Alden Graves | Graves registry: Our chief petty officer


Talk about being adrift on a sea of pettiness! During his recent visit to a naval base in Japan, lest his ire be roused, Navy authorities were asked to position the USS John McCain so that Donald Trump wouldn't have to look at it and thus be reminded of all the things that Sen. McCain was that Mr. Trump could never be.

Trump dismissed any inference that hiding the destroyer was at his bequest with the laughable contention that he would never instigate anything so mean-spirited. (This is the same guy who refers to anyone who is out of his favor by demeaning childish nicknames.)

The rest of us shouldn't lose sight of how magnificent the Titanic was just because the iceberg thought otherwise. I didn't agree with Sen. McCain's politics very often, but he was one of the very few Republicans in Washington with backbone enough to stand up to a preening bully and intelligence enough to know a con man when he was dealing with one.

The New York Times confirmed that The White House was directly involved in keeping the ship out of Trump's line of sight. I suppose it is possible that some ambitious sycophant there had dealt with the boss's tantrums often enough to know that any reminder of an infinitely better man would plunge him into a regal snit and decided to head off a presidential pout by contacting the Navy.

I know we should all let bygones be bygones, but it seemed as if there might be a better time to visit Japan than during the Memorial Day holiday period. An example of a better time might be any other time. But as far as the sacrifices made by members of the military, Mr. Trump probably never lets a Memorial Day go by without silently thanking God for bone spurs.

He was very chummy with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but then he is always everyone's best buddy until they leave the room. Trump cleared up an issue that must have weighed heavily on Mr. Abe's mind by telling him that stealth planes are called that "because you can't see them" and that, in a joint American/Japanese space collaboration, "We'll soon be on the moon."

I wondered if it went through Mr. Abe's mind that he was already on the moon.

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Because of North Korea's potential for the development of great waterfront properties, Trump disagreed with the Japanese government and with every other evaluation — some by people who actually know what they are talking about — on the potential for the maverick country launching a nuclear strike. It is probably the only instance in his entire career when some attention should be paid to National Security Advisor John Bolton. He said that Kim Jong-un had violated UN resolutions by firing off missiles recently, but Mr. Trump is relying on that same infallible intuition about Kim that he used to lose over a billion dollars when every other fat cat in America was making money hand over fist.

Kim reportedly told Trump that he thought "Swampman" Joe Biden was "a low IQ individual," a point with which Mr. Trump tended to agree. That "low IQ" remark, however, sound suspiciously Trumpian. It is a denigration he has been hurling for some time and will likely remain on the president's insult launch pad as long as his own school records remain as tightly under wraps as the invasion plans for D-Day.

Trump has adopted a page from the Karl Rove playbook: Tell a lie enough time and it begins to sound like the truth. His mantra lately, of course, has been, "No collusion, no obstruction," a conclusion spectacularly at odds with the real findings of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the bosom buddy relationship between Russia and highly-placed members of the Trump election campaign, including his clueless elder son.

Mr. Mueller, in a press conference on May 29, put a serious dent in Mr. Trump's protestations of persecution and innocence. He stated, in effect, that his exhaustive report was meant to provide the groundwork for Congress to begin investigations into what clearly were multiple instances of obstruction on the part of the president. Mueller works for the Department of Justice and, according to a rule diligently supported by Attorney General William Barr, a sitting president cannot be indicted for committing a federal crime. That rule was obviously put in place by people who could never imagine a man like Donald Trump being elected to the presidency, but for Trump it is like drawing a dozen Get Out of Jail cards during a marathon game of Monopoly. He is probably the only president in the country's history whose determination to win a second term has as much to do with staying out of the slammer as it does with remaining in power.

A brief thought on another issue: A front page Banner article noted the commencement of the trial of a local man, a self-professed white supremacist, on charges that he purchased high capacity magazines for weapons in New Hampshire that are illegal in Vermont. The man has climbed up upon the cross of persecution, claiming the charges were only brought because of his "free speech" involvement in the racially motivated harassment of a state legislator who happened to be black.

Talk about an ignoble defense!

This country lost another 12 valuable human beings last week in Virginia, victims of another God-knows-what-his-problem-was mass killer armed with a handgun fitted with a silencer. It is a constant source of amazement to me to hear right wing gun proponents decry a desecration of the Constitution when sensible gun restrictions are proposed, but they don't bat an eye when the president of the United States rapes and plunders other tenets of the document with the regularity of a Swiss watch. Call it lethal hypocrisy.

Alden Graves writes a regular column for the Banner.


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