Thursday, June 29, 2017

Trump is resigning little by litte

The good news is Donald Trump has begun to resign the Presidency, piece by piece. The bad news is he clings to office five days a week. He gives up chunks of the job little by little but wants the title while filling his pockets, promoting his business empire, self-servicing his ego, and playing golf more often that he accused his predecessor.

“In a new interview with Reuters looking back at his First 100 Days in office, the President reveals that not only does he “miss his old life” before he entered public office but he also out and out thought that “being president would be easier” than he’s found it to be thus far.” (See

To be fair, it’s a tough job; one he never expected he’d get when he applied. Everything he did during the job application process was designed to make sure the American people didn’t hire him. But they did. He and we are stuck.

Almost without notice, this President has resigned as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, at least those who are at war in Afghanistan. Trump’s Russian connection could come in handy here. He could talk to Putin about the disastrous time Russian troop had in that country. If he listened, and Trump never listens, he might understand it is time to leave, not time to go deeper.

But no. Instead he has relinquished civilian control over that war. Unprecedented. Dangerous. Trumpian.

The Defense Department describes the American tradition of putting the control of the military in the hands of a civilian, i.e. the President of the United States, the person the Constitution calls “the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and the Navy of the United States.”

Trump wouldn’t know this since he was what Credence Clearwater Revival called a “Fortunate Son.” Remember that anti-Vietnam War protest song?

Some folks are born made to wave the flag;
Ooh, they're red, white and blue
And when the band plays "Hail to the chief"
Ooh, they point the cannon at you, Lord
It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no senator's son, son
It ain't me, it ain't me; I ain't no fortunate one, no
Yeah! Some folks are born silver spoon in hand

Military members swear "to support and defend the Constitution of the United States." One of the most critical aspects of that oath is the acceptance of civilian control of the military.

But Trump doesn’t like the job all that much. Being Commander in Chief is a tough job. Remember how it aged Barack Obama and George W. Bush. So, he abdicated that throne. You have to make really tough decisions. It’s not like a reality show. People actually die for real.

President Trump handed his duties over to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who now has the full authority of the Commander-in-Chief to set US troop levels in Afghanistan.
General Mattis thinks this is a fine idea, telling Congress it’ll make managing the war effort more efficient. "This assures the Department can facilitate our missions and nimbly align our commitment to the situation on the ground.” Hide your sons and daughters.

The founding father knew that managing wars by giving generals control would be easier. It wasn’t supposed to be easier. They didn’t want war makers making those choices. So, they said people civilians like the President should have the responsibility. Of course, the founding fathers never anticipated we’d have a president like Trump.

Then there’s healthcare. News reports quote Trump’s own staff as laughing at the notion that Trump knows or cares about healthcare.  

Trump finds it too complicated. So, he farmed it out to Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. What they came up with violated every campaign promise Trump made but hey…at least he doesn’t have to do all that homework.

The U.S. has a President who likes the title better than the job. Why? Because actually doing the job is hard but there’s a lot of money to be made in keeping the title.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Does healthcare have to be partisan?

This is what passes for healthcare policy in Wyoming. Convenience stores place jars on the counter into which customers drop spare change to pay someone’s medical bills. Facebook posts GoFundMe requests asking folks to chip in for someone’s medical bills. Families with steep unpaid medical bills file bankruptcy. People don’t receive necessary care and because they’re uninsured.

What does Wyoming’s congressional delegation propose?

Rep. Cheney cast the deciding vote forTrumpCare, which means we can call it CheneyCare. The Congressional Budget Office said the House bill will mean thousands of her constituents will lose their health insurance while premiums for others will skyrocket.

For their part, Mike Enzi and John Barrasso joined the partisan conspiracy aimed at getting a bill enacted before anyone knows what hit them. No Democrats were allowed to participate. No Women. None of their constituents. No hearings. No public input. Just 13 old, white men including Senators Enzi and Barrasso sitting around the table, shuffling the cards, and dealing a bad hand to the rest of us.

The Senate will vote before the 4th of July recess. Wyoming’s Senators promise there’ll be plenty of time to review the bill. But there will be no hearings. No opportunity for the experts to testify. No time for the victims of this law to weigh in. Now that McConnell has delayed a vote beyond the 4th of July recess, there is time for Enzi and Barrasso to come home and ask us what we think, but they won’t.

TrumpCare will harm Red states like Wyoming. The CBO estimated 23 million Americans will lose their insurance, most because of pre-existing conditions. Cheney claimed the bill took care of those folks. It doesn’t. That’s one reason Trump called the bill “mean.”

Why are Wyoming’s senators party to secret, partisan deliberations? Wouldn’t it be better for Americans and the success of the legislation if Enzi, Barrasso, and their GOP colleagues were more transparent and more inclusive?

Doesn’t it seem like Republicans could sit with Democrats and agree on these basics? One, healthcare is a right. Two, we are all personally responsible to purchase insurance. Three, insurance should cover essential medical needs.

If lawmakers believe healthcare is a privilege to be rationed based on ability to pay, millions will continue to get sick earlier and die sooner. Being well and without need for healthcare is a temporary condition regardless of your income level. Eventually we’ll all require it. Criminal defendants have a right to a lawyer. Shouldn’t we all have a right to medical care?

Second, let’s agree that buying insurance is a matter of personal responsibility? If younger, healthier people are not required to buy insurance, when they inevitably get sick or have an accident, their bills get passed along to us in skyrocketing premiums and taxes.  

The law should mandate we take responsibility for our own healthcare? We’re required to buy Medicare insurance from the time we started working. We’re mandated to buy automobile liability insurance so that others don’t have to pay for damages we may cause in an accident? Why not health insurance?

Third, insurance should cover essential medical care. Consider this. You can buy a car without wheels, windshield, or engine. But, a car with four wheels, a windshield, and an engine will cost more. If insurance companies are selling policies that don’t cover much, they won’t cost as much. If they’re required to insure the health problems most people actually experience in the normal course of life, the premium will rise. When you get sick, which do you want?

If Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on the basics, having Enzi and Barrasso work behind closed doors to write a bill along with other old, white men, and then attempt to shove down our throats, makes sense.

In their drive to repeal a law that a majority of Americans no longer want repealed, politicians like Enzi and Barrasso have marginalized their constituents and clarified their own values, which are, unfortunately, partisan rather than democratic values.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Those were the days my friend

Much of the email this column generates is rather critical. Recently, a reader told me electronically, “Your (sic) one sick liberal. You are the enemy of Wyoming people.” Last week’s column about the music of the 60s, however, spurred another reader to write, “Never thought I would enjoy a Rodger McDaniel column. Thank you, those definitely were the good old days.”

I knew then I needed to write a “Part 2.” So, I reached out via Facebook to ask what others recalled about the Cheyenne rock scene of those days. So many shared such great memories, there had to be a sequel.

Many recalled the Byrds, Cyrkle, Beau Brummels, and Sugar Loaf playing at the Frontier Pavilion. For those so young you never had to walk across the living room to change the TV station, be assured these bands were big deals around the country.

Remember the Kingsmen? Their hit “Louie, Louie” was a collection of such indecipherable words that we were able to shock our parents by repeating the smutty lyrics we were certain it contained. It took Snopes half a century to investigate. “Louie, Louie,” says the fact-finding website, was simply an “innocuous 1956 song about a lovesick sailor’s lament to a bartender.” Because we still thought it was about sex, when the Kingsmen came to Cheyenne, they packed the house.

One Facebook writer remembered, “We were called to the auditorium at East. Finally, all the Kingsmen in like blazers, stood up and went to the stage. They were the guests.” Another recalled the day the great band Chicago showed up at Sloan’s Lake in Lions Park. Apparently, they were passing through town and stopped there for a break.

One of the best stories came from the memory of Alan O’Hashi. He referred me to a 1970 Rolling Stone magazine interview where I learned that Leon Russell and Jerry Lee Lewis played the Pavilion. Russell was the great song writer and musician who played with everybody from the Rolling Stones to Tina Turner and Bob Dylan, wrote Joe Cocker’s “Delta Lady,” and was called a “mentor” by Elton John before being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

When asked about gigs he played as he toured the country, Russell told the Rolling Stone about a night he and Jerry Lee played Cheyenne’s Pavilion. Russell said it was the “Blackboard Jungle” era.

I remember Jerry Lee in Cheyenne, Wyoming,” Russell said. “The band was really playing and he was standing up on the piano bench singing and watching 75 people fight in the audience, just chasing around and running all over the audience. Pretty soon they all advanced on the stage, when they got tired of fighting with each other, and the curtains were pulled and we made a mad scramble out to the cars and packed up as many instruments as we could and got out of town.”
Sorry I missed that.
Others fondly recalled how “the horsey” kids gathered with their parents for teen dances at the Saddle Tramps club. Others remember summer nights dancing to local groups like Jason and the Argonauts and Charlie Brice and the Kansas City Soul Association at the band stand in Lion’s Park. The KCSA actually finished second at KIMN’s Denver battle of the bands one year. “Bobby Giles and the Lebas” can’t be left off the list. Bobby was a talented Cheyenne blues and rock musician who also played bass guitar for Jimmy Valdez and the Blues Revolution.

Rick Spencer urged we not forget how many local groups practiced their hearts out in garages around Cheyenne. Using borrowed or cheap guitars they “knew we’d all become famous if someone in the group could just remember the 4th verse to House of the Rising Sun.” Those bands existed, Rick said, from 3:30-5:15, “when the old man got home from work and wanted to park his car in the garage.”

Mary Hopkin was right, “Those were the days my friend. We thought they’d never end.”