Trump’s World: Planet of the Apes

Donald J Trump, in his first address to the United Nation’s General Assembly, laid out his vision of the World.

It is the World that the philosopher and social scientist Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) saw where every man wars against every other man, where the life of man is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

In suggesting ways to change this, Hobbes laid out an agenda for organizing society that is credited with being the foundation of civilized order today. While not all of his ideas have been accepted, basic ones of Equality, Justice, Co-operation among nations and Governments – as Lincoln put it – “of the people, by the people and for the people” have been accepted.

Today, that is basically the Vision of the United Nation’s Charter which binds member nations to work in  collective International Co-operation in the pursuit of Peace.

That is not  Trump’s Vision.

There are many soothing words in his U N speech that seem to endorse respect for the wishes of other nations, for the importance of co-operation among nations, for an understanding of and appreciation for the diversity of life and thought in this world.

He pledged this: “In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch.”

But this invocation of Ronald Reagan’s famous Vision of “A shining city on the hill” is belied by the clear message to the World that some of his soothing words attempted to soften.

Trumps Vision of how to reform and improve this cruel and brutish World is this:

1-The United States will put its own interests First. And if those interests cramp or even harm other nation’s interests, so be it.

Trump said: “Our government’s first duty is to its people. To our citizens. To serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values. As president of the United States, I will always put America first. Just like you, as the leaders of your countries’, will always, and should always, put your countries first.”

Well, yes, every president properly says the safety of Americans is his first duty. But the rest of it says to the World, we will decide what our needs and rights and values are. If we wish to impose a religious test on immigrants, we will do it. If we need to impose trade restrictions that favor us at your expense, we will (try) to do it. And so forth. The era of “Ugly American” is back.

2-Flowing from the first point is the second that the United States will co-operate with other nations but on its own terms; the implication is that “co-operation” is a one way street, not a give and take.

That is the law of the jungle, the “survival of the fittest,” a phrase coined by the philosopher Herbert Spencer and adopted by Charles Darwin in explaining the natural selection in species stemming from gene evolution. In blunt words, Trump is saying we, the richest most powerful nation on earth, will call the tune and good luck to the rest of you at the dance.

Should other nations follow Trump’s advice to also put their own interests First the chances of  successful negotiations among nations would seem to be near impossible.

3. The United States will protect itself from the threat of attack as it sees fit; when and how are not open to International decision, restriction or review.

The threat from North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and its bellicose leader is real and growing but the action to counter it that Donald J Trump promised he is prepared to use if necessary was truly breathtaking.

Trump told the  U N General Assembly:  “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea (Bolding added).

Totally destroy. Are we talking civilians, women, children, the total population? Pray not!

And we don’t know whether he is including pre-emptive action or only after a military attack from the North. But the words of his threat are scary in themselves.

What a mature leader might say is something like “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to use military force to the extent necessary to remove the threat.”

Not Trump.

Measured language reflecting measured thinking is not his style.

And it is “as sure as God made little green apples” that Trump’s over-the-top threat will only get a return over-the-top threat from North Korea and what aside from energizing his political base at home and scaring the rest of the world does he accomplish by using the language of an angry child – nothing good.

Further, Trump was speaking to an assembly of nations that banded together to assure the peace, to use force only authorized by the world community of nations.

Yes, the U N Charter’s famous Article 51 says reasonably: “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security….” Nowhere in the Charter does it say nations can attack others first  (a view in the name of self defense advanced a few years ago by former Vice President Cheney).”

But Trump has never endorsed Article 51 of the Charter, and only reluctantly endorsed NATO’s Article 5, because both say that ultimately it will be the U-N or NATO that has the final say on sorting out outcomes when  member states are involved in armed attacks.

Finally, Trump called on the U N to head off the need for him to make good on his threat (he criticized nations that continue to trade with North Korea – are you listening China – and called on them to stop) but if “forced to defend” ourselves or our allies by totally destroying the North, Trump made no mention that he would need authorization from the  U-N or anyone else to do it.

 

4. Notwithstanding denials, the United States now intends to be the “world’s policeman.”

Consider  Trump:

– reiterated his recent vow to “win” in Afghanistan (winning not being defined).

-threatened to declare Iran in non-compliance with the six power nuclear treaty, thus invalidating the treaty endorsed by our European allies. Iran already has responded with words that make it clear that if the treaty is abrogated,  it will then resume its nuclear program.

-declared the situation in Venezuela under dictator Nicolas Maduro “completely unacceptable, and we cannot stand by and watch…We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.”

Military action? Trump didn’t say but the implication of a “red line” having been established for sending in U S troops is there.

There is much more and I invite everyone to read the full text of Trump’s U N speech which is said to have been written for him by Stephen Miller, a long time associate of former White House Strategist Steve Bannon (now returned to run Breitbart).

And who is Miller? I can do no better than to “lift” a portion of his description that appears in Wikipedia:

Stephen Miller (born August 23, 1985) is U.S. President Donald Trump‘s senior advisor for policy. He was previously the communications director for then-Alabama senator, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He also served as a press secretary to Republican U.S. Representatives Michele Bachmann and John Shadegg.

Miller has acted as Trump’s chief speechwriter and is credited with authoring the president’s “American carnage” inaugural address.[1][2] He has been a key adviser since the early days of Trump’s presidency and was a chief architect of Trump’s executive order restricting immigration from several Middle Eastern countries. Miller rose to national prominence on February 12, 2017, when, during a morning of television appearances defending the travel ban, he appeared to question the power of the judiciary to limit the executive’s role in setting immigration policy…Miller has been criticized on multiple occasions for making false or unsubstantiated claims regarding public policy.”

Donald J Trump read Miller’s speech but that does not necessarily mean he fundamentally agrees with its every point or, for that matter, any of its points. Although the tough, uncompromising talk certainly sounds like him.

As we’ve seen, Trump reverses himself, makes up and changes his mind, speaks loudly or softly – all  depending on what he believes at any given moment enhances his public adulation and benefits his overwhelming need for applause, beginning but not limited to his Base.

He can campaign loudly vowing to deport the DACA children, thrilling his Base, then appear to make a deal with Democrats to legalize their presence in the United States, pleasing the rest of us, then when the Base pushes back in horror at the apparent betrayal, backtracking into, where (?)…well, we don’t know yet.

Trump is controlled by his own selfishness and vanity and while that can play into anybody’s agenda it is dangerous.

But allow me to end this gloomy view of Trump’s speech to the U N on a light note.

Trump began his speech to the U N by boasting of his accomplishments:

He said: “Fortunately, the United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8. The stock market is at an all-time high, a record. Unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years, and because of our regulatory and other reforms, we have more people working in the United States today than ever before. Companies are moving back, creating job growth, the likes of which our country has not seen in a very long time, and it has just been announced that we will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense. Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been.”

Oh, Donald, you are so great and the fact you felt the need to explain that to the United Nations is almost “sweet.”

it sort of reminds one of the day after the deadly march in Charlottesville you were asked whether you intended to visit the city and without bothering to answer the question took the occasion to say:

“I know a lot about Charlottesville. It’s a great place that has been badly hurt over the last couple days. I own one of the largest wineries in the United States. It is in Charlottesville.”

By all means, let’s not forget to buy a bottle of Trump wine.

Makes the thought of total destruction of North Korea go down a little easier!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do We Men Listen When Women Speak? Are You Kidding!

Ruth Marcus, a truly talented op-ed writer for the Washington Post, asks the question “Where Are All the President’s Woman?”

Here’s the link.

http://wapo.st/2fpUu8p?tid=ss_mail&utm_term=.bb06a3e2f66c

She cites the statistics and asks: “How can it be, in 2017, that only four of 23 Cabinet-level staff members are women, half the number of the first Obama Cabinet? How can it be, in 2017, that of Trump’s 42 nominees for U.S. attorney positions, only one is female?” 

But  really Marcus’s  is not just a column about Donald J Trump’s neglect of women in his administration (what else is new), it is a column about the way men think of women in general when it comes to equal status as important, thinking  human beings whose views and opinions deserve attention.

In my own experience, two stories stand out.

One is told by Nancy Pelosi which she has often talked about. She says that when she and Barbara Boxer (both Democrats from California) were new in the House of Representatives they found themselves on the same Committee and attended a closed-door meeting of a select few members. They were the only women present and were ignored. The men did all the talking.

Somehow the men got around to the subject of child birth and began talking about their wives’ experiences and their own in attending to the birth of their children. Pelosi says she turned to Boxer and said “they’ll have to bring us in to this, they’ll have to ask us about our experiences in child birth.”

Wrong. The men never though to do that.

The second story is personal and involves good friends so I’ll name no names, although if, perhaps, they read this blog they’ll recognize themselves.

In late 2008, after the presidential election, the wife  gave a dinner for a good friend of hers who was leaving Washington. She and her friend are both dynamic African-American women.

A small group gathered at the family dinner table and as is always the case in Washington, politics, foreign policy, and similar subjects dominated the conversation.  The host, the husband, had served in a high post in government and he began the conversation on a topic of foreign policy importance and a retired four star General gave his view and a newsman of far more credentials that I gave his view and I brought up the end with my view. At which point, the host tabled a second subject and off we men went “mashing it out.”

But when it came my turn, It suddenly struck me that what we men were doing was, well, absurd. Just like the Pelosi/Boxer story all the women at the table were sitting silently.

So I said, “On this subject, I think we want to hear what  the Secretary of State thinks.”

And Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State in the outgoing George W Bush administration and the guest of honor spoke right up and from that moment on  I assure you everyone wanted her to dominate the conversation along with her friend, the hostess.  We men were embarrassed and ashamed.

This experience of mine occurred  many  years ago and I believe our country has made progress in recognizing the rights and equality of women since (still not there but making progress). The fear now, as Ruth Marcus points out, is that Donald J Trump and his merry band of misogynists would take us back to those “good old days” when Bess Truman cleaned up the White House kitchen while Harry wrestled with the decision about dropping the Atomic Bomb.

Guys, even if you’re not on board with the “rightness” of the thing consider that they’re not going to be stopped so you’ll be a lot happier if you get used to it and, as the late Speaker Sam Rayburn used to advise new House member, “go along to get along.”

We will have a woman president. This last election thanks to the Russians, thanks to Comey and thanks to a press that thought the Republicans drum-beat of her Email mistake was the moral equivalence of Donald J Trump’s life time of mistakes, she didn’t make it.

And now she says she’s through with running for office.

Oh, yea?

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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(1) Strategic Culture Foundation (based in Moscow)

(2) Ibid