17 years if there was a market for that coal.

There’s not. Coal has been on the decline for many years, long before Barack Obama came on the scene.

Even Robert Murray, the head of Murray Energy which is the largest privately held coal mining company in America, knows the truth of it. Mr. Murray is on record that mining jobs were not lost to regulation but to technology and competition.

He’s tried to get this message across to Donald Trump, but you know how Trump responds to anybody with accurate information no matter how good their credentials are.

Nope, the Donald continues to promise miners they’ll have their jobs back quicker than you can say, “You’re a frigging idiot, Mr. Trump.”

He struts and frets his hour on the stage wearing a miner’s hat, joking, and telling lies to the hapless crowd who need jobs and love the sound of his promises even though most of them know the truth as well. I’d like to see Donald Trump actually down in a mine singing “Sixteen Tons” and doing a real day’s work.

Mr. Murray who generally supports the Republican view did, in light of Trump’s continued promising and lying, say “I suggested that he temper his expectations. Those are my exact words. He can’t bring them (jobs) back.”

Trump seems unaware, too, of the continued dangers of coal mining. Safety measures have improved, but miners still die – way too often.

There was an old line in high school that seems more and more appropriate for our current administration:

“I may be dumb, but I’m not stupid.”

In Trump’s case – it’s both.

Trump’s New Approach – Holding Hands and Singing “Kumbaya”

After a reasonably quiet weekend with few tweets coming out of the D.C. Tweet Center for America, we’ve now begun to hear a loud chorus of “Kumbaya” from the halls of the White House and Congress.

Now that the reality of governing in 21st century America is becoming clear to Donald Trump and his Cohort of Disruption, now that it looks as if there’ll be some tough rows to hoe about everything else Trump is proposing, including Gorsuch for Supreme Court, the Republicans are asking, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

Why, indeed? But the bigger question is, Why now? Why not two years ago when a perfectly appropriate candidate for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, was nominated by Barack Obama. I don’t remember hearing any “Kumbaya” sounds from Mitch McConnell or Orrin Hatch over Mr. Garland. All get along? Over their dead bodies.

Why not four years ago? Or six? Or eight?

Steve Bannon thought it was wrong of the Democrats to let Trump down on the health bill, but I don’t think he gave a rat’s ass about letting Obama down about Merrick Garland. The spirit of cooperation is a sometime thing for the Republicans.

There are lessons to be learned from what happened last week, but Trump, his cohort and his congress will have to get out of fifth grade to learn them. And none of those lessons includes learning the words to “Kumbaya.”

Richie Rich and his Orders

Richie Rich pulled out his sledgehammer yesterday and ordered – ORDERED – the House of Representatives to vote on the replacement health care bill today.

This is what happens when bullies run things.

And the order comes for no other reason than Richie hates Obama and all things Obama and he won’t let people who know how to do this handle it.

I’m not in favor of the repeal, but I do believe in process. Process would allow the Republicans to keep working to get the necessary votes but that doesn’t mean Shinola to Richie who just wants to send out orders.

Paul Ryan is feeling the Trump pain today. The next words could be “You’re fired!”

I wrote yesterday that Trump will bring the Republican party down. You didn’t believe me?

Punch-in-the-Stomach

I have a sick feeling. The kind where you think you know somebody and trust them and then they do something that leaves you feeling stranded, betrayed, helpless.

I felt it this morning reading about Devin Nunes and his tattle-tale move, running to Donald Trump with the report from the House Intelligence committee before talking it over with Adam Schiff or his committee.

That sick, punch-in-the-stomach feeling.

It felt familiar and did remind me of grade school, but I knew it was more than the tattle-tale teacher’s pet running to the teacher. Then my mind flashed back to the late 60s and early 70s, not to Richard Nixon, but to LBJ and Vietnam.

Richard Nixon had been a joke to me from the beginning – a mean-spirited joke, I’ll grant – right up until the end, including his famous “I am not a crook” line. Yeah. Right.

But Vietnam was never a joke and LBJ’s role in it – along with McNamara and the generals – was no joke either. Guys I’d gone to school with were heading to the jungle in a war that made no sense, even when I was an Army captain’s wife and heard some of the crazy rationalizations for fighting that war. Please don’t correct me and say it was not technically a war. It was a war.

As I listened to the news and read the papers, heard the often reported good tidings that we were winning over there while I also heard the body counts including some of those guys I’d gone to school with, there was a near-constant punch-in-the-stomach.

Lies will do that. Deception will do that. The current administration is doing that.

Just when it looks as if some clear forward progress is being made in an effort to sort out what did or did not happen during the campaign and election, just when it looks as if responsible people are making a serious effort to do that, just when it seems we’re on reasonably solid ground, one yahoo or another jerks the rug and pulls it out from under us.

This time it was Devin Nunes. For what reason? To be the good boy who polishes the apple? Because he got a call from Trump commanding him to bring the information as soon as he had it? Because he has little sense of integrity and loyalty to his own committee?

The apology came today – too little and too damned late. Devin Nunes is the guy who spills red wine on your white carpet, says “Oops,” and goes right on waving the glass around.

Sorry, Devin, I don’t buy your apology for one minute, anymore than I bought Robert McNamara’s after the Vietnam War ended. And if Republican congressmen and women haven’t figured it out yet – let me say it here.

Donald Trump is going to take this party down. His interest is not in building a strong Republican party but in destroying anything that gets in his path and you won’t know from one week to the next what that might be.

Your loyalty is to the country and its presiding officer, but your responsibility is to your constituents.

Strength in either party will come from integrity and clear thinking, not from running like salivating sycophants when Trump – or anyone else – rings the bell.

Devin Nunes just let America know that he’s not to be trusted. It’s a high price to pay to please his master.

Exactly Where Was Donald Trump Born?

The gaffe regarding Donald Trump’s recitation yesterday of an “old Irish proverb” has been nagging away at me like a piece of peanut brittle stuck in a tooth. I watched the clip several times and there was something more, some felt difficulty, beyond Trump’s serious fakey-jake sincerity that always signals “Liar, liar.”

This morning I woke up with what might be the answer when I started to put one thing and another together (like the best investigative reporters): Irish proverb. Not an Irish proverb. Not a proverb at all. Lines from a poem. Poem not Irish. Poet not Irish. Poet – wait a minute. Whoa, Nelly! Poet Nigerian.

Stop the presses! It’s possible that Donald Trump is Nigerian!

Before you dismiss this as a wild conspiracy claim, take a look at what Trump said yesterday in his introduction to the Irish Prime Minister:

“As we stand together with our Irish friends, I’m reminded of a proverb — and this is a good one, this is one I like. I’ve heard it for many, many years and I love it.”

He’s heard it for many, many years. He loves it. The kind of thing a child memorizes at his mother’s knee, perhaps even hears as a lullabye. He knows this “proverb” by heart and is only stumbling as he reads because he’s overcome with emotion at the memories of his young life hearing these beautiful words.

Of course, Trump could not have heard the poem for too many years and certainly not “many, many” when you look at the poet’s biography – born in the mid-80s, graduated from university in 2006. Most poets are not published for several years after college, possibly never, so it’s likely this Nigerian poet/banker was published maybe four or five years ago at most.

Wanting to pass off a phrase from a Nigerian poem as an Irish proverb was a fiendishly clever move on Trump’s part as an attempt to insinuate his Nigerian heritage into the picture. America will be on guard and watchful about future attempts to do so.

He could perhaps go so far as to ban immigrants from Nigeria to convince Americans that he is NOT Nigerian, but his words will continue to ring: “I’ve heard it for many, many years and I love it.”

Trump must be called to account for this or acknowledge that he is a lying weasel. My guess, he’ll go with the weasel. Accounting for himself is just not in his Bigly Book of Strategy.

My Irish Eyes are Smiling

I’ll admit, a lot of things have brought tears to my eyes since Donald Trump was elected President, but this morning the tears are not from frustration or anger.  They’re pride in my own heritage and the words of Enda Kenny, the Taoiseach of Ireland at the St. Patrick’s Ceremony in Washington.

Standing beside Donald Trump who keeps blasting away at immigration, Kenny delivered a beautiful and, I do believe, heartfelt message about immigrants. My grandfather, an Irish coalminer, was among those who left the old country to find his fortune – or at least steady work – on American soil.

I never met my grandfather. He died in the Castle Gate explosion in 1924, one of America’s worst coalmining tragedies.  The blast killed over 170 men. My mother was four years old and the youngest of three.

I was caught at a deep emotional level watching and listening to Mr. Kenny’s message. The Irish are known, of course, for their golden tongues and ways with words. Think W.B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney, James Joyce, Frank McCourt, Edna O’Brien, George Bernard Shaw and J.M. Synge and that’s just for starters. We’re also known for our spirit – the “Fighting Irish” is not just the name of a football team.

It was fun to watch Donald Trump’s face as Mr. Kenny spoke, focusing on immigration and citing words from the famous quotation on the Statue of Liberty. It’s always interesting to watch Donald Trump’s face when he’s in the presence of someone who knows how to deliver a clear and well-thought message, and in this case he knew he’d met his match.

Trump’s face shifted from the polite but disinterested mask he so often wears when someone else has the spotlight to the all-too-familiar glower when someone not only has the spotlight but uses it to make points with which Trump disagrees.

The gaffe with Trump’s “Irish” poem offered to Mr. Kenny can be chalked up to his equally ill-educated staffers who no doubt googled some of Trump’s favorite words like “friends” and “enemies” and came up with the “Remember to forget…” advice. That it is from a Nigerian poem makes it all the more ironic.

But the look on Trump’s face as the Irish Taoiseach spoke was all Trump’s own.

Thinking about the days to come under the so-called leadership of Donald Trump, I leave you with one last Irish note, words from the dancing and singing Irishman, Finian McLonergan of Finian’s Rainbow fame:

“Things are hopeless, hopeless, but they’re not serious.” Perhaps in this day, he’d want to turn it around and say, “Things are serious, serious, but they’re not hopeless.”

Erin Go Bragh!