Is being a celebrity now required for the presidency?

January 9, 2018

Oprah Winfrey for president?

Is that the way we choose a president now, by celebrity? We’ve already done that (well not we) but someone did. We see how well that has worked out. Not well, to my way of thinking. But you know? Not everyone thinks like me.

Actually I guess the first celebrity president was Ronald Reagan. While I personally did not care for him, apparently a lot of people worshiped him. I will say he acted and looked presidential. He played by the rules. Conducted himself with civility. He had been a grade B movie actor but was well-known for his work on Television with GE. He was the host of Death Valley Days for a number of years.

There has been talk for several years of the possibility of Oprah running because of her mega notoriety and her wide appeal across social and racial lines.

Okay fine. But what in the heck does she know about politics and governing? I know some people say that’s the problem. We need non politicians in politics. I’m wondering, though, how you take the politics out of politics. About the only way you can do that is to have a king or dictator — but no, even that does not work. History shows there is almost or always royal or palace intrigue — it’s politics.

Now we are in need of someone who is able to bring disparate groups together, someone, and I hate to have to quote George W. Bush, but who is a uniter not a divider (remember that is what he touted himself as — and perhaps he tried). The man we have now is definitely a divider. He even helps tear apart the fabric of the political party he supposedly represents.

Winfrey has not made a decision or has not announced one and 2020 is way off. But I wonder if she would really want to give up her status of such a liked person for doing a job that is guaranteed by its nature to bring out enemies and make people who may have thought they liked her not feel so good about her — I mean you cannot please all of the people all of the time — not by a long shot. And you can’t always pick and choose warm and fuzzy topics or self-righteous causes to rally around.

But who knows? She just might be up to it.

But even with the tell-all scandal book Fire and Fury causing such an uproar and giving political forces against Trump hope, barring some foreign policy catastrophe it will likely be the economy that decides Trump’s political fate. Even though the president does not necessarily have any direct control over the economy he gets the credit or the blame, except that if the economy is picking up maybe it is just as much Barack Obama’s doing as Trump’s. The Democrat Obama, after all, inherited a Republican-driven mess that resulted in the Great Recession. But much of the private sector seems to want to give some credit to the new Republican tax law pushed through by the Trump administration — too early for actual varifiable results, but it’s more of a feeling I guess.

To my way of thinking, it is like politics. I mean they say all politics is local. I think the economy is what each individual voter thinks it is for him or her and they tend to vote accordingly — not so much the stock market or statistics about GNP — but of course those measures have technical relevance.

Trump just might settle down — I know seems unlikely. And it’s a shame we have to hope for something like that. But neither impeachment (on what grounds? and certainly not by a Republican-controlled congress). With his sanity in question, removal via the 25th Amendment seems more likely but there would have to be pretty serious and obvious grounds and if it was that bad it would seem it would have already been done.

And far out I know, but with the control of the nuclear arsenal in question and a questionable order by the president, who has the ultimate authority, I could see the possibility of a military coup if it came to that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Prediction: Trump will leave office or there will be a nuclear war…

January 4, 2018

Is it too late to make a prediction for the new year?

Here goes:

Either Donald Trump will be removed from office or quit or there will be a nuclear war.

I did not necessarily mean that there will be a nuclear war if he does not vacate the office, rather I meant those are two likely things to happen.

I’ve obviously never met the man nor have seen him up close, just on video clips on the internet. But everything I read and certainly what I see and hear indicates he is to put it mildly not a deep thinker. He seems to have a surprisingly rather limited vocabulary for someone who is supposedly a college graduate. Reports I read claim that, in fact, he is just plain ignorant. He does not know things about the world around him. Apparently he has lived his life in a rich man’s bubble. He was born into wealth.

That is not to say that he has not put in a lot of effort himself into personal financial matters along the way. His main skill seems to be that of a charlatan. So rather than intelligent (and what is intelligence?) I would describe him as clever.

Keeping in mind he did not receive the most votes for president but won the office by way of a dangerous quirk in our electoral system (he is proof that the Electoral College system is dangerous), he was clever enough to take advantage of the dumbing down of our society. I am convinced that the move from reading print news to catching sound bites and surfing the web and the transformation of serious news into entertainment, an offshoot of which is the über-nationalistic propaganda of so-called right-wing radio, has seriously impaired the collective thinking ability of too large a portion of our citizenry. Right-wingers reading this will say that this is just the opinion of a liberal. But, no, it is an observation (or opinion if you will) of a middle-of-the-roader who likes to read legitimate or serious and varying points of view and then decide.

The Republican Party leadership already knew or certainly has discovered by now that the emperor has no clothes. But they just apparently hope that they can somehow keep using Trump nonetheless as some kind of barrier they work behind in order to do what they want to do. They are embarrassed at times but like the English they do their best to keep the stiff upper lip.

Economics could protect Trump. I mean if the economic climate seems good for the majority of Americans then his chances of survival I think are good. Keep in mind it is never good for everyone, not by a long shot. Am I the only one to observe that you can’t be rich unless someone else is poor? I mean I have said that to various people and just got blank or non-committal reactions.

But, say, economic conditions are good or greatly improved, does that do away with the dangers of Trump? No, the whole world could end because a mad man is at the helm in the U.S. Oh, yeah, I have not mentioned yet what we all know. There are indications that Trump suffers from mental illness, that he is not just ignorant but irrational. We do know that he demands adoration and just cannot stand to be criticized or taunted. So, would he launch nuclear missiles if his precious little pride felt threatened? Or if we really were under some kind of attack would he have the mental discipline to take caution, to take the most prudent steps?

It’s probably hard for the general public to get too worried about imminent nuclear war — I mean what can one do? As someone who grew up through the Cold War thinking each night as I went to bed the world might not be in existence come morning because the Soviet Union launched missiles at us, either in deliberate attack or through some miscalculation (a mistake originating from either side), I can understand indifference to the threat.

Nonetheless with someone as unpredictable and perhaps unstable as Trump facing off a kooky and evil and dangerous nuclear-armed dictator in North Korea, there is a clear and present danger of nuclear war. And the threat of nuclear war might well come to realization somewhere else. India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons and Iran is working on them, for example.

I just read that during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 our leaders did not realize that some Cuban forces and some Russian forces there had tactical nuclear weapons (besides the ICBMs we knew about) that they were in some cases authorized to use at their own volition, without orders from higher up. If they had chosen to fire them (they did shoot down one of our spy planes) our leaders would have thought the orders were from the Kremlin and likely launched a full-scale attack on the Soviet Union which would have likely ended in a nuclear exchange and holocaust. Our leaders also undercounted the Soviet troop strength in Cuba that would have stood in the way of an invasion of the island which the U.S. was contemplating. If U.S. forces had been overwhelmed nuclear war could have been the result. I had previously read that Soviet submarine commanders were given permission to launch nuclear missiles on their own because of the difficulty in communications with higher authority in Moscow.

So, anyway, we are always in danger no matter who is in charge, a calm and cool and level-headed leader such as John F. Kennedy in the time of the Cuban crisis or an anything but cool Trump. It just makes it far worse with someone like Trump.

I think the continuing investigation over possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians could wear down the administration and result in a Watergate-like resignation of Trump — although he might come up with some other excuse (health, my work is done). There may well be other scandal we know little to nothing about.

Or some incident might happen on the world scene to wake the electorate up from their complacency over the dangers of having a mad man at the helm of our ship, one who makes comments on Twitter about his huge nuclear button.

 

 


For the sake of our nation and the world we should move beyond Trump…

January 3, 2018

The only reason the world pays attention to Donald Trump is that he is the president of the United States, at this time still the most powerful nation in the world, and, despite criticism of it around the world, the nation that perhaps the majority of the world looks up to, and that despite our faults, and worse, Trump, we (the U.S.) are the role model for democracy and decency on the planet (still, so far).

But all of this is being tested. We have our crazy man trading barbs with North Korea’s crazy man. Using what many have described as a crude sexual innuendo, our president claims on Twitter that his nuclear button is “a much bigger & more powerful one” than Kim Jong-un’s of North Korea.

The North Korean nut case began the latest round of trash talk by warning the U.S. that he has a nuclear button on his desk and claiming that his nation could hit targets throughout the U.S. (we do not know for sure if that is the case).

Some could argue that Trump is being crazy like a fox (or crazy for Fox News). An upshot of this trading threats seems to be that North Korea has made what is described as a peace overture to South Korea and South Korea has responded positively.

And then some observers seem to think the North and South on the Korean peninsula might just deal with each other cooperatively and leave the U.S. out of it. I guess that is what they are saying or worrying about. What’s wrong with that? We could bring our troops home. It is incredibly costly for us to have the troops there and a large part of our own population probably does not know (or care?) why we have them there or even why they were ever there in the first place. And having troops there leaves the U.S. vulnerable to being caught up in an armed conflict it could do without.

But whether Trump is to blame or to be credited with that it occurs to me (not for the first time) that the best way to deal with Trump is to ignore him, hoping that he will fade away. I mean attention to himself seems to be all that he craves. No attention, he might just move on or out.

One commentator on television I heard this morning was talking about how other world leaders or nations are starting to dismiss the U.S. as a world leader — all over the craziness and disrespectful actions of Trump, even to our allies.

Now if the congress (all parties or both parties included) could just do that.

It is unnerving to have someone so unstable as president of the U.S. Someone who could in a fit of rage or by crazy whim order the use of nuclear weapons, resulting in a counterstrike, or even just the effects of our own action that could destroy the world. One can only hope that others who would have to act to make it so, in the military primarily, would recognize it was the action of a crazy man and would not follow orders.

We just have to ride it out. I saw at least one mention that Trump might not choose to run for re-election.

Let’s hope we can get through it.

To the rest of the world: don’t mind him, he’s just our crazy uncle who came down from the attic.

p.s.

I don’t know how presidents conducted themselves in, say, the 19th Century because we have no electronic recordings (no TV images and sound). But as far as I have seen in the 20th and 21st centuries (until now) they conducted themselves with decorum and civility, something that one would think fitting and required for such high office in order to govern a nation of disparate interests and needs and of various ethnicities and customs and religions, and be able to keep it all together and able to face the threats of a sometimes hostile world. Now we have a president who conducts himself in the style of pro-wrestling (he was involved in that business at one time) with fake bravado and crude gutter behavior. Lyndon Johnson I realize was sometimes described as “earthy” in his social dealings. But on camera before the nation he was civil and sober and reached out to all people, regardless of race, color, or creed or national origin in his words. I’m not commenting directly on LBJ’s politics but his words and the way he conducted himself in public. It is painful to me that we moved from decency, Obama, to indecency, Trump, in our presidency — and again I am not talking politics necessarily. Words and public conduct of a leader matter. They set the tone for society. The tone right now is unpleasant.

 


Is the crowd who once turned on the West now turning on the Mullahs of Iran? I say let THEM do it

January 2, 2018

Maybe I’m mixing apples and oranges but I find it ironic that back in 1979 the Islamic-fundamentalist theocratic government of Iran claimed it had no power over the supposed demonstrators that took Americans hostage. But now demonstrators are venting their anger at the Iranian government. Now the government there is not so glib. In fact, although it is allowing some demonstration, it is warning people of the consequences of demonstrating too stridently against the government.

There have been reports of deaths, including at least one policeman. Several hundred people have reportedly been arrested. Back in 2009 the Iranian government took a hard line against dissent when demonstrators took to the streets then as well. It seems now it may be trying to let people at least burn off some steam if it does not get too out of hand, and who knows to actually what extent it already has? Information does not flow freely out of there.

(For good measure there have supposedly been some pro-government demonstrations too.)

It would be wonderful I think if the people ousted their authoritarian government, although that would not guarantee better relations with the U.S. Those who can remember are rightfully unhappy with us for meddling in their affairs decades ago when we helped install and then backed the far-right dictatorship of the Shah of Iran who was ruthless with his own people. Their anger resulted in the ousting of the shah and the takeover by Islamic hardliners who hate the West.

President Obama was heavily criticized for not taking advantage of the protests in 2009 by supporting the government opposition in some way, such as sending in arms. Talk about adding fuel to the fire.

This time around Trump is giving lip service to the cause against the Iranian government so far, with tweets in favor of the anti-government demonstrators.

But it seems to me the best thing is to sit by and watch the mullahs squirm.

Let the Iranian people decide. It’s their country.

Maybe the mullahs should look homeward instead of trying to take over the rest of the Middle East and the world.

Now if our own politicians could look homeward to the needs of the common people.

Bad things happen when they don’t.

For instance: we get Trump.

P.s.

Slightly different subject, but I guess I agree with Trump on one thing at least: the nuclear arms deal with Iran is a farce. It probably is working as well as the understanding we supposedly had with North Korea once upon a time.


Resolving to keep on enjoying life…

January 1, 2018

So Welcome 2018


The year 2017 slips away as I write this and will be history by the time most anyone might read this, and I did not really catch the significance of it until late in the year. I mean it was the 50-year point of my life out of high school. I graduated in June of 1967.

And I was lost. I did not know what to do next. There had been plans to go to college but I was not really ready for that. But had I wanted to I got a good deal. An offer to work for the community college with quarters to live in. I would work on the school farm. I had taken agricultural classes in high school. In fact I did start the job and worked the summer of 1967. Both on the old school farm, where my camp trailer quarters were, and the new school farm on the new campus, just being readied for opening that fall.

I even attended one week of classes that fall. And then I dropped out. I’ve told people this story before but what happened is that I saw all the kids I either did not like or did not really know well from high school and just wanted to get out of there.

Academically I was not ready either.

But during that summer ostensibly I was still on the plan to go to college and work on the farm. My main boss at the time was an instructor named Bill Burrows. Seemed like a nice man. Real energetic. During that summer he supervised several of us young men, either entering students or continuing students, in splitting cedar rails for fencing on the new farm. We actually camped up in the mountains for a time doing this.

I always thought he was a lot older, but now I realize that he was I think only 11 years older than I was. I read just a few weeks ago that he died last June.

These days I drive up and down the road past that old school farm in a tractor-trailer rig. I’m often hauling produce. So I never did finish my ag classes — although I did take some night classes later. But between the produce hauling and a few years of writing agricultural news for newspapers (besides general news), I did or have made my living from agriculture nonetheless. Maybe Mr. Burrows would be proud.

I saw him by chance once when I was doing farm news for a local newspaper. I needed a good photo for a farm page I was putting together, and I saw someone driving a caterpillar tractor way out in a field on the edge of the foothills. I went out there and snapped a picture. Lo and behold it was Mr. Burrows. He was working on his parents’ farm. I had not known he was of that area.

I had also seen him before that when I went back to classes at the community college after spending three years in the army. But this time I was enrolled in journalism. He suggested that I enroll in ag too and become an agricultural journalist. I did in a way.

But so many things happen in life. I got married. We had two children. And I think I spent a large part of my life trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

These days I spend more time just living it. My wife passed away seven years ago. I myself thought my life was about to be cut short ten years ago when I was diagnosed with an incurable cancer. But life goes on.

I thought about making some new year’s resolutions but I think instead it might be more productive to just keep living that life, with the only resolution being to keep on living and enjoying it.

I do the best I can at that.

p.s.

Maybe one resolution. Learn more Spanish. I’ve developed a hobby of sorts — learning Spanish. I visit Spain each September (four times so far). It’s really a lot more fun when you speak the lingo. I’m trying. And for you English-only people, I can only suggest that you learn a lot more about your own language when you study a foreign language.

Oh, and that thing I said about being lost after high school. Well I met another lost soul. We spent 43 years together. We were too young to be married but I think she was more mature than I. She had a tougher childhood and had to be. But she helped me along. Without her I might still be lost.