Posts Tagged Politics
WHAT COMPETITIVE GROUP WOULD GIVE-UP, WHEN THEIR “BEST” TEAM OF MEN AND WOMEN IS IN THE GAME? DONALD?
Throughout his Presidential Campaign, Donald Trump complained about: the Trans-Pacific Partnership; adverse trade agreements with Mexico and China; the six-nation nuclear agreement with Iran and, of course, any of President Barack Obama’s accomplishments! He often tied the two points together: we negotiated bad deals, because we have bad negotiators.
But, can’t Mr. Trump see that he now has the best possible negotiating team, and the Negotiator-in-Chief is personally available to turn things around! Surely the (presumed) Author of “The Art of the Deal” can bring all of his super negotiating skills to bear. Keep in mind, that if we do leave the TPP—a trade pact, which consolidates the fastest-growing region on earth under one “roof”—we will be offering our seat to China. And, President Xi Jinping will be quite pleased to replace us, and assume our leadership position,
The nuclear agreement with Iran, which was thought to be only a couple of months away from having The Bomb, has truly accomplished its very important purpose! Tehran shipped both 95% of its plutonium and its centrifuges out of the country, in June of 2014, when the negotiations began. So, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s worst nightmare—a nuclear-armed Iran—has not come to pass. Psst: Israel has had an entire nuclear arsenal itself, for decades!
And lastly, remember that New World Order that Trump has been dissing—off and on—whenever it suits his purpose? That’s the UN, NATO, the IMF, World Bank, the WTO, etc. Guess what? Those organizations, established after World War II, have: enhanced the global economic recovery: promoted world peace; and further led to a better functioning world.
As Donald Trump must surely know, the best time to drive that hard bargain is when you are in a position of relative strength! America did not suffer the double whammy, of both The Great Depression and a Major War being fought on U. S. Soil, during the 1930s and 40s. Yes, we fought in the War, lost a lot of good men, and drained our National Treasury. In the end, however, we were in much better shape then either the vanquished, or even the other victors.
America must retain a leadership position when aid, assistance and leadership are needed to: reverse global climate change; provide financial, medical and manpower assistance in combating medical pandemics; and we must remain in the forefront in responding to natural disasters. Helping people in times of distress, helps prevent future wars!
Following any military confrontations, we must act benevolently, if we win, and be thankful if we lose. Outrageous reparation payments should never be assessed on the vanquished. The harsh treatment forced on Germany, by the Allies after World War I, merely laid the groundwork for an even deadlier World War II, just 20 years later. After World War II, however, America instituted the Marshall Plan, by providing $13 billion ($130 billion in 2015 dollars) to help re-build European economies.
Donald Trump should re-consider some of his misguided ideas, and the harsh rhetoric that he has been using to attack a number of global and regional institutions. As long as the U. S. still maintains a level of stature, Mr. Trump should reflect on another Republican President, Theodore Roosevelt, who was often associated with the phrase: “Speak softly, but carry a big stick!”
NOTE: If anyone wonders why I was so easy, on Donald Trump, in writing this post, just read the prior post, where I had questioned whether anyone would want his hands on the key that launches the nukes. In past posts, I have used every name in the book, in referring to Donald Trump.
I took a somewhat different approach this time. Donald says the negotiators on the deals that he wants to replace–mostly everything–were really awful. But now, with His Team, led by him as the Negotiator-in-Chief, I say: Go for it! Donald, it’s time to “Put-up, or Shut-up!”
Donald Trump is a true shyster! From the time he announced his candidacy, back in June of 2015, he has boasted about how truly great each of his promises would be. The best ever! You wouldn’t believe it! And then, of course, the bullshittiest “Just trust me!” RIGHT!
He has used that Pavlovian sales pitch in every one of his performances, in order to have the audience drooling to the point that they would accept anything! But now, it seems that the American people are beginning to see through this Bait and Switch charade! Remember who was going to pay for that Wall? But now///?
Over the past several weeks, National Security has been front and center. His Military’s Tomahawk Missile attack on a Syrian air field was so devastating, that the Syrian Air Force was still able to strike that same city, a couple of days later from another air field. Then, “My Military”, as he calls it, dropped a 22,000 pound bomb on caves in Afghanistan. But, when you live in a cave, however, surely other accommodations can be easily located! Donald’s Pentagon” responded to questions about Congressional Authorization, by citing an ancient War Powers Act—for Iraq!
Of course the saber-rattling then pointed toward North Korea, and even true Trumpians would hardly assume that any current attacks could be covered under the 1950 UN Resolution, authorizing that “Police Action”. But, then, to top-off VP Mike Pence’s “Shield and The Sword” speech at the DMZ, the Trump Regime promptly sent the Carrier Group to the wrong ocean. (Syria = Iraq? Indian Ocean = Sea of Japan?)
Honestly, I think that Donald Trump’s two generals—H. R. McMaster, his National Security Advisor, and James Mattis, his Secretary of Defense—are in those positions merely for the cachet that they bring to his personal Tough Guy image. But, it’s not just the McMaster and Mattis who seem to be mostly invisible. In fact, most of Trump’s Cabinet Officers seem to remain out-of-sight, and are only paraded-out when Donald needs them for photo-ops.
And now, some 90 days after his Inauguration, Donald seems to be feeling the heat! Political pundits tend to review what new Presidents have accomplished at the end of their first 100 days in office. It’s sort of a report card; but, in Trump’s case, it is totally blank—other than the many red checks in the Deportment Section. So, he’s trying to play catch-up, with smoke and mirrors!
Perhaps that’s why Donald takes great pride in signing meaningless Executive Orders, and then holding them up; but, angles each one into the TV glare, lest we see its irrelevance to the Affairs of State. In fact, he traveled to the Treasury Department on Friday, and merely signed documents directing Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to do what he has already been doing, and doesn’t need an Executive Order, or a Memorandum to proceed with. For instance:
1. One directs Treasury to review the regulations included in the Dodd-Frank Act, which President Obama signed in 2010. That Law was intended to rein-in banks after The Great Depression (4Q07-1Q09), which deeply harmed the U. S. Economy, and the contagion spread globally. “Dodd” was the necessary response to prevent a reoccurrence!
2. The second directs a review of tax regulations, which Obama imposed on corporations to avert “Inversions”, which are acquisitions of foreign corporation for tax purposes. Ironically, one of Donald Trump’s very mantras—remain and manufacture in America—would seem to benefit completely with that Obama Legislation!
As I watch these meaningless exercises—such as reviewing necessary regulations, with the intent to repeal them—I can only believe that Donald Trump remains committed to eliminate all vestiges of President Barack Obama. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is thriving on the pompous nature his role, which only he could feel comfortable in, and spending most of his time holding: hateful rallies; photo-ops and his frequent trips to Mar-a-Lago.
And those Cabinet Officers? No photo-ops until after lunch, please!
The Russian economy remains in a shambles as the West’s economic sanctions, imposed after the invasion of Crimea in 2014, continue to serve their intended purpose. Obviously the drop in global oil prices, by 50% over the past few years, didn’t help Russia either. Economic, as well as political concerns certainly led to protests marches throughout Russia. That’s where Exxon-Mobil may come in handy–at least, on the economic front.
Some 45 % of Russian Energy production is exported, and that provides 70% of Russia’s overall earnings. Prior to the section imposition, Exxon-Mobil had intended to transfer state-of-the-art drilling technology, for use in both the Arctic Ocean and the Black Sea. Exxon had applied for a sanctions waiver, from the U. S. Treasury, during the Obama Administration. The company, however, has raised the issue again.
As the very recent Chairman and CEO of Exxon-Mobil, current Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, had been very much in favor of providing the drilling waiver. Although any decision now will be made by the treasury Department, and he supposedly has recused himself, there will always be the suspicion–rightfully or not–than he had plan a finger ion the sale. Remember that, when he left Exxon-Mobil, he obviously receivers an extremely lucrative severance package.
BESIDES MY CONCERN ABOUT TRUMP’S DISREGARD FOR INTELLIGENCE, THE GREATER DANGER MIGHT COME FROM HIS POTENTIAL ABUSE OF IT!
I just added “Code Warriors: NSA’s Codebreakers and the Secret Intelligence War Against the Soviet Union”, by Stephen Budiansky, to my Books That I Recommend Tab. At first, I felt that my interest for this topic was due to my Army service in the field. But as I read more, I realized that the Intelligence, per se, is not the main topic. it’s the: mismanagement, the political abuse and the potential abuses at the highest level.
General Douglas MacArthur, who had used Signals Intelligence quite successfully during World War II, chose to ignore it, as the Commander of Allied Forces in Korea. Chinese Premier Chou en-Lai said that if Allied Forces crossed the 38th Parallel, into North Korea, China would attack. MacArthur not only disobeyed orders, and crossed into the North, he proceeded toward the Yalu River, the Chinese border.
Numerous SIGINT reports indicated a significant build-up of Chinese forces; but, the General and his G-2 (Top Intelligence Officer) suggested that it was merely a several thousand man force. China sent four armies—120,000 men—into South Korea, cutting the First Marine Division off at the Chosen Reservoir. Luckily, China withdrew; but, General Douglas MacArthur was relieved of his Command, in a most public manner.
Robert S. McNamara, President Lyndon Johnson’s Secretary of Defense, had previously been the President of the Ford Motor Company. He apparently relied primarily on his own intellect and decisiveness; because, the Intelligence Community knew to only send him reports that confirmed his own personal conclusions. Perhaps that appealed to his ego, since his staff felt that they should only tell him what he already knew.
In January of 1968, just prior to the Lunar New Year, various Army and Navy SIGINT reports suggested a massive build-up of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong (local guerrilla) forces, at numerous locations around the country. Johnson and McNamara were convinced that the major push would come against the Marine camp at Khe Sanh and that, lacking the troop strength for a multi-pronged attack, the rest were just distractions. The NVA/VC attacks hit some 100 allied locations, and all military operations soon ended.
While some officials ignored SIGINT, or just refused to even consider it, in the early 1970s, President Richard Nixon wanted to see any intercepts about him. So, Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s National Security Advisor told the National Security Agency that all intercepts mentioning either the President or him, were to be delivered to him personally, and only to him. Thus, Nixon and Kissinger were exacerbating the dysfunctional relationship that already existed among the various intelligence agencies.
For his part, Kissinger was also playing one-upmanship, between the National Security Council, which he headed, and the State and Defense Departments. (Foreign Policy was the collective responsibility of all three Departments.) Since the NSA reported to the Defense Department, however, at least at that point, SecDef Melvin Laird advised the NSA Director that he had control of his military career, and that he should be copied on the intercepts. Unbeknownst to Kissinger, that immediately expanded the highly secretive distribution list to three, but still leaving Secretary of State William P. Rogers out.
General MacArthur was known to be a pompous person, who readily claimed all credit for any successes, while shifting any blame to others. Subordinates knew to shield him from whatever he didn’t want to hear. This sounds exactly like Donald Trump; however, Trump also appears to be neurotic, like Nixon, regarding what the media says about him, and he is vindictive in attacking both known and assumed personal enemies. While Johnson was curious about reading the intercepts, he merely seemed to rely on McNamara’s pre-conceived conclusions.
When German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Donald Trump just nine days ago, he should have been prepared to build a relationship with the only experienced European leader, after the French Election in May. Also, having spent her formative years, and her early scientific career in East Germany, Mrs. Merkel is much more knowledgeable in dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to one of Merkel’s aids who attended the meeting, however, Trump wasn’t at all prepared, and he added little depth to the conversation. None of this surprises Americans who follow his past antics.
Just considering how one type of intelligence has been misused and abused by American Presidents, as well as others in high office, I can only shutter to consider what damage a neurotic psychopath, can do, with access to all of it! Just consider: Donald Trump has shown signs of isolating America from the world at large; that and his vowed trade wars could cause a global recession, perhaps much worse than 2008; and he has the ability to launch nuclear weapons.
Back, some 20 years ago, there were PSA’s on TV, asking parents if they know where their children are at 10:00 PM. Well do we need a Donald Trump vision, such as: “It’s Midnight America. Should you wonder what your President is up to?”
A couple of months ago, Donald Trump was appointing his 36 year-old son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as his Special Emissary, who would settle the age-old dispute between the Israelis and the Arabs in Palestine. Now, since that job went nowhere fast, Jared has been tapped to reform the Federal Government. Really!
According to Trump, Jared Kushner will head the new “White House Office of Innovation”, supplying ideas from the Business World to the White House, with emphasis on Data and Technology. And as always with Donald, it will be “details to follow.” This idea has been contrived many times over the past century, and was never implemented–perhaps, because it borders on insanity!
Running a government like a business seems to make sense; but, only to a person who did not, or cannot, think it through! Last night, when a good friend, Liberal Arts through-and-through, read about it, she shrieked with laughter. Now, what does she get, that Donald and Jared don’t? Or was Mr. Trump just thinking hyperbolically? Now, remember that both Donald and Jared have only dealt with closely held, family owned companies. Not a real corporation!
Businesses are formed and operated to turn a profit and, those that don’t go out of business. Governments, on the other hand, are formed communally, by the people, to provide for common needs, such as: National Defense; Local Security; Public Education; Safe Commerce and Transportation; Prevent Pandemics; Scientific Research; etc. Whereas ineffective businesses ceases to exist, governments generally do not. A citizen registers their dissatisfaction at the ballot box; but, an unhappy customer must do so by taking their business elsewhere.
I believe that this Office of Innovation idea is just another Trumpian boondoggle, and perhaps just one more distraction from his major problems. They are well-known globally, such as: the possible Trump-Russia Collusion; his disastrous health care plan; his sliding “Favorability Rating”, etc. Many Americans today, even some who had voted for him, have begun to seriously question whether Donald Trump can govern, at all!
Donald Trump”s Cabinet Officers, and the various Agency Heads, are mostly a coterie of billionaires and other “Swamp Creatures”, who have little experience, if any, in the policy areas in which they were appointed, and no apparent interest in succeeding at the task. The are loyal ideologues, who seem to be embellishing their resumes, and available for photo-ops, with Donald, on a moment’s notice.
Budget-wise, Donald’s plan seems to be taking a meat-axe to departments that he has some ideological problems with. We already have a larger Defense Budget than the next seven nations (some say ten) combined. Is the 30% slice out of State your idea of attacking Secretary Clinton? But, 120 former generals have voiced their outrage over cutting the State Department, especially by such a large amount. Doesn’t Trump or Tillerson realize that money spent building hospitals, fighting malaria, and providing potable water to rural areas, will work more in our favor than all of the bombs and missiles you can fire?
Donald doesn’t need to reorganize the Federal government into something that it was never intended to be! Rather, he should transform the government into that “Fine-oiled machine”, which he has claimed it to be, by merely re-organizing his Regime! This whole thing is a distraction, intended to divert attention away from his possible collusion with Russia, the real position that Bannon is functioning, and whether he will ever get anything through Congress!
Trump should fire his key appointees–confirmed or not–and nominate/appoint capable people, who are ready to champion their respective departments. Ditch the Shadow Government, including Steve Bannon, who appears to head it! Donald will never bring America together if he has disruption and feuding within his Regime, while purposely holding rally’s, where he spews hatred and divisiveness.
Donald Trump should have realized, by now, that the only Wall that he will ever build, if he keeps on his current path, will be the one between him and the American People!
WE CAN’T KEEP WAITING FOR CONGRESS TO GO NOWHERE FAST, REGARDING TRUMP’S POSSIBLE COLLUSION WITH RUSSIA. WHAT’S PLAN B, AND PLAN C?
In my last post, I suggested that behind Donald Trump’s Visible Regime, there might be a Shadow Government, which controls the real power in Washington. But, here are just a few of the problems, emanating from today’s White House, that smell:
1. Trump’s Political Strategist, Steve Bannon, is a permanent member of the National Security Council.
2. With two former generals in Trump’s Cabinet, why was it the Secretary of State, who suggested a potential pre-emptive attack on North Korea, and in Chin’s backyard?
3. Why have Cabinet Officers not been allowed to appoint Deputies, as usual, and their Confirmation Hearings should have been held, or at least scheduled by now?
4. Why was Donald Trump so discourteous after he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last Friday? He looked like a pouting schoolboy who had just been smacked-down!
5. Why is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson skipping the coming NATO Summit in order to visit Moscow, which he is quite familiar with? Couldn’t he take a side trip there, either before or after the NATO meeting?
6. Numerous former and current Trump Associates have had contact with various Russian officials, both in Moscow and Washington.
7. Yesterday, Donald Trump was threatening Congressman, who vote against his ideology-based Health Care Plan? Does he know that we were still a Democracy?
8. And, why does his daughter, Ivanka, sit in on meetings with foreign Heads of State?
Plan A, just holding Congressional Hearings, when Donald Trump’s Republican Party holds the majority in both Houses, will always have a Chairman who belongs to his party, as well as a majority of members. Also, since the GOP believes that it can jam even the most Draconian Legislation through Congress, with their own Man in the White House, can it really be trusted to find collusion, between Trump and Russia, if it is found to have been present?
A “Select”, or Temporary, Committees of Congress will fare no better, since it also will have many of the same party and ideological biases as standing committees do. The Nation needs to have a Plan B, and a Plan C. Plan B would be the appointment of “Special Prosecutor, someone of exemplary legal credentials and who is unbiased, for or against anything but the Truth. And Plan C would consider other options, besides Impeachment, such as a complete Regime Change.
The Special Prosecutor should delve into all aspects of the Russia-Trump Connections, where there may be improprieties. This would include: current and former Trump employees, agents and advisors; whether in person or any other form of contact, and whether the location was foreign or domestic. And Yes, the Special Prosecutor should have complete access to any and all Federal Tax Returns (and all Schedules) of Donald Trump—and for every prior year!
Plan C should draw-up plans, in the event that there was some form of collusion, between Donald Trump and his Campaign, with the Russian Federation. Simple Impeachment proceedings might not be appropriate, since it would be merely eliminating the Head of an Illegal Government. Just like the proverbial Hydra: cut-off the head, and it frown another. Plan C should decide whether usual Impeachment proceedings would be appropriate or, perhaps, a Declaration of the Election as being null and void might be in order
Plans B and C, or some other appropriate meassures, will take time to consider, draft and, perhaps, need to be ruled on by the Supreme Court. Given the many important policy issues—both foreign and domestic—which are constantly arising, we need to insure that we have plans already in place to maintain that “finely-tuned” Government that the United States must have!
NOTE: I realize that if the world-clock stopped ticking, we would have time to call for a Constitutional Convention, or to otherwise Amend the Constitution; but, WE DON’T!
ARE TRUMP AND THE GOP MORE CONCERNED WITH IMPROVING HEALTH CARE, OR REPEALING OBAMA’S SIGNATURE LEGISLATION?
On Monday, the House Republicans released their Replacement Health Care Plan so they can Repeal “Obamacare”. Donald Trump jumped at the chance to embrace the Plan. Also, since the GOP has been so focused on devising, a replacement plan, they seem most ebullient just to mimic George W. Buh’s boast of “Mission Accomplished!”; but, the suitability aspects must have been left back at the conference room. The reception for the much touted GOP plan, so far, has been anything but favorable, even from within their own party.
Actually, the House Leadership didn’t release it; rather, they seem to have preferred to just have it leaked. There wasn’t any condemnation for it getting out, just the wiggle room to declare that it was only an early draft and, that way, they could always reel it back in. Right now, however, the House GOP leadership is trying to put some lipstick, as well as some rouge, on this pig. But really, this swine is just not gonna fly.
Since the Plan is, no doubt, being analyzed in minute detail, by all of the usual news sources, I will not try to duplicate their efforts. The NY Times article, linked above, cites various key components of the ACA, and how the House Plan compares. Specific parts of the ACA are also cited, along with explanatory notes on those being: retained; modified; or eliminated. However, I would like mention a few key points, which the GOP might have purposely preferred to be lost in the shuffle:
- What will happen to those previously uninsured Americans who, under ACA’s Extended Medicaid provision, will lose their health care coverage under the GOP Plan? Why hide that fact?
- Why would reasonably wealthy people be receiving the health care tax credits, rather than just those who need the help in order for them to buy the insurance? A tax-cut for the wealthy?
- When will the American People be advised that they will not be guaranteed to be covered for “pre-existing conditions” if they had not, in fact, already purchased the insurance coverage? Why not spell this vital detail out? Besides, no health care insurer would provide new customers with coverage that include adverse medical conditions!
- Block Grants will not insure health care for residents, when given to the states as “flexible dollars”, because the funds may just be added to the state’s General Fund. In 2009, Republican Governor Mark Sanford, of South Carolina, received Infrastructure money from the Federal government, intended to create “shovel-ready” jobs; but, he used it to pay-down the state debt. And, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, also a Republican, just refused the much-needed money outright.
The Affordable Care Act certainly can be improved, as was Medicare when it was originally passed, and also the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D). The Republican Party has been extremely intent on obstructing President Barack Obama, since the evening of his first Inauguration, and Trump just wants to tear down anything that Obama had accomplished.
But, is that a reason to take Affordable Health Care away form the tens of millions of Americans who have come to rely upon it? The following Op-Ed, from the NY Times, is co-authored by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a key participant in writing the ACA Legislation.)