Could we just ignore Trump?

July 17, 2017

What if we all just ignored Donald Trump? Would he go away? I mean, yeah, he’d still be president, but maybe we could work around that. Other than the fact that through some almost unimaginable fluke he is president, how important are his antics?

I imagine is it dawning upon the rest of the world that the emperor really has no clothes.

And for now that is all I have, other than to say that it is not his party affiliation, his politics, or anything but the sheer nonsense of it all that bothers me.

I think he was elected because of our weird Electoral College system. I hope it is not a sign that universal suffrage (and I don’t mean the women’s vote) was not such a good idea.

But sooner or later it would seem that even Republicans would just start treating him like the crazy relative kept upstairs.

p.s.

It is troubling that he has the so-called nuclear button as his grasp 24-7. One would only hope that the word would be put out like was purportedly done with Nixon in his dark days (don’t let him do it or cooperate with him).

AND one more thing: I’m beginning to realize that vice-president Pence is scarier than Trump. Trump is a clown (albeit a dangerous one), Pence not so much.

 

 

 


Democracy’s need for a free press transcends what you might consider an accurate or fair one…

July 14, 2017

NOTE: I’m reposting part of my last post, what I thought was the most important part:


(Freedom of the press is included in the very first, or First, Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, known as our Bill of Rights.)

And let me just say something about  (President Donald) Trump’s continual attack on what we call “the press”. The press is not sacrosanct. Or maybe I should say it is not beyond reproach, but it is vital to our freedom. I hope that does not sound like a contradiction.

Those who would take away our freedom, dictators, fear the free flow of information and ideas. In authoritarian regimes they either have their own official press or they only allow a private press to operate if it carries the government line or at least does not stray too far from it.

Sometimes it is not the governments or just the governments, sometimes extra-governmental forces intimidate or physically attack those who don’t tow their line or who expose corruption. This is the case in Mexico. Journalists there are routinely murdered.

I take it that real Trump supporters — as opposed to those who just put up with him because they at least hope he will carry their agenda — don’t much care for a free press if that free press is critical of their man. And they go along with the line that the press lacks credibility and publishes fake news. Actually that is what the press does under authoritarian regimes — publishes fake news — we used to call that propaganda.

But here is how I look at it. To me, even though I prefer a responsible and credible press, I am more concerned that there be a free and uninhibited press. I am intelligent and well read enough to sort through the bullshit, but only because there are no restrictions on my sources.

My question is: would those who prefer a docile press rather just get their news from government handouts from the Trump administration or Fox News (same thing)?

If you buy a car, do you just take the salesman’s word for everything? People who have a vested interest in the outcome (making the sale on a car or public policy) have a habit of leaving problems out and using sales puffery (also known as lying).

Again, the press is not beyond exaggeration and inaccuracy and partisanship. One just has to hope that there are reliable sources out there and enough to where one can compare reports and judge credibility.

(And when I write about “the press” I am referring to authentic news organizations, as opposed to bogus ones. And “authentic” does not refer directly to quality. You can be not worth a crap and still be authentic.)

 

 


Too much effort on the Russian scandal and not enough on policy; a free press is more important than a perfect one …

July 13, 2017

Remember, it took a year or more to bring Nixon down, so it is not surprising that Trump is still in office. Actually it seems to me that barring some clear-cut evidence of major wrongdoing that cannot be argued Trump can last the term. And as outlandish as Trump is he might well win a second term if the Democrats cannot find someone who can excite their own base and make them turn out.

And as bad a Trump is (certainly the worst political disaster in my lifetime — I mean he makes me miss Nixon), unless he just becomes an impediment to the Republican agenda or too much of a public liability I would think he remains safe. Things can change, and overnight.

The Democrats may be wasting their energy going after Trump on the Russia controversy. I mean the investigation should continue, but it should be realized the Russia thing that has taken over the news has served as a near smoke screen hiding what is really going on — the wholesale attack on environmental rules, rules to protect laborers, and of course the all-out attack on decent health care for all Americans.

Outnumbered as they presently are, the Democrats need to convince voters they have a better way. I mean they are losing ground, failing to win in recent special elections. They better improve for the off-year elections in 2018 or it will likely be eight years of Trump.

And let me just say something about Trump’s continual attack on what we call “the press”. The press is not sacrosanct. Or maybe I should say it is not beyond reproach, but it is vital to our freedom. I hope that does not sound like a contradiction.

Those who would take away our freedom, dictators, fear the free flow of information and ideas. In authoritarian regimes they either have their own official press or they only allow a private press to operate if it carries the government line or at least does not stray too far from it.

Sometimes it is not the governments or just the governments, sometimes extra-governmental forces intimidate or physically attack those who don’t tow their line or who expose corruption. This is the case in Mexico. Journalists there are routinely murdered.

I take it that real Trump supporters — as opposed to those who just put up with him because they at least hope he will carry their agenda — don’t much care for a free press if that free press is critical of their man. And they go along with the line that the press lacks credibility and publishes fake news. Actually that is what the press does under authoritarian regimes — publishes fake news — we used to call that propaganda.

But here is how I look at it. To me, even though I prefer a responsible and credible press, I am more concerned that there be a free and uninhibited press. I am intelligent and well read enough to sort through the bullshit, but only because there are no restrictions on my sources.

My question is: would those who prefer a docile press rather just get their news from government handouts from the Trump administration or Fox News?

If you buy a car, do you just take the salesman’s word for everything? People who have a vested interest in the outcome (making the sale on a car or public policy) have a habit of leaving problems out and using sales puffery (also known as lying).

Again, the press is not beyond exaggeration and inaccuracy and partisanship. One just has to hope that there are reliable sources out there and enough to where one can compare reports and judge credibility.

(And when I write about “the press” I am referring to authentic news organizations, as opposed to bogus ones. And “authentic” does not refer directly to quality. You can be not worth a crap and still be authentic.)

From what I am reading and hearing, legal experts seem to differ on whether there have been any actual crimes committed by Trump or his administration and campaign before it in dealing with Russia.

It is becoming clear from the delayed admission of Trump’s own son that the Trump campaign at least tried to work closely with the Russians in trying to push the Trump candidacy, despite its continued denials. Emails indicate that the Russians wanted Trump to win. And he of course did.

Oh, and Trump Jr. only admitted meeting with a Russian agent (a lawyer but I would say an agent because this lawyer apparently has Kremlin connections) after he was forced to by a story in the New York Times — the free press at work. Forcing the truth.

Whether Trump won the presidency with the help of the Russians or without it they have to be happy with the outcome. The U.S. image on the world stage has been tarnished and the influence of the U.S. on the world stage has been severely degraded.

I can only hope the American people awake from their slumber and apply the pressure that can lead to a restoration of our honor. Strangely enough, it is ultimately in our hands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


North Korea and Iran, if we let these nations continue with their nuclear armament programs, we have lost…

July 6, 2017

It seems that in the space of a year or less I have read that North Korea is still years away from developing nuclear weapons capable of reaching the U.S. and then, well, maybe not so many years, and now, well, maybe it now has the capability of launching a nuclear attack on the U.S. mainland (at least Alaska), after test firing what may have been an intercontinental ballistic missile toward Japan. Poor Japan. But poor us too maybe.

While I don’t need to know or should know the details of our defense secrets or intelligence, I don’t want to be told untruths or given misleading information. The fact that a nation under the control of an apparent mad man — whoops I am not presently referring to United States (but come to think of it), North Korea, could launch a nuclear attack on us is something I want to know.

I have to think that either our intelligence on North Korea has been wrong or that for some reason our government did not want us to know what it knew or something like that, but I cannot figure how that helps.

I feel on this just as I felt about Iran. We tell them in confidence that we will not tolerate their threat but give them a chance to decide on their own to get out of the nuclear weapons game and allow them to save face. But if there is no cooperation from them, then we act and do what we must to rid ourselves of the danger (but not before considering the cost benefit analysis of our actions and what all of our options might be).

I know, sounds kind of reckless and dangerous. Well I don’t know what we would have to do. There may well be some way short of a full-out, head on attack by us. In North Korea’s case we would need to warn China and give China one more chance to somehow rein in North Korea. Most of this would have to be done in secret because it would not seem likely China would work with us in the open on this.

But this continual plopping of missiles aimed westward into the ocean by North Korea has to stop before it does pull us into World War III.

But overblown rhetoric will do no good on this. It appears as if President Trump has already fallen into the trap of drawing a line that North Korea could not pass but it has, so now what? Does he back down like his predecessor, thus confirming we don’t really mean what we say? Probably so. But with Trump that might be easier since he says all kinds of things and then changes his position without even admitting that he has changed.

From what I have been hearing and reading there are no good military options. A so-called surgical strike, the experts think, would likely trigger a major response from North Korea. That nation is capable, they say, of immediately firing a tremendous barrage of artillery that would threaten a majority of the South Korean population which lives relatively close to the border. And it might use tactical nuclear weapons.

And here’s a disappointing surprise to me: I mean all my life I have been aware that we have troops permanently stationed in South Korea, supposedly ready to repel the North (which we’ve never actually signed an armistice with since the end of active combat in the Korean War in the early 1950s). But what I did not know is that the force we have there currently could not hold back the North Koreans for any amount of time. We would need reinforcements from mostly the continental U.S. and that would take time. And the casualties (for all) would be astronomical, according to expert observers in the field.

So I don’t advocate some ill-advised and poorly planned pre-emptive strike and particularly not some spur-of-the moment thing like Trump does with his middle-of-the-night tweets or even that air strike in Syria, that seemed so well-timed but had so little effect.

One problem I have read is that all or much of North Korea’s nuclear apparatus is either underground or on mobile launchers, making finding them and getting to them with a surgical strike difficult to doubtful.

What we need and what we do not have is leadership that is calm and cool and deliberate but decisive.

It would seem China is the key, even though Trump has stated he has given up on it. I am sure in its public posturing China is not going to just go along with us but it has to be concerned about the threat of its errant comrades who seem ready to start World War III and risk wiping out the planet in nuclear winter just to be respected or feared on the world stage. And China fears the disruption of hordes of desperate North Koreans crossing the border into China in a war or crisis.

Behind-the-scenes diplomacy and negotiations are needed. China is really North Korea’s lifeline. And heavy sanctions by China against North Korea could well do the trick. In the past I know (I don’t know now), we have given North Korea food aid. We could let North Korea know (in private) that we are willing to continue humanitarian assistance to the starving people there and that we do not propose to meddle in the state affairs of that country, even if it is a rigid totalitarian state where the elite eat the rest starve. However, we have to realize that food aid does not necessarily get to those who really need it.

Over time things change. Populations do not forever put up with being kept down when others thrive, but that has to be left up to primarily those populations.

We need to keep our military pressure up too, though. You can be strong and even demonstrate your strength without the threatening rhetoric that paints one into a corner.

It was both our fortune to be the ones who came up with nuclear weapons first and our misfortune they were ever developed. The two bombs we dropped on Japan produced a decisive and timely win in World War II in the Pacific theater. But at the same time we let the nuclear genie out of bottle and nothing we can do will force it back in. Now we are forced to protect ourselves from those who would use the technology in unprovoked aggression.

p.s.

I did not say anything other than in the headline about Iran. Supposedly we have an agreement with that nation, signed during the Obama administration, designed to prevent that nation from developing nuclear bomb capabilities for so many years (and then what?). But there has already been evidence that it is violating the terms of the treaty. We meddled in the affairs of that nation decades ago and it has never forgiven us.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Proud to be an American this Fourth, despite you know who…

July 4, 2017

Proud to be an American this July 4th, 2017. The United States of America is bigger and better than its leaders, especially the current one at the top, you know who.

Frustration, inattention, distraction, apathy, a world changing at warp speed, all those factors led to the state of affairs our government is in right now. And, if you can believe the polls, 40 percent of Americans are comfortable with the person at the top.

But we are not the government, although the government is of our own making and is supposed to reflect our wishes.

But we are individuals in an as of yet still free nation where we are not obliged to be lockstep behind an authoritarian leader and engage in groupthink (formed by the group in power) and to try to understand its newspeak (where there are alternative facts, and by which we would be prevented from forming coherent and independent thoughts).

This dark era in our government will pass.

Maybe we needed it to appreciate what we have.

However, I could have done without it myself.

But I am proud to be an American and feel so fortunate to have been born here.

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY TO ALL!

 

 


On fireworks and bird poop…

July 2, 2017

From my apartment I have probably the best view of the annual Fourth of July fireworks show of anyone, or as good as, in my town. But in the eight or so years I have lived there I think I only have seen it two or three times tops. I’m an over-the-road trucker, so I am often out of town. Sometimes I see the displays at various places while driving down the road.

Once I saw a pretty good show sitting in a parking lot at the Mexican border in Southern Arizona. It was not the Fourth of July but another celebration. Also I sometimes have witnessed the nightly displays as I drive past Disneyland, or through Sacramento during the State Fair.

But I think it just might work out where I have time to see my hometown Fourth of July fireworks show this year. I have to leave first thing the next morning, though.

One year I was all set to watch the show. Had my lawn chair set up on the back balcony and the phone rang. The dispatcher needed a favor. At first I declined. In this business if you do something for the dispatcher you are a hero, so you think, but soon enough you are told you should have done something different — you go from “hero to zero” as they say. But anyway, I fell for it and called back and took it. I did watch part of the show, but then went to bed but could not sleep for all the noise and wound up having to get up in a few short hours.

One year we had a nest of doves above us on the balcony roof supports, mom and daddy taking turns sitting on the egg. We had some family with us. We had to advise them to not sit directly under the nest (danger of falling dove poop). I wonder what the doves thought of all the noise.

And on those doves: we thought they were cute as heck when they first began building that nest. My late wife was the first to notice. We were entertained by watching them fly hither and yon gathering twigs and whatever they could find to build that little home. And my wife read up on it and discovered that both the female and male take turns sitting on the eggs. We even eventually watched the newborn bird learn to fly.

I can’t remember whether we went through one or two mating seasons — of the doves I mean. But what I do recall is that while it was all fun and amazement at first we soon enough discovered it was a pain too. All that dove sh..

So either the second or third season (and now I am thinking they do this twice a year — yeah, kind of like old married couples — okay I’m joking) I tried to discourage them from nesting there on the balcony. Every time one of the doves would fly up there I would swat at it with a broom. No luck. I could not always be there and they would come back again and again.

Finally, I guess after the second round, the complex handyman put some goop up there that discouraged them from ever coming back. Now don’t tell the Fish and Game because I think a big box store in our town tried to keep the swallows from nesting on their building and subjecting the customers to falling poop and were told by the authorities that they could not disturb the bird nests. (Why am I even writing about all this? Because I like to write and I have time on my hands).

And back to the doves. Nature is fun to watch. But it can be cruel. I think they had twins and one was killed by a predator bird. It’s a tough world.

Anyway, have a wonderful Fourth, but beware of falling poop.

 

 

 

 

 


The GOP has lost its dignity with Trump…

June 30, 2017

While I like to consider myself middle of the road in politics my pet saying about political parties is: “I’d consider being a Republican if they gave me a reason”. I made that up. But it’s so true. I mean I’d love to think I was in the ‘Party of Lincoln’ (well I think that would be good — but I always wondered if we could not have avoided the Civil War by diplomacy and some compromise — although how does one compromise on slavery? But I think more than slavery was involved, although it all came back to an economy and social order based on slavery).

I digress and get off the point I wanted to make.

The current Republican Party is reprehensible because it is so cynical or maybe chicken-hearted that it sticks with Donald Trump even though the man puts shame on the United States every day. His boorish behavior and unimaginable ignorance (they say he prefers not to read), and the silly mind games he plays, even with his own supporters, make him a colossal train wreck.

But the party puts up with him (even though it is apparent they are appalled) because they are so cynical that they just think well if they can hold onto their own offices and if they can push through tax cuts for the rich and cut support for the poor — well they can tough it out.

No I could not be a Republican.

Yes, I could criticize the Democratic Party, especially for their abandonment of the working class and their own cynical cozying up to the rich but they are not the focus of my disgust at the moment — except that they failed to ignite their base and let Trump win.  I think they forgot who their base is.

Unless you’ve tuned out of the news and the tawdry daily details of Trump’s middle-of-the-night or early-morning tweets, I don’t need to remind you that his latest (at least as of this writing) is another thing about women and blood. He seems obsessed about that. You recall that back during the campaign when a Fox lady media personality tried to interrogate him instead of using the Fox-preferred kid gloves when it comes to Republicans or people of Trump’s ilk, he implied (most people thought) that she was having that time of the month (he talked of blood). In his latest, he went after a critical female media type (from MSNBC) and claimed he would not have anything to do with her at his Mira Lago Resort because she was bleeding from a face lift and he also claimed she had a low I.Q. Not that in the name of everything decent and common manners and decorum it makes any difference, but both women are obviously highly intelligent, much more so than Trump. (And we don’t even know if that second lady was bleeding — he does make up his own fake news, like putting himself on the cover of a fake Time Magazine — but I won’t bother with that.)

Even if you don’t like the people Trump does not like or who he criticizes, hopefully you would not talk of them in public that way, especially if you held an important public position. And think, our children see and hear the example of the President of the United States.

(Also Trump alternately praises and tears down the same people — he is just a dangerous act or someone who is totally off balance — no it is not strategy — even if at times it can be or seem successful. I mean, unfortunately, some people can be intimidated or so cynical that they go along with his antics because in the end they think that there might be something in it for them and they can leave Trump behind once everyone turns on him.)

No the Republican Party should be ashamed.

The GOP turned on Nixon. It should turn on Trump. Then and only then, it could redeem itself.

But the Democrats cannot be smug. They need some cleaning up of the act themselves. If nothing else the party has let itself get stale. It does have a fairly vociferous left wing (well not as loud as a few months ago), but I continue to think the majority of the electorate will not go way left, although I have read young voters who have no memory of the Cold War have little qualms about leftist politics. They likely have little knowledge of the history of leftist movements that resulted in authoritarianism and a loss of freedom or far right movements that resulted in the same thing.

One does not have to support a political party, and we only have two really (the others don’t count in our brand of federalism). But it is the political parties who move legislation and come up with candidates.

What we really probably need is a parliamentary system where a variety of parties can compete and gain power by forcing coalitions to form a government. But that is not going to happen or at least not anytime soon — we have no historical understanding of such a system.

But again, I wish the Republicans would get back their dignity and quit kowtowing to Trump or turning a blind eye to his outrages on civil society.

Here’s something, they could run someone against him in 2020, or better yet begin impeachment proceedings or take the 25th Amendment path on the grounds of mental incompetence (I realize that the second two options are almost impossible at this juncture).