The Radar is Crowded Tonight!

Puff-magic-dragonIf you could see my radar screen tonight … blips all over the place!  Oh yeah, 2019 is going to be the year that finally drives Filosofa to lose her marbles and do something crazy like streaking nude through Grand Central Station screaming, “Run for your lives – Puff the Magic Dragon is attacking!!!” Long story short, this morning’s hodgepodge are not snarky snippets, but out-and-out rants … mini-rants, but rants nonetheless.  Hold your ears …


Trump’s history lesson:

Yesterday, Trump called a cabinet meeting, apparently for no reason other than to brag about the things he says he has accomplished but hasn’t, to blame everyone but himself for everything that is wrong, and to give us a new view of world history.

“Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. So you take a look at other countries—Pakistan is there. They should be fighting. But Russia should be fighting. The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is it was a tough fight.”   Anybody want to buy him a copy of World History for Dummies or The Idiots Guide to World History?

While it is true that the former Soviet Union was financially drained by its 10-year campaign in Afghanistan, and collapsed only two years later, there were many other long-term factors in the USSR’s demise. In addition, the Soviets didn’t invade Afghanistan because “terrorists were going into Russia,” as Trump said, but because they wanted to shore up their pro-communist puppet government there.  And by the way, Donnie … Pakistan is supporting the Taliban, not fighting them.

A few other preposterous statements he made at the meeting …

“I shouldn’t be popular in Europe. I want Europe to pay. I don’t care about Europe.” This one was apropos of nothing, other than to criticize Germany, repeating for at least the millionth time that they are not contributing what he, Trump, considers proper to their own defense.  There are reasons for this, but they require an explanation of the history of Germany, and … well, let’s just not go into history with Trump anymore, okay?

Trump now claims, falsely, that he fired General James Mattis.  Not even a shred of truth to this … Mattis resigned in response to Trump’s utterly asinine plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan without even consulting his military advisors or our allies.  Period.  Trump did not fire him.

And he has new justification for his abominable wall … that the Vatican “has the biggest wall of them all”. 

The meeting lasted 95 minutes, after which all cabinet members likely headed to the nearest bar.

drunk


Another child is dead …Jazmine BarnesThe little girl in the picture above is Jazmine Barnes.  Correction … was Jazmine Barnes.  Jazmine was 7-years-old when she was murdered while riding in a car with her three sisters and her mother, LaPorsha Washington, in Houston, Texas.  The gunman has not yet been caught, even though the police know the vehicle he was driving.  Ms. Washington was also hit, albeit not fatally. Two things about this infuriate me.  First, that it happened.  Even though the majority of people in this nation are in favour of realistic and sensible gun regulation, thanks to the National Rifle Association (NRA) and corrupt politicians, we have almost none.  And so, little Jazmine Barnes is dead, and her mom, dad, and sisters are bereft.

Porshia Washington

LaPorsha Washington

The second thing that inflames me about this is that I only found this news on the BBC, three days after the fact!  The BBC!  British Broadcasting Corporation!  Where was The Washington Post?  Where was the New York Times? I had to cross the pond to find out that a child was shot to death in my own country! This should have been front-page news, but if it was even reported, it was tucked far behind all the Trump-related headlines.  I did find the news on a Houston news outlet, Heavy.com, and The Root.  Two days after the shooting, CNN finally reported on it.  C’mon, media!  Trump is not the only show in town!


What am I, chopped liver???

“Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?”

This was a Trump tweet last Thursday morning.  Two days prior, he had told reporters that the furloughed federal workers were fully in support of Trump holding the nation hostage as he holds out for his abominable wall.  In just two days, the workers went from being on his side, patting him on the back, to being “just democrats” in his rhetoric.  Does this ‘man’ ever take time out to think???

The president, senators, representatives, governors, et al, are elected officials who are chosen by the voters to represent all citizens of the United States.  Their job is not only to represent the specific party with which they are affiliated.  Their job is not to represent only the people they like, or the people who approve of them or agree with them.  They are to represent We The People … ALL of ‘We’!  In addition to the aforementioned books, we should also send him a copy of U.S. Constitution For Dummies!

As a member of We The People, I am calling for the immediate resignation or impeachment and removal from office of the ‘man’ occupying the Oval Office, for he is not representing all of us, but only the minority.  He is endangering the lives of the people he is tasked with protecting and he must be removed NOW!  Hear that, Mitchell McConnell?  Hear that, Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows and the rest of you in the House “Freedom” Caucus?  Get. Him. Out.


Okay, well … I had one more rant, but I got so worked up over these three that I have forgotten the other.  Consider yourself lucky, I suppose.  Yep, folks, welcome to 2019.  Have a lovely day!Maxine-2019.jpg

What Next???

On Thursday, Secretary of Defense James Mattis tendered his letter of resignation to Donald Trump, finally having had enough of Trump ignoring his sage advise and making foolish decisions that endanger the United States as well as the rest of the world.  Mattis gave his final day in his position as February 28, 2019, in order to allow time for a replacement to be nominated and confirmed, as well as a transition period.James-MattisThe international outcry on hearing the news of Mattis’ resignation was loud and clear – basically amounting to fear that there is no longer a sane mind in the Trump administration and how can the U.S. remain a trusted ally.  There were many criticisms of Trump (well-deserved) from world leaders as well as from republicans in Congress.

Trump-angryTrump was apparently offended by the criticism and, as is his modus operandi, sought revenge by rejecting General Mattis’ offer to stay in his position until the end of February, but has told him to “go now”.  To replace Mattis, Trump has named as acting Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, who has been employed by the Department of Defense only since July 18, 2017.  Let us take a look at Mr. Shanahan’s qualifications, shall we?

ShanahanEducation:

Mr. Shanahan has impressive degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and MIT Sloan School of Management … degrees in … mechanical engineering.  Note there is no degree in Political Science, nor in History, nor in International Relations … just mechanical engineering.

Military:

Mr. Shanahan did not serve in the military.

Experience:

Mr. Shanahan is a businessman, most recently having served as Boeing senior vice president, Supply Chain & Operations. Prior to that, he worked as senior vice president of Commercial Airplane Programs for Boeing.  Mr. Shanahan is a Royal Aeronautical Society Fellow, Society of Manufacturing Engineers Fellow and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Associate Fellow. He served as a regent at the University of Washington for over five years.  His annual salary from Boeing was in the neighborhood of $1.4 million.

Well … Mr. Shanahan certainly knows a lot about business … and airplanes.  But what, I must ask, does he know about national defense?  What does he know about other nations, about U.S. foreign policy, about the military, about the Middle East?  Compare his rather narrow bio with that of the outgoing James Mattis:

James Mattis earned an M.A. degree in international security affairs from the National War College of National Defense University.  This seems a bit more apropos than a degree in mechanical engineering, don’t you think?  Mattis is a graduate of the U.S. Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School, U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and the National War College. He is noted for his interest in the study of military history and world history.

General Mattis served in the United States military from 1969 until his retirement in 2013.  Forty-four years of military experience!  Mattis commanded 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, one of Task Force Ripper’s assault battalions during the Persian Gulf War.  During the initial planning for the War in Afghanistan, Mattis led Task Force 58 in operations in the southern part of the country beginning in November 2001, becoming the first Marine Corps officer to command a Naval Task Force in combat.  While serving in Afghanistan as a brigadier general, Mattis was known as an officer who engaged his men with “real leadership”.

Mattis commanded the 1st Marine Division during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent stability operations during the Iraq War.  On September 11, 2007, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that President George W. Bush had nominated Mattis for appointment to the rank of general to command U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia. NATO agreed to appoint Mattis as Supreme Allied Commander Transformation.  Mattis was promoted to four-star general and took control of JFCOM/SACT on November 9, 2007.

Well … do you feel safer now that Mattis is gone and businessman Shanahan is in charge of the Department of Defense?  Instead of a well-seasoned man who has studied international relations, history and served more than four decades in the U.S. military, our safety and the safety of the entire world has been entrusted to … a businessman.  And all because Trump got his feelings hurt, first by Mattis’ less-than-complimentary letter of resignation, and then by the world’s reaction.

If you aren’t horrified by this turn of events, you should be.  Mr. Shanahan may well be a very nice man for all I know, but he absolutely is NOT the man to fill James Mattis’ shoes, not the man to be advising the buffoon in the Oval Office on foreign policy — not even on a temporary basis.  All I can do as I digest this news today is shake my head and say, “What next???”  To which my inner voice replies, “Don’t ask.”

Au Revoir, General James Mattis 😢

Yesterday, the world became a little less safe.  U.S. Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, announced his resignation effective 28 February 2019.  It is understandable, and nobody could possibly blame him, for his has been a thankless job since the day he took office, January 20th 2017.  Mattis has disagreed with Trump on many things during his nearly two-year tenure, from climate change to Russia to pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.  But the straw that broke the camel’s back was Trump’s announcement that he would withdraw the remaining 2,200 U.S. troops from Syria.  I don’t blame General Mattis for finally saying, “I’ve had enough of this mess” … don’t blame him at all.  But with his departure, the world … not just the U.S., but the entire world … became less safe.

Here are some of the more pertinent parts from the General’s letter of resignation:

  • I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies.

  • One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships.


  • My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues.


  • We must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances. 29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside us following the 9-11 attack on America.

The threat of a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria and also Afghanistan is a disaster on so many levels, not the least of which being that it is a proverbial slap-in-the-face to our allies in Europe.  As the UK’s Middle East minister, Alistair Burt said …

“There are no vacuums in foreign policy, certainly not in the Middle East. In a fragile region every action is a catalyst for another. If allies cannot be relied upon, others are sought to take their place. Jim Mattis understood – vital any successor agrees.”

And UK’s Defense Minister, Tobias Ellwood …

“The most impressive military mind I’ve had the honour to know. Jim my friend – our world will be less safe without you.”

The co-chair of the European council on foreign relations Carl Bildt had strong words …

“A morning of alarm in Europe. Sec Def Mattis is the remaining strong bond across the Atlantic in the Trump administration. All the others are fragile at best or broken at worst.”

Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the Liberal Democrat group in the European parliament, said…

“A victory for Russia, Iran, Turkey, Turkish proxies & the Syrian regime. Unsurprisingly, it leaves Europeans more vulnerable – and shows how wrong it is that we do not have a defence force able to help stabilise our immediate neighbourhood.”

Neither the Syrian withdrawal nor the prospect of cutting troop numbers in Afghanistan were preceded by any serious consultation with his European allies, many of whom either have ground troops or air forces operating in both countries.

Trump’s selection of Mattis for Defense Secretary was, presumably, because he believed Mattis had the knowledge and experience to be a key advisor on foreign policy and matters of defense.  So why does he consistently ignore the advice of this very knowledgeable man?  Ego, pure and simple.  And that very ego is likely, if left unchecked, to have a number of very serious consequences for the world.  The Middle East is a tinderbox that could well turn into an inferno in short order.  Our allies may well determine they are finished with this alliance and to hell with the U.S.  Who could blame them?

It is said that Trump made the decision to pull out of Syria after a phone conversation with Turkey’s President Recep Erdoğan, who is planning an attack on Kurdish troops in Syria at some point in the near future.  According to Senator Lindsey Graham …

“What Turkey is going to do is unleash holy hell on the Kurds. In the eyes of Turkey, they’re more of a threat than ISIS. So this decision is a disaster.”

Vladimir Putin was also pleased, saying he agreed with the decision.  But, of course.

Even most conservatives are horrified at the thought of Mattis’ resignation, considering it to be the loss of the last adult in the house.  Neo-conservative editor and political analyst Bill Kristol said it best …

“Never been more alarmed for the nation since coming to DC over three decades ago.”

Republican Senator Ben Sasse expressed deep concern …

“This is a sad day. General Mattis was giving advice [Trump] needs to hear. Mattis rightly believes that Russia & China are adversaries. Isolationism is a weak strategy that will harm Americans.”

Former CIA Director John Brennan weighed in …

“Okay, Republicans. How much longer are you going to let this farcical ‘presidency’ continue? At a time of such political, economic, and geo-strategic turbulence – both nationally and globally – are you waiting for a catastrophe to happen before acting? Disaster looms!”

Remember when then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson referred to Trump as a “f**king moron”?  He was right.

General Mattis’ departure did not come as a surprise, for the rumour mill has predicted it for a while now but make no mistake … it is a devastating blow, not only for the United States, but for the world.  Nobody can predict where we go from here, for there is a thoroughly unpredictable madman at the helm of this ship.  In light of Trump’s comment this morning that he is willing to keep the government shut down “for a very long time”, and his reckless decisions regarding Syria and Afghanistan, today I can no longer consider myself a citizen of what was once a respectable nation.  I believe it is time for serious calls for Trump’s removal from office, else next year at this time the world may look much different than it does today – and not in any good way.

Au Revoir, General Mattis … you will be missed.

Duncan Hunter Calls For Millions To Die …

A name flew onto my radar this morning … Duncan Hunter … Duncan Hunter … the name rings a bell … {quickly scanning past posts}AHA!  I was right!  In January I wrote a post about Mr. Hunter, a member of the House of Representatives from California. At the time, he was under review by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) as well as the House Ethics Committee for misuse of campaign funds for such things as video games, extravagant trips, jewelry, etc.   As if all that weren’t bad enough, he tried to shift blame for his misconduct to the media, specifically the San Diego Union-Tribune.  He has since repaid $60,000 of the money he essentially stole, by taking a loan from convicted murderer Joseph Ignacio Salas.  Technically, he could have (and should have, in the opinion of this writer) been removed from his office, but that did not happen.  And so, he was left in office to perform more idiocy.

GOP Lawmaker Calls For Preemptive Strike On North Korea

And that ‘GOP Lawmaker’ just happens to be none other than Representative Duncan Hunter.

“Why would they not aim here, at Hawaii, Guam, our major naval bases? The question is, do you wait for one of those? Or two? Do you preemptively strike them? And that’s what the president has to wrestle with. I would preemptively strike them. You could call it declaring war, call it whatever you want. I don’t know how much more reckless [Kim Jong-un] needs to be and what the United States needs to see. This is a clear and present danger.”

Hunter is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.  He went on to say that North Korea should join the United Nations (UN) “in order to bring them into dialogue with stable countries.”  It is too bad that as a member of Congress, and as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Mr. Hunter did not know that North Korea has been a member of the United Nations since 1991! We sure know how to pick them, don’t we?

hunterThe escalation of tensions between the Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un is already at an untenable high and the only thing that needs to happen right now is for cooler heads to prevail and try to tone down the rhetoric and de-escalate the stress level.  Duncan Hunter’s terribly un-brilliant idea would mean the deaths of millions of people in North Korea, South Korea and elsewhere around the globe within a very short time frame.  Who voted for this cookie crumb, anyway?  I thought Californians had better sense than this!

Fortunately, the majority in the country, and I believe even among GOP members of Congress, have far better sense than Mr. Hunter.  According to a Washington Post article this morning …

“Two-thirds of Americans oppose launching a preemptive military strike against North Korea, with a majority trusting the U.S. military to handle the escalating nuclear crisis responsibly but not President Trump, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds.

The Post-ABC poll finds 37 percent of adults trust Trump either “a great deal” or “a good amount” to responsibly handle the situation with North Korea, while 42 percent trust the commander in chief “not at all.” By comparison, 72 percent trust U.S. military leaders, including 43 percent saying they trust them “a great deal.””

poll

poll-2Duncan Hunter has, it would seem, voted against every bill that would protect humans.  He voted against equal pay for equal work in 2009.  He voted against renewing the Violence Against Women Act in 2013.  Of climate change, he says …

“Nobody really knows the cause … It could be caused by carbon dioxide or methane. Maybe we should kill the cows to stop the methane, or stop breathing to stop the CO2 … Thousands of people die every year of cold, so if we had global warming it would save lives … We ought to look out for people. The earth can take care of itself.”

He has also cast his vote against LGBT rights, real health care, and believes that there should be no restrictions … none … on gun ownership in the U.S.

Mr. Hunter’s call for a pre-emptive strike is not likely to see the light of day, for, as Defense Secretary James Mattis has said, a war with North Korea would be “catastrophic” and that Seoul would be thoroughly shelled. “It will be a war more serious in terms of human suffering than anything we have seen since 1953.” It is to be hoped that most still see value in the preservation of human life, although obviously Mr. Duncan Hunter does not.

I would issue a plea to the people in Hunter’s district back in California … please vote this cookie crumb out of office next year!