WAS PUTIN’S “FAKE NEWS” END-GAME SOLELY TO PUT TRUMP IN THE WHITE HOUSE, OR SOMETHING EVEN MORE DEVIOUS?

As a socialist fighting in the Spanish Civil War, George Orwell developed a better understanding of Totalitarianism, than he had before.  While the Right was waging war against the Left, he realized that the Stalinists and Trotskyites were likewise trying to eliminate each other.  Eventually, he concluded that, whoever wins—whether Fascist or Socialist— will ultimately assume whatever group the wished to overthrow.

Orwell’s epiphany, as such, began to materialize in the first of his two major novels, Animal Farm.  The pigs led the upraising of the animals, and as they took over Mr. Jones’ Farm, Napoleon, the porcine leader, claimed that, “All animals are equal!”  Eventually, as the pigs moved into the farm house, and began acting more like humans, Napoleon then added: “but some animals are more equal than others,” to the mantra!

Recuperating from a serious neck wound and tuberculosis, back in London, George Orwell started to realize that even the most reputable of newspapers, the Times, reported on battles in Spain, which were never fought, and while omitting others where many were killed!  He then began to believe that even the press had managed the news, so as not to print anything that would offend Adolf Hitler; because, British aristocracy and the Intelligentsia preferred appeasement, to war.  Way back then, in the 1930s, Orwell dubbed his discovery, “Fake News!”

Managing the news, had been a primary component of Orwell’s second great novel, 1984, as he described the on-going evolution of “Big Brother” actually owning, managing, and disseminating the news, as is the case today in China, Russia, and several other socialist governments.  Whereas China has focused mostly on controlling its domestic media, Russia, however, appears to have risen to another level—using external thought control as a political weapon.

Europe has known of Russia’s various attempts for several years, both to sway elections and to splinter continental cooperation—specifically through the European Union and NATO.  I cannot say whether Putin’s cyber-warriors had a hand in the Brexit vote; which, might just have been due to frustration with Brussels, or the Independent nature of Great Britain.  But, the rest of the E. U., at least for now, has remained together, and willing to reconcile their differences.

The success or failure of thought control, I can only assume, might be dependent upon the basic human rights of the target country.  Countries with a strong tradition of free speech, the press and assembly, as well as a good public education, are harder to “reeducate!” The Trump Regime, however, in its dissemination of alternative facts, fake news and lies, appears to be playing into the hands of Vladimir Putin’s cyber-controllers.

Since Inauguration Day (January 29), the White House seems intent on:  discrediting any information that comes from reputable media sources; attacking journalists, corporate media outlets, and anyone with opposing points of view; dumbing-down the Public School System through charters and vouchers, which would revert back to the “Segregated and Unequal” Era of some 60 years ago; and Trump’s deemphasizing the value of factual content and individual curiosity.  In fact, Donald Trump boasts that he doesn’t even read!

I have no idea as to whether Donald Trump’s Team did, in fact, collude with the Russians. The Great America, which he claims that only he can build, just portrays an idiot’s style of demagoguery, and it possibly—purposely or not—lays the ground for a Russian cyber-invasion.  The beauty of any form of cyber-warfare is much more cost-efficient, since troops and equipment don’t need to be transported.  Also, consider that our whole system of knowledge—books, education, media—can be easily controlled or edited, on-line.

The 2016 Presidential Election needs to be Invalidated, and all nominations made by Trump must be revoked.  Impeachment or Resignation would be insufficient—especially if there was collusion with the Russians, or manipulations by them—because those actions would merely cut-off the head—and leave the corpus in-tact.  Recently, the Regime has asked for the Voting History of every American! Can the Thought Police and Book-Burners, from Orwell’s 1984, be far behind?

The Trump-Republicans have gone along with much of Donald Trump’s attacks on our very Democracy, possibly because he seems willing to sign their Draconian legislation into Law.  But, what happens when the GOP in Congress transforms to whatever Trump, or perhaps Vladimir Putin, has in mind?  With control of all three Branches of Government, Trump’s Party would be the most likely targets.  Back in the early 1930s, no one thought that Naziism would arise within Germany, but it did!

 

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DER SPIEGEL ON-LINE (IN ENGLISH) IS PERHAPS THE BEST SOURCE OF G-20 SUMMIT NEWS OUTSIDE OF GERMANY

Over the years, I have found Der Spiegel-International, a popular German periodical, to be a great source of news, as viewed from a European perspective–in addition to other media sources.  I believe that its current coverage, of the G-20 Summit, from Hamburg, Germany, is quite insightful.  Also, be sure to scroll-down for the various other G-20 Summit stories, including some live video coverage.

 

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ISTANBUL ON THE POTOMAC!

Donald Trump, that fellow who resides in the White House, appears to be as narcissistic as The Sun King, and he has the vindictive nature of a small child, who just won’t quite! Donald is so spoiled that he only sees or hear things, which only he “knows” to be true, and his actions bespeak only those that are in his best interest.  So, after five and a-half months, holed-up in the Executive Mansion, is he now ready to make Washington into His Kinda Town?

During his time in office, with numerous sabbaticals at his various resorts, he has seemed to be mad at the world, attacking everyone in sight.  Here’s the Short-List of his targets:  Obama and Clinton; all three major Intel Agencies; members of any and all minority groups; both the DEMs and the GOP; the print and broadcast media, at every opportunity; Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos, perhaps as a corporate leader who just won’t kowtow to him; and on, and on.  Equally as bad, is the mass disruption, which Donald has spread overseas, in our name!

Donald Trump acts as if HE owns the place, and that anything that he does, while in office, should be whatever he wishes; because, you see, Donald John Trump is above the Law—or so he seems to thinks!   Now, we can consider Trumpie to be just another loose cannon; but, his actions certainly appear to be more evil than that.  Remember that Donald has literally offended every one of the nations which we have long-term alliances with, while cozying-up to some of our most dangerous adversaries.

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are too ensconced in their long-term leadership roles, as Communist dictators, in systems that have been in existence for some 70 years.  But, Donald Trump did invite Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey, to visit him in the White House, about six weeks ago.  Turkey had been founded in 1923, as a secular democracy, and over the course of time, it had transformed itself into a Western-style nation.  It is also a NATO ally Istanbul, its largest city, is strategically located west of the Bosporous Strait, which, separates Europe from Asia.

Erdogan had been thrown out of office in 1998, and imprisoned, when he was the Mayor of Istanbul.   e was sacked for trying to spread his conservative Islamic views.  He returned to political life as Prime Minister in 2003, and became President of Turkey in 2014.  Ever since then, he has once again, been trying to instill his conservative Islamic fervor, and thus transform the nation into one more to his liking.

Just consider any of today’s authoritarian nations—China, Cuba, North Korea, Russia, Turkey—and the many commonalities are quite obvious.  Trump is possibly observing how President Erdogan has been re-building Turkish Society, and perhaps getting ideas, but with an American twist.

Human rights have been diminished during the Erdogan Era, as there are other civil rights violations, such as:  peaceful civil disobedience has been dealt with harshly; media has been forced to accept the government’s viewpoint; disloyal corporate leaders have been replaced, and many businesses have been nationalized; and Islamic Law is being gradually installed.  Also, he has made the Kurdish minority into a boogeyman for many of Turkey’s problems, and questions abound as to whether last fall’s unsuccessful coup was, in fact, staged–thus giving him the reason to take an even harsher stance!

Donald Trump has been moving on many of these same issues.  Consider just a few: his Regime is trying to diminish many of the human rights issues by continually attacking the media, and using fake news and falsified facts coming from the White House in order to shift public thinking; middle and upper-level civil servants have been denied work if they do not Pledge Loyalty to Trump; jawboning corporate leaders to follow his wishes; and why are there three generals in his Cabinet?

I cannot honestly say that Donald Trump is trying to transform America into an Authoritarian State; however, there are many similarities with various dictatorships, and  one one can be perceived as more insidious than the next.  At present, except for the Travel Ban, and the apparent over-active protection given to police officers—in very questionable circumstances—Donald hasn’t tried to change too many of our laws to meet his needs.  But, just let your mind wander as to what might be in store for Americans in the future!

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AMERICA, OUR ARMY IS ORGANIZED FOR PERMANENT WAR! IS THAT WHAT WE WANT? OR NEED?

Throughout America’s history, the U. S. Army had been composed of Citizen-Soldiers—at Concord and Lexington, Bull Run and Gettysburg, as well as Normandy Beach and Okinawa—but, that changed after Vietnam.  That endless, mindless war caused the American people to regret ever hearing the word, Vietnam, and the impact of that rebuke spread throughout the Army.

I do not use the term Army to suggest our overall Military.  The Army’s problems did not spread to the smaller, more focused Marine Corps, and it certainly did not tarnish the more technological Navy and Air Force.   It was due to the Army’s more labor-intensive military brand, that it bore the brunt of the Vietnam expansion–from the initial handful of Special Forces (“Green Berets”) Advisors, to 3,500 Marines in 1965, to the 500,000 man Military in 1967, when I arrived “In Country”.

As public sentiment waned, the enlisted men primarily felt used and forgotten, as the war dragged on!  Disrespect for authority, and following orders, were no longer an acceptable way of life for many GIs.  And, perhaps it worsened after the Tet Offensive of 1968, before which Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara refused to believe communications intercepts that enemy forces were building-up, all around the country.  Also, there were instances of “fragging”, live (safety pin pulled) fragmentation grenades being rolled into officers’ tents—killing some.

I just added Andrew J. Bocevich’s “Breach of Trust” to my Books That I Recommend Tab. Bacevich, a West Point Grad who spent 22 years in the Army, is a Professor of History and International Studies at Boston University.  His book provides an excellent analysis of how the Army, went about reacting to the Vietnam situation; but, it just made matters worse.  In fact, Breach of Trust is quite reminiscent of President Dwight D. Eisenhower—the General who led the Normandy Invasion in World War II—and his warning about the Military Industrial Complex, during his Farewell Address.

The Citizen-Soldier Army, of America’s first 175 years, was transformed into a Professional Warrior Class Army.  Whereas, up through Vietnam, the Army was of the People, and literally every American had skin in the game.  If your husband, son(s), or (now) daughter wasn’t in uniform, you knew someone who was.  Prior to Vietnam, wars were only waged when necessary, winnable and only for a reasonable duration.  But, as the U. S. sunk deeper, and deeper into that quagmire, the American People failed to Act.

And now, we have a Professional Army, which is no longer of the People, and no longer for the People.  After disbanding the Conscription, or Draft Concept, soldiers’ wages were raised by a fair amount.  In prior years, a small group of professional soldiers kept the Army functioning in Peacetime, and the Draft enabled it to expand when necessary and, then it would contract again, once the danger had passed.

But, once America formed a larger Army, composed solely of higher-paid volunteers, the Pentagon needed to justify the higher expenses of a large Peacetime Army?  Just like any organization—public or private—duties must be contrived, operations must be planned and missions need to be created.  Solution…Permanent Warfare!

Here’s where Ike’s Military-Industrial Complex Admonition comes into perspective.  In fact, President Eisenhower wanted to dub it the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex, during his televised Farewell Address; but, he dropped the “Congress” from the final version.  When his brother, Milton, asked him why, “General Eisenhower” (as he preferred to be called) replied: “It was more than enough to take on the military and private industry. I couldn’t take on the Congress as well.”

Only one percent of America has any involvement in the wars now Longer wars, however, raise the stature of the professional warrior class, and enable the generals and admirals (”flag officers”) to earn more stars and promotions.  The Defense Industry profits from supplying the Toys of War, which the Pentagon now needs in greater quantities, in its never-ending WarfareStrategy.  Besides the industry’s substantial campaign contributions, they are willing to spread the manufacture of weapons among a number of Congressional Districts—at reduced efficiency, but the added costs are just passed on to the Taxpayer.

In June of 2012, I wrote a post on this blog “Re-enact the Military Draft”, which is one of my most read posts.  We need to get the American People back engaged; because, the death and destruction, caused in our name, surely doesn’t reflect positively on America. Focus on the important, necessary wars and require Congress to provide the civilian oversight that was written into our Constitution, some 240 years ago.  Otherwise, we will just continue to spread mass death and destruction overseas, as we squander our resources—both our Treasury and our Future Generations!

NOTE:  Welcome to our readers in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Costa Rica!

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GERMANY BENEFITS FROM THE EURO IN MAINTAINING ITS TRADE SURPLUS!

Each country’s currency usually reflects it relative economic health!  When a nation runs a trade surplus—selling more of its products overseas, than it buys—it is running a trade surplus.  Foreign buyers, as well as overseas investors, convert their funds to the seller’s currency.  That greater demand, due to net foreign exports, increases the demand for the denominated currency, thus making it stronger.  Conversely, when nations run a trade deficit—buying more overseas than selling—its currency will decline in value.

The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, told Donald Trump, on his recent trip to several summits in Europe, that Germany continually runs a large trade surplus within the European Union, as well as with the U. S.  I believe that the trade problem, in this case, is primarily due to Germany’s membership in the Euro Area, the 19 (of 28) E. U. members, that use the common currency, the Euro.

The reflection of Germany’s economic health is somewhat muddied since it shares the same currency as 18 other nations.  Under normal conditions (a single-country currency), there is a self-regulating mechanism in foreign trade.  Strong currencies create a price  disadvantage for themselves, making their products more expensive than their overseas competitors.  Likewise, weak currencies help expand trade exports; because, the nation’s products are more attractive, when priced in the weaker currency.

The single Euro currency must be valued the same way, however, by foreign-exchange traders, since it is the unit of exchange for all 19 nations.  For Germany, and any other Eurozone members that run a trade surplus, this provides a perfectly legal advantage–the Euro is weaker than if it used the old Deutschmarks.   The advantage, of using the Euro applies to transactions, both within the E. U. and globally.  And the deficit nations must contend with a high-priced currency.

Accordingly, the Euro trades around the mean (roughly, the average) for the various nations in the Euro Area.  This enables Germany to run a larger surplus than it otherwise would.  And likewise, the negative impact of the stronger currency provides a price disadvantage for nations with weaker economies, that run a trade deficit.

In effect, Germany has maintained a low unemployment rate, 3.9% as of April, as compared to Spain at 17.8%, and Greece at 23.2%, by exporting its unemployment.  Besides the great many benefits of membership in the European Union brings, they far outweigh the negatives.  But, after so many years, the Euro Area needs to be changed, so that the E. U. remains relevant.

The convenience of a single currency—in two-thirds of the member nations—seems to be outweighed by the structural trade imbalance that the euro provides.  And, that problem will never be solved as long as there is a common currency!  Whether a Euro member is weak or strong, the common currency will keep them in that same alignment–and this needs to stop!

NOTE:  Germany is merely taking advantage of an edge that is available to it; however, its actions might not be quite in keeping with the spirit of why the E. U. and the Euro Area were established.

 

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DONALD, WITH FOUR WARS WITHOUT END, ALREADY GOING ON IN THE MIDDLE EAST, WE SURELY DON’T NEED YOU TO HELP START ANOTHER IN QATAR!

Does Donald Trump ever think before he opens his mouth, or fires-up his Tweeter?
We are already involved with four local wars in the Middle East, and now he is taking sides in a disagreement, between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the Emirates, on one side, against Qatar on the other, for sponsoring terrorism.  The Saudis had delivered an ultimatum with 13 demands, to be complied with in ten days, before a blockade would be imposed

Donald Trump immediately conveyed his wholehearted support for the blockade.  Why?  In May, the Saudis had feted Trump, and lavished great praise on him; but, that surely couldn’t justify his taking sides in this disagreement!  Consider as well what else has changed since Donald’s trip to Riyadh, just 35 days ago.

Within the past week, Saudi King Salman al-Saud, who has failing health, named his 31 year-old son Salman bin-Abdulaziz al-Saud to be the new Crown Prince, and heir-to-the-throne.  Previously, Prince Salman had been the bellicose defense minister, who sent the Military to attack Yemen, resulting in numerous Yemeni civilian deaths.

Trump’s unfettered support for the blockade of Qatar appears to have prompted Secretary of State James Mattis to rush to Doha, in order for him to confirm our support for the Persian Gulf nation, and to sign a $12 billion arms deal with the Qataris.  The
U. S. Air Force provides air support for our actions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, from al-Udeid air force base, just west of Doha.  We also have the Headquarters of both the U. S. Central Command and the Central Air Force Command, at that same Qatar location.   Why didn’t Donald Trump consider all this before he Tweeted-off this?

Secretary of State Rex Tellerson warned the Saudis, and their allies, to make sure that the demands on Qatar are “reasonable and actionable”.  National Security experts confirm that it is not uncommon for State and/or Defense to be on different sides on some issues, from the White House; but, in this case, it is quite peculiar.  In fact, Donald Trump appears to be out of the loop, and there appears not to be any coherent rational policy.

Congress, which has the sole authority to Declare War has certainly shirked its duty in the Middle East!  Out of the four nations in which we are using military force, War Powers (Act) Resolutions have only been issued for Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003), and those are grossly outdated, and should definitely be revoked immediately.  The American People should demand more from our Congress, especially with a hands-off President, than to accede to open-ended military actions, without having a defined mission and end-date!

NOTES:

1. The attached article from The Guardian (UK) provides a more in-depth description pop the Trump meddling in the Saudi-Qatar controversy.
2. This recent post provides additional detail on our overall mismanagement of the military in the Middle East.

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CAN DONALD TRUMP BE TRUSTED IN THE VIRTUAL MINEFIELD THAT GEORGE W. BUSH LAID IN THE MIDDLE EAST, BACK IN 2003?

First, let me point-out that the Congress, which has sole Constitutional Authority to Declare War (Article I, Section 8), has not done so since December of 1941.  It has ceded such powers to the Administrative Branch ever since.  And, the War Powers Act, by which Congress supposedly maintains control over the Military, has been used primarily, as an excuse by Presidents, to usurp the authority of the Legislative Branch.

Donald J. Trump, has demonstrated, time and time again, that he is not a hands-on President.  He recently delegated the responsibility for sending an additional 4,000 troops into Afghanistan, to Secretary of Defense James Mattis.  The WPA resolution, which supposedly authorizes that additional force; however, has not been updated since 2001, when it was first approved.

Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) recently said that “When I voted in 2001 to authorize military force against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks, I had no idea I would be authorizing armed conflict for more than 15 years and counting,”   Congress has, in effect, abrogated its responsibility as the only Branch of Government able to Declare War.  Clear guidelines must be required, including: a specific mission objective; an anticipated completion date; and the required troop and equipment requirements.

We still maintain several thousand American GIs in Iraq, which remains under a 2003 WPA resolution.  Quite recently, with the fall of Raqqa—ISIS’s assumed headquarters—there have been rumors afloat, about sending more military advisors, and even some ground forces into Syria.  So far, there has never been a WPA resolution, whereby Congress has authorized Military Action in Syria.  Keep in mind that, such action could put us face-to-face, with both Russia and Iran.

There have been other minor military interventions, such as in Yemen, eight days after Trump’s Inauguration. When Secretary Mattis was confirmed, on January 20, a special waiver was granted to enable him to serve as the Secretary of Defense.  Generally, a nominee for that office must wait seven years, following their separation from active military serve, and Mattis had only retired three years before.  By providing Mattis with the responsibility to decide on any increase in troop levels in Afghanistan, Trump has disregarded the intent of the Civilian Oversight of the Military!

Just recently, Saudi King Salman al-Saud appointed his 31 year-old son, Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, as the Crown Prince, and Heir-Apparent.  Prince Salman had been the Defense Minister, and the driving force behind the Invasion of Yemen, which has caused a significant number of civilian Yemeni deaths.  With King Salman reportedly in ill-health, Donald and the Crown Prince might be a much too dangerous pair!

Just consider the local wars in which we are already engaged—Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and perhaps Iran-Saudi Arabia, if that erupts.  Also, Palestine—with Israel’s nukes— would certainly get dragged into any such regional conflict!  Our two primary adversaries are still China and Russia.  So, let’s not squander our Treasury, lose too many good young men and women, and cause the American People to tire of war—just before the one(s) really matter(s) might commence!

This whole situation makes me think of a bunch of fearless firefighters attacking a wildfire. In this case, if they acted like Donald’s Pentagon, they would be putting-out individual trees, while losing the forest!

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