What Should We Do About Trump’s Base?

Joe Scarborough, the co-host with Mika Brzezinski of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC has written an op-ed in the Washington Post worth reading. The link is below.

http://wapo.st/2vXfcmn?tid=ss_mail&utm_term=.274641df7cf8

Scarborough’s point is that no matter what Donald J Trump does (as in throwing in with the Democrats on legitimizing the presence of DACA children) his Base will not desert him.  Leaders of the Radical Right will condemn him for breaking his fundamental promise to expel all the “illegals,” but even they can not shake his faithful followers from their allegiance to him.

Yes, but why is that? Is thirty percent of the Country so ignorant, so bereft of common sense, so fixed on despicable causes that they don’t see or don’t care that Donald J Trump is a “con man” who will do nothing for them if it interferes with his own interests since  his only allegiance is to himself?

No, I don’t think that’s it.

I think the late social scientist Richard Rorty figured it out in 1998! You may know that in 1998, Rorty wrote in a book that dis-satisfied Americans would someday start “looking around for a strongman to vote for-someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, over paid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots…all the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.”

That’s it.

Much of Trump’s Base is revolting against being put down, ignored and generally seen as inferior beings (I exclude the Nazis and their ilk who are indeed, inferior beings) and they see in this man their Champion. As he once said “I  could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”

His Base has a point (Nazis and their ilk excluded).

When I was growing up in the El Paso Southwest more than sixty decades ago  the way we thought of and treated each other was different. I obtained a college degree at a small college of no great fame or importance but a lot of my friends didn’t even go to college. They became tradesmen – plumbers, welders, etc – or worked all their lives as clerks in a store or traveling salesmen and no one that I knew looked down on them, no one tried to make them feel inferior or unworthy.

My father did not have much education. I’ve read love letters he wrote my mother while wooing  her. The spelling and syntax were lacking but not the love. He saved his money, bought farm land in the New Mexico territory, prospered and saw us through the Great Depression of the Thirties. He was highly regarded by everyone in the community.

Today,  it’s different – particularly in the Countries’ big cities and sophisticated circles. My friends from the old days feel it; their children feel it. And, as Rorty pointed out long ago, they resent it.

I have gone through several “stages of grief” since last November – not “acceptance,” never acceptance. At times as I’ve watched the EVI (Egopmaniacal Vulgrian Ignoramus) work his evil will from the Oval office along with his gang of thugs, I have wanted to throw every one of his Base who brought him into the bottom ring of Dante’s Inferno…but, thankfully, I quickly came to my senses.

For the most part, his Base are good people whose grievances grew without the rest of us lucky ones dong much to  help them and in the last few decades when it comes to economic help, why the greedy men and women of Wall Street and even Main Street have “lunched up” at their expense.

Now, we must help them (not the Nazis, I say again). We must work to see that they will have no need to find a “strong man” to vote for.  And we must convince them by our actions that we understand they are worthy and deserve respect.

As Richard Rorty forecast the future in 1998, another man long ago outlined the way we must think about and act toward Trump’s Base. During another difficult and divisive time in our County when like today it seemed we would tear ourselves apart this man pointed the way to reconciliation.

Let us follow his advice: He said “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.”

Abraham Lincoln 1861

Outrage on the Right

The news that Donald J Trump may be “Dealing” with the arch devils and Democratic leaders Charles Schumer  and Nancy Pelosi in bringing the DACA children into permanent legal status in the United States has sent many of his loyal followers into white hot anger and unholy despair.

As the Great One Jackie Gleason would say “how sweet it is!”

A Sample:

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), one of the GOP’s biggest immigration hawks: “If AP is correct, Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair…No promise is credible.”

Conservative polemicist Ann Coulter: “At this point, who DOESN’T want Trump impeached?”

Fox Business anchor Lou Dobbs: “Deep State Wins, Huge Loss for #MAGA.”

Breitbart News:  “Amnesty Don”

The best came from, yes, Fox News host Sean Hannity, who never finds any fault with Donald J Trump and, unlike many others, blames not him, but guess who:

Hannity: “Well Mitch GREAT JOB! You failed so miserably with Healthcare and ‘excessive expectations’ now @POTUS has to deal with Dem Leaders! I blame R’s. They caused this. They wanted him to fail and now pushed him into arms of political suicide — IF TRUE.”

Why all this rage and gnashing of political teeth? Apparently, these people so desperately want to expel every person who is here illegally including the children who were brought here by their parents that the thought that Trump would agree with the Democrats to let them stay is just too much for their hard hearts and blighted souls.

And what to say to them? Two things.

First, a renunciation and condemnation of their attitude toward these DACA children. Let us say to them in the words of the great lawyer Joseph Welch who admonished the red baiting Senator Joseph McCarthy so many years ago:

“Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

Second, a warning that they will see Trump do this type of thing again and again which, for the rest of us, may be salutary.

His so-called “Base” is only beginning to wake up to what many of us who have known and watched him for thirty plus years learned long ago. That is, he will say or do anything at any moment that he believes will enhance the adulation and worship that he craves so badly, needs so badly. He must always be a “winner.”

It would be great to believe Donald J Trump has had that epiphany which has brought him into the “light” but it won’t happen. Yes, he may “Deal” with the Devils as far as his Base is concerned but he doesn’t care. He understands the “push back” from the majority of Americans to the truly obscene policy of uprooting and expelling the Children and therefore is happy to change his position on the matter and receive their praise and thanks. Donald J Trump has no core principle on which he will stand save one: His own self-aggrandizement!

And what is the Deal? It appears that both sides say Trump did not agree to forget building the Wall. Only to agree that in a Deal to legitimize the Children’s presence he would not push for Wall money. But in the future?

After all, Trump’s First Big campaign promise was to build a Wall across our entire Southern border, small portions of which already have some fencing and walls. The two chants heard at his rallies were “Build the Wall” and “Lock her up.”

So, is he merely saying Not Now for Wall Money but Later?

Well, as Harry Truman was wont to say, “let’s look at the record.”

In the Continuing Resolution last Spring to keep funding the Federal Government Trump agreed not to push for money for the Wall.

Just days ago in the Resolution that extends Government financing until this December he agreed not to push for money for the Wall.

Now it looks like in a Deal  with Schumer/Pelosi he will agree not to push for money for the Wall as the price for regularizing the Children’s presence.

The “read” on his continuing delay on standing for the Wall is this. Trump sees that even this Congress is not going to appropriate billions and billions of dollars to build a Wall all along our Southern border, so, he is accommodating to the reality. And as long as he continues to say that someday he will insist on building a Wall (just not today) he can continue to assure his Base that he will not break his campaign promise but more importantly, he will not have to acknowledge that he is not a winner but  a loser!

Only he will be a loser two fold. First, no Wall. And Second, sooner than later his Base will realize what has happened and then what? One shivers to speculate. Except there is always Sean Hannity to alibi for him,  a lonely voice crying in the Con Man’s wilderness.

Of course, all that we now see can be erased in the twinkling of the next “tweet.” Except for that one Principle he will never abandon (himself), nothing is sure about Donald J Trump.

It is best just to use the old phrase in my former business:

“Stay tuned.”

 

PS – And what about that other chant “Lock her Up?” Oh, never mind.

 

 

 

 

Aung San Suu Kyi & The Nobel Peace Prize

First, let us talk about Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s present State Counselor (the effective head of state) and winner of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize.

I share your dismay at her apparent fall from grace. It would appear that she, of the once shining light of peace, has turned to the dark side of war against a minority tribe living in Myanmar.

She was awarded the Peace Prize in 1994, for leading the fight at great risk of personal safety against Myanmar’s repressive ruling military Junta. In the speech delivered by her son accepting the prize (since she was not then allowed to leave the country) he said “I know that if she were free today my mother would, in thanking you, also ask you to pray that the oppressors and the oppressed should throw down their weapons and join together to build a nation founded on humanity in the spirt of peace.”

But now, apparently she has “thrown down” on the indigenous Rohingya, a minority but historically part of the nation’s population. She calls them “terrorists” and has expressed no opposition to the fact that they are being killed in large numbers by Government forces.

Many people around the world are demanding that Aung San Suu Kyi be stripped of her Nobel Peace Prize.

My thoughts on her are –

First: It’s too late to strip her of the prize. She won it fair and square; there were reasons the Committee can defend for conferring it at that time, and it’s done. Whatever History decides is her ultimate “due” will factor in the good and the bad, the light and the dark.

Second: Do not be surprised if she has, in fact, failed to see that what is being done in the Country she heads is in no way compatible with the spirit of building “a nation founded on humanity in the spirt of peace.” Be shocked, but not surprised.

Years ago in my work, I learned never to be surprised when any of us human beings say or do something that doesn’t fit with our past views, our past “image.” And when the new doesn’t fit the old, the reason is almost always the same – our actions are usually based on “situational” factors, not steadfast principles. It may turn out that Aung San Suu Kyi could see the Light when it was “her” people who were being oppressed but only the dark side when those “other people” were in the way and made to suffer.

Now, let us talk about the Nobel Committee, for which I have come to have the minimum highest regard. The Committee often does confer the Peace Prize on someone I (we?) consider deserving. But too often, the Committee, like the Academy Awards and their Oscar, confers the prize using a left-wing (my wing) set of indices and a “Politically Correct” lens. And, on occassion, just plain contrary to the facts.

Consider that in 1973, Henry Kissinger, the U S Secretary of State and Le Duc Tho, the North Vietnamese negotiator, were awarded the Prize for bringing peace to Vietnam. What Peace?

Everyone knew that what the two negotiators had done was make a deal (the real “Art of the…”) that allowed the United States to leave proclaiming that we had achieved “peace with honor” with the hidden “understanding” that after a “decent interval” the North would take over the South and unify a “communist” Vietnam.

Kissinger initially accepted his award but Le duc Tho declined to accept his. When two years later, the North moved in and took over the South, Kissinger gave back his.

In 1978, the Committee awarded the prize to Menachem Begin, Prime Minister of Israel and Anwar el Sadat, President of Egypt “for the Camp David Agreement, which brought about a negotiated peace between Egypt and Israel.”

They deserved it.

But they could not, would not have done it if President Jimmy Carter had not shepherded them every step of the way – first at Camp David and the next year in a “do or die” visit to the mid-East. Was Carter also awarded the prize? Of course not, this “priggish” Baptist from Georgia? Totally unacceptable.

However, in 1994, there were three winners: Shimon Peres and Yatzhak Rabin of Israel and Yassar Araft of the Palestinian Liberation Authority for the Oslo peace accords which wrote a framework for a possible future Peace.

Yassar Araft? Peace? Are you kidding?

This man spent his life to the end attempting to destroy Israel and all its Jewish inhabitants, not trying to make Peace, and the chances that he would see to it that those “accords” wouldn’t lead to a settlement was a “lead pipe cinch.” But the Committee more than once has awarded the Prize not for accomplishment but for, well, what?

The 2007, Peace Prize was awarded to Al Gore for his effort “to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change…” something I think was well worth his doing, but “Peace?

And then there was the 2009, award to Barack Obama, barely nine months after he took office, “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” Yes, Obama did seem to be moving in a constructive direction but there was as yet no Peace to celebrate and Obama himself said he was “surprised” by the award. I think the Committee wanted to award a prize to the American voters for electing our first non-white president, but Peace?

Obama was the fourth U S president to be awarded the Nobel Peace prize. There was Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Barack Obama. But who was the fourth?

Guess what ? Having overlooked him when he first deserved it, it was Jimmy Carter in 2002, “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.”

Well, that’s right, Jimmy Carter did all that, but the real reason the Committee got around to him was he was speaking out forcefully against a looming U S invasion of Iraq (which occurred the next year) and the Committee, along with a lot of other people, thought that was a bad idea and wanted to highlight this former U S president’s opposition to such a mistake. So he received an “honorary” award, sort of like Cary Grant’s Oscar.

Finally, the biggest mistake the Committee has made to date (akin to the Red Sox’s trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees) was in 1948, when the committee decided not to award a peace prize, explaining “there was no suitable living candidate.”

True, Mahatma Ghandi, having led India to freedom from British rule in a non-violent, peaceful movement, had been assassinated earlier that year. But heck, you would have thought the Committee might have decided that little technicality could have been waived for a man who was already universally being proclaimed the greatest Peace maker of his time!

Alfred Nobel would have been both shocked and surprised!

Amazing Grace (how sweet the sound)

John Newton, Captain of Slave Ships, saw the Light and turning from the Dark Side wrote the words for the great hymn.

“Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see”
Bless you John.
And bless you Donald J Trump!
Talk about putting on a show. The sight of the people who thought Trump was “their guy” who would throw out all those people who don’t belong here and cut out all that money that goes to the welfare “moochers” and join up with the marchers who carry Nazi flags, all that and more so they brought him, they elected him – And now to see them bellow and squirm and look for someone else to blame, why it is a joyful sight.
Texas Governor Abbott is calling some of the Texas Republican Congressmen to urge them to vote for the Hurricane Relief package that Texas needs so badly but now that Trump has throw in with “Chuck” and “Nancy” to tie the package to raising the Debt Ceiling  some of those proud Texans in the House of Representatives don’t want to do it.
Their desire to cut federal spending on the backs of the poor and other needy Americans is so great that they are blind to the requirements of their duty to their State and its distressed citizens. Let us hope they, too, will see the Light.
But there is more. Now Trump is exploring  the possibility of repealing the law that put in place a “Debt Ceiling.”  When members of the “Freedom Caucus,” the hard right GOP  House group, heard that, why the cries of anguish were pitiful indeed.
“That would just make it easier to load up the debt,” said one, apparently not knowing that raising the Debt Ceiling only allows the Government to pay the bills already incurred, to pay the additional debt all ready “loaded up.” Oh, well, as former Vice President Dan Quayle once opined “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
Then we hear that horrible “Nancy” was the one who asked Trump to Tweet assurances to the DACA children that he would not move in the next six months against them…and he did it!
He did what that Democrat leader asked him to do! Strong men of the “Caucus” gnashed their teeth, rent their hair and fainted.
Who knows, when they come to the Freedom Caucus may lead the charge for Impeachment!
But enough of this unseemly joy on my part brought about by Trump’s latest turns. Those of us who have known him for years, watched his moves as he conned the rubes while beating his chest in self worship like a demented Gorilla know that we are but the next Tweet away from total reversal, total return to the man who has wielded presidential power in a far different way before this week.
A man who can win the presidency by encouraging the chant of “lock her up” against his opponent, and then in his election night victory speech tell us that the nation owes a debt of gratitude to Hillary Clinton for her years of service to our Country is a man who has no fixed view, no core principle except one: To say or do whatever he thinks works for him at the moment to add to the adulation he needs.
And that suggests an interesting theory to explain his sudden reversal of position this week which I hate to put forward for fear of being called a fool. But, heck, I’ve been called that before (often justified) and at my age it really doesn’t matter. So, here goes.
President Trump reads the polls. Despite his campaign denouncing “Fake News” and his public boasts that everything is going swimmingly and great, he knows he is in political trouble. His public support continues to drop and now is somewhere in the thirties. And he knows that his “base” of support is finite and shrinking and he sees that continuation of his present policies  only continues the hemorrhaging.
A person who firmly and sincerely believes in something has the courage of his/her conviction and is willing to take the consequences of standing fast. But our man here Is no Edmund Ross who said he almost looked down into his open (political) grave when he cast the one vote that saved President Andrew Johnson from being removed from office. No, that’s not Donald J Trump.
Is it possible that President Trump , dreaming of re-election, has seen the Light because he understands  that that is the way to the increasing popularity he seeks and will therefore willingly abandon his thirty plus base on some of their key issues in pursuit of the larger base of the rest of us???
Of course, there are many explanations for this week’s Trump that are more likely: He is trying to execute a shrewd “misdirection” play that will end him up where he was going…or…he simply is “ad libbing” with no real game plan, saying and doing things he will surely take back for no understandable reason…or…he is really “crazy” in the clinical sense that some have suggested…or…(and here throw in your own theory).
Actually, I would like to believe that like John Newton, Donald J Trump has had a true epiphany, that like Saul he has become Saint Paul. Now I’m dreaming.
What ever has happened this week, let’s just take.
And pray that it continues.

 

 

The GOP Blame Game

Donald J Trump has made a deal with the Democrats (Devil?) posing with his good friends”Chuck (Schumer)” and “Nancy (Pelosi).”and the House GOP “Freedom Caucus” is beside itself.

Their initial reaction was to blame their own GOP leaders – Speaker Ryan and Senator McConnell – for not giving the President the correct marching order which for them is to tie the necessary increase in the Debt Ceiling to another round of crippling Federal Budget Cuts (on the poor, the needy, the disenfranchised, etc). Instead President Trump made a deal to tie it to the Hurricane Relief package. Go ahead, my Freedom Friends, vote against that.

No, fellows and gals, look in the mirror. You have only yourselves to blame.

You brought this “man child” to the Presidency, you whooped and hollered when he energized the crowd with cries of Mexican rapists and thoroughly enjoyed it when he demanded that they “lock her up” and all the other things he promised to do for you. You believed he would be the necessary instrument to turn back the clock on progress in this Country, to do your bidding. And now, well, what a disappointment.

Do not misunderstand me; “one swallow doth not make a Spring,” one reasonable outcome of bi-partisanship at the highest level certainly helps the Country but does not mean that Donald J Trump has had some epiphany on his road to Damascus. What it shows is what many of us have always know about him. He has no core beliefs, no fixed principals but one: Whatever at any given moment he thinks will add to the applause for him, will give him the adulation he so desperately needs, he will do. No, he will turn on his new friends Chuck and Nancy in a nano second. But for now, we will take the good result of this “Deal” and call it a great “Art.”

What’s ahead? As I’ve suggested, while it appears the Democrats now have leverage provided them b President Trump, we could just be the next “tweet” away from another demand for Wall Building money, another mean, even vicious denunciation of things and people who can be hurt by Trump.

The popular saying in many of this morning’s commentary is “the enemy of your enemy is not always your friend,” or some variation of that. In the case of this man, he has never been and will never be your consistent and steadfast Friend or Enemy.

His only Friend is himself. And in that, he is his worst Enemy.

DACA – Rock and Hard Place

Donald J Trump, finding himself between the Rock of moral justice and the Hard Place of existing law, has “punted” on DACA.

For those of us who argue that this man is unfit to be president of the United States, is a danger in so many ways to this Country and should therefore be speedily removed from office by legal and Constitutional means, the immediate reaction is to condemn this “punt” in the strongest terms. Particularly since clearly many people in his political “base” want the DACA children expelled for the reason that they are “foreign.”

Indeed, if one looks at the fact that the children involved were brought here through no intention of their own to break the law, who then have shown a remarkable  ability to benefit the entire Country by their presence, why it is easy to believe those should be the only things to consider.

I disagree.

The DACA program was established by President Obama by Executive Order in 2012, after appeals to Congress over a good many years to legalize the presence of these children failed. Congressional Republicans led the fight against the so-called “Dream Act” and today lead the fight to see to it that these children are deported.

But, you say, President Obama gave them legal status. Well, let’s talk about that.

Congress has the power to enact laws and the Courts have the power to judge whether those laws are Constitutional. Now, when a president says he, too, has the right to “make law” through an “Executive Order” that, too, has always been open to Court review and  decision, as it should be. Surely none of us wants to be ruled by the unchecked whim of a president.

When Donald J Trump issued his first Executive Order travel ban on people from certain predominantly Muslim countries, the Courts in scathing language invalidated it. When he revised it, the Supreme Court modified it to allow more people in than the president would have.

What now, of President Trump’s Executive Order ending the DACA program established by President Obama’s Executive Order?

Face it, whether the DACA children are here through no fault of their own and whether they have demonstrated they are the kind of people we want here, need here, are proud to see here, they are not here legally. Unless Congress changes the existing Immigration Law or the Courts invalidate the applicable portion, that fact is plain. And though I wish it were otherwise, that is one of those “stubborn facts” of which John Adams spoke.

Of course, should Texas and other states proceed with their suit claiming the DACA act is unconstitutionally illegal, the Courts might disagree and find that President Obama’s DACA order  had a Constitutional or Legislative underpinning. And a suit against President Trump’s new order may convince the Courts that his does not. But those are “weak reeds” on which to pin the hopes for making legal the DACA children’s presence.

The remedy, forced on us by President Trump’s action, is to be found in our System of Government established by the Founders of our Nation.

It is now up to Congress to pass a “Dream Act’ which would not only make legal the DACA children’s presence but to provide a sure path to citizenship for the vast majority of them. And it is up to all of us to put political pressure on Congress to do it. And if Congress fails to act , it is up to us to intensify political and moral pressure on Donald J Trump to modify his order until a new Congress does, as someday it surely will.

But what is not acceptable is that you and I, any of us, get to decide which laws are just and should be obeyed and which laws are not and surely we must agree that the Courts should also decide what laws a president may make or suspend by the stroke of his Executive Pen.

There are many people working today to tear down our system of Government, to tear down our Rule of Law and Donald J Trump has demonstrated again and again that he is one of them.

Not us, not ever us!

 

 

 

Looking at this action through the

After saying some months ago that he would consider President Obama’s Executive Order protecting children who were brought to this Country by their parents with a “big heart,” saying that the some eight hundred thousand members of the DACA class had nothing to fear from him, President Trump has now signed an Executive Order reversing President Obama’s Executive Order of 2012 that established the DACA protection.

 

 

Nuclear War – A Possibility? Chapter Two

And now, as Korea tensions escalate and threats continue on both sides, we find that the South Korean Defense Minister proposes that the United States return tactical nuclear weapons to the Korean peninsula.

I suppose his reasoning (unreasoning in my view) is that if the United States strikes North Korea’s nuclear capacity with conventional weapons and the North retaliates by hitting Seoul with any kind of weapon, then the U S nukes are ready to rock from closer range. Why, it’s the Boy Scout’s motto: Be Prepared.

What could go wrong?

Enter Peter Sellers: “Now then, Dmitri, you know how we’ve always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the bomb. The BOMB, Dmitri. The hydrogen bomb. Well now, what happened is, uh…”

Accident, mis-calculation, the hot blood of battle, you name it. Only it wouldn’t be Peter and Dmitri on the phone but Donald and Xi. If war breaks out with nuclear weapons at the “locked and loaded,” China, desperately afraid of losing a  North Korea buffer between South Korea and the South’s United States ally will surely come to Defcon One.

And if the Atom splits , well, you know how that is.

And if you don’t, I do.

In  1957, I was an Army Lieutenant on active duty and one summer morning at 03:50, my post along with others was at the bottom of a six foot deep slit trench in the Nevada desert. With ten seconds to zero hour, the Range Officer on a loud speaker commanded me and the others to shut our eyes tight, and press the palms of our hands over them.

The range officer counted down to zero. Although I had followed instructions, I  saw an instant blinding flash. Then nothing for a few seconds before the ground and those of us huddling on it, shook violently. And an instant later, KABOOM, the loudest, ear splitting noise I’ve ever heard accompanied by half the Nevada desert, sand, rocks, uprooted bushes, cascading down on our helmets.

For a moment there was relative quiet, then WHOSE, a high wind with an additional portion of the Nevada desert rushed back from behind to fill the vacuum that had been created three thousand yards to our front. Finally, the range officer told us to get out of the trench. When I scrambled up the edge and stood up the giant fireball was just losing its last incandescence and the white, mushroom cloud billowed wide and high.  No one laughed or made a joke, in fact no one said anything it was such an awesome and terrible sight.

The bomb that had exploded was roughly the size of the one the United States dropped on Hiroshima. Our slit trench was just over a mile and seven tenths away from ground zero and had we been standing in the open we all would  have been killed instantly.

In Hiroshima the bomb was detonated above the city, it’s killing range was wider and an estimated seventy to eighty thousand people were killed instantly and the total deaths including those later from radiation received on that day are estimated to approach 140 thousand. Fortunately for those of us present that summer morning in Nevada, the trench shielded us from radiation, moreover, the bomb we experienced was not a so-called “dirty” bomb. At least two others that summer were and a large percentage of the military observers to those tests developed cancer years later.

By the way, if I had not followed the range officer’s directions about shielding my eyes (even though my retinas did register the flash) I would most probably have been rendered permanently blind. Despite the good advice you can look at the sun if you choose, but if you do you are a fool.

My bomb was a baby compared to today’s thermonuclear Hydrogen megaton bombs, each Intercontinental Ballistic Missile carrying several of them in it’s nose and when loosed, each one of them honing in on a different target. These bombs beginning with the one I experienced are not like anything else in their ability to destroy life on this planet.

That movie with Peter and Dmitri, we know how it ended. With Vera Lynn singing as the bombs go off all over the world “I’ll see you again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I’ll see you again someday.”

Efforts to de-escalate the Korean crisis must intensify.  There may be nothing short of military action that stops North Korea from continuing down the “garden path” to a  nuclear war but military action on our part must be a last resort; there is no “shortcut” to ending this crisis that does not risk the “unthinkable.”

Vera Lynn has gone on to her reward but somewhere there is a “fat lady” ready to sing the song and believe me, we don’t want to hear it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nuclear War – A Possibility?

North Korea has now carried out its most powerful nuclear test to date, claiming it has tested a warhead that can be placed on a missile that can reach the United States.

President Trump called the test “very hostile and dangerous” and when asked as he left Church this Sunday whether he is planning to attack North Korea, the president answered “we’ll see.”

As often happens when President Trump talks tough, other administration sources sought to play down  the implied threat just as they had when he said last month that North Korea “best not make any more threats to the United States” or it would “be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

North Korea since having been warned about the U S “fire and fury” has continued to threaten. It launched a missile over Japan and now tested a much larger nuclear weapon (North Korea claims it is a Hydrogen bomb, U S analysts have their doubts).

The tension and possibility of miscalculation leading to war is clearly rising  so it’s worth thinking about what such a war would mean.

If the U S strikes North Korea militarily, what would the North’s response be – an attack on South Korea? What would China, fearing destabilization, do? And, most worrisome, could “attack and counter attack” descend into nuclear/thermonuclear War with China?

Enter the fabled Rand Corporation, established after World War II to “game plan” strategic military scenarios and strategies. Last year, a new study by the RAND Corporation titled “War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable” was devoted to assessing a US war against China. The study was commissioned by the US Army.

Throughout the Cold War, RAND was the premier think tank for “thinking the unthinkable”—a phrase made famous by one of RAND’s chief strategist in the 1950s, Herman Kahn. In 1960, Kahn published On Thermonuclear War.

“Whether hundreds of millions died or “merely” a few major cities were destroyed, Kahn argued, life would go on – as it had, for instance, after the Black Death in Europe during the 14th century, or in Japan after the limited nuclear attack in 1945 – contrary to the conventional, prevailing doomsday scenarios.  No matter how calamitous the devastation, Kahn argued that the survivors ultimately would not “envy the dead”….” (1)

Others disagreed. in fact, it was the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev who said  if a nuclear war was fought, “The survivors would envy the dead.”

Years later, President Ronald Reagan said “A nuclear war can not be won and must never be fought.”

And now?

The new Rand study (the US vs. China) is based on these assumptions: that a war between the United States and China would not involve other powers; that it would remain confined to the East Asian region; and that nuclear weapons would not be used (itals added). That last point is comforting but, obviously, open to question.

“The study which “game plans” a war with China considers four simplistic scenarios for a conflict defined by two variables: intensity (either mild or severe) and duration (from a few days to a year or more). It also notes that given the pace of advances in military technology—in what is already an undeclared arms race—the outcomes change over time. Thus, it studies the losses and costs for both sides of a war fought in 2015 and one in 2025.” (2)

The study’s projected figures for losses and costs has the United States winning but projects fewer losses and costs for the United States the earlier the war is fought.

Whether you call it “game planning” for war with (fill in the blank) or just another exiting episode of the television series “Game of Thrones,” there can be some value in trying to calculate the future. But also some danger.  Favorable or optimistic “game plans” can tempt leaders to use them as a basis for a decision to act (2015 vs 2025).

The problem is, “the future” as calculated almost never follows the script. It was the German military strategist Helmuth von Moltke who said “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”

North Korea has blustered and threatened and President Trump has replied in kind. He is surely laying down a “red line” for action as President Obama did in the case of the Syrian Government’s use of poison gas. Obama did not follow through. Trump shouldn’t either. Not now.

Let North Korea bluster and threaten while we work within the Six Power group or some other forum to seek a non-military solution. Short of capitulation to North Korean demands and threats, that would be far preferable to relying on military action based on a calculation that it would not lead to nuclear/thermonuclear war.

________________________________________________________________

(1) Strategic Culture Foundation (based in Moscow)

(2) Ibid

 

 

 

 

 

President Trump Meets Hurricane Harvey – It’s a Draw!

If Hurricane Harvey is the worst natural disaster in U S History, Donald J  Trump’s  response has been the worst presidential response in our history. Before this week that title was awarded hands down to George W. Bush.

As the storms approached, both men took actions designed to meet the danger – Each declared a federal disaster emergency for the affected areas, ordered federal relief agencies to move into high gear, made available financial aid for hurricane victims and were briefed on the  progress of the storm and on initial relief efforts for victims.  All necessary and good actions but ones that occurred behind closed doors.

In this television age where the Chinese adage that a picture is worth a thousand words was never truer, we look to the president to be seen in leading the nation’s response,  in representing us all in compassion and support for the victims. The president in times of national distress is our leader, our pastor in grief, our chief mourner when deaths occur.

The next day after Hurricane Betsy hit New Orleans in 1965, with over a third of the city under water, President Lyndon Johnson flew to New Orleans. Wind and rain were still punishing the area as he drove down Canal Street, and talked to survivors huddled in a shelter.

Two days after Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey in 2012, President Obama was on the ground there touring devastated areas and personally hugging and comforting victims of the storm. Later the Republican Governor, Chris Christie, thanked and praised Obama for his sincere help.

So, back to Presidents Bush and Trump.

In Bush’s case, his first personal visit to the Katrina devastation was three days later when he flew over the area on Air Force One while on the way back to Washington from his ranch. He later visited the Gulf area but the image of a president who just “mailed it in” from thirty five thousand feet stuck.

President Trump did not make that mistake. Harvey hit on Friday, August 25, and Trump visited Texas the next Tuesday. The problem in his visit is not that he made it, but why he made it. The problem was in what seemed to be important to him.

This is the way Politico’s opening paragraph of their story summed up the visit:

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It was a presidential trip to a deluged state where the president didn’t meet a single storm victim, see an inch of rain or get near a flooded street.

But the daylong visit, during which President Donald Trump spent far more time in the air than on the ground, gave the optics-obsessed president some of the visuals he wanted, as he checked in on the government apparatus working on relief efforts and was buoyed by a roaring crowd of locals.

“What a crowd, what a turnout,” Trump said, wearing khakis and a storm jacket — an unusual look for him — while waving a Texas state flag before about 1,000 people gathered across a rural Texas highway.”

According to numerous press reports, while he praised both federal and local relief workers, he did not mention the victims or reach out in words to the survivors a single time.

President Trump did fly to Texas, not over it, and it can be argued that  he “didn’t meet a single storm victim, see an inch of rain or get near a flooded street” because he didn’t want to get in the way of the immediate relief efforts like Johnson or Obama. But on Wednesday, the day after his visit to Texas, guess what Trump tweeted:

After witnessing first hand the horror & devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, my heart goes out even more so to the great people of Texas!

No, sir, you didn’t witness first hand the horror & devastation and in saying that you did the motive we’ve come to expect from you was laid bare once again: This trip was all about you and your need for glory and adoration, not about the devastated people of Texas.

Well, Donald J Trump will try again on Saturday, making a second trip which will include Houston. Vice President Pence, often the “clean up man” behind Trump, says the president will see and comfort many storm victims.

By the way, when President Obama quickly visited New Jersey and immediately comforted Hurricane victims there in 2012, private citizen Donald J Trump tweeted his contempt for Obama’s efforts.

@realDonaldTrump

Not only giving out money, but Obama will be seen today standing in water and rain like he is a real President — don’t fall for it.

And again, the next day, a second tweet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WE NEED HIGHER TAXES

WE NEED HIGHER TAXES is the headline for an op-ed piece in the Washington Post by Robert J Samuelson and he’s right.

We need to raise taxes for two reasons:

1) To pay for what we spend (pay as you go) rather than pass the deficit spending bill to our children, and their children, and their children with ever increasing interest amounts added to the bill.

2) To bring a halt to profligate spending by the President and Congress because if its “okay” to pass along all the increasing debt to future generations, why it’s easy to just go “skies the limit” on authorizing a continuing raid on the treasury and continuing increases in the debt ceiling in order to allow it.

When Jimmy Carter left office, we had a national debt of just under one trillion dollars and it had taken 190 years to amass it.  Today, in just another thirty six plus years we’ve piled on another eighteen Trillion dollars. The debt as I write is just under twenty Trillion and by the time you read this it will be just over twenty Trillion.

How did we get into this mess?  We started believing that somehow we could pay for what we were spending by not raising enough revenue  through taxes to cover it,  but I tell you this, perhaps for the first time,  the “tooth fairy” to put money under our national pillow does not exist.

So, what made us deviate from the course we had followed from the founding of our Country? An economist named Arthur Laffer was the unwitting culprit.

In 1979, at the Occidental Restaurant in Washington, D. C., while at dinner with friends Laffer drew a curve on a napkin. The curve purported to show the relationship between taxes and economic growth. At some point, Laffer argued that as you increased taxes on the ascending side of the curve you would kill the goose that laid the golden egg, would stifle growth and fewer people would be able to pay taxes while on the descending side of the curve lowering taxes would enable business to expand and hire more workers, consumers would therefore have more money to spend thus energizing the economy. The result of a rising economy would be that more people would be paying taxes which would mean we could raise more tax revenue even with lower tax rates.

The Laffer curve became the symbol of something called “Supply Side” economics and presidential candidate Ronald Reagan who was looking for an economic plan to campaign on bought it.

Laffer’s theory makes a lot of sense up to a point. John Kennedy signed a small tax cut in his administration and the economy seemed to respond positively.

But Reagan’s Republican opponent in the 1980 primaries, George Herbert Walker Bush, called it “Voodoo Economics.” And why? Because it was clear than neither Arthur Laffer or anyone else could tell you in advance how much of a tax cut was too much.

In fact, one year after the Reagan cut which amounted to about three billion dollars, the Congress with the approval of the Administration restored about one third of the cut because it was clear the numbers wouldn’t add up. But even in doing that, when Ronald Reagan left office the national debt had risen to over two and a half trillion dollars.

And the debt kept rising until President Clinton’s second term, when he, and the Republican Congress reached a budget agreement that actually increased taxes. And, lo and behold, we experienced four years of surplus. Other favorable factors helped produce that surplus but clearly increased taxes not only did not keep it from happening but contributed to the good news.

When President George W Bush took office, the debt was about 5.6 Trillion, and the Republicans enacted another huge tax cut. Supply Side economics was in the saddle again. The debt promptly rose by another five Trillion to ten Trillion before George W Bush left office.

In the eight years of the Obama Administration with the low rates in effect and the near depression taking its toll on the economy plus new spending for a Health care plan not offset by new taxes the debt rose to about 19 trillion.  And now the Republicans are plotting to cut taxes once more. Yes, I know, they say their tax bill will be “revenue neutral” in that they intend to eliminate enough so-called tax loopholes to offset the lower revenue from the lower rates.

Excuse me, but Ha, Ha, Ha.

In 1986, President Reagan and Congress to their credit reformed the tax system and cut loopholes. With the speed of summer lightening, Congress, bowing to special interest pleadings, put them all back and added new ones. I assure you, history will repeat itself again.

Listen – if we want to repair and upgrade the nation’s Infrastructure, if we want to get serious about first class education for our young people and good medical care for all our citizens,  if we want adequate remedial help for drug abusers, better training for Law Enforcement personnel,  more aid for medical research, and better programs to make the lives of all our citizens more productive  and happier while providing what is truly necessary for our national defense, why, we need to spend trillions of dollars of new money. And where will we get it?

We can either pay for it the old fashioned way by taxing ourselves to the extent necessary or charge it on the national credit card made out in the name of future generations of our children.

Supply Side Economics has not worked. That’s a fact and you know the old definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Finally, remember (and I tell you this for the second time), There Is No Tooth Fairy.