The Trump Dilemma And An Appeal To Anson Burlingame, Part 2

Anson graciously responded to my last post. You can read his response here. I have decided I have to continue this exchange. There is just too much at stake. And besides that, it is therapeutic for me:


I appreciate your response, but I confess I am somewhat bewildered by it. 

You seem to be in the grip of the media hysteria (especially on Fox, where you said you were watching TV coverage) surrounding a series of protests in Charlotte, a couple of which evolved into dangerous and counter-productive riots as time went by and law-abiding folks went home. Naturally, news cameras go to where the action is. That is why they weren’t showing scenes from protests in Tulsa. Not much to see there but peaceful protesters. All I ask, regarding the issues related to those protests, is for a little perspective. And you won’t get that perspective by listening to “the on scene reporter at Fox” or Megyn Kelly. However, a discussion about BLM and other issues surrounding police interaction (even black police interaction, as happened in Charlotte) with black people will have to wait for another day (as will a discussion about the white supremacists who are championing Trump). I want to stick to the point of my appeal to you.

You say you still have “confusing thoughts” regarding your vote. You say you are asking yourself who “will do the least harm to America for the next four years.” Then you go on to suggest that the only way Hillary Clinton will get your vote is if she expresses the willingness to “compromise in today’s political divide” and “shows a willingness to at least try to understand her opposition.” Those demands are part of the reason why your response bewilders me. Forget for a moment the idea that compromise is a two-way street and Republicans in Congress have shown almost no willingness to compromise. That has been painfully obvious. And forget the fact that Mrs. Clinton understands her opposition all too well, which is part of the reason she got herself into that whole private server mess. 

Forget all that because the question you asked originally, “who will do the least harm to America for the next four years,” is very close to the right question. And nothing you are requiring of Hillary Clinton has anything to do with answering that question. Why? Because this isn’t an election about policy or ideology or party. We shouldn’t care, at this point, what is his or her position on education policy. Or which one will submit balanced budgets or push for or not push for entitlement reform. Or which one can stand on a debate stage and speak a coherent paragraph or two.

This election is about one thing: preventing an unhinged man with a dangerous personality disorder from becoming president—a man who admires authoritarians like Putin, who would jeopardize NATO and other relationships we have around the world, who doesn’t care about nuclear proliferation, and who does not, in any way, have the temperament to command a small fleet of red wagons, let alone the world’s most powerful military.

I will leave you with the following scenario, based on your experience as a commander of a nuclear submarine, which means you know the temperament required and the challenges involved in such an assignment:

Imagine, in the middle of a hot period during the Cold War, you were Admiral Rickover. Imagine you had to choose a commander of a nuclear submarine. Unfortunately for you, there are only three choices available. Here are their qualifications:

CANDIDATE ONE: Understands how to operate a nuclear reactor and nuclear propulsion systems. Understands the weapons systems on board. Can drive the submarine and chart its position. Knows the communications and intelligence equipment inside and out. Has years of experience involving both shore assignments and command deployments for the U.S. Navy, which is why this candidate is subject to second-guessing for her decision making. 

CANDIDATE TWO: Spent 20 years in the Navy as a Merchant Marine, but most of it was desk duty on shore because he was known for smoking vast quantities of marijuana while serving on civilian ships. Understands nothing about nuclear reactors and nuclear propulsion systems, nor does he know anything about the weapons systems on board nuclear subs. But he says he is willing to learn, if you give him the job.

CANDIDATE THREE: Has never been in the military. Understands nothing about nuclear power or weapons systems or the people who do. Has had no maritime experience other than the fact he does own a yacht, a yacht that someone else commands, even though this candidate claims he “knows more” than the yacht captain.

Those are your only choices, Admiral. Remember, though, by your own admission Candidate Two cannot get the approval of the Secretary of the Navy, which in this scenario is the American electorate. So, you are left with Candidate One or Candidate Three. 

And that is what this election is about.




  1. ansonburlingame

     /  September 24, 2016


    I am sure your readers are wondering why you seem to be wasting your time writing to me, personally. Other than being “therapeutic”, (which I understand as my responses are the same to me), you are eloquently stating the case as to why conservatives (but not “deplorable” ones) should vote for Hillary, for the “good of the country”. You are indeed making me think more deeply on just that matter.

    In regards to your example as to who to select to command a nuclear submarine, obviously the choice provided is Candidate number One. But that example does not represent the choices I see in the upcoming election. It is not possible to describe in detail how that process worked (actually still works) in any detail. But be assured it is one of the most rigorous and intense screenings (continuous screening over 15-20 years), based strictly on merit, performance, imaginable.

    Our choices for becoming president are 1. An arrogant, untrained and unqualified blow-hard who would (should) never have been granted access to begin that program (or this campaign). 2. An arrogant harridan, a young hippie that had the intelligence to begin to work as a Navy “nuke” but certainly not the demeanor. When she actually achieved “command” (SecState) she failed miserably in holding those working for her accountable. As well she had several “groundings” on her record while holding that position as well. 3. A couple of unqualified “nobodies” .

    The simple fact, Duane, is NONE of those candidates would ever have reached the level to even be considered for command of a nuclear powered naval ship, period.

    Now let’s consider why you remain “bewildered” over my continuing uncertainty as to how to cast my vote. I have known you and your political views long enough to in no way be bewildered by your positions, politically and perhaps “socially”. I don’t agree with them very often but rarely does your blog surprise me.

    But I remain convinced that if you and I were on opposite sides of a major dispute and both in a position as the ultimate decision-maker, we could both sit down and negotiate a settlement of sorts, a compromise, for the overall “good of an organization”. say a company in the midst of a labor dispute.

    Permit another example, one based on a recent PBS discussion over what might happen in the first months of a Trump or Clinton administration. Of course the pundits suggested all sorts of crazy “executive” decisions for Trump and he was given no slack whatsoever. Biased yes but possible for sure. Automatic “No vote” on my part.

    For Hillary the discussion focused on would she push a strong, leftist agenda OR would she first seek private compromise with GOP leaders. A compelling (to me) point was would she go with Obama’s current SCOTUS choice (arguably a centrist) or bow to progressive demands and nominate a decidedly leftist judge.

    Based on Bill’s ability to compromise with the GOP during his presidency, I would hope that she would opt for the centrist position, a compromise position, on SCOTUS, immigration, and a host of other immediate policy and personnel decisions. But I have very grave doubts that Hillary will follow that path. Remove those doubts on my part and I would not only vote for her I would campaign for her today!!!

    Instead I can easily imagine the same harridan that screamed “Why are we arguing over THIS, NOW”. Or the same extremely poor “commander” that failed to hold anyone responsible for Benghazi. By holding people accountable, I mean not taking the necessary “command” action to no longer allow such people to serve under her authority!!

    Of course Bush ii has never acknowledged mistakes related to Iraq, grave mistakes. But Hillary has never acknowledged an equivalent level of error in Libya in both advocating “going in” in the first place and then really screwing things up in the aftermath. In terms of foreign policies her actions related to the whole Libyan matter in and of themselves disqualify her for the presidency, in my view.

    Domestically, if I hear someone say again that “all we have to do is talk to one another better” in matters related to race, well my eyes will continue to roll and they, generally speaking would never get my vote. As well when politicians spin our overwhelming race issues to favor one side or the other, well there goes the eye roll again. I reject, vigorously, the BLM AND the “cops can do no wrong” positions.

    Tulsa has handled the cop on black shooting quite well. Certainly the publicly available evidence casts reasonable doubt that the cop was justified. Now we can unemotionally, I hope, move to a trial by jury to see if a high powered lawyer, against a well qualified prosecutor, can PROVE, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the cop committed the CRIME of manslaughter. I refuse to prejudge that issue.

    In Charlotte, despite the public speeches by the Chief of Police, I now wonder if the cops planted a gun on the victim. But no way can I make a definitive judgment on that matter, yet. As to publicly releasing video evidence, I agree they should NOT do so until preliminary investigations are complete. I don’t want to see witness interviews tainted one way or the other. Instead they (witnesses) should all speak truthfully about exactly what they, individually, saw or heard during that event, no outside spin or influence on such observations allowed.

    In both matters today, the only position any politician should take is “let the system of justice take its course”, period. If they tend to favor, right now, one side or the other they, the politicians obviously have little faith in our current system of justice.

    In matters of black on white potentially criminal interactions if they (politicians) feel the “system of justice” is unfair, that is fine with me. BUT just complaining about it is dead wrong. Instead I want to hear exactly how they would fix it by passing new laws. If such new laws make it easier to convict ANYONE of murder, etc., well I will be deeply skeptical for sure. It should never be easy to convict anyone under our system of justice.

    The gravest faults in our system of justice remain one where he who hires the best (most expensive) lawyer can “get off” even though they are probably guilty as sin!! Also if a man must rely on a very young and inexperienced lawyer (public defender) to defend him against the power of the state, that is not fair in almost any case. But equally at fault is when the government (cops, prosecutors, etc.) is shown to be biased during investigations. Of course how to fix such shortcomings is beyond my ability to decide, as a matter of law, as well. I only feel that “fixing it” cannot make it easier for one side at the expense of the other.

    War in fact is politics by other means. But justice cannot be politics either, period.

    I have spent all morning writing this and have deleted far more than I now send to you and your readers. We should probably move beyond this personal interaction now and address the continuing issues in this campaign on a more general, not personal, level.

    But be assured that I am reading and considering, carefully, all that we exchange herein and will do so all the way to Nov 8th. I want to really be as right as I can be and will continue to listen and engage to achieve that goal for myself. I hope as well that your highly partisan commentors recognize these two exchanges are between two honest and thoughtful men, each seeking the best path forward for our country.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Anson,

      I agree that we could probably work out a lot of compromise agreements, if someone was dumb enough to put us in charge. Alas, we are just a couple of earnest guys trying to, as you said, seek the best way ahead.

      Let me wrap this up with what I think is the problem I am having in understanding your position. You said in response to my nuclear submarine analogy,

      The simple fact, Duane, is NONE of those candidates would ever have reached the level to even be considered for command of a nuclear powered naval ship, period.

      You may be right about that, Anson, but that’s not relevant. There is indeed one “simple fact” in this case: even if you don’t think any of the three should be considered qualified for the presidency, either Clinton or Trump will—without any doubt—be our president and commander-in-chief. No one gets to check off a box on his or her ballot that says, “Leave Obama in office until we get better candidates.” So, it doesn’t matter whether you (or I or anyone) think neither of them is qualified. The election will happen and one of them will win. And one is scarier than hell and the other is absolutely within the mainstream of domestic and foreign policy thinking, even if you disagree with her and even if you think she has made some bad judgments.

      By the way, here is my take on SCOTUS: I suspect a President Hillary Clinton would, if he isn’t confirmed in the lame duck session, go ahead and reappoint Garland. It only makes sense for her to do so, in terms of allowing Obama to have his pick (even if she has to complete the ridiculous process). One of the reasons she is being coy about it is because she wants Republicans to fear a more liberal appointment, so they will go ahead and get it over with before she takes office.



  2. ansonburlingame

     /  September 24, 2016

    One other point that I recognized when re-re-rereading your blog. Rarely do I watch Fox these days. But I find their initial coverage of events taking place is pretty good (Sheppard Smith in particular). As well as the Fox reporting on Wed night, I tuned in to MSNBC and CNN as well. The only notable reaction which I referenced (other than the “facts”) was the comparison of Charlotte with both Ferguson (Charlotte worse) and Israel/Palistine. I happen to agree with that comparison.



    • Anonymous

       /  September 24, 2016

      To any reasonable person, per Duane’s statement:

      “This election is about one thing: preventing an unhinged man with a dangerous personality disorder from becoming president—a man who admires authoritarians like Putin, who would jeopardize NATO and other relationships we have around the world, who doesn’t care about nuclear proliferation, and who does not, in any way, have the temperament to command a small fleet of red wagons, let alone the world’s most powerful military.”

      Is certainly the boat we find ourselves in today. I have tried convincing my brother, a lifetime NRA member, that Hillary is not going to take our weapons. Any ban on any weapon or additional background checks is unacceptable and they would vote for the devil himself, if he left those laws alone. I don’t understand the fear that the government could or would try such. I know this is not Anson’s issue, I just feel both to be irrational. Not trying to be a “highly partisan commenter”.


      • You know, I have marveled at the whole gun issue and the irrationality attached to it. The entire response is a result of people being effectively brainwashed by the NRA and its friends. It is equivalent to how folks react to labor unions. Most people don’t even understand how unions actually work, but they have a negative view of them because they have been taught to have such negative views. These days we live in a culture with tools, social media, etc., that have made it possible for people to essentially brainwash themselves with propaganda they seek out and pass on, over and over. Sad and scary.


    • I don’t mind Shep Smith, Anson. He is as close to a decent journalist on Fox as there is. But even his program is littered with bias, as he obviously doesn’t control the graphics they use across the bottom of the screen. I watch a lot of Fox, unfortunately. And I watch a lot of CNN, also unfortunately. And I watch a lot of MSNBC, also also unfortunately (except in the evening). All of these networks have participated in the relentless and mostly unfair trashing of Hillary Clinton over emails and the Clinton Foundation. Meanwhile, because of those distractions, the real bank robber is in his getaway car counting the money.


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