So was Mitt right about building up our Navy?

August 29, 2018

Gee, maybe Mitt Romney should have been elected president back in 2012. Wasn’t he pushing for building more Navy ships?

Why are we just now waking up to find China has the world’s largest Navy?

According to a story I just read in the New York Times (in the middle of the night where I am; I could not sleep):

Last year, the Chinese Navy became the world’s largest, with more warships and submarines than the United States, and it continues to build new ships at a stunning rate. Though the American fleet remains superior qualitatively, it is spread much thinner.

And I am not sure I completely understand that paragraph. So supposedly China has more ships but not the quality and maybe capability of our Navy?

The story goes on to say that expert observers say that China is focusing on controlling the South China Sea (and all the waters that touch its shores) and that in that regard it is doubtful the U.S. Navy could prevail there.

I of course need to read more than one story in the middle of the night to get a grip on all this, but it is certainly coming to me in the middle of the night. And I get the impression it may be just dawning on some in Washington that it’s a new day in the Far East.

While we fight our ongoing culture war here at home, a new power is arising. The emerging power of course is China, both militarily and in world trade.

(I can’t say President Trump is not taking on China in trade. He is and the jury is out on how that will go.)

I for one think that we, the U.S., should strive to have good relations with all nations of the world to the extent we can but we should at the same time retain our strength. We will be sorry if we don’t.

Poor Mitt, no one listened to him about the need for ships. He also maintained that Russia was still a dangerous adversary as it was during the Cold War and was ridiculed for it.

It does not help that we are losing our leadership edge around the globe with a president who needlessly hurls insults at the world.

We’d be a lot stronger if we retained friends and respect around the globe.

We need cordiality from the White House backed up by military might, that old Teddy Roosevelt speak softly but carry a big stick approach.

 

 

 

 

 


Back in 1960 opposing politicians could face each other in a civil manner…

August 27, 2018

Sometimes I go back in time and revisit the world of politics as it was during my formative years, that is during the time I began to notice politics and get acquainted with the characters.

Last evening I watched part of what I think was the first of four presidential candidate debates between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon (the first-ever presidential debates on TV).

The striking thing in these days’ terms is how much they seemed to agree with each other and how they both were extremely civil to one another, and yet were able to critique each other’s specific policy differences.

At the time both Nixon and Kennedy favored the federal government’s role in serving as a safety net or in some type of economic support role for the populace. However it seemed that Kennedy the Democrat favored a more intensive role, while Nixon the Republican not as much — he was more for the free market being the big decider.

Kennedy handled a question about subsidizing farmers when small business did not get the same support. His answer was that farmers did not have a lot of leeway because they tended to follow the same cycle with their crops coming to market at the same time and for the most part had little to no control over the price their buyers offered.

Nixon suggested that the subsidies were the government’s doing when it was promoting full production in World War II but that the subsidies ought to be gradually removed and the free market take over.

(And the foregoing is of course my paraphrase or summary or generalization of what they said on the topic.)

And wouldn’t you know it? There was a kind of gotcha or I might say unfair question to Nixon from one member of the press. He asked Nixon to explain the fact that while he, Nixon, campaigned on the fact that he had experience (he was the vice president), President Eisenhower when confronted with the question of what important suggestions by Nixon had been made policy famously (or infamously) responded: “If you give me a week, I might think of one”.

I thought Nixon deftly handled that embarrassing question. He said something to the effect that it would not be proper for a president to relay what his advisors told him or to expect him to do so. When a decision is made it has to be the president’s alone, even though it may be made after counsel with his various cabinet members and advisors.

Both men comported themselves in a dignified way.

I’m pretty sure that if one of them had resorted to childish name calling he would have lost by a landslide.

My how the world has changed.

p.s.

I mentioned that the two seemed to have agreed with each other on most issues, with their differences being primarily in degree, but I think even if they had polar opposite views they would have conducted themselves in the same manner. They were men of their times.

 

 

 

 


The death of John McCain marks another loss in our honorable class…

August 26, 2018

I won’t say I liked John McCain’s politics. I mean sometimes yes, sometimes no. But what I will say is I liked the image of such a man and would have preferred to see such an image in the White House over the disgrace we have now.

I just read that Mr. McCain, U.S. senator from Arizona, has died at the age of 81.

And I hope that does not somehow sully the memory of the name of who many have called a war hero by making such a comparison at a time like this when maybe it is just more appropriate to say something nice and respectful about someone rather than to use the opportunity to take a swipe at someone else. But that is how I feel.

Mr. McCain was a Republican and of course he wanted Republicans to win and he wanted to win and become president. But when he was campaigning as the nominee for his party years ago now he did not stoop so low as to let a bigoted and false remark from a misguided woman go. She claimed Barack Obama was an Arab, and not that such would be so terrible (it was in the context of the time), but there was obviously just no truth to it. Our current president would have let such bigotry fly to put the crowd of his blind followers into a frenzy. Instead Mr. McCain politely corrected the woman. Of course he also lost the election. To him being accurate was more important. He was a man of honor.

We have lost one of a dying breed. A citizen who served in uniform, faced enemy fire (he was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for several years), came back home, and served his nation in elective office.

He was generally considered conservative in politics but did not always follow lockstep. He was known as a maverick. From what I could gather he was more interested in doing what he thought was right for the people than the party or even himself.

(An example, already dying of cancer, he made it back to the senate to cast the deciding vote to save Obamacare, much to the chagrin of Republicans who wanted to kill the healthcare plan while offering no alternative themselves, despite several years in power that would have allowed them to do so.)

I recall back many years ago he joked about bombing Iran, singing “bomb, bomb, Iran ” (to the tune of the rock n roll tune that goes bah bah Barbara Ann). To me a little too flip when it comes to something so serious.

But you know, had he become president I imagine he would have toned that kind of thing down and made sober decisions, knowing first hand what it means to commit Americans to war or put them in harm’s way in military actions.

We’ve had a few presidents in relatively recent history who didn’t have that background but issued such orders. The office of the presidency is of course not a military one and there is no requirement that the president have military experience.

What I really am trying to say is that we have lost one of those rare breed that went into politics for service to country rather than themselves or perhaps their class of rich or elite.

Again, perhaps it was not appropriate to go on about that at this time. But that was my immediate reaction to the news that Mr. McCain has died.

He was not perfect but in total he was honorable. That class is dying out.

God rest his soul.

p.s.

I made an error in my original post. The woman called Obama an Arab not a Muslim. But that made me look up a video of the incident, and it was worse than I thought. The video shows clearly that in politics the people — at least people of a certain nature — have little use for honorable men — they booed McCain when he tried to assure them that his opponent was a good man, that he just thought he, himself was the better candidate. That video:


I finally get a smartphone, why? why ask why?

August 25, 2018

What? Maybe a decade after everyone else? I finally broke down and bought a smartphone. I’ve been using a flip phone all this time and had been quite happy with it. It seemed quite a marvel after that original bulky cell in the canvas bag that reminded me of an old army field phone.

Heck, I even remember when cell phones were only car phones. My wife switched jobs and went to work for a cell carrier and we got a car phone installed as a perk.

When I was 46 I had to find a new line of work and went into trucking. And can you believe it? We did not use cell phones then. My work as an over-the-road trucker depends upon communication. We used to have to find a phone booth to make check calls morning and night and to get our dispatches and other info. But during the time frame I began in the business cell phones were making their appearance.

I first found the advantage of them when I needed a load on the East Coast to get back to my home in the West Coast. I was team driving then and my partner and I had just unloaded and were ready to call in for a return load. We saw another driver from our company walking across the parking lot.

“He’s going to get a dispatch before us” was the reaction of both of us (and there might not be any other loads that day).

But I had a cell phone (thanks to my wife).

“Watch this”, I said.

I called in and got the load. And my recollection is there were no other loads that day. It’s dog eat dog out there folks.

It was not so long after that when cell phones took over and you couldn’t find a phone booth or a working one if your life depended upon it.

All that was like two decades ago. What I have a hard time wrapping my mind around is what we did when we broke down, flat tire or mechanical troubles. Old-time truckers know. They changed their own tires — an inside dual being problematic. They helped each other. They used the CB radio (I quit using that years ago, as did so many others– mostly profanity and idiots on it — but too bad because instant como between truckers on the road can be helpful).

But did I really need the smartphone? That is a question I have the day after. I’m on a hiatus from work right now. Good thing. I need time to figure the thing out. I made my first outbound call successfully but the first time I got an incoming, would you believe it? I could not answer it.

I got two brochures with it. One was a supposed set of directions. Pretty sparse, to say the least. I found, however, that a lot of the directions are on the internet (which besides my phone, I can of course access on my laptop and my tablet — yeah I have those too).

If they didn’t live so far away I could just ask my grandkids.

The second brochure seemed to be about health risks. It was really thick. I ignored it (I mean I pushed it to the back of my ever-eroding mind).

Probably Democrat-communist-climatechange freak propaganda. I WAS JUST BEING SARCASTIC THERE.

And like I alluded to up front, I am still asking myself why? Why did I need a smartphone?

I could list several reasons and I think they are legitimate. But that little flip phone was such a friend and so simple and so convenient and unobtrusive but there when I needed it. And what did I need it for? To make calls.

I have a laptop and a tablet to do the rest and am quite comfortable with them, even if I do often carry around what I call my “electronic backpack” with them and all the different charge cords and plug-in adapters (like they couldn’t just make it all universal?).

However, in this modern world I have run into some limitations with my flip phone. People now always want to send me apps to make it easier to do various things. Sometimes it almost seems a requirement. I could not make use of most of that with my flip phone. Also, of course, the smartphone combines a lot of functions so one does not have to carry around a laptop and/or tablet, and even camera everywhere.

(I do like to use a real camera, though, to record parts of my vacation. Cell phone cameras are top of the line now but still you can’t get it all with them as opposed to the actual thing that is just a camera.)

And now there are Uber and Lyft, and other ride-hailing services. Have not used them yet but you need a smartphone for that.

A widower for many years now, I don’t have much of a social life. But please don’t ever let me be sitting at a restaurant with a friend or friends and be looking at my cell  phone as opposed to enjoying their company.

So many people have written about this but I think seeing a man and woman or even a whole family sitting at a restaurant table all staring at the phones is the saddest and most depressing sight to see.

On a lighter note: I’m going to Spain again soon. I am no expert on their culture but I can tell you this: yes, they have cell phones, and you might witness a scene as I mentioned above — but that is not what I ever noticed there. I mean, yes, on the street they are just like here, especially in a big city, such as Madrid. But in a restaurant they talk to each other — and talk, sometimes for hours. They like the personal human contact.

What a concept.

Well I have to get back to learning my new smartphone: let’s see to answer a call there are many options (don’t answer), one is to swipe the screen from left to right…

 

 


If my guy does it, it’s a minor breach, if your guy does it, it’s a crime…

August 24, 2018

There is or has been hypocrisy among many Democrats on sex scandals true. I mean what is the difference between Bill Clinton’s escapades with an intern and his lewd behavior with others and Donald Trump’s grabbing and his consorting with prostitutes or shady women?

But I question the equivalence some Trump diehards express when Trump is accused of crime. Trump may have directed his then attorney, Michael Cohen, to break the law concerning campaign donations or at least cover up somehow his hush money to at least two who I refer to as prostitutes. His faithful seem to think it is no worse and maybe less of a crime than Hillary Clinton using her own personal computer server for government business. “Lock her up”, they chant. Really? For what? First of all I think she is probably like me and near clueless on the technical details of how computers work. Sure, she can operate one, we all can, but that does not mean we know the technology inside and out. And from what I have read she did not clearly break any law, policy perhaps, and others, including Republicans, including one of her predecessors as Secretary of State, Colin Powell, bypassed official channels in favor of personal equipment. Now in the process had she shared high-level state secrets, well that might be a different story. No evidence on that. The government likes to stamp everything secret — probably even lunch menus. And no evidence of intent anyway.

But that is what the Trump faithful fall back upon:

I grabbed this quote from one of them from the San Diego Union Tribune. A man said he would continue to support the Republican local congressman who along with his wife had just been indicted (not convicted) for using thousands of dollars of campaign funds for personal expenses to support their way-beyond-their-means-lifestyle.

“It seems if you’re a Republican, with the current Department of Justice, and you should get an IRS audit, you instead get federal court,” he said. “But if you’re a Democrat with a secret server in your basement, that seems to be OK. We see a double standard.”

Okay, yes, I will admit that some bias is probably there in the bureaucracy in what they choose to prosecute — but don’t do the crime and you don’t face the time.

The guilt is with both major political parties.

The rats continue to infest the swamp, not clean it.

p.s.

That congressman and his wife:

https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/22/politics/duncan-hunter-indicted/index.html

 

 

 

 


If it’s all a witch hunt as Trump proclaims, maybe some witches needed to be hunted…

August 23, 2018

If the Russia investigation that has morphed into an investigation of the sewer rats in the current administration really is a “witch hunt” as President Trump proclaims loudly and often then maybe some witches needed to be hunted.

I certainly don’t know if there is any direct connection between Trump and/or his administration or his presidential campaign and Russia’s efforts to subvert democracy in the U.S. , but there seems to be plenty of evidence there was some nefarious dealings — some perhaps dealing with the electing of a president and some dealing with making money out of the whole situation or actually both at the same time.

I even have a hard time wrapping my mind around the concept that paying off a whore or whores is some kind of campaign donation — that is for the courts to decide I suppose. What it all is though is tawdry, low and unethical, and should be below the dignity of our government and political system (but unfortunately is not). You cavort around with whores and then try to hide the fact, not so much that you are ashamed, but that you don’t want to make the good people of society, and the holier-than-thou (albeit hypocritical) religious right have a reason that they cannot ignore it all and support you (not to mention have your wife take you to the cleaners). As long as you can say it is all lies, then all potential supporters have cover.


And for the record here, let’s recap some of the events:

—  On Tuesday (Aug. 21, 2018), Michael Cohen, former lawyer and “fixer” for Trump, pleaded guilty to tax evasion and (Trump) campaign finance violations and accused Trump of directing him to break the law.

—  Also on that day, Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign manager, was convicted of financial fraud and has been charged with being an unregistered foreign agent.

—  On Feb. 3 of this year Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign adviser, pleaded guilty to financial fraud and lying to the FBI.

—  On Dec. 1 of 2017, Michael Flynn, former Trump national security adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador.

There are several others charged and some have pleaded guilty, but you get the picture.

(While this list is all public record and has been reported by various media, giving credit where credit is due, I got this partial list from the New York Times and quoted or paraphrased it, the list that is, not my own comments, that make up this post except for this little block, which are mine and mine alone.)


It’s been said so much now: ironically although Trump vowed to clean up the sewer that is our government and political system, he and many of his cohorts in his administration are the biggest sewer rats of them all. Why the ones who are not remain I have no idea. They must not be thinking long-term.

The grounds for impeachment are clearly present. But even if the Democrats take back the House and are able to impeach, the experts predict he could not be convicted in the Senate, which I guess is thought to likely remain in Republican hands.

Of course Republicans in large numbers could start to move away from their Trump support — well theoretically. But power, however tainted, is hard to give up.

All I can say to those who cling to Trump, whether from sincere loyalty and belief in his cause (whatever that may be) or from a sense of self-preservation — at long last, have you no shame?

It might well be better for the Democrats for Trump to remain in office. Might make a better platform for 2020.

I for one wished the national nightmare of Trump was over.

But how it all comes to an end is in question. At one time — silly me — I thought vice president Pence taking over would be preferable. But he now seems rather creepy to me. But it may be more of his narrow-minded hard right view on politics. I have not read of any real corruption on his part (but I don’t know).

To my mind, the country needs a middle-of-the-roader. I almost miss those days when the late George Wallace once proclaimed: there ain’t a dime’s worth of difference between the parties, or something like that.

But moderate or middle of the road seems too dull and hopeless for a populace addicted to instant gratification or at least the idea of it.

And too, moderation sometimes amounts to go along to get along and don’t rock the boat — politicians get into office and become comfortable with what they have and the people be damned.

And I still cling to the notion that we would be better off with part-time elected officials who worked for stipends and held office out of a sense of patriotic duty.

Early on in our democracy many realized that control of the public purse was a way to riches. This attracted corrupt politicians, lobbyists, and whores — talk about a ménage à trois or an illicit threesome in bed with each other.

 

 


Americans appear willing to put up with corruption if the economy is good…

August 21, 2018

The fact that such a corrupt and malevolent and ill-prepared president is still in office — Donald Trump — is often blamed on that stubborn contingent of loyal, and blind, Trump supporters, and I would add other Republicans who just want to hold on to the power of the White House at any cost.

BUT, I think it is more that Trump got into office because of the antipathy, or weariness toward or about Hillary Clinton among Democrats and others, and still others who just wanted to gamble and see how things might work out not having conventional leadership.

And I heard one political science professor this morning opine that it was not the relatively small but loyal Trump following but a lot of other people who would not openly support him but don’t want to rock the boat what with good economic times and low unemployment.

So maybe just because his former lawyer today made a plea deal in federal court concerning bank and tax fraud and illegal campaign finance charges under the condition that he rat on Trump (my read on it, I explain at bottom), and just because one of his former campaign managers was convicted today on 8 of 18 counts of bank and tax fraud, does not mean the world is falling down around Trump — although it might be.

(I originally inadvertently typed 8 out of 10 instead of the correct 8 out of 18).

Meanwhile, wife Melania, some say, is trolling him, by going on a crusade against cyber bullying when she and all of us know that the president is the cyber bully in-chief with all of his wild and inflammatory tweets with all their mendacity.

I’ll just sum this up by saying I think it will take some major downturn in the economy or some other event — but economics is the key — people will turn a blind eye to a lot of things if they feel good about the economy — to turn the mood of the public and in turn the legislative branch of the government to move toward removal of Trump.

And these legal developments are old hat in politics where power and money corrupt.

Remember — if you’re old enough — the Jimmy Carter administration where the pious former Sunday school teacher Carter had a fella named Bert Lance in his cabinet. As I understand it, Lance never was convicted but all kinds of bank shenanigans back in Georgia were attributed to him.

Bill Clinton used his White House office as his private bordello, and ordered missile launches and air strikes overseas, some say in a wag-the-dog attempt to defect attention away from his own scandals.

Don’t blame the Russians for Trump. Blame all of those who voted for him and all of those who failed to vote against him. And the Electoral College system too.

And I should add: poor Hillary’s bad luck. I mean she was a shoo-in two times for the presidency, but the first time around came the first black man to attain enough support to be a contender (and who finally won of course) and then a bankruptcy prone real-estate charlatan who announced his candidacy on a lark and some say astonished not only a nation but himself by winning.

He won and law-abiding and moral and reasonable people lost.

We’ll get through it. I think…


P.S.

I wrote that Trump’s former lawyer (referring to Michael Cohen) made a plea deal involving ratting on Trump — maybe that is not precise. The New York Times and others report that ratting on Trump was not part of the deal. But if you read the stories you see he did and no doubt this will help him get a lesser sentence, I think. So it is at least an implied agreement.

 

 

 

 


Extreme right and extreme left; we need the middle ground…

August 19, 2018

My youngest daughter is 46 today (Aug. 19, 2018). I’ve done the birthday greeting via Facebook — had planned to be with her and her sister and others today but that will be in some days in the future.

So, she is 46 years old today. She was born basically at the beginning of my working career (after a stint in the army). And now I am at the other end, but still working at 69 years old, but that is another story.

Back on that day of my younger daughter’s birth the Watergate scandal had just begun and the steady drip, drip, drip made it clearer and clearer through the days and weeks and months that President Nixon was directly involved in the break-in, the burglary, of the Democratic Party national headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington D.C. In his successful bid for re-election, Nixon had directed some thuggish clowns to commit a felony. Of course campaign dirty tricks between Republicans and Democrats and others have been going on since there were elections. It turned out that the worse crime was covering up the crime. Had Nixon simply said in beginning: “well it looks like some of my campaign workers were a little over zealous and got caught. Whoops our bad”, it might have been left at that. But Nixon and his henchmen’s efforts to deny and cover up served as the impetus for Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein to do a lot of investigating, along with others in the press, most notably the New York Times.

But even with all the investigations and revelations, there would not have been enough to oust Nixon. It took a “smoking gun”, which turned out to be the Watergate tapes. Republican Nixon, following the practice of his predecessor, the Democrat Lyndon Johnson, secretly taped conversations in the oval office. I’ll bet that they were so used to it they forgot that they were taping themselves.

Nixon tried to prevent the tapes from being released. There is some evidence that a portion of them were erased on purpose by his secretary, but there was way more than enough left to show that he directed the break in and ordered the culprits to be paid off after they were caught red-handed, in an attempt to buy their silence.

Also, during the scandal it was brought out that Nixon used the power of the IRS to go after his enemies.

(It seems that practice might have survived. Under Barack Obama, a former IRS official seemed to have targeted some of his opposition — not clear evidence on that, but seems fishy. No idea whether Obama had any hand personally in all that — and at this point, who cares?)

With Nixon’s refusal to hand over evidence there was a constitutional crisis.

Today we face something similar. But it seems not to be as clear. But there is the steady drip, drip, drip in the ongoing Russia investigation that basically or purportedly is aimed at determining the extent Russian involvement in disrupting democracy in the U.S. and the possible collusion in it all with the Trump campaign and administration.

In Nixon’s case, the Supreme Court ordered him to hand over the tapes. The high court held that even as president he was not above the law.

Another constitutional crisis concerning whether the president is above the law, particularly while he is in office, is brewing. Trump himself has seemed to indicate that he is. His lawyers and other mouthpieces have at various times pointed in that direction (even though one of his lawyers is reportedly legitimately cooperating with investigators). Trump is pushing to have a man appointed to the Supreme Court who has opined that the president is above the law while in office (even though he was on the team that tried to oust Democrat Bill Clinton over his sex scandal).

But for anything to happen to Trump over the Russian investigation or the like, there would seem to have to be a smoking gun. He himself has made statements that almost amount to that, but since he says anything at anytime and then refutes it later, sometimes almost seconds later, his credibility is zero. It’s like Trump does not really need the protection against being forced to testify against himself, like we all have, because who would believe him?

A smoking gun could appear though.

But Trump with all of his outlandish and despicable behavior might be right in what he always claimed during his campaign: he said he gets people talking about and looking at issues they might not otherwise have addressed.

Meanwhile it seems for the time the Republican party has gone far right, so much so it is akin to the fascism or Nazism with all of its nationalistic and intolerant and anti-democracy characteristics and that in response the Democratic Party is being pulled to the left of the political spectrum, which strangely, history has shown, with communism, amounts to the same thing, even though it is supposed to be the opposite on the political spectrum.

We need the middle ground.

 

 


Right wing radio host gets grief from his demographic when he tries to be ever so open minded…

August 19, 2018

I have no idea how many people listen to Tom Sullivan on the radio. I assume a sizeable number since he is still on. I first started listening to him on KFBK out of Sacramento, Ca. That was, I don’t know, a decade and more ago. He did financial news/talk. Then he ventured into local and state politics and eventually national politics. He got so big for his breeches that he moved to New York City and the mouthpiece of the far right called Fox News, which I heard him claim the other day is really “fair and balanced” just like their tag line proclaims. I can’t say in reality whether it is. I don’t listen to Fox unless I am forced to. Part of the confusion, though, comes in from the fact that news and comment are so mixed these days — is anyone fair and balanced? And I say I don’t listen to Fox, but somehow I have heard some of it from time to time and that is enough.

Sullivan is no longer on the regular Fox network, as I understand it. He is in syndication, and I could not readily find the details of all of that.

I have commented on this before. At first I enjoyed the fact that although Sullivan seemed to take the predictable conservative line on issues he was good at setting up the more liberal argument. I thought that at least he was even handed. And I still somewhat respect his approach.

But through the years I have noticed, that is to say it is my perception, that he has for the most part dropped the even handedness. I think, and I can only suppose, I don’t propose to say that I know what is in his mind, that he found out where the demographics were for his listenership. And they were not for even handedness.

I detected that he was not (maybe is not) wild about Donald Trump. But like all Republicans (he identifies as Republican) he has apparently succumbed to Trumpism. Sure at times he questions Trump’s crazy actions, but he seems careful not to denounce Trump, not to suggest that the emperor has no clothes. In fact he thinks much good has come from Trump.

Yes, I am personally anti-Trump. Always have been. I was almost willing to give him the benefit of the doubt at one time I think (or was I?), but I soon discovered he is really no good. That is to say he is no good for democracy. He fashions himself as a strongman. He admires dictators. And his followers apparently admire dictators. They are not into critical thinking or nuance. It is one way or the other and no in between. To be in between is namby pamby; it is weak.

It has to be tough for Mr. Sullivan. If you listen to him you discover quickly that he is not just your ordinary right-wing blowhard. He is a thinker and can make the argument for both sides of an issue if need be, if for no other reason than to tear down the opposing side — but that is like a debate, a real debate where opposing arguments have to stand on their own or wilt under the competition.

But it must be hard for a man of his intellect and thinking and speaking skills to have to suffer some of the looneys and simpletons who call in to his show. And a couple of times lately they seem to have gotten on his nerves. On one recent show he got exasperated with one caller who suggested that he had gone anti-Trump, I guess because he had dared to indicate or simply just described a minute criticism of the tyrant. Sullivan went on a rant (uncharacteristic of his usual mild manner) accusing some of his listeners of being blind followers of Trump. And on a couple of occasions I have heard him effect a mocking tone of a simpleton when making a point about how some of the Trump base might react to some things.

As I noted, once before I wrote about the evolution of Sullivan from one who at least acknowledges that there are at least two sides to an issue and who is not afraid to at least outline the side he does not support, to the more standard and predictable conservative, or maybe neo conservative talking points. I think maybe a listener or someone forwarded my post to Sullivan, who, to my astonishment sent me a short note saying that I described him fairly well. That is, I was astonished that he bothered to send me a note (email).

I listen to Sullivan when I can for a variety of reasons, including: he is often the only one who comes in clear or is available on my truck radio when I am in the area of the only station that I can find him on, for entertainment, to get a handle on what those who don’t generally think like me are thinking, and even to hear things I would not have otherwise, and I am not talking about the obvious baloney spewed out by many. Sometimes, I have to admit, the wild and often conspiratorial notions asserted force me to shut the radio off or turn it down momentarily.

(This is not to say that all conspiracy theocracies are off base — note the revelation that at least one FBI agent emailed another vowing to prevent one candidate from becoming president. While I almost wished that he had been successful, that is pretty chilling for democracy.)

But the one thing that really gets under my skin is when Sullivan and others talk about “the media”, or I should say especially Sullivan. Does he not realize that he himself is part of “the media”?  But for his ilk there are I guess two medias (or grammatically should it be media, since that is the plural of medium?). There is the so-called mainstream, or “lamestream” as the hard right likes to lampoon it as, and there is the word of God, or all that is right (wing) on the other side.

While I admit there is some truth to the notion of a “fourth estate”, in my lifetime that term “media” (it seemed to pop up in the 60s or 70s? taking over from the term “press” because the printing press seemed already so dated) has come to mean those who refuse to toe the preferred party line, usually the part to the right. It is used as a smear against all who refuse to follow along in blind obedience and not question.

The right talks about the tyranny of big government (which there certainly is at times) but the left talks about the tyranny of the mob and the ignorant, which there certainly is at this time.

Truth is what is and does not reside solely with the right any more than it lies with the left in politics or public policy.

But even handedness and nuance and middle of the road is namby pamby and we can’t have that, can we?

p.s.

When I can I listen to public radio. I sometimes have to turn it down too when it goes off the deep end in trying to be fair to the leftward point of view or actually perhaps promoting it. But public radio gives more time and balance to the issues of the day and does not have to sell its soul to the ratings and advertisers — it just has to run constant and annoying pledge drives. Also it carries BBC from of course Britain, the state-run media there that interestingly really does carry news of the world, not news of just the United States and how events of the world affect it.


 

And like a footnote here, from Wikipedia: The Fourth Estate (or fourth power) is a segment of society that wields an indirect but significant influence on society even though it is not a formally recognized part of the political system. The most commonly recognized part of the fourth estate is the news media, or press.

 

 

 

 

 


Ignorant voters worry me more than Russian interference…

August 18, 2018

NOTE: I originally posted the following about a month ago but the original headline I noticed belatedly did not seem to quite go with the post, although it was a comment of the news at the moment. I’ve been so busy at my real job that I have not had time to post in almost a month. So I took the lazy way out and have reposted what follows — I mean I feel the same way now:


 

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 causing 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.