Snarky Snippets — Thriving On Chaos

Never before in the history of this nation has there been a more chaotic government, one that had so little clue what they were doing or what the ramifications of their actions would be.  It is truly as if 7-year-old children are the decision-makers in Washington today!

white-house-chaos.jpg


He wasn’t invited, but nonetheless, Mike Pompeo crashed the meeting.  A group of European foreign ministers were meeting in Brussels yesterday morning to work on how to best handle the situation with Iran that has turned into a mess, thanks to none other than Donald Trump.  The group did not grant Pompeo inclusion in their meeting, but several diplomats from the UK, France, Germany, and the EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, granted him private meetings.

The Europeans have all expressed fear not only about how Iran will behave, but equally about the aggression by the U.S.  British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said …

“We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident, with an escalation that is unintended really on either side. Most of all, we need to make sure we don’t end up putting Iran back on the path to re-nuclearization. Because if Iran becomes a nuclear power, its neighbors are likely to want to become nuclear powers. This is already the most unstable region in the world, and this would be a massive step in the wrong direction.”

Since Trump reneged on the Iran nuclear agreement a year ago, he has been taunting Iran, as well as our allies who are trying to hold the deal together without any assistance from the U.S.  Iran finally said, “Enough”, and is threatening to cancel the agreement and return to building its nuclear program.

Apparently little, if anything, was gained by the private meetings with Pompeo, as each side dug in, with Pompeo saying that the nuclear deal should be scrapped.  Apparently, he would like to have a reason to go to war with Iran?  Pompeo has enough foreign policy experience to understand that a war in the Middle East will involve many more nations than only Iran and is a no-win proposition that can only make matters worse in the area than they already are.  If, as I suspect, Trump is all too eager to try out his nuclear button … well, you know where I’m going with that.

Trump, Pompeo, and Bolton have put our allies in a tough spot and have increased tensions in the Middle East dramatically and dangerously.  Way to go, Donnie … what else do you plan to destroy?


The trade negotiations between the U.S. and China were reportedly going well and expected to wrap up within a matter of days.  But … sigh … Trump apparently never heard that old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  He prefers to break that which isn’t broken, and that is precisely what he did last week.  He increased the tariffs on some $200 billion worth of goods the U.S. imports from China, causing China to retaliate and impose new tariffs on some $60 billion worth of goods they buy from us.

Remember how Trump has been bragging about that good economy (the one that was already doing very well when he inherited it)?  Well, guess what folks?  Based on the news of all these new tariffs being bandied about, the market took a bit of a nosedive.  Does this ‘man’ understand nothing???  No, Donnie, tariffs are not good, China isn’t the one paying for the tariffs that YOU imposed … WE are!  And NO, Donnie, trade wars are not easy to win!

Trump claimed his reason for increasing the tariffs was that China was reneging on certain concessions, but there is no evidence of that, and people who have long dealt with Trump in the world of real estate say that this is his modus operandi … he throws a fit over some imagined problem at the last minute, then attempts to bully his way into a better deal.  Trouble is … this isn’t a real estate deal and … our economy and our livelihoods are at risk here.  He is playing with the lives of real people.


I got through my first four years of college with the help of Pell Grants and by often working three jobs.  Pell Grants, for those who may not be familiar with them, are subsidies the U.S. federal government provides for students who need it to pay for college. Federal Pell Grants are limited to students with financial need, who have not earned their first bachelor’s degree.  I could not have gone to college had it not been for those Pell Grants.  Today, they are more important than ever, with the high cost of college.  But guess what?  Donald Trump has decided that playing with his space toys is more important than educating our youth.

Yesterday evening, Trump sent a budget amendment to Congress to take $1.9 billion from the Pell Grant program and give it, instead, to NASA “so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!” 

bullshit

Some spokesperson for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) claims that it will not impact the Pell Grant program … I guess he must think we are all pretty damn stupid.

Trump has already proposed budget cuts for other student aid programs to the tune of $3.8 billion!  It would seem that his ultimate goal is to ensure that only the children of the wealthy can afford to attend college.  Picture the U.S. in 25 years.  Your children and grandchildren will be digging ditches, working in dead-end factory jobs, clerking at a grocery store or McDonald’s, while Betsy DeVos’ and Donald Trump’s grandchildren will be the corporate CEOs and will be the people running our government … if, in fact, there is still a government to run.


And now, I believe I have spent most of my snark, so I shall leave you to find a cheerier blog than mine to read for the rest of the morning.  But never fear, I shall return!

A Tale Of Two Mikes — Part I

This week, the two Mikes, Pompeo and Pence, our two main global envoys, went abroad as ambassadors of the United States, representing our nation.  The blew it.  In keeping with Trump’s modus operandi, they pandered to corrupt strongmen such as Viktor Orban, but worse, they denigrated and threatened our true allies.  Their antics went largely unnoticed amid a looming government shutdown and then a trumped-up ‘state of emergency’, but We the People need to keep our eye on this ball, for the security and strength of any nation lies, in part, with its relations with other countries, particularly long-held close alliances.

The week began with Secretary of State Pompeo visiting Hungary, where he literally pandered to autocrat Viktor Orban, a virtual pariah in European capitals because of his embrace of “illiberal democracy.”  The Orban regime is noted for suppression of independent media, the judiciary, and civil society groups, corrupt cronyism, and demagoguery that drips with xenophobia and anti-Semitism.  Yet the Trump administration lauds him.  Perhaps it is that his rhetoric so nearly matches that of Donald Trump, as he calls immigrants a “threat to Christian culture” and speaks of building a fence along the country’s border to keep them out.

Next stop for Pompeo was Slovakia, where he met with Slovak President Andrej Kiska,  Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, and Foreign Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák.  Pompeo made it clear that the U.S. is putting strategic interests and great power politics ahead of human rights concerns.  Just last year in Slovakia, a leading journalist who exposed government corruption was murdered along with his fiancée.

Pompeo then went to Poland where he met up with the other Mike, Vice President Pence for a U.S.-organized conference on the Middle East.  The intent of this conference was to rally European and Middle Eastern nations against Iran.  It would seem that Trump and his minions have an ill-conceived intent to start a war with Iran!  Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement and impose sanctions on Iran was only one of his worst moves in the past two years, but one that has had serious consequences for our allies.

And so it was that Mike Pence made a complete fool of himself and further eroded our relationship with our allies.  Pence used his address to the conference to demand that European countries withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement. He further urged U.S. allies to back Washington’s sanctions on Iran. Long-standing U.S. allies in Europe favor staying in the deal and have sought ways to keep open trade and financial dealings with Iran.

“The authoritarian regime in Tehran represses the freedom of speech and assembly, persecutes religious minorities, brutalizes women, executes gays and openly advocates the destruction of the State of Israel.”

WHOA there, Mikey!  First, I might remind everyone that Mike Pence is one of the most homophobic people in our government, that as Governor of Indiana he signed into law a bill titled the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that allowed individuals and companies to openly discriminate against LGBT people!  And now he’s concerned about the rights of the LGBT in Iran?  I don’t think so.

But even more to the point, while this nation is supporting dictators such as Viktor Orban, Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Rodrigo Duterte, we are overlooking human rights violations around the globe. Trump has steadfastly refused to acknowledge the hard evidence presented by his own intelligence officials that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi.  And now he claims to be so concerned about human rights violations by Iran?!?!?  Can we say ‘hypocrisy’?

“Iran endlessly spews hatred against Israel, our most cherished ally,” says Pence.  What a slap in the face to our true allies, the EU, UK, Mexico and Canada, to name a few!  Israel is by no means our ‘most cherished’ ally!!!  Benjamin Netanyahu is just about as corrupt as Donald Trump … he’s just more intelligent and hides his crimes better, but he and his wife are both currently under investigation for multiple issues.  Israel has become a bully-nation just as Trump is trying to make the U.S. into one.

And then came Munich.

Initially I intended to make this a single post, but by the time I reached this point, I realized that the Munich Security Conference is important enough to warrant a separate post.  Stay tuned for Part II of A Tale of Two Mikes on Monday afternoon.

Who Will Be Next To Go?

It seems a foregone conclusion that Jeff Sessions’ job is likely to be toast shortly after the November mid-term elections, and it isn’t surprising, since Trump has been threatening him almost daily since he rightly recused himself from the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.  But there is another head that’s likely to be on the chopping block after the mid-terms and this one needs to be taken seriously as well.

More and more, Secretary of Defense James Mattis is coming under fire from Trump.  I’ll go into some of the reasons in a minute, but Jeff Davis, who recently retired from the U.S. Navy after serving as a spokesman for the defense secretary sums it up, I think, in two sentences:

“Secretary Mattis lives by a code that is part of his DNA. He is genetically incapable of lying, and genetically incapable of disloyalty.”

He is, at the very core, the exact opposite of Donald Trump.

The probably firing of Mattis has absolutely nothing to do with Mattis’ job performance.  According to Senator Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee …

“Secretary Mattis is probably one of the most qualified individuals to hold that job. His departure would, first of all, create a disruption in an area where there has been competence and continuity.”

But Donald Trump’s first priority when it comes to his staff is not whether the person is qualified, but whether he or she is loyal.  Which is not to say that Jim Mattis is not loyal, for he is, but his loyalty is to his country, not to the man-child who makes decisions based on almost anything except logic.  One of the problems, according to a number of people, is that Mattis is frequently referred to as “the adult in the room”, indicating that in the chaos of this administration and amid the temper tantrums of the ‘man’ in the Oval Office, Mattis’ is the voice of reason.

When Trump, for no apparent reason, announced via tweets that trans-gender people would no longer be allowed to serve in the military, Mattis announced that trans-gender service members will continue to be allowed to serve pending the results of a study.Trump-MattisWhen Trump demanded that military families no longer be allowed to accompany service members deployed to South Korea, Mattis refused, saying it could be seen by North Korea as a precursor to war.  Mattis and Trump have also been at odds over NATO and Trump’s unwise decision to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal.  Possibly one of the biggest issues Trump has with Mattis is that despite Trump’s numerous requests that Mattis appear on Fox and Friends in order to praise Trump’s agenda, Mattis has declined to do so.

And then there is the Bob Woodward book, Fear:  Trump in the White House, where Mattis is quoted as having likened Trump’s intellect to that of a “fifth or sixth grader”.  Well … sounds about right to me!

There have been other disagreements:

  • In June, Trump ordered Mattis to set up a Space Force over the defense secretary’s objections that such a move would weigh down an already cumbersome bureaucracy.

  • In July, Trump blew up a NATO summit meeting that Mr. Mattis and other national security officials had worked on for months. The Pentagon chief and others saved the final agreement only because they shielded it from the president and urged envoys to complete it before Trump arrived in Brussels.


  • In August, Trump undercut Mr. Mattis after a news conference at the Pentagon in which the defense secretary suggested that the United States military would resume war games on the Korean Peninsula. The exercises had been suspended — against Mr. Mattis’s advice — after Trump met with Kim Jong-un, in Singapore. “There is no reason at this time to be spending large amounts of money on joint U.S.-South Korea war games,” Trump tweeted.

MattisWhy should we care?  First, because the truth is that James Mattis is, in reality, often the only ‘adult in the room’.  The fate of Mattis is important because he is widely viewed — by foreign allies and adversaries but also by the traditional national security establishment in the United States — as the cabinet official standing between a mercurial president and global tumult.  Mattis is highly popular with the men and women of the American military. Most of the rest of his fans are people that Trump does not care about: Democrats, establishment Republicans and American allies.  It is for this reason that Mattis’ job is safe until after November 6th, for even Trump realizes that it is not likely to be a popular move.

Obviously, I am not a close personal friend of Mattis, and thus have not had a conversation with him of late, but my best guess is that if Trump fires Mattis, it will come as something of a relief to the often-beleaguered Defense Secretary.  The constant chaos, disagreement and denigration have to take a toll.  I have often said, I wouldn’t last five minutes in the Trump administration, and I think those with a conscience, those who are determined to ‘do the right thing’, must breathe a sigh of relief on their way out.  I hope the observers who predict Mattis’ termination are wrong, for this nation needs him, but I suspect they are right, for he is a good man, an intelligent man, and those are not traits that are valued in the White House today.  Time will tell.

We Have Met The Enemy …

… And He Is Us

Some may think that I am over-reacting when I say that Donald Trump, with his decisions last week to renege on the Iran nuclear deal and to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, has seriously jeopardized our relationship with our allies abroad.  I realize that I am sometimes considered, especially by my republican friends, to be a purveyor of ‘gloom and doom’, an alarmist.  But this morning I was directed to an article in the German publication, der Spiegel, a well-respected publication, that reinforces my opinion.  I think it is very important that we, as citizens not only of the United States, but also of the world, realize and comprehend just what we have lost, what our friends think of us now.  One can criticize ‘globalism’ as much as one likes, but the reality is that we are living in a global world, we can no longer afford to take an isolationist view, or an ‘America First’ view.  We have lost much this month.  We are no longer the treasured friend, but merely the tolerated annoying and untrustworthy cousin.  How long before we are considered ‘the enemy’?

On the cover is this image:

der Spiegel cover

Time for Europe to Join the Resistance

U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal marks the temporary suspension of the trans-Atlantic alliance. What now?

© DER SPIEGEL A DER SPIEGEL Editorial by Klaus Brinkbäumer

Trump’s renown is rooted in American hero myths. Trump says that women like Carla Bruni lust after him, something that women like Carla Bruni vehemently deny. Trump says he is exorbitantly rich, yet Trump ran himself into the ground with his casinos to the point that he was 295 million dollars in debt in 1990. He was bailed out by the banks and by his father. The greatest myth, though, has to do with Trump’s alleged negotiating expertise. This too is nonsense. Trump was never proficient in the art of the deal. As a businessman, he paid far too much for substandard properties and has shown no patience as a politician. He isn’t curious. His preparation is nonexistent. Strategy and tactics are both foreign to him. Trump is only proficient in destruction. And that’s what he does.

He backed out of the Paris climate agreement while promising a “better deal for America.” But nothing came of the promise, neither a plan nor meaningful talks. In Trump’s Washington, the only thing that matters is dismantling the legacy of his predecessor, Barack Obama. Trump also promised to improve Obama’s health care plan, but the details are complex and bothersome. So Trump destroyed Obamacare and has done nothing to replace it.

Now, he is playing the same game on the world stage with the Iran nuclear deal. Trump refers to it as “the worst deal ever,” which is why he has now pulled the U.S. out of it. The negotiations that resulted in the deal in 2015 were a masterpiece of international diplomacy, but there are no plans in place to launch new talks.

Trump wants to bring the Iran regime to its knees with sanctions, but domestic political considerations in Tehran make it unlikely that the country will buckle. Leaders who demonstrate weakness in Iran are discarded. It seems more likely that they will close ranks. Iran-supported groups like Hezbollah are likely to pour fuel on the fire of conflicts in Yemen or Lebanon — as close as possible to Israel’s border. Iran presumably won’t pursue the path of extreme escalation, since such a path wouldn’t be beneficial, but it will likely cease allowing observers into the country, stop providing information on its uranium enrichment activities. It will seek to conceal what the West would like to know.

And what are the benefits of Washington’s radical move? There are none. Just chaos where there was once order. Just American capriciousness after decades of stability.

The most shocking realization, however, is one that affects us directly: The West as we once knew it no longer exists. Our relationship to the United States cannot currently be called a friendship and can hardly be referred to as a partnership. President Trump has adopted a tone that ignores 70 years of trust. He wants punitive tariffs and demands obedience. It is no longer a question as to whether Germany and Europe will take part in foreign military interventions in Afghanistan or Iraq. It is now about whether trans-Atlantic cooperation on economic, foreign and security policy even exists anymore. The answer: No. It is impossible to overstate what Trump has dismantled in the last 16 months.[Emphasis added] Europe has lost its protective power. It has lost its guarantor of joint values. And it has lost the global political influence that it was only able to exert because the U.S. stood by its side. And what will happen in the remaining two-and-a-half years (or six-and-a-half years) of Trump’s leadership? There is plenty of time left for further escalation.

Europe should begin preparing for a post-Trump America and seek to avoid provoking Washington until then. It can demonstrate to Iran that it wishes to hold on to the nuclear deal and it can encourage mid-sized companies without American clients to continue doing business with Iranian partners. Perhaps the EU will be able to find ways to protect larger companies. Europe should try to get the United Nations to take action, even if it would only be symbolic given that the U.S. holds a Security Council veto. For years, Europe has been talking about developing a forceful joint foreign policy, and it has become more necessary than ever. But what happens then?

The difficulty will be finding a balance between determination and tact. Triumphant anti-Americanism is just as dangerous as defiance. But subjugation doesn’t lead anywhere either — because Europe cannot support policies that it finds dangerous. Donald Trump also has nothing but disdain for weakness and doesn’t reward it.

Clever resistance is necessary, as sad and absurd as that may sound. Resistance against America.

And combine that with EU President Donald Tusk’s tweet of yesterday …

Tusk tweet

“Just chaos where there once was order.”  Says it all, don’t you think?

There Once Was A Time …

There once was a time when the United States was a trusted ally to all the nations in the EU as well as the UK.  There once was a time when we had the respect of our allies, and even the grudging respect of some who weren’t.  There once was a time that the U.S. was considered a world leader and looked up to, looked to for solutions to global issues.  There once was a time that the U.S. had a leader. Tusk tweetWhen Donald Trump made the decision to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal, he set off what will become a series of events that will inevitably re-shape global politics and alliances.  Iran has every right to be angry, for they were upholding their end of the bargain and Trump failed on his end.  The other nations in the agreement, the EU, UK, Russia, and China have the right to be angry, for Trump single-handedly destroyed an agreement without consideration for the other signers.  The citizens of the world have a right to be angry, for Trump single-handedly made the world far less safe than it was a short few days ago.

It was not that Iran wasn’t upholding their end of the deal, as Trump falsely claimed.  There was only one problem, in Trump’s mind, with the deal …trump-iran-dealThe deal was working, Iran was keeping to their promises, and there was no reason to scrap it.  However, having pulled out, the team of Trump/Bolton now plans to re-impose economic sanctions on Iran.  And if that weren’t enough, Trump is threatening to impose economic sanctions on our friends and allies if they continue to do business with Iran.  This is unconscionable behaviour from the leader of a once-respected nation!  An analogy …

I come back from the grocery one evening and I’m fed up with my local store, Kroger, because once again they were out of celery.  I’m never shopping there again!  So, I go round to all my neighbors and tell them that they must not ever shop at Kroger again.  Period.  “But, it’s only right across the street – so convenient, and we get coupons and discounts,” they reply.  Fed up, I tell them, “If you ever shop at Kroger again, I will break every window in your house … and kill your dog for good measure!”

Ludicrous?  Sure.  But it is the exact thing, only on a much smaller scale, that Donald Trump and John Bolton are doing.  Now, under the above scenario, how long do you think it will be before my neighbors run me out of da hood?  And perhaps even more importantly, if my car won’t start one morning, or I become ill, or my house catches fire … how willing do you think they would be to come to my rescue?  International relations work much the same way as personal relationships do … it is a series of give-and-takes.  Donald Trump is all about the taking, and not at all about the giving.  And this is the man who believes he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize???

trump vs alliesWhile we have alienated our allies, there are a couple of groups who are seeing Trump’s foolery in a positive light:

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted the United States to exit the Iran nuclear deal. He gave a televised presentation of Israeli intelligence last week that was a naked attempt to convince Trump to quit the deal.

  • Saudi Arabia’s young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has long opposed the agreement and mounted a quiet lobbying campaign to kill it. He has befriended Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner to lobby for his cause.


  • Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the man who makes the final decisions in Iran’s political system, always seemed inclined to favor the hardliners, Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, over the Rouhani faction. Now Trump has given him reason to continue down that path — meaning more confrontation with Iran’s regional rivals in the Middle East and with the United States is practically certain.

map of alliesTake a look at the map above, then get out your crayons, for the colours are soon likely to change. I see the greens being exchanged with the orange/red if we stay on the current path. Trump panders to the likes of Putin, Duterte and Netanyahu, while slapping our friends.  Make no mistake … there will be a price to pay for his foolishness.  Just how great a price remains to be seen.  There is no doubt that because of Trump/Bolton, tensions will increase throughout the Middle-East.  Will it lead to a full-fledged war?  I cannot predict, but don’t rule out the possibility.  It does not appear that Trump has a strategy beyond bullying friend and foe alike, and unraveling every agreement that carries President Obama’s signature.  John Bolton has long been a graduate of the school of ‘bomb-first, talk-later’, and he is now our National Security Advisor.

Trump’s followers and the Israelis are applauding and cheering in the street.  Believe me, folks … there is nothing for us to cheer about today.  Not one single thing.

The Biggest Bully …

As we all know, last week Donald Trump reneged on our commitment to the Iran nuclear agreement, calling it a ‘terrible deal’.  It was an extremely poor decision – nay, it was a disastrous decision.  Within 24 hours after his announcement, tensions in the Middle East increased and Iran, Israel and Syria were playing a game of ‘chicken’.  Our allies looked at us as if we had two heads, shook their own heads, and then began frantically scrambling to salvage the deal, if possible, without the U.S.  Frankly, we have now become a non-player, a pariah in the global world, an albatross to our allies, and a danger to global peace, such as it is.  But there’s more …

Donald Trump, with advise from his new National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has announced that he will impose sanctions on any of our allies who conduct business with Iran!  Just who the Sam Hell died and left him boss of the world???  Donald Trump has absolutely no concept of how global relations work, and worse, he has surrounded himself with warmongers who advocate bombing first, asking questions later.  Diplomacy is not in their vocabulary, apparently.

According to The Guardian …

“Trump’s most senior foreign policy aides signalled that the US would continue pressuring allies to follow Washington in backing out of the pact, which gave Tehran relief from sanctions in exchange for halting its nuclear programme.

John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, predicted that “the Europeans will see that it’s in their interests to come along with us” rather than continue with the 2015 deal, under which major European corporations have signed billions of dollars of contracts in Iran.

US sanctions on Iran reimposed following Trump’s withdrawal not only block American firms from doing business in the country, but also bar foreign firms that do business there from accessing the entire US banking and financial system.

Trump’s decision to scrap the nuclear deal was sharply criticised by European leaders, who have pledged to uphold their side of the agreement.”

This is bullying, pure and simple.  A simple example … five children are on the playground:  Rouhani, Donnie, Theresa, Angela and Emmanuel.

The children are playing companionably, when all of a sudden Donnie gets mad at Rouhani and jerks the toy out of Rouhani’s hand.  Then Donnie kicks sand in the other children’s faces and stomps off.  The other children remain and try to start playing again, but Donnie stomps back over and jerks the toys out of the hands of Theresa, Angela and kicks Emmanuel in the face before taking his toy also.  This is beyond being a bully … this is a kid with psychopathic tendencies.  This is exactly what Trump is doing … to our allies!  Our friends!!!

The United States ceded its role as a global leader.  Donald Trump made it perfectly clear in May 2017 when, at the Nato summit in Belgium, he refused to reiterate the U.S.’ support of Article 5, which affirms that NATO members will come to the mutual defense of any member that is under attack. Every president since Harry Truman in 1949 has pledged to honour Article 5 … but Trump refused. That wasn’t the first sign, but it was the first major red flag to our allies that he was planning to kick sand in their faces.

The very next month, he announced his intention to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, making the U.S. the only nation on the globe that is not committed to doing its share to protect our planet.

It was only three days after his inauguration that he signed an executive order ending the United States’ participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a major trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and United States that had been signed one year prior.  This was, perhaps, the beginning of the end – the first move away from being a player in the global economy and a step toward isolationism.

And then, of course, there was the announcement that we would not fulfill our responsibilities on the Iran nuclear deal, formally Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).  With all these moves, plus many more less far-reaching, Trump has signaled to every other nation on the globe that he doesn’t plan to be a global player, that he is not a part of the team, and he plays only by his own rules, nobody else’s.

Trump’s decision to isolate the U.S. from the rest of the world, even wishing to build walls on our borders, is a very dangerous move, but any way you look at it, there is nothing … nothing … that gives him the right to dictate to other nations with whom they are allowed to do business.  Not only, would it seem, is Trump determined to escalate tensions in the Middle-East with his poor knowledge and judgment, but now he is trying to cause the very nations that were once our allies to declare war on us!

Meanwhile, he panders to the likes of Saudi King Salman, Russian President Putin, and President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte.  And he practically falls to his knees when he hears the name Netanyahu. Dictators all, to a greater or lesser degree.  While he bans immigrants from other predominantly Muslim nations, claiming they may be terrorists, he leaves the borders open to the Saudis, even though 15 of the 19 terrorist hijackers on 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia!  When he visited Saudi Arabia in May  2017, he told King Salman that they “will never question our support,” adding, “We are not here to lecture.”

There are plans for Trump to visit the UK and meet with Theresa May, and possibly, though it is not yet certain, meet the Queen on Friday, July 13th (think about that date, folks!).  But, in light of his multiple slaps in the face to the UK and other European nations, I would not be surprised if the invitation is rescinded.  Frankly, I hope it is, for the British people emphatically do not want him there, and I don’t imagine that Ms. May is any too happy with him at the moment.

Donald Trump has become every bit as much a bully as any dictator in the world.  He is leading the U.S. down a path toward being a lone island, with few who will stand beside us.  Economically, between his horrendous ‘tax bill’ last December, the tariffs he is imposing on our allies, and pulling out of the TPP, we are likely to see our economy in far worse shape by the end of this year.  Everything he has touched, he has destroyed.  The United States should hang her head in shame, for we have lost everything we could once be proud of.  Our leader is a bully and we will pay the price.

** A brief footnote:  Because of Donald Trump’s poor decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem with all due haste, last night, at least 52 Palestinians protesting at the  border were shot dead by Israeli soldiers and more than 1,700 were injured.  Those 40 deaths lie directly at the feet of none other than Donald Trump. 

Eight Reasons Why Ending the Iran Deal is Stupid

I have been working for two days to try to put together a post that explains why Trump’s decision to dishonour our committment on the Iran deal is such a stupid move, and I have yet to be able to manage to say what I want to say coherently. However, when it comes to anything economic, my ‘go-to’ person is Erik Hare at Barataria, and tonight I found he had successfully accomplished what I’ve struggled with for two days. Not seeing much point in re-inventing the wheel when Erik has done such a great job, I am sharing his work with you. His explanations are concise and very understandable, and I urge you to take just a few minutes to read his excellent post. Thank you, Erik, for helping us all understand the total picture, and for your generous permission (given years ago) to re-blog!

Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

The United States has withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal. It is probably the stupidest possible thing to do at this time. Why? Here are eight reasons, most of which are fairly conservative in nature.

View original post 976 more words

Blowing in the Wind …

We have descended into lunacy, my friends.  Can we claw our way back out?  I’m beginning to have doubts – serious doubts.  My fear is that there is a master plan … that by November, we will all be declared incompetent to vote in the mid-term elections, for we will be sitting on the sidewalk in our underwear babbling incoherently while dribble runs off our chins.  Welcome to 2018 – the not-so-brave-new-world of the D.S.A. – the Divided States of America.

To prove my point, I offer a number of exhibits:

Exhibit A:  The chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives is asked to tender his resignation because his prayer included something about equality and justice for all. (Really subversive stuff, eh Padre?)  He tenders the resignation, then re-thinks it and rescinds the resignation.  And then, a week or so later, a shouting match erupts on the floor of the House over the chaplain.  According to Politico, “The exchange was so heated that some lawmakers and aides watching worried they’d come to blows.”  Over the chaplain.

Exhibit B:  The president of the nation has been involved in some 5,000 lawsuits and has no less than 19 women accusing him of sexual abuse.  He has been married three times and cheated on every single one of those wives. He is also under scrutiny for an affair that he had with, of all things, a porn star, and the payoff of ‘hush money’ to keep her quiet until after the 2016 election.  And to ice the cake, said president is under very serious investigation for the role that he and his family played in colluding with the Russian government to buy his electoral win in the 2016 election.

Exhibit C:  The D.S.A. has become the only nation of the 195 countries on the globe that refuses to believe in science, and has committed to a course of action that will lead the entire globe to a cataclysmic end if not quickly reversed.  But to take it a step further, said D.S.A. has also committed to destructive environmental practices, removing safeguards for both the environment and for human life.

Exhibit D:  In the past six months we have seen a neo-Nazi, a handful of white supremacists, a pedophile and a convicted felon run for election to the U.S. Congress.  And people actually voted for these jerks.

Exhibit E:  The lawmaking body, in fear or awe of the president, have passed legislation that is designed to ensure the demise of the poorest 15% of the nation’s population.  These include making affordable health care unavailable, taking away subsidized housing, refusing to raise the minimum wage, which has not been raised since 2009, and despite the fact that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has risen some 37% since that time.

Exhibit F:  The word ‘freedom’ has been officially re-defined as the right to discriminate against anyone who does not, a) agree with you, b) look like you, and c) think like you.  Not only, might I add, discriminate, but if you feel your ‘freedom’ is compromised by, say, somebody whose skin is darker than yours or whose sexual orientation is different, you have been given the right to cause bodily injury to that person, and then have them thrown in jail for … the crime of … being different.

Exhibit G:  The leadership of the nation is now directed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), and any of our ‘elected representatives’ who do not support giving every white male the right to shoot and kill another with a big, bad gun that can mow down hundreds within a minute or two, is threatened with political extinction.  Worse, the majority of the people in this nation believe that they have a “God-given” right to own as many weapons as they like and to use them however they see fit.  In some cases, these people even put the love of their guns ahead of the love of their own children.

Exhibit H:  The so-called leadership of this nation has decided that education is not important and there is a concerted push among our government to promote illiteracy.  How?  By making student debt so daunting that most would prefer to leave high school and go work in a factory than to attend college.  By eschewing a sound public education for all, in favour of ‘charter schools’ that benefit few and teach little.  And by ensuring that students are not encouraged to think for themselves, but rather to ‘follow the yellow brick road’.

Exhibit I:  The nation’s already-wealthiest people and corporations have been given a huge gift in the form of reduced taxation, thus setting the nation on a collision course with financial disaster.  Despite a significantly reduced revenue in the national coffers, more money is being spent on the military – a military that already operates on the largest budget on the globe.

Exhibit J:  There is a madman at the helm who seems intent on giving himself the opportunity to “push the nuclear button”, a button that he has thought of as a toy to be played with and brandished about ever since his election.  For those, and there are some, who agree with the madman, I would suggest a glance back to August 6, 1945 (the bombing of Hiroshima) and August 9, 1945 (the bombing of Nagasaki) – look at the pictures, see the people, and ask yourself, “Is this what I want to see in this, the 21st century?”

I could go on, but my muse tells me that I have made my point and that it is time to stop, for the sake of my own mental and physical well-being.  Yes, we have descended into lunacy, a free-fall that must surely have a bottom, but that we have yet to find.  None of what we are seeing in this nation today is ‘normal’, none of it is wise, and none of it is leading us to a good place. Where does it end?  Are there any limits in this nation today?  Is there a point at which even the blind who are playing follow-the-leader realize that they are following him into a dark place from which there may be no return?  I cannot answer these questions, but it is imperative that we keep asking them.  It is imperative that we make our voices heard, for it is our only hope to return to a world of sanity.

Mike Pence is WRONG …

I don’t know when it happened, and given that he is not much in the public eye, Mike Pence’s absence was not even noted nor notable.  But sometime in the past few months, Mike Pence had a lobotomy.  Yes, folks, he had a large portion of his brain removed from within his skull.  The proof is in the following editorial he wrote (annotated by my snarky remarks, of course), published in USA Today on 08 November 2017:

One year ago Wednesday, President Donald J. Trump won a historic victory. But even more historic has been President Trump’s record of accomplishment ever since. (Reversing prior sound policy and dividing a nation are not what I would call accomplishment)

It’s been a year of action. It’s been a year of results. And it’s been a year that will be remembered as the time we began to Make America Great Again. (The only actions have been negative, and the only results have been to ruin our reputation abroad and create irreparable divisiveness on the domestic front. And define ‘great’, and ‘great’ for whom?)

Thanks to the president’s leadership, the American economy is roaring. Businesses have created nearly 1.5 million new jobs (employment rate is actually lower than it was for much of the last 4 years under President Obama – see chart at bottom). Manufacturers haven’t been this confident in 20 years. The stock market is setting records (it is an unsupported rise and when it crashes, as it will, millions will lose everything), creating nearly $5 trillion in wealth for the pension, retirement and savings of the American people. And after eight years of lackluster growth, the economy has already expanded by at least 3% for two quarters in a row. (the GDP met or exceeded 3% eight times under Obama)

The U.S. economy is making a comeback because President Trump has taken decisive action to spur a new era of opportunity, prosperity and growth. (The trend began under the Obama administration)

We’ve unleashed American energy, approved the Keystone and Dakota pipelines, and under President Trump, the “war on coal” is over. (There is no longer a vast market for coal, as sustainable energy sources, ie wind and solar, have proven cleaner and less expensive. Coal mining is a dinosaur destined for extinction)

We’re appointing originalists to the federal courts, to uphold the Constitution and all our God-given liberties. And President Trump put Justice Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. (the rights to which you refer are given under the Constitution, they are not “God-given”. You imply God gave the right to carry guns? Further, the framers of the Constitution fully intended it to be a living document, interpreted in such a manner as suited the times, realizing that changes would come that they could not imagine)

President Trump has also taken decisive action to ensure the safety and security of the American people, at home and abroad. He has stood without apology with the men and women of law enforcement. We’re securing our borders, enforcing our laws and taking the gang members, drug dealers and violent criminals off our streets. (The majority of our crime is committed by white male citizens, not Hispanics, not Middle-Easterners.  No wall, no travel ban, can protect us from the average John Doe with a gun)

The president is putting our veterans first. He signed bills to restore accountability to the Department of Veterans Affairs and give veterans access to the world-class care they deserve.

We’re rebuilding our military. President Trump has already signed the largest increase in defense spending in nearly 10 years, and we are working with Congress to pass one of the largest investments in the national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan. (We already had the single largest military budget in the western world — see chart below — and yet we would take health care from millions to expand the already bloated military budget)

With renewed American strength, the president is achieving real results on the international stage. (True, we have gone from a well-respected ally to the laughingstock to a pariah, all in just 9 short months)

Our NATO allies are contributing more to our common defense. ISIS is on the run, and its caliphate is crumbling (to the extent this may be true, the credit belongs to many, not solely to Trump). This president reaffirmed the credibility of American power when he enforced a red line against chemical weapons in Syria (killing civilians willy nilly in the process). He put Iran on notice and made it clear that we cannot certify the Iran nuclear deal (the deal was being upheld by Iran and there is no reason for us not to certify it). And our administration has brought unprecedented economic and diplomatic pressure to bear on North Korea. (all he has done is increase the risk of an armed conflict by taunting Kim Jong-un)

It has been a year of accomplishments, and we’re just getting started. Before this year is out, we’ll pass historic tax cuts for the American people. And with President Trump’s leadership, I know: We will Make America Great Again. (If the tax cuts pass, it will only raise the deficit and hurt the very people who most need help, while helping those who need it least)

One year after the 2016 election … I remember crying that night, and now I remember why. Either Mike Pence has had a substantial portion of his brain removed, or he is on hallucinogenic drugs, or he is so afraid of Trump that he is toeing the Trump line.  Whichever it is, he is wrong.


Employment Rates 2007 – 2017

jobs chart

military spending

A Matter of Trust …

One of the political analysts I most respect for both his knowledge and unbiased viewpoints is Fareed Zakaria.  He hit the nail on the head this morning on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS (Global Public Square) when he said …

zakaria-2“The United States is now blasting an international agreement it is a sworn party to, without exiting the agreement. It is taking potshots at an international framework and yet staying within it — sort of. The result is a foreign policy that is not just unpredictable, but incoherent.

Trump has now signaled to countries like North Korea, never make a deal with America, because even if we sign, we might still upend the whole arrangement anyway. In his speech on Iran, Trump made the bizarre claim that other countries think in 100-year intervals. Even if this were true, which it isn’t, Trump’s actions suggest that his administration cannot even stay the course for a few years, let alone a hundred. Donald Trump’s national security team, the so-called grown-ups, have signed on to this contradictory policy toward Iran — which is a sad sign, perhaps, that they value their jobs more than their reputations.”

What he says is absolutely true.  Since taking office Trump has lied more often than not, and he has removed the U.S. from important agreements for no reason other than they were not his idea, but one of his predecessors. He has decided, even though the majority of the people he is supposed to represent disagree, that the U.S. no longer will participate in the Paris Accords to lower the impact of carbon emmissions on the environment.  He has made it clear that he will almost certainly pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) unless Canada and Mexiso agree to give the U.S. the most favourable terms, at the expense of their own nations.  He has pulled out of UNESCO, and threatened to abandon the U.S. commitment to the United Nations entirely.  And now he is playing games with the Iran nuclear agreement for no reason other than that President Obama was the U.S.’ representative at the time we entered into the agreement.

It is bad enough that we here in the states know him to be a liar and untrustworthy.  But now every nation with whom we have international relations are scratching their heads and saying, in the language of social media, WTF???

It is one thing when he promises “great health care” and then not only provides us with nothing, but robs tens of millions of people of having any heathcare.  It is one thing when he promises tax cuts to the working people, but in reality his tax cuts will help only the wealthy.  All that is bad enough, but …

When he promises aid to Puerto Rico after a devastating storm, then drops the ball and attempts to make it look like their own fault, that sends a message that Trump will not keep his promises.  When he randomly, for no reason at all pulls out of a commitment, an obligation on the part of the U.S., that sends a message that the United States does not uphold its commitments.  And when he threatens to pull out of a mutual commitment to go to the aid of our allies, as they would us, in the event of a foreign attack, then the message is loud and clear.  The United States can no longer be counted on, the United States is no longer reliable or trustworthy.

From there, it is a hop, skip and a jump to … “the United States is no longer our ally.” In turn, if we were to be attacked by Russia, North Korea, or any other nation, we would have no right to expect assistance from the EU or any other allies, not even Canada or Mexico.  If Trump truly wants to isolate this nation, he is off to a fine start, but let the buyer beware … it is about the second stupidest thing he could do at this point.

And all for what reason?  Because he is a megalomaniac and his name is not on any of these agreements.  He had no part in them, worse yet, his antagonism toward President Obama is palpable and he is determined to attempt to erase President Obama’s name from the history books.  The reality is that, while Obama was a good, though not perfect, president, Trump is actually making Obama look even better than he was!

I suspect that if the Iran nuclear agreement were to be re-named the Trump-Iran nuclear agreement, he would sit down and shut up. He sees himself as more than any president can be … he sees himself as an emperor rather than a president.  The global effect of his decisions and rhetoric is far-reaching.  The U.S. is no longer the leader of the western world … only because of Trump.  Our allies are making their own plans for future events that do not include the U.S. … only because of Trump.  Where is the line in the sand?  Where is the breaking point where this country, its people and its elected officials finally stand up and say, “ENOUGH!!!”?  It better be soon, folks … it better be real soon.