Putin invite to U.S., why not? Mr. K visited us, but by all means let Putin visit Disneyland…

July 20, 2018

I personally have more disgust and maybe a little fear over the morons who would fall prey to the Russian propaganda being spewed out during our elections, making their voting decisions based on all that, if that is really taking place, than the Russians for meddling in our election process. That is to say if the Russians are just spreading propaganda. Now if they are messing with our actual voting tallies that is another thing. And yes if there is a way to keep out the propaganda that would be preferable.

The United States unfortunately has a long history of interfering with the internal affairs of other nations in the name of fighting communism. What gave us the right to decide whether other nations should follow that path I do not know. I do realize it was a strategic decision based on the fact that communists were intimidating people in other countries into following their path and their end game was to wipe out capitalism and our democratic (small d) form of government. But still, the U.S. has stuck its fingers into places it may not have belonged and in so doing stirred resentment that spelled troubles in the future. Case in point, Iran. We backed a dictator there and eventually there was an Islamic uprising and then U.S. hostages were taken. And Iran is still an enemy today. We also installed our preferred leader in Iraq at one time.

But the Soviet Union is gone. Russia is no longer communist as far as I know. What it is other than a dictatorship I don’t know. Some of the same characters are around, though. Their leader Vladimir Putin is from the old Soviet secret police and is no friend of democracy.

And the new Russia wants to take back the old Soviet eastern European part of its empire that fell away after the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, already taking back part of the Ukraine via armed intervention in 2014.

So like the old Soviet Union, Russia seems to be our adversary, I guess because it seeks to undermine the free West. And now we have the odd situation of an American president being what seems a little too chummy with the Russian leader. Some suspect President Trump may be the victim of blackmail, possibly over a tape with him in it I guess watching women urinate. Actually it is hard for me to imagine Trump being sensitive to this. I mean the man seems to have no shame. That story may be a little too wild to believe. But easier to believe are financial connections between Trump and his family and businesses and the Russians. Trump has refused to release his taxes and information on business arrangements and did not put his holdings in a blind trust as other presidents have done. Meanwhile Trump and family seem to be profiting through Russian business ties, as well as other deals, based on his influence from his presidency.

And the bombshell of sorts, Trump has invited Putin to visit the U.S. after what many see as a disastrous summit between the two earlier this week in which Trump appeared to kowtow to Putin.

However, hasn’t this been done before? Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev visited the U.S. in 1959, and the only bad thing to come out of it is that we apparently hurt his feelings by not allowing him to visit Disneyland (for security reasons).

No my main fear is with people who do not rely on more trustworthy and verifiable sources or who only read or hear what they want to read or hear because they are so closed-minded and so uncurious.

If that is the way you prefer to be, well I guess that is your right. Please, however, don’t vote.

(We do know that particularly as the result of the internet and social media there is something called “fake news”. There are sites that masquerade as legitimate, objective news sources when instead they are spewing out propaganda, either stacking the deck in favor of one side or the other in politics or as the Russians seem to have done, simply to cause dissension among the populace and the reduction of trust in our democracy. Unfortunately Trump accuses the mainstream press of being fake news because it does not simply report totally favorable things about him. But most of the customers who support the mainstream press, or media as some insist on calling it, possibly because in some circles “media” is used as a pejorative, would quit doing so if it were simply propaganda; they would be discerning enough to realize this. Which is not to say there is never bias in the mainstream. We used to call it pack journalism — but I digress into something that is another issue unto itself.)

p.s.

This thing about Trump at first going along with the idea of Putin being able to interrogate our ambassador and other American officials seems one of the more bizarre moves on his part — he sure seems like he could be a Manchurian candidate or a willing operative of the Russians or a blackmail victim. None of these may be true. He just might be playing us all for a fool or he may be just a fool himself. Or perhaps it is just his method of keeping everyone off balance and letting them fight one another while he stands back and watches the fun and uses the distraction for his own means.

 

 

 

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Trump cowers, how will his faithful apologists explain it? Or do they care?

July 17, 2018

I should have known. In fact I suspected. President Trump has once again basically said never mind I did not say that or mean that or I was misquoted and basically taken back most of what he said publicly (before cameras and on tape) after his private meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Trump had questioned U.S. intelligence reports that Russia meddled in our elections and indicated he was taking Putin’s word that it did not.

So, really what is the sense of reporting on what Trump says or listening to him? He says one thing and then changes his story when he sees the wind blowing the other way or is caught in a fabrication or whatever. That is one thing he is consistent on.

Now actually I can see that it is healthy for Trump to be skeptical, although best not to reveal it to an adversary or even a friend.

And Sen. Rand Paul is correct in saying that both the U.S. and Russia play this game (I’m fairly sure). But that is something you just understand but not something that you disavow — FOR THE OTHER SIDE!

The word of course is that Trump just can’t stomach any suggestion that the Russians helped him win the election. I personally doubt whatever they did had much effect anyway. It was both an Electoral College-induced fluke, plus a real white backlash (primarily white I think) of many whom were at one time Democrats, who felt that the party had deserted them and had become more interested in winning elections than dealing with their problems, that put Trump into office — and possibly could keep him there.

Well that is my updated lead to the post I had not even posted yet.

Besides seeming to grovel at the feet of Putin, Trump within the past week attacked NATO members, threatening to break up the decades-long pact between the free west and the not free East. But there he did seem to get some concession from member nations on upping their dues. He could claim victory on that.

Hard to see the victory out of slobbering at the feet of Putin. And it is so unbecoming.

And now the original post I had not posted yet:

In my lifetime George McGovern said he would go to Hanoi and beg if need be to get our prisoners back. He lost his bid for the presidency. I mean that did seem a bit weak, you think?

Poor Jimmy Carter became a hostage in the White House rose garden over the Iran Hostage Crisis over which he was powerless to do anything. There was a failed rescue attempt, but no backup plan apparently.

Barack Obama began his presidency with an apology tour telling the world he was sorry on the behalf of America for being such a bully around the world, and although he was re-elected he forever drew the scorn of those who don’t see much use in running ourselves down for the world to see (I mean if you think you’ve been bad, just be nice and leave it at that). And worse, Obama drew that line in the sand against the murderous Syrian regime and then kept stepping back.

But we were supposed to have no more of that with the new brave, albeit super vain, leader who promised to make America Great Again, one Donald Trump, a bankruptcy-plagued real estate tycoon and all around big mouth, who pretended to want to be president and then got caught in his own trap and became the president.

After he groveled at the feet of Vladimir Putin this week we now know just how unprepared he was to be the leader of America and the free world.

I’d say put him right up there with Neville Chamberlain.

But I have read that poor Mr. Chamberlain at least had an excuse in that he knew the British people were not keen on getting involved in another world war after their terrible losses in World War I.

But Donald Trump is just a Vietnam era draft dodger who has got caught up in something he does not understand and cannot bluff his way through.

Well at least I don’t think so.

It will be interesting to see how the Trump apologists contort themselves to make this look good. Sadly, I don’t doubt they will.

I know, it’s all part of some grand scheme to make America great again that I cannot understand.

Trump’s base, whoever they really are, and even others, may let it all blow over as long as the economy does not tank. But over the long run I am sure we will all feel the pain if the U.S. loses its leadership position. Being the leader of the free world comes with a cost, but considering the alternative, a slave to Russia, I think it is probably worth it.

p.s.

Maybe Putin really does have a copy of the pee tape in his back pocket.

 

 

 

 


Is it time to impeach Trump for treason? Or will the silent majority stay silent?

July 16, 2018

So, can we just start the impeachment proceedings now against President Trump?

I have not digested the news from the mini summit between President Trump and Russia’s strong man Vladimir Putin yet, but it seems it has even the Republicans and, would you believe it? Fox News, highly critical of Trump’s performance. Trump had indicated he trusts Putin more than his own intelligence community, the FBI and CIA. If Putin says there was no Russian meddling in our elections, then there was none, Trump indicates.

There is this nagging question of whether the Russians have something embarrassing on Trump that they are prepared to release should he not kowtow and worship Putin.

Of course the gossip is that it is something called the “pee tape”, too disgusting for me to describe and you know what I am referring to anyway.

Don’t have a clue as to whether there is any validity to that.

Actually I have no problem with the president of the United States being on friendly terms with a Russian leader. Even though first the USSR and then Russia (for all intents and purposes the same entity) have long been our enemy we have had basically unbroken relations with them, including cultural exchanges. What are we? Frenemies? Better to keep smiling than go to war I say.

But there is no need to go overboard. A U.S. president should just smile and say very little. Certainly running down your own country and praising the dictator of another is not the thing we want our president to do.

I don’t know what Trump’s true motivation is. But he seems dangerously close to treason at the moment.

I guess it is how it all plays to his base (the new white minority?) and the Republican Party, which for the most part abhors the low brow approach of Trump but is addicted to power.

The silent majority in this nation for the time being seems strangely silent (I know, a non sequitur).

 

 

 

 


Impeach Trump, oppose Kavanaugh, but don’t make that a campaign theme…

July 15, 2018

Someone suggested to me that President Trump seems to be doing his best to set up the grounds for his own impeachment: lying to the American people (and we have the tapes to prove it), violating the emoluments clause, conspiring with foreign governments to the detriment of the United States (some of these I am adding myself), bringing disgrace and dishonor to the United States by going out of his way to insult our allies, making racial slurs — well the list goes on…

But the thought is that the Democrats should not run on impeaching trump. They should run on what they can do for the country — and then once in office impeach Trump. And I would add, only if that seems the will of the people (of course).

Actually I think they have made the opposition to Trump’s selection of conservative justice Brett Kavanagh to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court the Democratic main election issue for the mid terms, with the concern that he would take any chance he could get to overturn Roe v Wade, thus ending a woman’s right to abortion, and that he would, as well, take any opportunity to strike down various hard-won specific rights near and dear to liberals gained through the courts.

But back to impeachment. The Democrats cannot now launch a successful impeachment bid because the Republicans are in power, although they too could tire of Trump or get scared of him as they did of Nixon, who kind of went off the deep end, forcing him to resign under the threat of impeachment. Trump already has gone off the deep end, but some are still in denial.

Oh, and that thing about Trump lying — I don’t want to hear: “well all politicians lie.” That’s what your average Trump holdout might say when cornered by the facts.

I mean, yes, all politicians do stretch the truth, color the facts or make them fit into the mold they want (does that make sense?), but Trump just lies, even when there is a fresh recording of what he just said or when the truth is plain to see. Then when confronted he just hollers “fake news”. I guess that works for the willingly uninformed who don’t want to know the truth anyway.

But if we eliminate the practice of dealing with facts in the course of conducting the affairs of our nation I think we are in  deep trouble. I mean who are we fooling? Ourselves?

I also want to say about the Supreme Court: that was a dirty trick the Republicans played when they refused to even consider Obama’s last court pick. The Democrats are not currently in the majority so they cannot play that trick. And after nudging the Republicans into exercising the so-called nuclear option in which they got rid of the filibuster for Supreme Court picks, that tool is no longer available (whoops).

I’d say don’t worry about it so much. I actually think the high court tends to follow the culture, regardless of its ideological makeup. And we should not have to depend upon the judiciary to make laws or determine public policy. We might actually have to go the legislative route.

A judiciary that refused to recognize the authority of the legislature could be subject to impeachment itself.

Trump is bringing the country down, and unfortunately it will all too soon become apparent I expect. I’m in the process right now of hauling a product of international trade. Trump’s current actions are threatening the stability and long-term health of our trade.

The farm lobby drank the Trump kool aid and dawned the red caps only to find that he is threatening American agriculture’s overseas markets by the trade war he instigated. Oh, I know, he’s just playing the tough game positioning himself in bargaining. But maybe he really does not know or even care what he is doing. Maybe the emperor really has no clothes (yes, cliché I know, but so appropriate here).

(And here’s a question: if a person is known to always lie or bluff, how effective a tool can that be?)

The people will turn to the other party, or some new party, if there is something to turn to.

And that is the question, is there something or someone to turn to?

 

 

 

 

 


Trump no doubt liked Kavanaugh’s take on presidential power…

July 10, 2018

The only hint I have as to why President Trump chose U.S. District Court of Appeals, District of Columbia, Judge Brett Kavanaugh to sit on the Supreme Court is that the judge’s past decisions indicates that the president is untouchable by the law while in office (or nearly so).

Kavanaugh has opined that a sitting president cannot be indicted, I have read (I have to read more).

At the same time, though, Kavanaugh, who formerly clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy, a conservative who sometimes swung liberal in key decisions, who is vacating the seat he would take, may be more acceptable to Democrats than some of the others.

Interestingly, the Democrats see him as someone they could dig up a lot of opposition ammunition on because he has a long paper trail of decisions.

I have a feeling Trump may have made a wise decision on this one, one that may well serve himself but also the court — but I know next to nothing about Kavanaugh’s record in reality, so I’ll have to read up on it.

One ultra liberal blog claims that Kavanaugh was super interested in making sure Bill Clinton would be forced to give explicit details on his sexcapades in the oval office — real explicit, as in tell us exactly what you did and how you did it (heavy breathing).

In his acceptance remarks Kavanaugh came across as a straight-laced family guy — but maybe he has some secret passion. Well good for him, I guess.

 


Law and politics are not separate at the Supreme Court…

July 7, 2018

The Supreme Court should not make law but decide it on what the constitution says. That´s what people often say. Seems reasonable and to an extent I agree with that.

One problem: what does it say? I mean if it was always obvious and anyone could get the plain meaning we would not need Supreme Court justices, at least we would not need them to interpret the Constitution.

Saying that the Constitution just means what is says in almost like a line I liked in the Movie Lonesome Dove. Captain Call opines that his sidekick Augustus has no idea what the Latin slogan (I believe Augustus thinks it’s Greek, and it is to him) on the back of their freight wagon means.

“It’s just a motto; it says itself”, retorts Augustus. Well our Constitution is not just a motto but it does not always just say itself as Augustus put it.

People can certainly bend or stretch what is seems to say, and in one case in particular, Roe v Wade, the court even found something that was not there, that gives a woman a right to an abortion — a penumbra.

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And here I go back in time, that is I attempt to make a clarification or slight correction in what I already wrote many days ago: That “penumbra” I mentioned was actually from another case (or cases). But consulting Wikipedia I got this:

Griswold v. Connecticut was a Supreme Court decision that eventually laid the foundation for Roe v. Wade.

The theory of rights in a penumbra (and this now is me trying to explain), not specifically mentioned in the Constitution or its amendments, but implied, was used to justify abortion in certain cases as falling within the rights of privacy, such as a woman deciding when to have a child by using birth control in the Griswold case or abortion in the Roe v Wade case.

All of this can get extremely convoluted I think. I plan to write more about it later, if for no other reason than to remind myself what it all means.

I’ll just say that Supreme Court justices have their work cut out for them because the very nature of their job is to decipher how to apply the Constitution, which is only a framework, to specific laws. You cannot help but run into things that are no spelled out. But reading into the Constitution things that are not there (or at least are not there is plain sight) seems fraught with danger.

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I won’t go into the reasoning on that one, even if I think I might know it. I’m not anti-Roe v. Wade but it seems to me the high court could have come up with more solid reasoning and still have come out with the same result, often referred to somewhat euphemistically as “a women’s right to choose”.

Be that as it may, the court made decision and set precedent with it. Now though, with a vacancy being open, President Trump will appoint someone who will ultimately cast the deciding vote that might overturn Roe v. Wade.

But as often is the case here, I have gotten off the point. I am not trying to argue Roe v. Wade. I’m just saying that the Constitution does not always read clear or at least those learned in the law don’t seem to make it look like that.

So the liberals on the court had Roe v. Wade, and Brown vs. the Board of Education before that, along with other landmark cases.

Well the conservatives, strict constructionists they may be, somehow found that the Constitution considers corporations people with the same status and rights as humans. So they had their turn at reading something I don’t see as plainly there.

(See Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission)

Ironically, the 14th Amendment, passed to guarantee the rights of all freed slaves in all states, has been used more over the years to protect corporations. A corporation is an artificial person. It is a business arrangement that allows people to run businesses separate from the own personal finances and thus avoid liability to their own personal holdings.

Over the years, the 14th Amendment I think has been used as much or more to secure rights of artificial people than real people it seemed it was intended for.

Seems to me a strict constructionist would not allow that. But we know different.

Baloney with plain interpretation. In reality justices often interpret according to political ideology, whether on the right tor left. Law and politics are not separate.

 

 


While the U.S. leaned populist right, Mexico has now leaned populist left…

July 2, 2018

Mexico will now have its own old-man populist as president, except this one is described as a leftist, albeit with some centrist qualities.

The 65-year-old Andrés Manuel López Obrador (often simply referred to as AMLO) attainted a landslide victory in the Mexican election Sunday, which also included a wide array of offices, including legislators and governors, said to be the biggest election in the nation’s history.

Just like much of the electorate was fed up with politics as usual in the United States in 2016, so were Mexicans who saw nothing but continued corruption in their government at all levels and an astronomical murder rate in an ongoing drug war.

I actually don’t know how anyone dares run for office in Mexico or how any journalist dares cover politics — since last Fall 136 office seekers have been assassinated. And, I don’t have an exact figure over an exact time period, but hundreds of journalists have been assassinated as well over the past decade.

Obrador seems to be a survivor. The third time was the charm for him — people apparently were fed up enough to give him a chance even though many don’t trust his promises.

Like President Trump, he is said not to be conventional and he is combative. But his political leanings are to the left. He vows to cut some government salaries of high officials and possibly reassess private oil contracts and the North American Free Trade Agreement and to stand up to Trump, although I think his focus is more inward to his own country. He vows to fight corruption and not raise taxes but help the poor by saving money by ending corruption.

Okay, so far I am just repeating or trying to interpret what I have read.

My own observation is that I hope there is hope for Mexico. One Mexican told me that it has always been the same. The new government promises reform and then nothing happens.

But if Mexico could clean up its act, curb drug violence and corruption, and raise the economic wellbeing for all Mexicans, it would solve the ongoing border problem between it and the U.S.

So many Mexicans would not feel forced to leave home and family in a desperate search for work in the U.S. and would not have to risk crossing the border illegally and having their children taken from them.

And if Mexico, which has Latin America’s second largest economy, had an economy and social system that provided a more modern, acceptable standard of living for all, then things would not be so cheap to produce or assemble there and we might see some of those jobs return to the U.S.

Just as NAFTA is sometimes seen as hurting certain sectors of the U.S. economy I have read that it  hurts small farmers in Mexico, so much so that Mexico imports corn for the nation’s famous staple, tortillas. That seems like nonsense to me.

No one knows how this will all work out. As for me I just hope Mexico’s wager on a different sort of politician works out better than the one in the U.S.

I realize some think things are just ducky here with Trump. I personally am not ready to give Trump much of any credit for the economy, even if some little amount is due — I mean what affects the overall economy of the nation is a complex issue and I don’t think one man or a few actions make the whole difference. I think stability and harmony in governance is important — that we don’t have on a national scale with Trump.

It will be interesting to see how this all works out for both nations.

And it would be good to see both leaders work together.

p.s.

I know little about Mexican politics or even Mexican culture. But for the past two decades I have had a lot of contact with people from Mexico in my job as a truck driver, and I have been on the border a lot. My sense of it all is that the bribe, the payoff, is engrained in their social system at all levels, in both civil and governmental society. It will be a hard habit to break.