Joshua Abraham Norton (1818-1880) declared in 1859, and apparently sincerely believed, he was Emperor of the United States. His statehouse was in San Francisco. Norton initially made his living in business, but made a disastrous financial decision involving a shipload of rice and lost his assets. It seems likely the monetary calamity was too much for his sanity. His fame spread beyond San Francisco and even Mark Twain wrote about him. San Franciscans viewed and loved him as a harmless eccentric, knowing his numerous declarations lacked legal authority.

President Trump is known worldwide. Many observers wish his numerous tweets were harmless. Nonetheless, he is revered by his many faithful followers. One devotee wrote, and Trump repeated, “You have been sent by God.” Reinforcing his exalted opinion of himself as a “Stable Genius” is his regular practice of ignoring advice from his advisers. “I make the decisions,” he said; leaders ultimately must make the decisions but listening to experts should be part of the process. In Trump’s mind no one is his equal.

Our economy had improved greatly under President Obama, but Trump, typically, takes all the credit.

The stock market and employment rate clearly improved much more after he became president. The “flip” side of the coin is our national debt has increased tremendously due to Trump’s unnecessary tax breaks for big business. Trump is faultless for the major stock market drop due to the novel coronavirus, but Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Rush Limbaugh (another mouth that roars) originally blamed the Democrats for promoting a hoax. Now, Trump proclaims the virus is under control.

The U.S., Mexico and Canada trade agreement appears favorable. The U.S. and China tentative deal may be worthwhile in the long term, although our farmers and others have suffered financially. Trump was almost certainly correct in saying our NATO allies have not been paying their share in our joint defense agreement, but isn’t a civil tone preferable to insults? On the other hand, he has “cozied up” to leaders of totalitarian countries Russia, China and North Korea, countries that torture and imprison dissidents.

In Foreign Policy, his actions/policies have been questionable. Iran Nuclear Agreement: Iran had been in compliance according to all signatories including most U.S. experts until Trump withdrew our country from it. Could the fact the agreement was signed while Obama was president have been a factor? Trump claimed his order to kill Iranian General Soleimani was based on an imminent threat to U.S. troops. Our intelligence agencies found no threat. Iran did respond with a rocket attack on a U.S. base in Iraq. Trump reported a few soldiers had headaches. In reality, a few had to be transported to our country for severe injuries. Afghanistan: We should never have attempted taming a violence-prone country, but our truce with the Taliban may allow Trump to proclaim victory and go home; only the most gullible will believe peace will prevail.

Can President Trump see himself as our Supreme Lifetime Leader? While commenting on Chinese leader Chairman Xi’s actions to elevate himself to a lifetime role, Trump tweeted “I think it’s great … Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.” Can such remarks be possibly seen as harmless ramblings to his followers? Trump apparently sees our Constitution and laws as impediments; they were designed to do just that, thus the separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution.

Some (many?) of my rabid-right friends claim I am of the Loony Left persuasion. Denied! I am beholden to no party, meaning I think for myself. In the past I have regularly voted for Republican presidential candidates, including Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan and both Bushes. I would have voted for John McCain if not for his VP choice of totally unqualified Sarah Palin. I concluded my votes for Nixon were a big mistake as were my votes for the second President Bush, mostly due to our disastrous “Police Action” in Iraq. Bush Sr. wisely said, “If you invade a country, you own it.” His son, our second President Bush, did not listen; consequently, we have been fighting “no win” Middle East Police Actions for seemingly never-ending years now.

Trump firing all cabinet dissidents … only blind loyalists wanted. Presidents can expect loyalty from their hand-picked cabinet members, but our Attorney General, FBI director and FBI employees owe loyalty only to our country. FBI Director James Comey was fired by would-be Emperor Trump after Comey responded to a request for loyalty with “I will give you honesty.” Truth is apparently of no importance to Trump or his collaborators.

There is still hope for a portion of the Republican Party. A group of Republicans, some well-known, released this policy statement: “Patriotism and the survival of our nation in the face of the crimes, corruption and corrosive nature of Donald Trump are a higher calling than mere politics. As Americans, we must stem the damage he and his followers are doing to the rule of law, the Constitution and the American character.” They are true patriots.

For info, search the “Lincoln Project.”

Ted Shannon is a Mokelumne resident and retired California Highway Patrol officer. Contact him at

Ted Shannon is retired California Highway Patrol officer and  Mokelumne Hill resident. Contact him at


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