The Trump party is coming to an end soon, on a network near you. Maybe as soon as Sunday night in St. Louis. Listen for the Fat Lady singing.
The Trump party is coming to an end soon, on a network near you. Maybe as soon as Sunday night in St. Louis. Listen for the Fat Lady singing.
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.)
So, 85 of 154 non-governmental meetings Hillary Clinton had were with donors to the Clinton Foundation, according to an AP story. If so, SO WHAT! Pay for play? NO! Quid pro quo? NO! Illegality? NO! More political theater as Trump goes off the rails asking for a special prosecutor etc.
In more than 70 countries, according to the foundation, it helps 11.5 million people, including 800,000 children, with HIV/AIDS get their medication at 90% lower cost — more than half the adults and three-quarters of the children getting treatment in the world today.But it does all kinds of other work as well. For instance, it helps East African farmers get better seeds and fertilizers. It supported Nepal’s reconstruction after the 2015 earthquakes. And it has connected more than 500,000 Latin Americans to job training and entrepreneurship opportunities.The Clinton Foundation does tons of work in the US, too. Some examples: It has a school program that operates in every state, affecting more than 31,000 schools and 18 million students by its count. That program is to improve physical education, child nutrition, health education and staff wellness programs. They also work on prescription drug addiction. The foundation wants to halve the number of opioid overdoses — right now those drugs kill more Americans than car accidents.
So much anger. So much hatred. So much blame. Four days of the Republican National Convention. With only a few glimmers of light or hope. In his dystopian view of America Donald J. Trump sees the entire Country as Gotham. A lawless place where terrorists from Islamic countries, murderers and rapists from Mexico, Black Lives Matters-inspired cop shooters and other evildoers roam the streets preying on innocent Americans. Fear no more–Trump and the GOP (at least many of the delegates at the Republican National Convention who are office holders) will quickly make it safe again!
Well, in the minds of Trump, Congressional Republicans and many of the attendees at the convention, the rise of terrorism is all the fault of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The two Democrats probably recruited Osama bin Laden to organize the 9/11 attacks just to make George Bush look bad! So the first step is locking up Hillary Clinton, as the Rudelicans at the convention yelled over and over again. Or she could be shot by a firing squad if Al Baldasaro, Trump supporter and New Hampshire state representative has his way. Or she could be hung on the Mall in Washington, DC, if United Airlines pilot and member of the West Virginia House of Delegates Michael Folk has his way. United Airlines suspended Folk from flying. The Secret Service is investigating Baldasaro. If Trump is elected, Obama will be gone, of course, and Trump will change everything on Inaugural Day, January 20, 2017–instantaneously!
Seems unlikely at best but read on. The plans will come later of course; just trust him–but how can we when he lies cheats and steals so much (more on that later) and can’t even run as important an event as his own convention without screwing up so many things. Like Melania’s plagiarism, Ted Cruz taking his revenge for the Donald’s slander of Ted’s wife and father–just to mention a couple of the biggies. So if he couldn’t get this four-day event for himself right, how can he lead the country? Anyway, based on what we know now and what we might imagine could be on tap, here’s what to expect. Continue reading Make Gotham Great Again?
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.
Yet another horrific terrorist attack has occurred. The deaths and injuries in Brussels have saddened and troubled people around the world. These all too frequent events happen across Europe, in Asia, Africa and sometimes in America as well. Most are directed or are inspired by ISIS and other terrorist groups which proclaim that their interpretation of the teachings of Islam justify them. Of course, the genuine Islamic faith practiced by millions of adherents throughout the world condemns, rather than encourages, the killing of innocent people. Likewise, the genuine believers condemn genocide perpetrated against the members of other religions, the raping and enslaving of women and girls. Despite my pacifistic beliefs, I am completely in support of killing the leaders of ISIS and their counterparts. Normally, I would prefer persuading such people of the error of their beliefs and their actions. In the case of those at the top of these groups that seems clearly futile. On the other hand, there are the bozos that would go way beyond simply targeting the leadership of such groups.
Who are they and why do I call them bozos? Well, one is Crazy Cruz. The other is Dim-Witted Donald. To call them clowns implies in one sense that they are somehow amusing. A train wreck is not funny. Nor is terrorism. Glib political responses to acts of terror and terrorism doesn’t make one a clown, but it does make one a bozo. Yes, there was a clown by that name. But the term has come to apply to someone who is stupid, rude or incompetent. Try looking it up in any number of dictionaries or Googling the term. You will see what I mean. It could take several thousand words to expand on all the ways that Cruz and Trump are bozos. So let’s just address their responses to the Brussels attack, to ISIS and to their perspective on people of the Islamic faith. That’s sufficient to qualify the epithet.
Ted Cruz says police should “patrol Muslim communities (in America) to prevent the residents from becoming radicalized!” He has also called for “carpet-bombing” ISIS inhabited areas in Syria and Iraq. Donald Trump has previously said he would quickly eliminate the ISIS threat by “bombing the s—t out of them.” In response to the Brussels attack he reiterated his proposed ban on all Muslims from entering the U.S. (No matter that there are many already here—including ones serving in Congress, the U.S. military, state and local government and law enforcement) and urged the use of waterboarding (at a minimum) to extract useful information from the Paris attack suspect arrested several days ago in Belgium.
First, terrorism is a tactic and sometimes a strategy. It’s been practiced throughout the world for centuries. It’s not the same as a conventional war between one country and another. It often happens within a civil war, whether the combatants agree to the description of the conflict as a civil war or not. If it were easily ended, the war in Syria would be over. If the answer to a cessation were simple, it would not have taken a few hundred years for the Protestants and the Catholics to stop fighting (including mutual use of terrorism) in Northern Ireland. If it were simple, Russia wouldn’t have left a fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan long before the United States went there for its own very long conflict.
How much bombing will stop terrorists, a civil war or some other insurgency? In my war, Vietnam, the U.S. and its allies dropped 2 ½ times the total tonnage of bombs that tiny country that were dropped during all of WW II! No, not exactly carpet-bombing, but it left the terrain like a moonscape. We did drop a serious amount of bombs on North Vietnam. Perhaps that led to the “successful” conclusion of the Paris Peace Talks—for which U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese negotiator Le Duc Tho won Nobel Peace Prizes. Kissinger took his and Le Duc Tho refused his—perhaps because he and the North were not intending to honor the treaty. It was dishonestly called by then President Richard Nixon as “Peace with Honor.”
I bring up Vietnam to correlate with Brussels. In South Vietnam, the National Liberation Front (its members more popularly known to Americans as Viet Cong) lived in and were supported by (not necessarily voluntarily or with eagerness) by villages. American soldiers and their allies wore uniforms; even without them, they were easily distinguished from the Viet Cong and the villagers. The VC didn’t typically wear uniforms. In Brussels, as in other cities across Europe, Muslims are not well assimilated or integrated into the general population. Instead, they are concentrated in communities of fellow believers. Like the VC, the ISIS terrorists are indistinguishable physically from their less radical neighbors. It is no easy task to embed undercover operatives within these enclaves. Police can and do patrol but don’t necessarily get great cooperation from the communities. Contrast Europe with America. Here, Muslims are dispersed and relatively well assimilated. Where are the Muslim communities to patrol, that bozo Ted Cruz would keep from being radicalized? How are the Muslims here being radicalized? Well, Ted, it’s not by their neighbors, but by the sites they frequent on the internet. Stupid idea, Ted! [New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton says Cruz “doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about”] Not to mention, it most likely would result in the very radicalization he thinks such patrols would prevent.
Carpet-bombing? Well in Vietnam, because it was difficult to determine who in fact was VC, the one sure way was to observe if an individual was deceased. If dead, ipso facto he must have been VC. ISIS members live in cities and communities they have taken over by force. They weren’t welcomed in with open arms in most cases. So who dies in carpet-bombing? The innocent victims of ISIS and other civilians. Great idea, bozos Ted and Donald! Or, even more extreme, target the families of ISIS members as Donald previously suggested. They might not be 100% but that’s what’s called a war crime, bozo Trump.
So let’s just torture the suspects. Well, the Senate report concluded that doesn’t really work. Oh yes, suspects will talk. They’ll say anything to get the torture to stop. Unfortunately, what they say isn’t true. Ask John McCain about torture. He spent six years as a POW in Vietnam before becoming a U.S. Senator and presidential candidate. Well they do worse, says Donald. So why should we hold back. Wow! Remember the elementary school mantra, “just because he jumped off the cliff doesn’t mean you should.” Yup, definitely a bozo.
The bottom line? These bozos are not fit to be a President of the U.S. They are too irrational, too stupid and too immoral.
I do try to refrain from too much political commentary. Definitely less is found here than in the past. But this year, especially after last night’s 3rd Super Tuesday fairly begs for some.
The GOP convention will be in Cleveland this July, about four months from now. Will Trump be the nominee? There are many Republicans who hope not. Will they be able to stop him? Will there be a contested or open convention?
The Cleveland Browns NFL team has somewhat loyal, but dispirited fans, due to its poor record spanning many years. So what do the fans do? Some come to games with paper bags over their heads–a form of protest or perhaps to hide their identity. After all, would they want friends, neighbors or coworkers to see them actually sitting in the stands at a Browns game? Perhaps an entrepreneurial sort among them, maybe an alumnus of Trump University, will offer delegates their choice of designer bags to wear at the GOP Convention. I’m not saying anyone will actually do this, but if I were a Republican attending the convention, I very well might.
It’s been the longest running trailer for a movie or TV show, Donald Trump’s White House Campaign. Finally the truth comes out–he never really sought the presidency. Rather, Trump is launching his own cable channel with the first show being Trump’s Run for the White House. The show will premiere January 31, 2016, the eve of the Iowa Caucus. Trump will announce his “campaign” was all about boosting the ratings of the show and never about being elected. His withdrawal from the race came live at the start of the show.
Political pundits predicted at the outset of Trump’s campaign that he wouldn’t go all the way–wouldn’t file necessary papers, etc. He confounded everyone, including GOP officials as his support increased while he steadily offended people. As the punditocracy eventually accepted that he was really running, one after another confidently asserted his latest rants would doom his campaign. Instead, he gathered more and more support.
Of course his statements DID have that effect, despite the campaign being a promo for the TV show. He is also, of course, a megalomaniac–which is why he doesn’t care what effect his words have. And, he is, after all a bit loony.
It’s early for the political silly season but then the GOP political candidates have been pretty far out there for a while. Now their governors have joined the party. They should serve crackers and cheese with all the whining they’re doing. They whine about debate moderators. Now they’re whining about the Syrian refugees possibly bringing terror to America. They whine incessantly about everything that President Obama says. Ted Cruz says if Obama wants to insult him, do it to his face and debate him. Did Cruz buy his degree from Harvard Law or did he skip class when Constitutional Law was taught? Maybe he doesn’t know about American law because he was born in Canada. [No offense to my Canadian friends.] I’ll put my Georgetown JD up against his Harvard (?!) degree and let him know that allowing Christian refugees into America but denying Muslims entry runs afoul of that picky little detail about religion in America’s First Amendment.
I suppose we could excuse non-lawyers Trump (shut down the mosques) and Ben Carson (no Muslim president) for being unaware of American constitutional provisions. But as President of the US, there really is no excuse. Many, if not most of those Republican governors that want to keep out suffering Syrians are probably lawyers as well. They should know better. For all those supposedly evangelical and otherwise devout types among GOP presidential candidates and their supporters there is another little problem–what the actual religious leaders say about the matter.
The National Association of Evangelicals says this:
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops says this:
“I am disturbed . . . by calls from both federal and state officials for an end to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States. These refugees are fleeing terror themselves—violence like we have witnessed in Paris.
. . .
Instead of using this tragedy to scapegoat all refugees, I call upon our public officials to work together to end the Syrian conflict peacefully so the close to 4 million Syrian refugees can return to their country and rebuild their homes. Until that goal is achieved, we must work with the world community to provide safe haven to vulnerable and deserving refugees who are simply attempting to survive.” Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration
Ah, but those politicians know what voters want, forget what the religious leaders think–what do they know anyway!
Hey, if it were up to Trump and some of the others, if they were in the White House they would probably round up all the Muslims and put them in an internment camp annex to Guantanamo. Too dangerous to lock them up in America! None have proposed that publicly (yet) but you know some of them are thinking it. It worked for the Japanese Americans in WWII; why not the Muslims now, eh? I suppose I shouldn’t be giving Trump, Carson or Cruz ideas–but if you happen to be Muslim, you should just hope none of them are living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue next year. Maybe the DSM will add Islamophobia to its list of psychiatric disorders soon.