Yes the president did call out the Nazis but at the same time he was always equivocal on blame…

August 23, 2017

Equivocal.

If I did not use that word to describe President Trump’s stance on who was to blame or most to blame for the violence in Charlottesville I should have. That one word describes it.

At a rally last night in Phoenix Trump ranted and raved as he did a kind of Mussolini-style strut on the stage against what he called “fake news” from the “media” (as I often feel compelled to note, “media” has become a pejorative, for the most part, for what was once referred to as “the press” or journalism.

I often think it is comical when right-wing broadcasters/ bloviators disparage the “media” when they are part of it.

But let’s get back to Charlottesville. To some extent I think Trump has a point that the mainstream press or media portrayed him as not condemning the neo-Nazis and Klansmen and like groups and implying at least that it was radicals on the left (or as Archie Bunker used to say, “commie pinko fags”) who were more to blame for the violence. But he did — with a caveat.

I’m not going to go back over when Trump said what, except to say that originally, as I recall, he failed to condemn the right-wing agitators but followed up with a condemnation of them in the strongest terms. But at the same time he never let go of his position that the violence came from “many sides”.

Ironically, while the New York Times (and of course others) seemed to imply or state in its coverage that the Nazis (I’ll just use that term for shorthand) were to blame, it also ran a story about a loosely-knit group unofficially called Antifi (short for anti-fascist) that seeks to fight violence with violence. Nevertheless I think it is correct to say that the mainstream media has pretty much portrayed the whole thing as basically violence conducted by extreme reactionary thugs against milk-toast forces of peace in the middle or on the left of the political spectrum.

Trump in his rally last night kept objecting that he over and over again condemned the violence from right-wing groups but the press falsely reported otherwise. He left out the fact that his statements were always equivocal as who was to blame.

So on the one hand Trump accuses the media of lying, presenting fake news, and on the other hand he attempts to deceive by conveniently leaving out an element of the story — his equivocation. Of course his supporters have no interest in what most of us would call the truth. They know what they know.

We all know that what power Trump may have (if any, other than to push the nuke button, and that in itself is quite enough) is dependent upon continued support from about the only group left who could or would support him: far-right reactionaries. So Trump feels compelled to pander to them. That is why and what he was doing in Phoenix last night.

Failing politicians always go after the press or media if you prefer.

Trump won the presidency in a bizarre and disastrous-for democracy fluke of our convoluted system of presidential election.

He is steadily losing his grip on both his mind and the presidency.

The Republicans who nurtured this bad seed are finally beginning to realize what they have sown.

What with terrorism, civil strife, a navy that can’t seem to guide its ships, and a continued erosion of our status in the world, let’s hope it is not too late.

p.s.

And if you support Trump and are concerned that the media are biased against him, what is there to worry about? You have Fox News don’t you? Now I have not been watching it, but are they turning against your hero too?

p.s. p.s.

At this point I think Trump is either just plain nuts (really) or a maverick like no one has ever seen. If he had any sense though he would court the media instead of attack it. So, yeah, he’s a nut case no doubt.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Trump sticks his stubby fingers into the goo of the Afghanistan tar baby…

August 22, 2017

President Donald Trump has announced that he plans to press on in the war in Afghanistan and send in more troops after previously opposing the effort as a waste of time. He says it looks different from the perspective of the oval office.


 

I think we’ve been down this road  before. An intractable war. One we have not been able to win in 16 years and thousands of our troops dead and wounded and leaders who want to get out but feel pressure to hold out for victory — peace with honor.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson knew from the beginning of his presidency that Vietnam was hopeless. You can hear him tell an old colleague so in a phone conversation, available on the web. It caused him not to run for re-election and left him a broken man who died not so very long after leaving the White House.

Richard Nixon won the presidency on the promise that he had a secret plan to end the war. We never found what that secret plan was for sure, but the war in Vietnam continued and even though there were demonstrations and riots against it and even though public opinion, even among his reverent silent majority, turned against it, Nixon held out for “peace with honor”. But he was so depressed and angry and stymied by people he felt wanted to see the U.S. lose a war and its honor that his presidency devolved into a Nixon vs anyone who did not support him 100 percent and he wound up leaving the office voluntarily to beat impeachment and forced removal, the first president to resign.

Our active war involvement in the Vietnam war lasted about ten years and then we left and we lost it all to the communists.

One reason we lost may be we either never knew precisely why we were fighting or who we were fighting (many of our soldiers just called them all gooks, supposed friend or foe). And there was no clear strategy or the strategies just did not work. And there was never really solid public support, and what support there was withered as the long years of fruitless conflict went on.

And the poor Vietnamese peasant was faced with communists on the one side who wanted to take away his land and make him (and her) a slave, and a corrupt government, reluctantly supported by the U.S. on the other side. And then there were the U.S. forces who insisted on burning villages to save them and forcefully removing people from their homes to “safe areas”.

Now we have been at war in Afghanistan for 16 years. And nothing works. And it is even worse in a way because to me it seems like a forgotten war. Much of the public might not even realize we are still over there. We’ve had troop withdrawals and surges but we can never sustain the momentum. We’ve tried to hand it over to what we hope are the good guys but they cannot handle it. And you can probably bet once we are simply forced to leave because of the drain on our economy and lack of support back home, the enemy — ISIS or the Taliban or whatever they are calling themselves, will move right back in – and actually they already have — and we are set to repeat the whole futile process over again.

Barack Obama ran for president promising to get us out of Afghanistan. But he felt the pressure to persevere.

Afghanistan is not Vietnam.

But the average Afghan is faced with the pressure from Islamic insurgents on the one hand and a corrupt government on the other.

Who knows? Possibly under different leadership we might have won in Vietnam. It would have required the backing of the American public though.

I’m not seeing that likely in Afghanistan.

Just like LBJ got stuck to the Vietnam tar baby, I think Donald Trump has now stuck his stubby fingers into the goo of the Afghanistan tar baby.

 

 

 

 

 


If you do it, you’ll go blind, that’s what they say — looking at the eclipse without special dark glasses that is…

August 21, 2017

There’s going to be a total eclipse of the sun in about three hours, that is from the time I am actually writing this: DON’T LOOK UP. You’ll go blind.

That’s the warning.

I’m sure it is good advice. Seriously. But isn’t that the same threat that was used against doing something else — you’ll go blind?

But anyway, there is this caveat or exception to the eclipse warning. If you have special dark glasses then you can look at it. But not just any dark glasses.

Well you better be sure and it’s a little late now. I just read that Dutch Brothers Coffee is recalling what were identified as solar eclipse glasses they handed out to customers. Seems they are not sure they are safe.

And then on Facebook someone posted a call to keep your pets inside. They might look up and go blind.

I guess it would not hurt to be safe. But it made me think: I mean we have had these eclipses before and I did not read about all the wild animals going blind. Or actually I did not read about any animals, wild or otherwise, going blind. But then we might not know, I suppose.

As for me, I did not get any special glasses — I haven’t even ever patronized Dutch Brothers (and that makes me think: what if they had passed out free condoms? … and then had to recall them).

And by the way, I’m sure Dutch Brothers is a great outfit. I’ve seen their  kiosks all over the place. Just never got around to checking them out. I see that the local homeless population does though. You see them parading up and down the local streets with their Dutch Brothers coffee cups. I mean if you pay no rent, you have more money for coffee.

For some reason I can’t get excited about this eclipse. Maybe because I will not be able to actually watch it live, as it were. I do not live right in the path of where it is supposed to be visible but I gather I am close enough that it will affect my area nonetheless.

I went through one at a newspaper I was working at in 1979. But I had no part in covering it. I think our photographer made one of those pin-hole cameras to record it. I don’t know what I was doing. Probably writing a story about some farmer. I was the “farm editor”. Don’t laugh. I needed a job. And that is the same line I use at my current occupation (which I should be retired from by now) as a truck driver.

But in all seriousness, this eclipse thing where the sun is blocked out by the moon makes me think of how vulnerable we are here on earth. We depend upon the sun but we have no control over it or all the other things that make our universe work. And besides, our lifespan is minute compared to the age of the universe which dates back to, well forever. I mean what came before? And how could there have been a beginning anyway? Because that would beg the question of what came before the beginning.

But for all of you who are prepared to watch the eclipse with your special eclipse-safe shades, I envy you for having the good sense to be prepared and being able to watch it safely and then being able to tell what you saw and how it made you feel or just being able to claim (truthfully) you did it. Maybe they will have T-shirts for sale saying: “I survived watching the eclipse — and didn’t go blind”.

And seriously, I am sure this event is a good teaching tool for science classes.

We could use more of that. If we were to raise a more science-literate population then those future adults could laugh climate-change denying politicians out of office and do all of humanity a favor.

Enjoy the dark. But don’t look up unless you have the correct dark glasses.

 

 

 

 


How do you peaceably assemble while armed?

August 19, 2017

So scanning the headlines on Politico I saw one that asked if protestors should be allowed to carry guns. Into the article itself it indicated that banning guns at protests could be problematical because some states and cities have free-wheeling laws that allow the toting of guns.

Well in my mind you can argue all day and night whether the Second Amendment gives everyone an unlimited right to tote guns anywhere and anytime. That amendment, only one sentence long, is perhaps at first glance plain and then at second glance ambiguous — and I won’t go into all of that now because I have previously and I don’t want to stray away from my point here, which is:

Seems to me the First Amendment is plain enough on the subject. It gives everyone the right to PEACEABLY assemble and protest.

Read it, if you will:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.]”

Ah, brevity, I did not realize it before but the First Amendment is only one sentence as well. But I do not see how you can call gun-toting protestors peaceful, even if they are not firing those guns, especially when those guns are out in the open like some were by fascist-like protestors in Charlottesville — I guess they would call themselves some kind of militia — and why did I go there? The Second Amendment speaks of a militia, and that opens a can of worms. But don’t try to tell me we have to suffer hooligans who call themselves militia. I only recognize our legitimate government.

It is clear that those who openly displayed their military-like hardware at Charlottesville did so for purposes of intimidation. And they not only intimidate what could be a likewise contingent of goons on the left who reportedly go under the unofficial name of Antifa and who reportedly show up to fight (I am murky on this), they intimidate all peace-loving people who prefer to live in a free society, free from armed goons, but who also want a right to peacfully protest, some or many of whom may have taken part in Charlottesville.

If protestors of any stripe are fearful that they might meet violence for their protest then they should contact local authorities — most or many communities require permits — and request police protection.

Showing up openly armed is a provocation on its face.

Now I realize that the murderer in Charlottesville used a car, but I was just reacting to the question about armed protestors — also I think reports said that guns were found in his car (not sure about that). He was an adherent of the alt-right.

And I should stop there but some say you need guns to protect yourself from the government, but that is talk of rebellion not protest, and I thought the question of rebellion was settled 152 years ago.

p.s.

And I still support the Second Amendment. We’ve lived and managed to deal with it for a long time, some 226 years, and it makes us unique in the world as a free society I think. It’s just who we are I suppose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.


I now think it is highly likely Trump will resign…

August 18, 2017

Somewhere back I suggested it might be possible that Donald Trump would resign the presidency, declaring success and that there was nothing more to do. Thus, in his mind, he could quit but save face doing so.

Now a ghost writer for one of his books has said the same thing.

It does seem the tide is turning. We have all thought this before so many times. But he is beginning to wear even on his supporters or those hangers-on (many of whom are Republicans who simply don’t want to lose their grip on the White House) who have turned a blind eye to all his nonsense.

And ongoing investigations may be getting too close to various irregularities in his affairs from his campaign and onwards.

I’ve read that a lot of our presidents have not been so scholarly, but Trump I doubt has ever read any true history and I doubt he actually has any grasp on the reality of world affairs.

One of the latest bits of nonsense to come out of Trump in the past day or so is something about General Pershing of WWI fame stopping Islamic terrorists in the Philippines — which by the way was once an American colony — by personally shooting them with bullets dipped in hog’s blood (pork is a no-no for Muslims). He also claimed that the action stopped terrorism there for decades. The account is believed by most to be a myth and it is not accurate to say it stopped terrorism there. But truth means nothing to Trump. And even if Pershing had done that, what has that got to do with today? And what is the purpose of vilifying adherents to a religion (that’s how it will be perceived) when it is terrorists who are causing the problem, irrespective of religion? Just another way to sow hatred among peoples. Even George W. Bush had the sense to proclaim our war against terror was against terrorists not simply people who adhere to a particular religion.

Trump is also alienating his chosen political party (Republican), I say chosen because I think he is really apolitical. He has previously been registered as a Democrat. He is also alienating his base, composed of primarily white folks disgruntled over the perceived loss of status in society and employment opportunities or wages and who are distrustful of educated people (and sometimes I admit with good reason).

Well actually, Trump is alienating everyone.

Yes, I think it is safe to say that the likelihood of him resigning before he is otherwise kicked out is high.

And it cannot come too soon.

 

 

 


The terror in Barcelona: bigotry, racial and religious intolerance over the world added to hopelessness fuel such attacks…

August 17, 2017

The war on terror seems unwinnable. Today there was another terror attack in Europe with a car plowing through Barcelona’s main tourist area and at latest report as I write this several dead and many injured. The car was said to weave in and out as if to catch as many people as possible.

(And this right after a home-grown car-through-the crowd attack in the U.S. the other day)


And the Barcelona incident is ongoing with it just reported (again as I write this or actually as I just initially posted it) that two police officers were run over at a checkpoint in a separate incident.


Military operations or military operations alone will not solve this problem. Right now it is assumed that this was the work of Islamic terrorists (not at all sure on that).

But then we just had that incident in Charlottesville, Va. where some misguided white boy loser plowed his car deliberately into pedestrians — he was all fired up with white nationalism. As an aside, he was reported to be an army basic training drop out.

So if there is any connection here it is people, particularly young people, filled with hopelessness will resort to terrible causes and others will take advantage of that to enhance their own power.

What can be done? In the short run, other than to be vigilant not much. But in the longer run things must be done worldwide to bolster opportunities for all. Nations and economies, no matter where they are — even right here at home — controlled by oligarchies foster the hopelessness. Tribal factions, such as in the Middle East, foster it too.

Supporting or in any way giving comfort to racial and religious bigotry, whether it be Islam vs. Christianity or Islam and Christianity vs Judaism or whatever, or being accommodating to white nationalism is detrimental to a peaceful world.

We in the democratic nations should take care not to elect bigots to office.

p.s.

Again, it has not been determined as I write this who was behind the Barcelona attack. It is true that there is an ongoing separatist movement in which some want Catalonia, of which Barcelona is the capital, to declare its independence from the rest of Spain. But so far I have read nothing to indicate that has anything to do with today’s incident. A headline I just read in the Spanish newspaper El País said it is assumed Islamic militants are behind the attack.

 

 


Trump is bad to the bone, but I take the ‘media’ to task a little on this one…

August 17, 2017

Finally I got a chance to watch President Trump’s infamous press conference of the other day in its entirety where it was widely reported I think that he had a meltdown the like of which had never been seen in at least the modern history of the U.S. presidency.

Didn’t see the meltdown or the president going off the rails.

I am no Trump supporter. I think he is the worst thing to happen to our government in my lifetime — which I marked at 68 years this past Sunday. Richard Nixon runs a close second.

But back to the news conference. Trump did not make an official statement on the violence in Charlottesville, Va. , rather his comments came in a series of answers to questions from reporters. The press conference was supposed to be about his infrastructure plan (whatever it may be) but rather quickly degenerated into a hostile and/or combative repartee between Trump and the press or the “media” as they are pejoratively called in these modern times — implying that it is a hostile and unified force, usually thought to be consisted of primarily liberal-oriented folks who have no respect for all that is good, such as mom and apple pie and the flag, with their sole mission being to tear down that part of the establishment that is more conservative.

But I did have to listen to the thing in its entirety (forget how long) to realize that during it Mr. Trump to me appeared to disassociate himself with and condemn white nationalists and neo-Nazis. But since he also continued to claim that there were forces from the left goading them on or even starting the violence, it is reported that he failed once again to single out the torch-bearing Nazi storm trooper-like participants. Trump claimed that there were law-abiding citizens on both sides who simply wanted to exercise their right to protest over the issue of retaining symbols of the old Confederacy and the human bondage that it represented. He also questioned the idea of removing statues, and I think he said it was like trying to rewrite history. Of course the complaint from those opposing keeping the statues (this is happening all over) is that they represent a cause in our Civil War that fought to maintain human bondage, as I just mentioned. Trump countered that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (among others) were slave holders and questioned whether they should be stricken from the respectful side of our history.

That to me that is an argument for another time. I understand historical interest. I can never, never understand how it was thought human bondage, slavery, was OK.

You know, I spent some time in what people now call “the media” but it was in the small time. The largest newspaper I worked on claimed it had a circulation of 12,000, not only is that small potatoes, I know that papers used to fudge on those statistics to try to enhance their ad revenue. But I mention this to say that it was my experience that as a reporter you face the pressure to write what everyone else is writing. If not you get grilled by your editors and even the public who might wonder which riot you attended — well I never covered a riot. But I did cover endless public meetings and some political races. I wished I remembered the details but once when I was working at that larger paper which was up against some high-powered media in the state capital I was asked by my editor why my story was not like theirs.

But Trump is a bad dude no doubt. Even so, in my opinion formed by watching the long version of his press conference, rather than short clips, not all of the press was accurate on this one. I didn’t see Trump’s meltdown but someone suggested that I am just acclimated to his nonsense by now. What I saw was a combative president taking questions head on. Did he answer them directly or did he answer them truthfully? Does any president? All the time?

Even so, Trump appears to be digging himself into a hole.

And you know what they say about that predicament.

Stop digging.

p.s.

So what really happened at Charlottesville? Who did what and when? You probably had to be there. But then you would be like a low-ranking soldier in the middle of a battle, you might not see the whole picture. If you really cared to know and if you had the time you could scour various sources and analyze it all. The most informative account I have seen so far was a story in the LA Times composed of comments from various people on the scene, from white supremacists to counter protestors to reporters and photographers and maybe others who just happened to be there. I guess I have to conclude that there would not have been any trouble if the white supremacist goons had stayed home. Too bad they weren’t just laughed out of the place. But it was deadly and no laughing matter.