Gillibrand’s timing is on target in run for president

December 13, 2017

Timing is everything in politics.

With President Trump going recklessly all-in in endorsing a highly controversial candidate for the Senate, Roy Moore, and blood in the water, male blood, from the #Me Too movement, and the general outrage among the sane and I would hope majority of voters against the outrages of Trumpism and Trump himself, the junior U.S. senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, made her play — she is running for President no doubt about it.

Just days before Republican candidate Moore, accused of sexual abuse of women, including underage females (albeit most charges from long ago), went down to defeat to a Democrat in a nationally-watched U.S. Senate election in Alabama, Gillibrand called on the president to resign over both accusations of his own sexual improprieties and his own bragging over molesting women. And days before that she called on one of her own political party colleagues to resign, Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota. She had been on his side, right up until she was not. She also days before that threw her mentors and supporters Bill and Hillary Clinton under the bus — okay I need to slow down here. Now I am sounding like I am accusing her of being an opportunist with no loyalty but to herself. Don’t know enough about her yet. She does seem shrewd. And she actually did not directly take a hit at the Clintons. In an interview in an almost reluctant-sounding response to a question she indicated that she was wrong not to have called out Bill Clinton for his sexual transgressions as a candidate and in office. Her swipe at Bill to some seemed like biting the hand that feeds (or politically fed) you. But I think she saw that the time had come where women could take a stand and she wanted to catch the political wind that could propel her to higher office. She had already rather swiftly moved from the lower congressional house to the senate and now she sees the presidency on the horizon. She is a politician, and not trying to be simplistic or sarcastic here, but those are who generally hold political office.

Gillibrand’s call for Trump to resign prompted what could only be described as an obscene tweet from Trump who claimed that she had come to him for support and would do “anything” for it. But the tweet elevated her status as a rival to the almighty’s power.

While I still know little about her I have read that she has worked a lot on anti-sexual harassment and women’s rights causes in the military. She says she has done pro-bono work as a lawyer for battered women.

Gillibrand also worked as a defense attorney for the tobacco company of Phillip Morris — well one does have to make a living or progress in her profession.

(And quite frankly I like the idea of someone who has worked on different sides of the fence or in various environments with the idea it gives them a better feel for the issues.)

In general, it is said that as a representative in congress she tended to vote conservative — there are conservative Democrats, and you will recall that Bill Clinton ran as a centrist and appealed to conservatives.

Gillibrand has in the past had a 100 percent rating from the National Rifle Association. Not anymore, as I understand it.

In the senate she has become more liberal. She is after all working next to Chuck Schumer, a leading liberal.

Gillibrand is also going national, which I think tends to pull candidates a little left.

The far-right reactionaries make all the noise and the rest of the populace either just listens or goes about their business and every once in a while gets riled enough or even nervous enough to take action at the ballot box.

Action was taken this week at the ballot box in Alabama.

If Moore had won I was going to write “let’s hope what plays in Alabama stays in Alabama”, but now I have to write “let’s hope Alabama speaks for America”, not necessarily for voting in a Democrat (although fine with me) but choosing sanity over insanity.

p.s.

As far as whether Gillibrand is worthy to be president or what I think of her stands on the issues (always subject to change I realize) remains to be seen. But at least we have a preview for the run for the presidency in 2020.

 

 

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We are rushing toward a World War I-like calamity but in the nuclear age; two crazy men face off…

July 30, 2017

The news is so bad, so depressing, so scary, about all I do is read the headlines — every now and then going in for more detail.

If ever there was a bad time to have a crazy man at the helm of our nation it is now. We have a nuclear arms buildup something akin to the arms and  war ship building race between Germany and Britain leading up to World War I and the rivalries among nations with conflicting alliances that could blow up like a power keg set off by a spark.

North Korea is rattling is sabers and threatening to hit the U.S. We had been told until just recently that North Korea was several years away from being able to threaten us but now seemingly overnight the story has changed to they could possibly hit all or much of the U.S. mainland and may already have or are close to having the capability of arming missiles with nuclear warheads.

And I am sorry to say all you Trump supporters, whoever you may be, we have an incompetent fool as president who is in way, way over his head. He is certainly not a leader; he has created disarray in his own political party and daily, mostly in the wee hours, dashes off silly and threatening statements via Twitter.

There is another mad man at the helm in North Korea — Kim Jong whatever his name is. Both men deserve each other but none of us deserve them.

At the same time, with the U.S. weakened to the point of near impotence due to the lack of leadership, we have Iran going ahead with its nuclear missile program, and even our ally South Korea reversing its previous position and looking to build up a missile arsenal. And did not Trump suggest that Japan should build up a nuclear arsenal itself and not depend upon the U.S.? Imagine, the only nation to have ever suffered a nuclear attack, at our hands at that, having to resort to building up a nuclear defense program. Yeah that’s what we need nuclear proliferation.

And don’t even talk about domestic politics. While I can understand some sentiment for returning to more conservative values (although turning back the clock is out of the question and impossible), Trump is just making a mockery out of human decency.

He needs to be stopped. Impeached. Removed for being mentally incompetent, or something (and I do not mean violence).

This is not politics talking. I don’t care what your political philosophy is. This what we are going through, and if it continues it cannot have a good ending.

The only good ending is an end to the Trump administration.

Actually he seems to be losing power, not being able to get anyone of import on his side anymore. Maybe he will self destruct.

I can only hope.

Okay, this was somewhat of a rant. And I did not go into specifics. No time. I am at work, at my real job, just taking a break. Maybe later I’ll get specific. But if you follow the news you have to know what I mean.

The World War I analogy was something like if we strike North Korea then China will feel obligated to strike us. And there could be other such disastrous chains of events as well.

We are rushing toward a World War I-like calamity but in the nuclear age. It might not be survivable.

 

 

 

 


Secrecy can have its value even in a democracy, but Trump can’t keep a secret anyway…

May 30, 2017

While it is troubling that President Trump and his administration (and his preceding campaign) seem to have or have had so much secret communication with the Russians and that Trump seems to respect dictators more than the leaders of the Western democracies, it would be good if he and his administration could work behind the scenes, perhaps with China and Russia (and anyone else who could help) to deal with threats posed by North Korea. Since it is in the mutual interest of some of even our adversaries to arrest the growing cancer that is Kim Jong-un’s North Korea they would likely be willing to help us under the cover of secrecy.

However, in the Trump administration it seems secrecy does not exist.

I mean most of us who want good government call for transparency. Well in a way we have it with the Trump administration, that is to say it is transparently inept. And it is doubtful its leader, President Donald Trump, could keep a secret if he had to. He bragged to the thug dictator of the Philippines about submarines we have deployed off the coast of North Korea (military commentators said that is supposed to be classified info). He reportedly shared tidbits of intelligence we got from Israel with his Russian buddies, and well, if you keep up on the news you know the rest.

Ok, I’ll go on: his son in-law Jared Kushner, it has been brought out, tried to open a secret back channel with the Russians during the presidential transition.

Now actually, who knows? This could be or could have been a positive thing. If the Russians are willing to work with us in secret for our mutual benefit, it does not have to be a bad thing. Basically for the thirty years of the Cold War we worked with the Russians (to a degree) as the world’s two superpowers of the time under the threat of mutual destruction, not only of each other but the whole world.

Not much has changed, except now there are more players in a way. The U.S. is the only remaining superpower (at least for the moment) but various adversaries have realized that they can wield power or threats over their own size by getting the bomb — Iran (working on it), North Korea (very close to full nuclear attack capability it would seem), and who knows? So-called Islamic terrorists?

It would also be good if the United States could work more closely with the Russians in the Syria situation in which both nations are trying to fight Islamic terrorists there but are at odds over the Assad regime in Syria (Assad is a Russian ally but a ruthless dictator who murders his own people by the thousands as far as the U.S. in concerned). Syria is vital if for no other reason than the instability it creates and the refugees it produces who have swamped Europe.

A more conventional administration with sober and experienced hands could use all this intrigue to all of our benefit (although history shows we did some intrigue that was really not).

But so far I don’t see much real promise in the Trump government by chaos, sprinkled with ignorance (mostly at the top) style of governance.

Another problem is that evidence that keeps coming out indicates the Trump administration has ulterior motives in working with the Russians — it all has to do with private business arrangements to line the pockets of Trump and his family and associates — that is the implication. One wonders if they would be willing to sell out their own country in the name of the all-mighty dollar.

p.s.

And Trump and his tweets: So tweeting is I guess kind of like instantly transmitting random thoughts that zip through your mind to the whole world. If we all just automatically did this we would live in a glorious world of, using that current pet word of the good governance crowd, transparency. True chaos and mayhem would also ensue. Some of those random thoughts are involuntary and some don’t  take into consideration all the evidence and, besides, in civil society there is such a thing as discretion.


Have to agree with at least one part of Trump speech to Muslim nations: U.S. security is the prime concern…

May 22, 2017

The good news is that President Trump apparently did not say anything stupid or insulting to his Saudi Arabian hosts and to others in a major speech to leaders of Muslim nations in which he urged them to join with the U.S. to fight world terror.

While I have neither listened to all the speech nor read the full transcript (from which he may have deviated a little from time to time) I think I agree with this excerpted paragraph, as provided by The Atlantic site:

—————-

America is a sovereign nation and our first priority is always the safety and security of our citizens. We are not here to lecture—we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership—based on shared interests and values—to pursue a better future for us all.


Back to my words:

I think our problem in the Middle East and elsewhere is nation building. We work with cultures we do not understand and stir up resentment even among people thought to be friendly to us.

But at the same time, just like Trump said, the safety and security of our citizens is our first priority — and of course how we get there in world hot spots is another question.

Example: we have no right to tell North Korea how to run its internal business. But the hands-off approach to the crazy-man regimes there has now come to a point where we are in peril.

We went into Afghanistan ostensibly in a search for Osama Bin Laden or maybe him and his Taliban but we got bogged down — not learning from the disaster the Russians had years earlier when they invaded that country — and at the time we supported Bin Laden against them. It gets so complicated.

There has already been criticism that Trump ignored the issue of human rights in Muslim nations he wants to work with us in the fight against terrorism.

We can encourage, sure, but it is not our business. Somehow I think the evolution in the Middle East will eventually lead to democracy. Some thought it would have happened rapidly during the so-called Arab Spring like it did for much of Eastern Europe when the old Soviet Union fell apart. It spent so much time using police and military force to repress its people and building up armaments and sowing seeds of socialist revolution around the globe that it caved in of its own weight. It failed to address the needs and aspirations of its people.

And back to the present. And then there was this is Trumps speech:

“Yesterday, we signed historic agreements with the Kingdom that will invest almost $400 billion in our two countries and create many thousands of jobs in America and Saudi Arabia.

And it all comes down to this. An arms deal. We want their oil and they want our armaments.

Nothing ever changes.

But if Trump made no major gaffe that’s good.

And perhaps the realpolitik approach is better than the Obama apology approach. I understand they respect power or at least the attempt to project power and self interest in that part of the world — that is how they operate.

(Obama is a better man. He is a grownup. Despite his age, Trump does not seem to be much of the time. But in this instance the practical approach seems best. He did not write his speech.  But if he can stick to the script and lay off Twitter, we might all weather it for the time being.)

And really isn’t it about time we told the Muslim world to quit fighting among themselves over how to believe in God and drawing the rest of us in? Even Trump could not have said that, but isn’t that how you feel?


The current guy is not only like Nixon but he has a little Carter in him too…

May 20, 2017

Lots of comparisons between Nixon’s Watergate and the current Russia scandal (Russiagate??), and it does seem that although the fact patterns and political and historical background differ in many ways, that things are coming down at the rate of drip, drip, drip, with the drips getting faster and faster, like Watergate.

But it occurs to me that although you could compare Trump with Nixon on the malevolent side, there is a Jimmy Carter similarity there too.

Both Carter and Trump arrived at the presidency with no Washington experience and apparently no willingness to play well with the hometown crowd. Carter at least did have political experience as the governor of Georgia and a state legislator before that. But both came to Washington proclaiming things were not going to be done the old way. And even more importantly, they both depended on and/or took too much advice from people with no idea or interest in how things are done in Washington.

(And about this time anyone reading this might say, well that is the point, those ways needed or still need to be changed. Well certainly corruption needs to be eliminated but you really can’t take the politics out of politics and politics to me basically is the struggle for resources among disparate groups. It’s all about give and take and always will be unless we go to a dictatorship, and I don’t think even an often complacent electorate would put up long with a true dictatorship, not to mention the congress and the Supreme Court.)

But anyway what made me think about this was another thought:

Jimmy Carter has to be the Rodney Dangerfield of presidents. He just gets no respect. I’ve noticed through the years that every time someone wants to refer to a weak or inept or failed presidency they almost if not always single out Jimmy Carter’s.

(I confess, I think I have been guilty of that in this lowly blog.)

I was reminded of this while reading a piece the other day out of the Wall Street Journal. There was this in reference to the ongoing administration:


The historical analogy isn’t Richard Nixon, whose advisers were effective in their abuses until they were finally discovered. This is more like Jimmy Carter —outsiders who arrived to drain the swamp and are swamped by incompetence.

 


 

And then to refresh my memory of the Carter administration I ran across this zinger in Wikipedia:


In polls of historians and political scientists, Carter is usually ranked as a below-average president.


And in a New York Times story still another unfavorable comparison/mention:

In recent days, the radio host Michael Savage has acknowledged “the administration is in trouble.” John Podhoretz in the New York Post and later The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page each compared Trump to Jimmy Carter — the most damning of all conservative indictments.


 

Geez, give the guy a break. Wasn’t he a Sunday School teacher and a U.S. Navy veteran and didn’t he do all that good work for Habitat for Humanity after his presidency (of course that is after), and didn’t he oversee the Camp David Accords that gave a little peace or the promise of it to the Middle East? And today he is noted for working for world peace through his foundation (of course after the fact as far as the presidency is concerned).

And then I watched a biography of Carter on the internet (source of it PBS) and felt I had a better handle on it all, even though I lived through his presidency — gas lines, stagflation where inflation soared even as wages did not, and the humiliating Iran Hostage episode. And really informative and interesting, his wife, Rosalyn, offers for the camera that she urged him to just do something about the hostages — she felt like I did. But then the fact is pointed out that they all came back alive. Under pressure, Carter did order a rescue attempt, but it failed. But had the attempt gone on or maybe some multi-pronged assault been tried one could quite imagine that all the hostages might all have been killed. The story is that the hostages were not released until one minute after Carter handed over his one-term presidency to Ronald Reagan, thus the final humiliation. Carter had negotiated their release, Reagan got the credit.

The unpreparedness and unwillingness is where the Cater/Trump comparison ends.

Well, another damaging characteristic of Carter was that he did not see the big picture often because he was too busy micro-managing every detail every day, down to who was authorized to play on the White House tennis courts.

I guess in some respects Trump in a control freak, not that it has done him much good. His administration seems out of control, and some of his underlings find themselves having to lawyer up and one has even reported to have asked the White House for legal help (anonymous so far).

Shades of Watergate.

P.s.

It would seem that anything good that may come of Trump’s current overseas trip will have to be really, really good, like fabulous, to counter his Watergate at home.

On the other hand, if the economy does well and the nation as a whole feels secure, that will go a long ways in his favor. Even with Trump’s troubles, the Democrats need a savior, and then there is always Vice President Mike Pence ready (and getting readier with a new political action committee) and waiting in the wings.


Trump could be successful overseas if he keeps his yap shut (and he stops tweeting) …

May 19, 2017

Just because something comes to your mind does not mean you should say it out loud. I know all of those people who voted for Donald Trump often were reported to have said things like: I like a person who just says what he thinks.

I myself have been guilty at times of just spouting off what I think, not that there is anything wrong with speaking your mind, but there is such a thing as using discretion and realizing who the audience is and thinking through and not just blurting out a passing thought that might not even turn out to represent your true feelings once you have had time to digest all of the different angles of any issue or situation. And then sometimes you just don’t want to hurt anyone´s feelings — or get punched in the nose or worse.

With that in mind, I think this new (relatively new) phenomenon of important people instantly tweeting their immediate thoughts should go away — of course it will not, I suppose.

Worst of all is having the president of the United States tweet his immediate thoughts. If you have followed the news about him and seen him on TV you know that he can change thoughts in mid sentence. I mean it’s good to be opened minded, have an ability to assess facts and change one’s mind, but in mid sentence or in hours or overnight, constantly?

This is not meant to be a continued diatribe against Donald Trump. In fact, as bad as he is, I think the foreign trip he leaves on today (5-19-17) could be a success even though he is about as ignorant as they come of the world. From reports I have read, he has impressed or perhaps unnerved both the Saudis and the Israelis and others, and the United States is still on top as the super power of the world. Action he took in Syria (the air raid in reaction to continued use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime) and the sending of an armada to off the coast of North Korea (in reaction to its continued missile testing and threats of nuclear attacks) have sent a message of power (even if the actions themselves may not have really done much) to the world — I mean no one knows how far Trump would carry it, but it beats just standing there and taking it (maybe).

But I think for real success it would be best if Trump mainly smiles and listens and just says diplomatic things and lets the old experienced and knowledgeable people (he does have some, doesn’t he?) do the real work behind the scenes. Trump needs to keep his yap shut for the most part: “Hi glad to be here, beautiful country, our relations with you are going to be so good you will beg us to stop being so friendly, by the way, do you have a golf course? If not I can build you one.”

(Sorry, I was trying to be somewhat serious here but could not stop myself from adding the satire.)

But really, if Trump could just learn to keep his yap shut.

It’s like one of my favorite scenes in the movie Patton where George C. Scott portrays Gen. George Patton as the irrepressible showboat (albeit talented professional) who just insists on having his way, sometimes to his own detriment. Karl Malden, playing the part of Gen. Omar Bradley, the somewhat more subdued soldier’s soldier, says:

“George will you just shut up…”.

I say:

“President Trump, will you just shut up”.


Is the press in a feeding frenzy? Well yes, but where there is smoke there is usually fire…

May 17, 2017

UPDATE: After posting this below there was another development today (5-17-17), the Justice Department announced the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as Special Counsel in the Russian investigation.


 

Well there is no doubt the press is a little over-excited in its coverage of the possibly impeachable offenses of President Trump. But President Trump went out of his way to go after the press both in his campaign and into his presidency.

And too, I should note that the important thing in all of this is not the battle between the press and Trump but the survival of democracy in the United States.

But back to the press. I don’t think it is just my perception, I think the rules of journalism or the practice of it has changed. For instance, CNN and the New York Times (just using them as examples) seemed to have moved beyond the rule that straight news reporting depends solely on verifiable facts and of being able to attribute statements and points of view to actual persons — with a balance when practical or appropriate, and that opinion belongs preferably on the opinion pages or clearly-marked articles. This is more so for CNN, which had been or is a target for Trump. It is fighting back.

(There is no point in even mentioning or including FOX News in this for me because (a) I avoid it and (b) it was meant to be a partisan shill for the Rush Limbaugh-style hard right-wing nut crowd from the git go. It plays to a certain demographic for ratings and thus is subservient to it.  I do think it has had its effect, though, on other outlets — they are starting to play the same game.)

Now way back, it is true, newspapers (that is basically all we had then) were often partisan with little attempt at balance. I don’t think we’ve gone back to that yet in the mainstream.

And thanks to the internet we have the phenomenon of just outright fake news. Ironically, Trump, the man who claims he coined the term (pretty sure he did not) seems to go by it nonetheless. He has a habit of citing things out of the fake news (his minions call it “alternative facts”, as if truth is never clearly identifiable). So if he were to charge that he is being brought down by fake news (and it was true), wouldn’t that be poetic justice?

Right now, though, as far as I can see, the mainstream news outlets still have integrity. I just think that they may have loosened the rules a bit. And there is a school of thought I think that believes that the old rules (dating back to maybe mid 20th Century) sometimes forced journalists to write absurd things because they had to give equal treatment to statements that were obviously bogus in the name of fairness.

Back in the early 1950s the infamous Sen. Joe McCarthy claimed that he had a list of hundreds or 50 or 80, the number kept changing, of communists in our State Department. Strangely, he never produced the list. And I was but a baby or toddler at the time, but as far as I can tell the mainstream of journalism at the time did not push him for the evidence. In the meantime he made life rough and ruined the careers of many people.

Now there was at least one communist agent (evidence suggests) in a high level in the State Department, just in advance of the McCarthy episode, Alger Hiss. Richard Nixon catapulted from freshmen senator to vice president and eventually president, thanks to his pursuit if Hiss. As we know, Hiss served some prison time and proclaimed his innocence but evidence brought out through the years tends to incriminate him.

You can’t or should not ignore something just because there is no solid evidence but eventually you need to find some (they got Hiss not on proof of espionage or sabotage but on lying to congress about his connection to the Communist Party — and I think he disputed that too).

Okay, and back to the present, one Trump-defending senator lashed out at whoever tattled on Trump for reportedly sharing classified information with the Russians. He claimed that act, I guess because the nature of the information (even though no details were made public), was “treasonous” on the part of the source or sources. The Wall Street Journal in an opinion piece heavily criticized Trump but also took the line that reporting on what Trump did was treasonous, at least that is how I read it.

I’m reaching far afield perhaps, but between 1964 and 1973 the U.S. conducted a secret war in Laos. It seemed to go under the radar of the mainstream news gatherers for the most part. Would journalists have been guilty of divulging classified information and treason had they reported on that? And don’t the American people have a right to know what is going on in their name? And all those innocent civilians killed and villages destroyed by our bombs and bullets (and if you are not aware of it you can look it up). Yes, it was ancillary or an extension to the Vietnam War, but our government denied involvement to its own people plus the world. It was denied because of treaty obligations that would have precluded it. We dropped enormous amounts of explosive ordnance on the country, a third of which failed to explode so remains as a constant danger today that has maimed and killed children and adults and continues to do so.

Right now we have a president under suspicion of colluding with the Russians, of firing the FBI director who was investigating him because he would not close investigations against his administration and who reportedly tried to demand “loyalty” from the FBI director (look the other way, do what I say) and who seems to have had a bout of loose lips with the Russians and who has appointed people to dismantle environmental regulations and who had promised a major improvement to health care for the American people but who obviously never had a plan in the first place with the result being that hard-core right-wing Republicans want to make it even harder for those of modest means to get health care and who has displayed that he has no real knowledge of national and world affairs and no interest to learn. That is my honest opinion. This is a blog. I can say what I want. I have left a lot out.

With all the drama our government has been paralyzed.

Bottom line, Donald Trump was ill-prepared to be president, and he is steadily losing support because, for one thing, he constantly changes stories on his actions and contradicts his staff and then even himself. He has 0 credibility nation and world wide. His only allies are the Russians, and they are only pretending to be.

There will continue to be some or a lot of overblown or inaccurate reporting no doubt but really where there is smoke there is usually fire. I think if one sticks to mainstream media (I don’t usually use the term “media” because in some circles it is pejorative) and uses objective thinking one can sort through it all.

But how long do we all have before it results in disaster? This guy — who has the power to take action at an instant that would destroy the world in a nuclear holocaust — is holding the whole world hostage.

There is talk of using a provision in the 25th Amendment by which his cabinet in conjunction with the congress could remove him from office. In some ways that seems more plausible (and even quicker) than impeachment. I think the more likely outcome is that if things continue to snowball as they have, particularly in the past week, Trump will become disinterested in it all and figure out a way to bow out and claim victory even so (all this to score a conservative on the high court, he might say).

My record of correct political predictions is something like 0 for however many I have made but that is my story and I’m sticking to it.