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.


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.


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.


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.

So white nationalists would prefer a Hitler? What if an authoritarian they supported turned on them?…Threats from the right and left but the right has a man in the White House…

August 16, 2017

Much of the Greatest Generation members of whom stormed the beaches of Normandy and landed on the islands of the South Pacific — going straight on into enemy fire with little to no protection — thousands of our people dying in a day — are now dead, but they must be figuratively rolling in their graves with white nationalists now carrying Nazi or Nazi-like symbols and inflicting terror on the streets of America….

The U.S. and the Allies In World War II fought a long and hard two-front war against the Germans and the Japanese and against the forces of authoritarianism, fascism, and militarism that had reared their ugly heads and threatened the world at the time. Those forces were foes of democracy and personal freedom and equal treatment of the races of mankind.

Today we see the same threat coming to the forefront.

Oh I realize our president says it is not just the white supremacists but left-wing radicals too — maybe so, but those Nazis (I call them) are the most visible and it was one of their ilk who mowed down pedestrians and killed one in Charlottesville, Va. this past weekend. And the right-wing extremists have a sympathizer in the White House, the president.

And like I said in my previous post, it is the ultra right-wing extremists who seem to have the most support in this nation. Otherwise law-abiding citizens look the other way or secretly harbor some sympathy with their supposed cause, even if they themselves would not likely resort to violence. It’s all about resistance to political correctness and extremes in trying to solve the racial injustices of the past — the old school busing plans the quotas in hiring (using reverse discrimination to make up for past discrimination of blacks and other people of color). And it is all about ignorance of history too.

And I have neglected so far to mention that taunt used in Charlottesville I read about:

Just tried to look it up but it was something like “Jew go home”, using Jew in a kind of cruel and threatening play on words as “you”.

Through the ages Jews have been blamed for all kinds of things, such as being successful. I have read that since they were so often forbidden from entering various trades due to religious prejudice, they had to use their wits to survive.

So do those white supremacists approve of what Hitler did to the Jews? He sent men and women and children to concentration camps to either be worked to death or gassed to death in what they were told were showers or to be burned to ashes in ovens. And no it was not fiction. Not only did victorious Allied forces record what they found, the ever-efficient and dutiful Germans recorded much of it for posterity.

But what about what our president calls the “alt-left” (as opposed to a right-wing faction previously tagged as the “alt-right”)?

They have not received as much coverage but that may either be because they are not as significant or numerous or like I suspect that they don’t have nearly the chance to get anywhere — not saying for sure they could not ever.

I’ve lived long enough in my native land (I’m a native American; I was born here) to know that just under the surface there is that fascist or Nazi-like current from folks who tend to support what they consider sacred institutions and customs (and they have their own personal ideas on what all that is) and who might support some type of authoritarianism to preserve them. But what if that authority turned on them? Do they ever think about that?

President Trump never gets anything right. I mean I even think he came close by a measured but almost equal response he seemed to come up with for a second or two before he seemed to return to laying most of the blame for the recent violence on “both sides” with the implication it was really leftists radicals. It is hard to  pin him down on anything because he contradicts himself in mid sentence sometimes or he will say something in public and then go home and tweet the polar opposite. Take your pick.

He should have come down hard on the white extremists initially and kept it that way, but it would also be correct to condemn violence on all sides. We all know he is trying to give a wink, wink to the white nationalists, not necessarily because he is personally sympathetic, but for playing to his base. Politicians make terrible compromises all the time — but this is out of limits in a free society as far as I am concerned.

Sometimes I think of dropping this blog. I have other things I should do or lots of other things I want to do. But if I am going to write anything about politics, what else is there at this time?

This nation is at a dangerous crossroads.

It is like a terrible dream and I wish the nightmare was over.


The latest beef began as a protest over the planned removal of a statue of Conferderate General Robert E. Lee from a city park.

I lift the following from a promo for a Wall Street Journal story:

…Some people who oppose statue removal do so for reasons of historical or artistic preservation. But would any of them have decided to make common cause with neo-Nazis and join in last week’s demonstration? writes James Freeman……

And more lifting, this on the Donald Trump presidency in more general terms, from Der Spiegel of Germany, in a interview with chancellor candidate Martin Shulz:

Schulz: It was clear to me that the White House’s solemn atmosphere would not civilize Trump. But the merciless nepotism with which he conducts politics, in which he places himself and his family above the law, I wouldn’t have considered that possible. And on top of that there is this reduction of complex political decisions to 140 characters. When it comes to a U.S. president, I consider the reduction of politics to a tweet to be truly dangerous. Trump is a risk to his country and the entire world…

And back to my own words: I could not have said it better than Herr Shulz.

Oh, Trump is not like other politicians, he says what he means, claim what is left of his supporters (whatever it is that he means, and does he mean well?).