Around A Tavern Table

Education comes from many experiences in life, certainly not just the classroom. One of the experiences that taught me the most about life was coaching basketball. And that education certainly didn’t all come wearing a suit and tie while sitting on the bench. I want to relate one night’s experience decades ago and apply its lesson to the Trump administration. Let’s explore.

After the Friday night games had concluded during the early years of my high school coaching tenure I found myself sitting around a tavern table with four or five other local high school coaches. Such sessions happened several times a season. We discussed both that evening’s games and held a tactics session during which beer bottles, salt and pepper shakers and the ketchup bottle (always the center) were the players. I was the only assistant coach the rest of the crew was comprised of head coaches who I (with good cause) respected.

After several scenarios of offenses and the defenses that would stop said offenses (assuming all players were equally matched) Ron said “Who is the best coach at the table?” Magically silence fell over the table. Nobody wanted to single out their candidate for the best at the risk of offending a respected friend(s). After an appropriate pause Ron answered his own question, “The last one with the (expletive deleted) pencil.” (Outside of bars this “game” was played with marking devices making X’s and O’s.)

The point was that whatever offense you devised your opponent could counter it. More importantly you win or lose as a team and the team was much bigger than one man even if that man was the head coach. At the college level you quickly learned the importance of recruiting. Those who didn’t learn that lesson had very short college coaching careers. It is simple: if your players are better than your opponent’s players you generally win.

That brings me to the Trump administration. Trump is an incredibly incompetent “head coach” who is further hampered by the fact that he has a very untalented team. I’d like to cite a few recent examples to bolster that claim.

Senior Advisor and first son-in-law Jared “Boy Blunder” Kushner is perhaps the prime example. He was put in charge of Project Airlift which was tasked with procuring need supplies to fight the coronavirus. First off he recruited a bunch of bright but totally unqualified people. To go back to the basketball analogy that is like recruiting a bunch of guys who can’t dribble.

Then Jared’s task force supplied the White House lie machine with inflated numbers. In the process (and I’m willing to bet it will emerge with monetary motivation) they got private industry involved in the distribution. What was wrong with using an agency like FEMA other than it might be more difficult to obscure the movement of money? (Always remember that at its core the Trump administration is little more than an organized criminal enterprise.)

Foreign suppliers were necessary partially because in January the Trump administration refused the offer of a Texas company capable of manufacturing 1.7 million N95 masks a week. Hmmm. The flights importing the supplies cost the American taxpayers in excess of $750,000 each and the total at this point appears to be over $90 million of taxpayers’ money spent to import PPE which it turned over to Trump favored industries to sell at a profit. Connecting those dots doesn’t yield a free market picture does it?

Another player that is well above his competence level is Treasury Secretary and keeper of the $500 million slush fund, Steve Mnuchin. Mnuchin has gotten into a Twitter fight with singer Axl Rose. Doesn’t he have more important business to attend to? Mnuchin will either be relegated to an asterisk or federal inmate number when history is written. Rose may well and deservedly end up in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Trump does have a few experts on his coronavirus task force. They know they must remain basically muted if they want to stay in a place where they hope to be able to do some good. Well now with the coronavirus striking the White House they have prudently self-quarantined. That will even lessen their effectiveness to the detriment of the nation. Going back to basketball, this is a case of letting a walk-on stay around too long and injure a scholarship player in the process.

In a move that particularly galls me Trump is appointing a donor to the post of Postmaster General at the same time he and Mnuchin are extorting changes in postal rates aimed at hurting Trump’s perceived political enemy Jeff Bezos. Similar to a fascist dictator Trump loves to have loyalists wherever possible. In this administration loyalty (to Trump) is imperative; qualifications are irrelevant. Ambassadorships and many Cabinet positions were obviously for sale; isn’t the USPS just a natural extension of that policy which appears to be the Trump Doctrine. Trump would love to see the USPS broken up and its profitable operations sold off to his cronies. In the process they would destroy the postal unions, raise the rates which are ultimately (like tariffs) paid by the American consumer; leaving the taxpayer to underwrite the then resulting hopelessly unprofitable but constitutionally mandated postal system. Veterans, when you go to vote this fall keep in mind that the Post Office is the largest employer of veterans in America.

I’m not sure which sycophant Trump has in charge of his wall these days but smugglers sawed through the San Diego section of it 18 times between September 27th and October 27th of last year. We just got the information recently because the Washington Post had to go the FOIA route. As we saw in Russiagate and Ukrainegate the suppression of information is Trumpism 101.

I’m getting long winded again, so I’ll wrap it up for today. Trump is incompetent, fears intelligence and competence (much like his core supporters) and therefore surrounds himself with toadies not even remotely qualified for their positions. That’s why we are losing… as Trump would say bigly.

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