Darkow, Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune

For those who are in their fifties and beyond, you might be familiar with this statement from another era, when names like Andropov, Brezhnev and Reagan were in the news:

If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves.A Nation at Risk, 1983

With the continuing implosion of the United States government under the dangerous delusional direction of Donald Trump, as evidenced by the recent firings of the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of the Secret Service and others in DHS and cabinet departments, it’s time to update the introduction of the Reagan Administration’s report on American education to that of a citizen’s report on the current seismic state of the Trump Maladministration.

Consider this as the appropriate descriptor of the current condition of this country, a la A Nation at Risk:

If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the less than mediocre and always chaotic performance of the U.S. government that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves.

Indeed, dear citizens, a modern-day Cassius might say that the fault is not in our stars but in ourselves.

Yes, we let this happen. Good people didn’t show up on Election Day or voted for Jill Stein or created a write-in candidate in the form of Bernie Sanders. Indeed, there might not have been anyone of star quality among the many candidates who started their campaigns for the presidency in the election cycle that commenced nearly five years ago. But there was a clear choice on that first Tuesday after the first Monday in November 2016.

We have allowed this to happen to ourselves.

But while we think about that election and agonize over the four most dangerous words in the English language, viz., it might have been, the problem is that the slow-motion train wreck that is this country’s government is still underway, and we have not yet heard the ultimate explosion, that of the groaning sounds of twisted metal and the agony of we the people that are presumably represented by the wrecked locomotive that represents the Trump Train of Troglodytes.

The train has not reached the station. Nor will it, as Trump’s destructive behavior continues unabated.


Yes, there are no stars among the train’s incompetent crew, led (?) by a corrupt, challenged, and compromised chief. In railroad parlance and, based upon previous bad behavior, he is more accurately described as a fireman, i.e., one who is expert in conducting firing squads and starting – but not extinguishing – infernos.

No, we shouldn’t be confused, though he often is. He is not an engineer of the locomotive kind. Worse yet, he is an unreal, ribald reprobate reality show host who knows how to fire but has no idea about how to recruit and hire skilled and ethical candidates for positions in public service.

As speculation grew last week regarding more officials slated to face the firing squad in the Department of Homeland Insecurity, including L. Francis Cissna, the son of a Peruvian immigrant who is the administrator of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Homeland Security General Counsel John M. Mitnick, the metaphor that identifies the Trump Administration as a slow-motion train wreck became more valid as Americans watched the spectacle of a clown show morphing into a danger to the country it is supposed to protect.

This slow-motion train wreck of a government gives us no Senate confirmed Secretary of Defense, no Secretary of Homeland Security, no United Nations Ambassador, nor other key positions that don’t involve Senate hearings and a vote to confirm. Currently, 14 of the 22 people Trump nominated for his original cabinet have left. Yet the people who have been in place from the beginning (DeVos at Education, Perry at Energy, Carson at Housing and Urban Development, Ross at Commerce, to name a few) are not-so-splendid mediocrities of the worst kind.

In a recent editorial, the Los Angeles Times focused on the promise by Trump to hire “the best people:”

Trump has added to the vacuum of leadership by failing to nominate people for nearly 140 other key top-level positions that are important to the smooth running of the vast bureaucracy. Leaving jobs leaderless is obviously bad management, and the president’s assertion that this is part of reducing big government is just silly — 140 fewer jobs, or even several thousand fewer if you include some of the lower-level management jobs he’s left vacant, won’t make much of a dent in a federal workforce of more than 2.5 million.

Yet any assertion that we have a vacuum of leadership is kind beyond imagination, for leadership has never been present in this administration long enough to create a vacuum. And if we need to think in terms that might stimulate our imagination, we need to think no further than the recently photographed black hole.

Yes, a black hole, a mysterious formation that is far, far away – about 55 million light-years away, to be a bit more precise – might be a better metaphor to describe this administration than a mere slow-motion train wreck.

The more I think about it, it’s like this. We can see and hear a train wreck, but a black hole is so dense that nothing, not even light, can escape from its dominant nature. And with the densest possible person in charge, no logic, creative thought, proactive public policy, or any form of basic human kindness can ever penetrate the menacing matter called the Trump Maladministration.

New Scientist

Nor can any coherence escape from it.

What can you do to avoid a black hole, particularly when it is less than 55 million light-years away? This week, with the release of selected portions of the Mueller Report, astronomers and astrophysicists might be asked to provide an answer.

We are a nation at risk. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves.