ISIS/ISIL, Bashar al Assad, Russia, rebels of every stripe, the U.S. and the UN. Just some of the players in Syria. The problem has been finding rebels to support that might take down Assad but that weren’t ISIS or Al Qaeda. And to avoid what happened in Iraq–getting rid of Assad without leaving the country in worse shape after all. ISIS may be on the run, but now with Russia aiding Assad more and more, atrocities in Aleppo (and no doubt elsewhere) get worse. See this article from Gayle Tzemach Lemmon on CNN.
When war crimes are happening daily, can the world afford to wait? As a Buddhist and a person who values diplomacy over war, I am loathe to suggest more U.S. military involvement. But can we expect the UN to help? Not in time. Can we just let Russia roll? One has to believe that Sergei Lavrov has been playing John Kerry for a fool on the cease-fire. I camped on the Mall in Washington, DC with Kerry when he was a leader of the Vietnam Vets Against the War. Many years after that I included my antiwar sentiments into a memoir, Waiting for Westmoreland, that also explained how I came to accept the responsibility to change myself in order to make the world a better and more peaceful place. But Buddhism doesn’t indulge the “turn the other cheek” principle of Christianity. Self-defense and defense of others is always a legitimate thing in Buddhism.
Perhaps President Obama is waiting until after November 8th, when his lame duck status is not only certain but won’t inconvenience Hillary Clinton. Were she in office right now, she would likely institute a no-fly zone over Aleppo and might be willing to challenge Russian and Syrian aircraft who violate it. We can assume Trump would do no such thing and would let Russia aid Syria until all opposition to that brutal dictator and war criminal Assad was crushed and he regained complete control of Syria.
The children and the citizens of Aleppo can’t wait. If the U.S. needs to shoot down some Russian planes (or believably threaten to do so) then so be it. We need to tell Putin we are ready to hack every computer system in Russia until it’s power grid, its infrastructure and its communication system fails or is completely crippled. Will he believe it? Can Obama bluff him? He’s been calling our bluff for some time. Now we need to call his and do it–NOW. His government hackers have been doing their best to get Trump elected. That interference has to stop. Is that a declaration of war? Probably close to it, but I prefer to call it defense of others. A believable threat has to move him. Putin will only go as far as he thinks he can get away with. He’s not sitting at a console ready to launch nukes. Do you think so? I don’t.
Congress is not in session. Calling them back will likely result in no approval. The UN Security Council won’t approve such action because Russia will veto it. So it’s more than a big political gamble. It could result in big problems for Clinton before the election. Or then again, maybe not. THEN we can sort out who needs to be supported in Syria. Obama can then exit and hand over the mess to Hillary Clinton, who is capable of handling it even if he isn’t willing or able to do it. Enough is enough.
The debates are a just a week away. The race has tightened. I’m not sanguine but neither am I trembling in fear. Which Trump will be at the debates? The submissive one that fears dominant women or the bully that insults everyone? Click To Tweet Will he dare call Hillary crooked or a liar to her face? He bullies her at his peril but I think he’s too cowardly to do so. But can he be calm enough to woo any undecideds? In the GOP debates and on Twitter he mocked and insulted all his opponents—with one exception, Carly Fiorina. Before the debates, he asked if hers was face of a President. During the first debate, he backed down and said she had a beautiful face. He did protest her interrupting others in the 2nd debate–hardly up to his usual insults. He tweeted terrible things about Megyn Kelly but couldn’t behave that way with her in person. More recently, in the United Methodist Church in Flint, Michigan, he meekly accepted Pastor Faith Green Timmons interrupting him to let him know that he couldn’t make a political speech. Later he tweeted a blast calling her a nervous mess and falsely claiming people in the church were enthusiastic about his talk.
It’s not only strong women Trump has problems with either; it’s world leaders as well. Ironic after all his vile rhetoric about Mexican immigrants and the government that he should diffidently offer praise of the country and its president Enrique Pena Nieto In his news conference after their meeting. The mild mannered Trump said the matter of the wall didn’t come up. But the Mexican President tweeted out that it had and that he told Trump in no uncertain terms that Mexico would not be paying for any wall. Trump went on a rampage that night in Arizona during his immigration policy speech and tweeted back rude comments to the Mexican President.
This is part of Trump’s bombastic bully routine. He confidently insults and belittles others out of their presence. When in person, he bullies only when he thinks them inferior. He is afraid of women, especially strong American women. Which probably has something to do with why he has had three Eastern European wives. So how will or how should Hillary respond to Trump? Trump (and his lame-brained running mate Pence) wants to paint the Apprentice host as the second coming of Ronald Reagan. Not hardly! On the contrary, “there you go again,” worked very well for Reagan against Jimmy Carter attacks. When Trump offers insults, lies or nonsense, I suggest Clinton chuckle and ask “Seriously?” Click To Tweet It might even pick up some Millennials or at least Gen Xers. Maybe too snarky for Clinton or not her style. But with humor, maybe it’s the right response to “bomb the s—t out of them” or that Obama and she are the “co-founders of ISIS”.
Unfortunately, given the sexism of many male Americans, Clinton has a fine line to walk in being assertive and not “bitchy.” That’s where smiles and humor may be effective. She can do as she does in the many ads her campaign has run—use his own words against him. She can offer specific, pragmatic policies to Trumps vague and glib generalities—especially his “secret plan.” Whichever Trump shows up, it will probably be the real one. The one whose America First pronouncement harkens back to Nazi sympathizers before the start of World War II. The one whose “Make America Great Again” slogan suggests the 1920s, before the Great Depression and when the KKK marched in Manhattan. Or even all the way back to the Know Nothing party of the 1850s in another anti-immigrant time in America. The con man. The corrupt capitalist. The racist. The man who may have a future hosting a reality TV show on RT, the Russian network where Larry King interviewed him—maybe a show like The Apparatchik.
OK, enough on the debate. Let’s end this with some one-liners from long ago that fit well on a man who lives in America’s past.
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt. (Oh well, too late for that, isn’t it.) Which leads right into the next one.
He has constipation of the brain and diarrhea of the mouth. (Or in Trump’s case, perhaps it’s diarrhea of the keyboard for twitter.)
It’s 17 weeks until the U.S. Presidential Election. I have tired of offering political commentary. Those few of you who regularly read this blog will note that there have been far fewer as time has passed over a few years ago. So here’s the deal: Four political posts from now until the election. About one per week. That’s it; no more.
So, an MSNBC/Wall Street Journal poll says 41% find Donald Trump to be honest and straightforward. Really?! Hillary just 25%! Well, after FBI Director Comey’s no indictment broadside, looks like he’s in the low end. But let’s look at the ratings of supposedly factual statements of Donald and Hillary by the nonpartisan group, Politifact.
Politifact found that only 23% of Trump’s statements were true, mostly true or half true. The remaining 77% were mostly false, false or “pants on fire” falsehoods. Basically, he makes stuff up. Like that Rubio’s father had some involvement in JFK’s assassination. He says things and then denies he said them, like calling women “fat pigs.” He calls Hillary crooked. But how many lawsuits has he lost, settled or been involved in regarding deceptive or fraudulent business practices? Way more than Secretary Clinton. He knows little about anything other than how to start businesses with other people’s money and bail when they fail. How can anyone go bankrupt running a casino (four times!) when the house always wins? So he lies and calls other people names. Oh, his “pants on fire” percentage was 20%—one in five of the items that Politifact checked!
Politifact found this about Hillary’s “facts”: 73% were true, mostly true or half true (almost the complete opposite of Trump!) Only 27% of her statements were mostly false, false or pants on fire. Notably, on 1% fell into the pants on fire category. So who’s honest and straightforward? The winner is Hillary, even adding in FBI Director Comey’s remarks.
Just in case there’s any doubt, I am not nonpartisan. Here’s my John Oliver/HBO cap to prove it.
Hope is a town in Arkansas, birthplace of Bill, that American president of a few terms ago. “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow,” the Clinton theme song, expressed how he turned his birthplace into a virtual motto—a cris de couer for all that needed doing, that needed fixing. Bill had hope. He passed it on. Many people had it when Barack Obama took office. Not so many among the GOP, of course. Fewer now than in 2008, even among some fellow Democrats. But that is the way of politics and of people. Many prefer to look to others for hope and inspiration. To look to others for the solution to all that ails them, spiritually, economically and otherwise. A foolish thing to do, that, expecting others to be one’s salvation. More often than not, such misplaced reliance leads to disappointment. Better to find hope within. Better to have faith that through one’s own thoughts and one’s own efforts whatever obstacles one may encounter can be overcome and one’s goals accomplished. Scary though it may be, having such self-reliance, it is and always will be not simply the best way but the only way likely to succeed.
Hyperbole is a customary part of politics. But calling Bill Richardson a Judas for endorsing Obama is way over the top. Carville defends his commentary in an op ed today by asserting, essentially, that Richardson fails to show sufficient appreciation for the Clintons making him the man he is today. Firstly, it was Bill, not Hillary that appointed him as UN ambassador and later Energy Secretary during Bill’s tenure in the White House. More importantly, loyalty to country comes before loyalty to president–an important distinction apparently lost on Carville.